New Bike Lanes on Thomas Blvd

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dmtroyer
Participant
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Wide and cushy. I’ll try to get a picture later.


dmtroyer
Participant
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Also cited by the Bike Pittsburgh blog


brian j
Participant
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Personally, I think these are a win for everyone–Thomas is one of those wide, two lane streets that some folks assume must be at least four lanes just because. I have been routinely passed on the right while driving the speed limit on that road. Certainly, some folks will choose to ignore the bike lanes (as happens on ELB), but I think these will have greater traffic calming measures.


Anonymous #

Yeah, they’re really nice. Sharrows also went in on Meade and Lexington, and got put back in (FINALLY) on Hamilton between ELB and Fifth.


Aryn
Participant
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I worry a little about all the effort being put into diverting bikers off of Penn. It is great, don’t get me wrong. I already rode on Thomas, Meade, Reynolds, etc when convenient. But, it totally ignores the issues with Penn. It says, this place is not suited for bikes, and rather than improve it, or address the problem, lets pretend the problem is that bikes didn’t realize they shouldn’t be here.


mark
Participant
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what would you suggest they do to penn that is reasonably accomplished?


Anonymous #

Vehicularists are the pioneers and they’re absolutely right about danger being primarily at intersections, and the infeasibility of building a separate dedicated transit network. That’s most of us on bike pgh.

I think it would be a VERY good thing to do conspicuous rides in LARGE group with signage through areas with hit and runs, etc… to try and get media attention and send a clear message that bikes are not going away.

However, hostility to facilitators and work on pieces of dedicated infrastructure is where I think it becomes a form of extremism. We’re not sending the wrong message to drivers by using it instead of a road like Penn because they’re not likely to even be aware of it, it’s just a frankly better option for most of us, most of the time. To the extent that drivers may be aware of nearby bike lanes, those are disproportionately bike aware drivers which generally aren’t the dangerous ones.

The big picture: Bicycling can’t get started without the vehicularist mindset, but only a couple percent of people have or are ever likely to have that mindset.

So it’s hard to overstate how important dedicated facilities are and how crucial they are to building any kind of numbers. And when you get strength in numbers, when you get, ahem, normal people on bikes, then and only then will you find political will for the stuff that effects busier roads.


jonawebb
Participant
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“Reasonably accomplished” is the catch. Penn needs to be reduced to one lane in each direction, with space for the bus traffic to pull over, and bike lanes on each side. The intermittent dual lanes just make everything worse, by encouraging drivers to speed where there’s lots of space, so they can get ahead when it narrows back down again.


brian j
Participant
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“Reasonably accomplished” is the catch. Penn needs to be reduced to one lane in each direction, with space for the bus traffic to pull over, and bike lanes on each side.

Except this is going to funnel traffic to Thomas, MacPherson, Meade, and Reynolds, and we have a situation where NONE of the roads heading east along the Penn Corridor are safe.


Anonymous #

I think Penn is a street that cyclists should avoid. Not all of Penn, but that area from Fifth to Wilkinsburg. I know that isn’t popular with most, but why not keep cars on Penn and let the side streets be more quiet. If you did make Penn one lane in each direction, I feel there will be spillover. As it is now, most will hurry up in their suvs/pickups and slam their brakes at the next red light. Keep those idiots on one street as much as possible.


jonawebb
Participant
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My point on Penn is that by making it two lanes the whole way rather than intermittently you’re really not reducing the traffic flow, you’re just taking some space that is now used for parking during heavy use (where cars now wait in the four lane areas to get past the two lane choke points) and changing it so that space is more useful, and also making the traffic more orderly. Maybe that would make drivers seek out side streets, but my guess is that people would be doing that now to avoid the choke points, and they aren’t, at least to a significant degree.

I envision something like this:

1) Get rid of any on-street parking on Penn.

2) One motor vehicle lane in each direction.

3) Bike lane in each direction, with some sort of low physical barrier separating the bike lane from the traffic.

4) At bus stops, open space to allow buses to pull over, blocking the bike lane. Bike traffic must yield to buses.


edmonds59
Participant
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I’m with jonawebb on this one. Aside from biking, there are residences on both sides with driveways and numerous side streets entering. There is no way in hell Penn should be treated as a 4 lane highway. The only reason it is is because it is f*king PennDon’t jurisdiction.

