Schenly Park Watershed Improvements affect bike infrastructure
A third pilot project, also along Schenley Drive, is called “Skinny Street,” and would narrow the 40-foot-wide road to 26 feet, install infiltration berms to channel water into rain garden wetlands and construct a porous pathway for pedestrians and bicyclers along the road but separated from it by plants.
Narrowing the roadway, would reduce the amount of runoff from the impervious asphalt surface by more than 3.35 million gallons annually.
“Now the roadway is wide and curvy and there’s no sidewalk or barrier between pedestrians, cyclists and cars,” Ms. Copeland said. “By making it a ‘skinny street’ with a porous pathway we’ll be able to capture much more storm flow and make the area safer.”
Cost of the Skinny Street project, which won’t be started until the first two are finished, is about $2.5 million.
This is a route I use to get to squirrel hill frequently, going up schenly drive instead of forbes ave (I hate riding through all the traffic lights on forbes, and dealing with speeding commuters trying to escape the city during rush hour).
I’m really not so fond of taking what is now a nice paved shoulder, which is bigger than most bike lanes in the city, and having it turned in to a path that I probably won’t want to use during the winter, or when it’s rainy/saturated with water (the hazelwood trail is nearly unbearable on skinny tires when it’s saturated).
In the summer, having to share with pedestrians / joggers / dog walkers makes me avoid it completely during the day. I do think that there should be a pedestrian path adjacent to this road though, it’s a definite need. Highland park has trails and bike lanes paralell to each other, why not schenly too?
Thanks for posting this. I’m agreeing with Benzo, this is not a step in the right direction for cyclists. For the watershed, for pedestrians, excellent. But on this road, cyclists need to continue to be directed to, and facilitated, to use the road. In conjunction with this project it seems to me that the whole section should be sharrowed. It’s a park road for shit’s sake, the speed limit is 25 mph, I believe. Motor vehicles need to clearly be made to feel that they are the “guests” here. And at a 25 mph limit, mixing cars and bikes is MUCH more logical than mixing cars and peds. If you are of an opinion please communicate this to the project planners.
“I’m really not so fond of taking what is now a nice paved shoulder, which is bigger than most bike lanes in the city, and having it turned in to a path that I probably won’t want to use during the winter, or when it’s rainy/saturated with water (the hazelwood trail is nearly unbearable on skinny tires when it’s saturated).”
So why not just ride on the street after it’s narrowed? Just because some do-good asshat wants to build a separated MUP doesn’t mean you are required to use it. Take the lane and just spinnin!
^I think mainly because the article does specifically mention this being some kind of improvement for peds and bikes. That assertion needs to be shot out of the sky ASAP.
Well, at face value, this would improve the safety of cyclists that are using the park for recreation. Anyone that wants to let their kids ride bikes in the park will benefit from the separation of the MUP from the road.
However, it may or may not improve the safety of cyclists that are just passing through the park. On one hand, narrower roads can result in a reduction of traffic speed, making it generally safer, but on the other hand, I’ve seen how impatient motorists take issue with a cyclist being in the road when “there’s a bikepath right there!” I think all we can do is just keep using the road appropriately and tell the impatient people to go play hide-and-go-fuck-themselves.
This is the only truly beginner / family friendly connector from squirrel hill to Oakland. I plan on taking my 8 year old daughter that way this weekend. It’s hard to be blase about sharrows and claiming the right to the road and just claiming it regardless of driver attitude if that, and more autonomous riding when she’s not toooo much older is your goal. Lanes PLEASE.
I actually wonder if they might address their paved surface reduction efforts on circuit drive? Same watershed for sure. If you make that bike/golfcart/ped only, narrowing the lanes and making the ped part this more drainage conducive surface then I think you have something that’s a pure positive from all angles.
My attitude about path in terms of family friendliness maybe is surprising, but it follows from the comparison of my daughter’s feelings about the upper panther hollow trail vs. EFT/HMB. The former was “pretty good”, the latter was “awesome”.
