After having a bad experience biking from the southside to oakland yesterday…

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Benzo
Participant
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So, I had a bad experience getting from the Southside to Oakland yesterday. Riding up Forbes, with cars beeping at me from behind while holding the lane, not wanting to move right in the the high speed lane with traffic coming from 376 way over the speed limit. I thought it could be a much better experience given some infrastructure changes.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a way to get from the Birmingham bridge to Oakland safely and easily by bike? There is a large chunk of lane that was removed from service (after blvd of the allies bridge project was completed) which starts right at the end of the bridge, extending all the way until the exit ramp from 376 and forbes ave intersect going towards oakland. It would be awesome if the city could do some minor improvements to that space and turn it in to a dedicated bike path, install a crossing (controlled either by a stop sign for drivers or a light & trigger button like a cross walk) to allow cyclists to proceed across the high speed exit ramp to the right hand side of the road, and then install either sharrows (or a dedicated bike lane on the right hand side of forbes avenue) extending from the crossing to craft ave.

I can only dream.


chemicaldave
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This section always stresses me, even when picking up speed coming from the hill further up Forbes. I usually stop in the old lane, wait for exit ramp traffic to stop and ride on the sidewalk until Forbes calms down around Craft.

I don’t even want to know what that section is like during rush hour.


helen s
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If I were riding SS to Oakland from the Birmingham Bridge, I would not even think of going up that way and onto forbes. I would ride the SS trail to Hotmetal Bridge, then the trail up through Panther Hollow. Much less stressful, if a little indirect.


rice rocket
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Yeah, what Helen said.

Or if you insist on staying near that area, ride over to Fifth and ride the sidewalk.


mr marvelous
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I’m with rice rocket and helen


salty
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Yeah that area is an abomination and the trail route is a fair bit longer. I tried Forbes once and didn’t care for it, I ride up the sidewalk on 5th. Of course then you get to deal with the lovely cars parked on the sidewalk but…


cburch
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I was run over by a car w/out headlights on at dusk at that exit ramp once. I have ridden the bus lane or sidewalk on fifth ever since.


brian j
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+1 for the sidewalk on Fifth. Even with a few cars parked on the sidewalk, it is much, much better than Forbes. I agree that Forbes is a disaster, though.


Benzo
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I’m not taking the sidewalk. It’s not going to happen. I know it’s the ‘safer’ route, but I shouldn’t have to leave the road and ride the sidewalk on a one way street to get up to oakland from that bridge. If that is the case, why did they bother striping all those bike lanes on the bridge down to forbes?

I’m just throwing out my idea to make the situation better (regardless of whether it will get implemented of not). Most of this could be done with some paint, a street sweeper on the abandoned roadway, and a stop sign.


brian j
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Benzo, I don’t think any of us would disagree with you about the necessity of making that stretch of Forbes safer. And it is silly that there’s a bike lane that dumps you there.

It took me awhile to get over the sidewalk thing, but I believe it was Erok who suggested to just imagine it’s a shared space, given how wide the sidewalk is (and it’s also in generally good shape). Yes, the parked cars can be problematic, but it’s better than the alternative.


mr marvelous
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I hate riding sidewalks. My pride prevents my from ridding sidewalks, but I have had so many close calls on Forbes one that was exceptionally bad that I finally swallowed my pride and took the sidewalk or the trail. I hate Forbes so much and riding sidewalks that I take the trail out of my way often.


Erica
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I usually walk the sidewalk on fifth until I’m comfortable riding down one of the side streets to take forbes the rest of the way


sloaps
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when i go up forbes from the birmingham bridge, i stay left upto the slip ramp from the allies bridge. once there, i usually have good sight distance to merge left and stay left upto the light.

just like when i’m driving, if someone wants to go faster than me, then there is always another lane…


ericf
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Take the trail thru Panther Hollow, or deal with the traffic. STAY OFF THE SIDEWALK. If you must use the sidewalk, get off and push. It is very selfish and disrespectful of cyclists to ever ride on the sidewalk. How would you feel if motorcyclists started using the bike paths?


edmonds59
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I seldom ride the section under discussion here, but I WILL ride the sidewalk from the West End Circle to the Fort Pitt bridge and bridge sidewalk, for the maintenance of my own life and limb. It is very ignorant and disrespectful on the part of traffic planners and public works powers-that-be NOT to accomodate cycle traffic. I only imagine the area under discussion to be similar.


brian j
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@ericf: It’s actually legal to ride the sidewalk there (and in most places, unless it’s specifically prohibited).