Potential young bike advocates need to go into the field of Traffic Engineering, instead of like, English, or Art History (no offense), so the old auto-centric dinosaurs die away and are replaced, and change the beast from within.

AND the speed limit on all the tertiary streets, Thomas, etc. needs to be dropped to 20 mph and enforced, with even more traffic calming measures than Penn, to curb the “avoiders”.


Anonymous #

What is reasonable in a political and practical sense depends entirely on the number of folks out there biking.

If we can build on what we have and connect, turning more trips into something that even the “Interested but Concerned” wouldn’t dismiss out of hand, we can build numbers in a huge way. These lanes can only help that.

As for Penn, I wouldn’t pursue it now, but I wouldn’t give up entirely either. The area of concern being so close to squirrel hill and all. We can there, it’s not impossibly far off, but it’s not now.

My 2c.


Mick
Participant
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@edmunds AND the speed limit on all the tertiary streets, Thomas, etc. needs to be dropped to 20 mph and enforced

I think 20 mph would be non-starter – even the narrow little streets in Oakland have 25 mph speed limits.

On the other hand, enforcing the speed limits in the city would be a big win for everyone. Not just for bikers – it would save a lot of lives. The Pittsburgh area has about 250 traffic fatalties a year.


Anonymous #

By the way, I totally agree that taking street parking away from major through-ways to make more room for traffic that doesn’t need parking (us!) is a good idea just about universally. Physical or practical lane variance (one lane here, two lanes there, or two lanes but parked cars or a stopped bus) plus speeding yields a very dangerous situation.

But I think it’s extraordinarily important to concentrate efforts on the most important battle at the time. Having just gotten nearby lanes, concentrating on Penn now feels, I don’t know, ungrateful. If I weren’t a bicyclist myself I’d probably tune it out.

Right now, I think that’s the lanes or cycletrack paired with the BRT… something for gosh sake to directly connect downtown and Oakland for the “Interested but Concerned”. We need them on board. I did contact Steve Patchen about that and encourage everyone to do the same.


brian j
Participant
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On the other hand, enforcing the speed limits in the city would be a big win for everyone. Not just for bikers – it would save a lot of lives. The Pittsburgh area has about 250 traffic fatalties a year.

This. One thousand times.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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All the little narrow streets in Oakland should not be 25 or even 20. More like 15. Too bad if it isn’t popular.

Yeah, 20 on those aforementioned streets.

jonawebb nailed it.


Marko82
Participant
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I’m all for making Penn two lanes, but let’s not forget that the root cause of all the Penn Ave. problems is that suburbanites are trying to gain access to the city. All that traffic isn’t being generated by people in Point Breeze or Wilkinsburg, it is more likely coming from Penn Hills or further out – and they are using this as a short cut so as to not sit on the Parkway. Until a more macro plan is developed (and followed!)you will merely shift the problem.


HiddenVariable
Participant
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just want to say that it looks like new paint went down on liberty, probably yesterday. like 30 sharrows in the two blocks from the bloomfield bike lanes to the main/bloomfield bridge intersection, where a bike lane now takes up the whole right traffic lane, and continues down the hill to presumably connect with the rest of the bike lane. not sure about the outbound side, but it looked similar.


Erica
Participant
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yeah, didn’t see outbound, but there weren’t any markings there yesterday.

the sharrows inbound occur every 30 feet or so, and (if I remember correctly) are thermoplastic


Anonymous #

For what it is worth, I saw them painting the sharrows/lanes on Liberty this afternoon.


Pseudacris
Participant
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the root cause of all the Penn Ave. problems is that suburbanites are trying to gain access to the city.

I think they’re studying whether to shut down the Edgewood ramps during rush hour in order to give suburbanites a faster pipeline to the city. Which means people currently using those ramps will head to Forbes & Penn via S Braddock to get into town…if they can’t be convinced to use the busway or bike in.


edmonds59
Participant
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I might beg to differ a bit. Sure the suburbanites add to the traffic load, but I still think the root cause of the problems is people, city, suburban, and other, going 60 mph in a 35.


Anonymous #

I agree with edmonds59. The biggest problem is everyone speeding wildly. If people drove the speed limit, there would be very little problem cycling around the city on any street. Speed is killing us all. Even those who are driving cars.


Benzo
Participant
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I hate to say it, but I’d love to see speed cameras on penn, liberty, 5th, bigelow between oalkand and downtown, and all the bridges, calibrated to 10+ miles over the speed limit to catch the worst offenders.


