Panther Hollow / Blvd of the Allies and SLOW bicycling?
Anonymous 12/19/2012 at 1:36am #
I commute every morning down Panther Hollow and then Blvd of the Allies and then on the return home take the sidewalk back up.
I figured that pattern made the most sense given the drop along the way to Bates Street… riding in the street is better and unlike sidewalk, consistently legal, but high relative velocity is dangerous.
OK, so then how come cresting the tiny little rise up from Bartlett Playground before the main downhill on Panther Hollow did I come upon another bicyclist lackadaisically puttering along at, I don’t know, maybe 7mph? A young male bicyclist who, skinny and with road bike could easily have been doing twice that and possibly done 3x that speed. Seems irresponsible not to try and MOVE on that sort of road.
Then on my way home, there’s a bicyclist going the other way. On Blvd, my reaction is thumbs up, I really hate riding on that sidewalk and it is illegal, but it’s short, uphill, and a busy road, so I thought it was better in my case esp. since I’m still recovering from the major part of the climb. But if enough bicyclists do otherwise, maybe I could budget my energy on Bates better, and then road would be a welcome relief after all that’s sidewalk.
Great so far, but my reaction changed as that bicyclist continued on into Schenley Park on on Panther Hollow, which due to lack of stoplights means cars ZOOM on, and which has a stronger and more sustained uphill. And continued not just to the interchange area which again, like Blvd, I could see maybe, but all the way up the hill. This seemed like a death wish to me. At least that bicyclist was working, got up the hill faster than me, but really??
Am I being a major wimp, or does this seem crazy to other folks too? Or maybe with good lines of sight not crazy, but not constructive I don’t think either… you slow someone down that much and I think it’s major fuel to the road rage fire.
Perhaps abstracted away from the specific case, are there roads you ride down but not up? Do you push it on faster/busier roads? If so, is your motivation safety, trying to avoid holding up others, something else??
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Regardless of our effort, cars are still going at a much greater speed when it comes to hills and there’s no traffic.
If the guy’s taking the lane, I don’t think it’s any more dangerous because he’s more visible and cars can change lanes from further back
I live just off the Blvd of the Allies in Oakland. If I’m really in a hurry, I take Panther Hollow Blvd up the hill. It’s scary.
Pierce, thanks for reposting that link. I’ve been looking for that video on taking the full lane and forgot where I saw it.
Byogman, I tend to ride as fast as I can, but to car driver it makes no difference if you are going 10mph or even 20mph when they want to go 40mph. For safety, lane position is much more important than speed.
No, not wimpy. I consider that section of the Blvd, say from Ward to about the corner of Hobart and Beacon to be very sketchy for the reasons you noted. Poor sight lines, fast traffic (cars take that section @ 60mph regularly) and the traffic markings make for some weird traffic patterns (i.e. when they repainted the lane markings from Blvd to Parkview and you have people turning left to drop down onto Swinburne, and the intersection of Ward/Blvd where you have a lot of incoming traffic crossing the line for some reason). It’s an area to be cautious, for sure.
I’ve seen weird stuff as well, your standard ninjas and a guy who had inverted lights, red in front and white in back.
Anonymous 12/19/2012 at 3:18am #
Pierce, thanks for the link. Validates my existing thinking on lane positioning.
And understood that closing speed is still potentially quite high regardless. I see it some mornings where I’m flying down the hill (I regret I don’t have a speedometer, but if there’s no headwind I swear easily 30 mph) and someone cuts left and then immediately right once they’re past me so they can keep going 50-55mph a hair longer until they turn right to Phipps/etc. Not much you can do about that unless you can get police involved.
I’m maybe thinking of the scenario where there’s enough traffic in the left lane that someone behind me might not be able to easily pass. If I’m going reasonably quick (for a bike), I think they’re more likely to shrug it off long enough for things to work themselves out than if I’m loping along at a runner’s pace. And I don’t want to be around if someone tries to force it.
@byogman, I’m not sure your ultimate destination, but have you considered Greenfield Rd>Greenfield Bridge>(R) Alger>(L) Winterburne>(R) Greenfield Ave>Eliza Furnace Trail?
The transition from Greenfield Ave to the Trail is a bit of a hassle: you have to pick between portaging over the RR tracks, taking “the chute”, or braving one long block of Second Ave.
This was my preferred route when I was working downtown.
There are some threads about the connection between the trail and Greenfield/Junction Hollow. I’ll see if I can dig up a link.
Greenfield inbound is not so bad since it was repaved a year or two ago.
 Nevermind – I see you started that earlier conversation.
apologies for the redundancy!
In dry weather and with good lights, there’s a sweet path from Panther Hollow Lake up through the ravine of Schenley Park. It lets you out behind the playground @ Bartlett. I love it in the spring and summer.
Anonymous 12/19/2012 at 4:26am #
Apologizing for not following recognizing a prior thread as mine, really? Please, no worries.
I like the directness of Panther Hollow / Blvd / Bates for my daily ride, and downhill I like it a lot, don’t want to see making any changes there. Uphill on the sidewalk, well, I still at least like the directness.