And, while the trail is generally safer, here are my options from getting from the Eliza Furnace Trail parking lot to Schenley Park:

1. The “cattle chute” along Second Avenue. Technically, you are supposed to walk here, too, and you have to take the sidewalk under the bridge.

2. Second Avenue, which is absolutely horrible during rush hour.

3. Cross the railroad track, which requires cutting through the UPMC lot. Is it illegal to cross the tracks there?

So, it strikes me that either the trail or the Fifth Avenue sidewalk presents me with some ethical quandaries.

I think generally riding on the sidewalks is a Bad Thing(tm), but in some cases, some sidewalks are shared use. I’d put the stretch of Fifth between the bridge and Craft in that category.

Also, pedestrians are allowed on bike paths, no?


mr marvelous
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There are some sidewalks that are appropriate to share and designed for sharing. The sidewalk coming from the Fort Pitt bridge is #1 on my list to share. The sidewalk between 5th and Craft would is also on my list for safety reasons.


edmonds59
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Yes, it is also ignorant and disrespectful for pedestrians to walk 4 abreast on the trails as though they are the only human beings left on earth. Off to ride!


jonawebb
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That area is really a mess geographically (with the hill and river) and in terms of traffic density (interstate traffic, traffic from downtown and Oakland). I don’t really see any way the city can markedly improve things without an investment of literally millions of dollars (for bridges, etc.). They are not doing to put a stop sign or light on the 376 exit.

In fact, sidewalks are legally OK to ride on except in business zones or where there are those stupid “share the road” signs. And I agree with others that it makes sense to use it there.


steevo
Participant
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Am I missing something? I have not regularly

ridden to the southside since 2001, but when

I used to commute home everyday I just took

the bus lane on 5th. Move over if a bus comes.


dmtroyer
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@steevo that has been mentioned before in similar discussions. it is illegal, however, and a good way to piss off bus drivers.


ejwme
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the geography is worse than that jonawebb, the hillside is trying to become one with the river (there’s even a little neighborhood there affectionately called “Landslide”). every 50 years or so another layer of clay, and the houses foolishly built on top of it, slide on down to become beach front property.

In my (questionable) book, Pittsburgh will truly deserve a “bikeable city” descriptor when there is actually more than one way to get from point A to point B safely and relatively stress-free that doesn’t involve us hopping on sidewalks or trespassing, no matter how legal or sanctioned.

also, I’d thought that the city not only sanctioned but also recommended cyclists take the sidewalk there? BPGH maps points out we’re allowed to do it. Personally I’ve never gotten to that location fresh enough to tackle the hill on a bike and enjoy the walk, but it’s not exactly pedestrian grand central.


Benzo
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I don’t see why we couldn’t put a stop sign or light on that off ramp from 376. Hell, there’s a stop sign on the on-ramp from squirrel hill to the parkway east.


StuInMcCandless
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I’m waiting for the day when Forbes becomes one lane outbound from Diamond to Craft, with a candlestick-separated two-way bike lane.

Why in tarnation you need to DRIVE from Dntn to Oakland when there are (supposed to be) ten million buses going the same direction…

Someone needs to just DECIDE there needs to be one less lane. Ditto inbound Fifth, same stretch.

As for the outbound SqHill on-ramp, what it really needs is a jersey barrier. Sideways, across it.


Benzo
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Having a manually actuated light would prevent drivers from being slowed down most of the time, only when someone needed to cross. I’m sure this would be preferred by most drivers. However, the stop sign is a better “traffic calming” device to at least slow down traffic attempting to merge there coming from a 65mph highway to a 25mph street.


brian j
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@ejwme: I usually see a ped or two on my trip up the hill. The sidewalk is plenty wide (aside from in front the car dealer), and I’m moving slowly enough (going uphill, after all) that safely moving past one another is not a big deal.


chemicaldave
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Benzo, that stop sign is there because without it, there would be an accident everyday. It’s not easy trying to get on a highway when the entrance ramps also serves as the exit. That whole section before the tunnel is a CF.