Benzo
Participant
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Wow, some people actually like speed limiters in europe (due to speed cameras). Wouldn’t this be nice to have in common use here.

http://www.autoweek.com/article/20120322/CARNEWS/120329935


stefb
Participant
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Some streets that are already kinda narrow could benefit from having street parking removed also. This has been mentioned a thousand times, but a street like penn from Negley to children’s more specifically, is one stretch I avoid on a bike. And we all know that removing on street parking is not a very easy task. I also agree with the need for some speed cameras.

Glad to hear about these bike lanes being put in, no matter where they are. Moving in the right direction


scott
Keymaster
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I just want to be very clear about this and weigh in before more people misinterpret what is going on. This is not an “either/or” situation. This is a “both” situation.

Simply put, the City owns the streets that are currently getting bike lanes and sharrows. The State owns Penn through this corridor. Working with the State is VERY different than working with the City, and can take a lot longer to see fruit from our labor if at all. PennDOT still has a mentality that values moving cars over moving people.

Make note and take this to heart. We will need you to speak up, show up and be persistant in order to get the design that works better for people on Penn Ave. The good thing is that PennDOT knows they need to do SOMETHING in this corridor to address all the crashes. It’s one of the more dangerous stretches of streets in the City, and they own it so they need to address it. It’s HOW they address it that we need as many people from the community speaking up about.

The study that they commissioned to try to help them figure out what to do basically said “do not implement a lane diet” due to the high volume of car traffic. However this traffic study wasn’t done from a multimodal level of service perspective or using a model that values increasing the level of service for bikes and pedestrians.

If enough people in Pittsburgh and especially in the communities on either side of Penn Ave show up and demand a safer, slower, more multimodal Penn Ave, then and only then will we be able to shape this conversation.

We’re trying to figure out next steps on our end. One idea is a simple petition to try to get PennDOT to do a multimodal LOS analysis of this stretch of road. We could also try to fund the creation of a model that would try to show how safety would improve with a multimodal street and how congestion wouldn’t get all that much worse. Furthermore, Traffic-21 at CMU might be able to put this entire stretch on their real-time traffic light timing system that could address any limitations to car traffic flow with only one lane in each direction.

Where there’s a will there’s a way.


jonawebb
Participant
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Thanks, Scott. BikePgh is a really critical link here between the bike community and government agencies. It’s great to know that you guys have enough political expertise and traffic engineering knowledge to get the job done.


helen s
Participant
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I found this article interesting and relevant- and it shows that speed cameras do not seem to slow people down much.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/sun-investigates/bs-md-speed-cameras-multiple-tickets-20121121,0,5655113.story


scott
Keymaster
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Helen, the article only concentrated on repeat offenders. It didn’t do a before/after analysis of avg speed along the corridors where the cameras are. I would hypothesize that the overall speed has dropped where speed cameras are in use.


helen s
Participant
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You are correct Scott- I correct my statement: Speed cameras do not seem to slow SOME people down much.


scott
Keymaster
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Better studies need to be conducted, but here is some stats on speed cameras

http://www.bmj.com/content/330/7487/331


Marko82
Participant
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Per scott’s link:

“Conclusions: Existing research consistently shows that speed cameras are an effective intervention in reducing road traffic collisions and related casualties. The level of evidence is relatively poor, however, as most studies did not have satisfactory comparison groups or adequate control for potential confounders. Controlled introduction of speed cameras with careful data collection may offer improved evidence of their effectiveness in the future.”

In other words, even though most of the studies show a positive affect, “the evidence is relitively poor” that the cameras were the reason. It could be that some other mechanism is responsible – such as a lot of media coverage, an increase/decrease in the REPORTING of accidents, safer cars, etc. These were not controlled studies. The cameras might be working to prevent accidents, or maybe not. And the study did not look at speed, only accidents.

It’s similar to our response that bicycles are dangerious and accidents are on the rise, without first taking into concideration that more people are cycling


Benzo
Participant
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Just rode the new bike lanes yesterday. They are some of the best ones we’ve got. That stretch of road was perfect for adding bike lanes.


Pierce
Participant
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@marko82 and others

The Baltimore thing also seemed to have very poor enforcement, so people were having thousands of dollars of fines and having nothing happen to them. Recording the fact that somebody is speeding in a vacuum does not change their behavior outside of it.

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