Can’t be the scenery, so has to be the smoothness of the surface. Paved was easy/fast and she LIKED that. She even liked climbing the bridge ramps coming back from the southside. Also, only paved surfaces work with training wheels, which is where my middle daughter is at the moment and maybe for the whole summer since she’s not quite 4 yet. I want to take her this way, too, though I have the feeling I’ll be pushing her bike pretty much all the way back up the hill.
I certainly don’t mind it being separated and shared with peds in this context, but with enough bike lane width (which we have on the current shoulder), smoothness just matters more and is overriding in the case of folks who use this for commuting.
I contacted the folks at Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy with my concerns and the idea of narrowing and serpentine and circuit and making off limits to car traffic.
Someone, somewhere, is going to have a problem with cyclists being both in the “driving” lane and the path. Too bad for them. We road riders, capable of riding 20 mph, will duke it out with the cars. Mom and the kids, toodling along at 6 mph, which is all that little Jane and Steven can manage at age sub-8, will be in the path.
Again, we are back to that we darn well intend to make it more difficult to drive, and that that is a good thing. That’s what we have to sell, and it won’t be easy.
I’m less sure about little Jane and Steven trying to ride through what amounts to mud. More details here, please?
From the phrasing I’m pretty sure it will be porous pavement, which is becoming a lot more common for stormwater management.
Also emailed my thoughts to PPC, to be constructive.
epkiley wrote:From the phrasing I’m pretty sure it will be porous pavement
For whatever perverse reason, I can’t get the phrase “Incontinent Asphalt™” out of my head.
JaySherman5000 wrote:So why not just ride on the street after it’s narrowed? Just because some do-good asshat wants to build a separated MUP doesn’t mean you are required to use it. Take the lane and just spinnin!
I would ride on the street after it’s narrowed, I wanted to point out that for me, it would be taking away space that I’m used to having as a buffer from cars when I’m climbing the hill. The bike lane on an uphill is a strategy used on a lot of Pittsburgh streets like forbes, millvale ave, liberty ave and would like that strategy to be maintained.
I’m not as concerned about a bike lane on the downhill, but I would prefer that be there as well.
If this could be designed as a complete street (using some sort of permeable pavement for a bike lane as opposed to a crushed limestone path) with separation of auto, cycle, and pedestrian users (with some buffering between them) then that would be the ideal solution.
Schenely drive through the golf course – as it is right now- is one of my favorite roads in the city. The painted line separating a one lane wide bike/ped section from the main rod is wonderful. If ther are peds in it, I can slide out to the road.
Going downhill, I can exceed the 25 mph speed limit – and still get passed by speeding drivers.
Improving the watershed is probably a good thing. I’m willing to sacrifice some of my biking pleasure for that.
On the other hand, I don’t know if they ferilize the golf course. If they do, doing things like adding a few square yards of porous surface is just plain silly. Kinda like, “I have a fatal disease but I’m gonna make my life so much better by getting my hair cut.”
I don’t know what kind of runoff (if any) comes from Phipps Conservatory.
I’d take the lane downhill when not riding with the family and not miss having a wide should there one bit. Having an uphill lane would be nice I guess, but I’m not sure whether I’d necessarily even prefer that to the shared pedestrian path, unless the shared pedestrian portion of this were too narrow.
So my first question is, what is 14 feet (difference between before and after as vehicle traffic is concerned) going to feel like? How wide is the jail trail, for instance?
If we don’t have enough to work with here, I don’t really see why, in what really is supposed to be a recreation area more than anything else, you can’t shave at least another foot off per car lane, maybe more. But to be honest I don’t see much point to cars there at all.
I commented and asked how many gallons removing the motor vehicle lanes would save. :)
they could depave one half the road to reveal the old blocks for the autos, (which allow water to pass thru) and leave the other half as is for bikes/peds. this whole thing seems really far off, and that they referred to people on bikes as “bicyclers” doesn’t instill confidence that they know the ins and outs of our needs
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