I tried greenfield going up and felt like it had about the same or more downsides and was a little less direct for me. Unless cars are more forgiving with bikes going uphill in the road there than on my route? I tried this at the beginning of my commuting and wouldn’t have dared that question then. As for the trail up through the ravine, you’re certainly right, it’s gorgeous. I’d do it more if they had a real crossing for the track and if they’d smooth the trail alongside the pond a bit. Not holding my breath.
Anonymous 12/19/2012 at 12:33pm #
I usually go up Greenfield on the way home, and have found that going on Second Ave is much easier than portaging over the tracks. Taking the chute is totally out of the question for me, as I got two flats in the span of a week when I tried. I find it incredibly difficult to take a left at Greenfield at Hazelwood (?) and would much rather deal with that left onto Second Ave.
Usually during rush hour, I find cars aren’t in a hurry, because they know they will get stuck at the stop sign at the top of Greenfield Ave no matter how fast they go up the hill.
Anonymous 12/19/2012 at 1:04pm #
I’ve found cars going up Greenfield to be surprisingly slow and respectful in general. It’s one of those weird “personality of the street” things.
Anonymous 12/19/2012 at 3:06pm #
Thanks Joanne, I may give Greenfield a go as the climb home sometime soon. I still want to work on my climbing speed a bit first… but maybe that’s more me being self conscious than any danger. If I didn’t have to use sidewalk as much (or at all) anymore that would be pretty great.
@byogman, consider changing your gearing. If you can reduce your lowest gear to 1:1 or less I’ll bet you feel a lot better on Pittsburgh hills. Look into replacing the smallest gear on your triple, assuming you have one, with a really small granny gear. Not expensive and makes the city much more bikeable.
> On Blvd… I really hate riding on that sidewalk and it is illegal…
False! Riding on the sidewalk is only illegal in a business district or where a painted bike lane is provided. Otherwise it is perfectly legal.
I’d love to see Panther Hollow Rd worked on sometime soon. It’s kinda horrific having pretty much a giant superhighway running through what should be one of our great parks…
Having commuted from Squirrel Hill to downtown for the past 11+ years, I think I have taken most of the routes availible.
My preference during rush hour is through Carnegie Mellon under the facilities mangagement building, across the tracks, through Panther Hollow on the trail, and on 2nd Ave. going in to get up onto the jail trail, in the chute coming home. On Sunday mornings or holidays, I will either ride through the park on the “highway (Panther Hollow Road)” or down through the golf course to get on the Boulevard to take the illegal left down Bates to Second Avenue. The latter I think is the fastest, but not worth it with lots of traffic.
When there is a lot of snow I cross the Greenfield Bridge and go down Greenfield because it is plowed more reliably, but almost never come home that way- too much traffic, and the ice forms from seepage off the hill on the east (uphill) side of the road.
Coming home depending on weather, errands, or mood, I can go through the park, up the short steep section out Panther Hollow to Joncaire (to get to the library) or up Boundary and back through CMU.
As far as the skinny road biker- maybe he was tired, or needed to take his time, or had no muscles to go fast. I think it’s crazy to ride on the highway through the park when there are so many other good options, even if it is on the sidewalk.
Whenever I find myself coming back to Squirrel Hill from South Oakland on Panther Hollow Road I always take Overlook Dr. around the skating rink instead of riding over the hill to Greenfield/Bartlett. The traffic there is intense, there is no shoulder, and no sight lines either.
Anonymous 12/19/2012 at 4:41pm #
buffalo buffalo, I thought that stretch of Blvd of the Allies was considered a business district, no? Anyways, I share the same sense about how Panther Hollow Road bisects and weakens all aspects of Schenley Park. The most ridiculous bit is the full blown interchange next to the playground.
Helen, I guess I’ve desensitized myself somewhat to the traffic on Panther Hollow going down. I’ve found that while the cars do go ridiculously fast, they have given me enough space. I think that has to do with me positioning myself center or even slightly left of center in the right lane and having a really bright blinker.
I freely admit to taking the illegal left on Bates, though if I’m going more in full blown rush and/or there’s any right turning traffic to contend with, I generally just stay on Blvd to Craft and cut over to Fifth. Feels like a reasonable way to avoid being contributory to any traffic mixup.
I will say that it still may not be safer for me though… I historically have taken the left wide to stay on Blvd past the junky triangle parklet but let cars stuck behind me at the light past. I find no such courtesy being extended in return as I continue up toward craft and re-“merge” back with the car traffic.
jonawebb, will check out the opposite side of the park some more. Did so once before but not thoroughly. Was somewhat unhappier with the trail and unhappier still when came up to a set of stairs. I know I could’ve just stayed on overlook, but felt really indirect.
from cmu, i always take the bridle trail from the pool to where it comes out on the road that goes up to the oval (i guess that’s overlook?). it’s considerably less hill, i think, than the other options mentioned, assuming you’ve already climbed to cmu (i’m usually coming from shadyside, so i have).
edited to add: also, there are few roads more enjoyable to ride on than the ones going up the golf course.
I think I misread–I’d initially thought you meant the section in the park. Rereading, I suppose it’s possible to interpret some sections of the Oakland segment of the Boulevard as being sufficiently densely business-populated as to be considered a ‘business district’ under the law (“when within any 600 feet… there are buildings in use for business or industrial purposes… which occupy at least 300 feet of frontage on one side or 300 feet collectively on both sides”)…
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