HiddenVariable
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@stu:

As for the outbound SqHill on-ramp, what it really needs is a jersey barrier. Sideways, across it.

haha, too true. i always use the squirrel hill on ramp as an example of how insane pittsburgh traffic can be.

and:

@ejwme

In my (questionable) book, Pittsburgh will truly deserve a “bikeable city” descriptor when there is actually more than one way to get from point A to point B safely and relatively stress-free that doesn’t involve us hopping on sidewalks or trespassing, no matter how legal or sanctioned.

this is obviously never going to happen, simply because it’s impossible to do this even for automobile traffic in pittsburgh. “you can’t get there from here”, after all.


jonawebb
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Oh, there are many ways to get from any point A to point B in Pittsburgh by car. Pittsburgh is densely connected, and everyone has their favorite route, honed over years of experimentation and tweaks. I finally settled on the best way from Squirrel Hill to Shadyside by car, after years of the issue bothering me.

As far as stop signs on ramps go, there is an obvious big difference between a stop sign on an entrance ramp and one on an exit ramp. But I don’t want to antagonize.

I think I heard somewhere that the Birmingham Bridge was supposed to be part of a major highway project, accounting for its size. The highways were never built, of course.


dmtroyer
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OT ALERT: Jon, I’d like to pick your brain on what you think the best way to drive from East Liberty to the Fort Pitt bridge might be…


boostuv
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I go to school at Duquesne and when I ride I take 5th Ave. If I ride in the bus lane I am constantly checking behind me for buses and if I see one I will quickly hop off the bike and on the sidewalk. I have yet to have a bus driver honk or yell at me as I am usually well out of their way by the time they get close.


jonawebb
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@dmtroyer wouldn’t it be Bigelow?


dmtroyer
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@jon depending on the time of day, and if events are happening downtown, bigelow can be backed up almost all the way up the hill from 7th ave. but generally yes, bigelow… although I’ve never timed it.


jonawebb
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@dmtroyer I guess the other way is Neville to Boundary Street and then to Blvd of the Allies. I like that way, it is one of the secrets of Pittsburgh.


Impala26
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Having an actuated or manual push-button signal on that on-ramp would be AMAZING.

@jonawebb: Honestly, stop signs or signals at freeway off-ramps are quite common. Just because the ramp keeps its lane going on to Forbes doesn’t mean that it can’t have a sign or signal.

I mean it’s ridiculous that coming off that ramp there there isn’t a single warning sign about the speed limit or bikes and pedestrians, or flashing warning lights. People regularly go 45 or 50 miles an hour from there to Craft even though the posted speed limit is a mere 25mph. Even passive measures like warning signs/lights would go a long way methinks.


Impala26
Participant
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Well I submitted a 311 request about this area of Forbes. We’ll see what, if anything, comes of it…


ejwme
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I was recently walking my dogs and had a mental image of… you know those yellow, maybe 10 inch diameter steel/concrete cylinders that range from 3′ to 5′ high that they put up to stop people from driving? Sometimes they’re skinnier and can be laid flat for emergency vehicles to pass? In the military, they’re (I think) solid steel and (I know) actuated, hidden beneath the pavement until someone fails a checkpoint, then they shoot up (like sometimes through the car) to trap the offender.

I just had this mental image of these things, combined with the “one car on green” CA stoplights at on-ramps, controlling traffic in the tricky places like this. One car on green. No, seriously, ONE car, slowly, on green. Muahahahahahahaha! It’d be bad if a pedestrian stepped outside the crosswalk, though, aside from super expensive.

But why is it that California has a monopoly on the “one car on green” lights at freeway entrances? The third lane could easily be tweaked at SqHl to make the transition much smoother.

I have never understood why we (PA, Allegheny Co, or Pgh) can’t implement the ideas that other places have not only thought up, but implemented, for years, successfully. I mean sure we’d rather have the classics to fly-by-night trends, but we’ve gone beyond retro to borderline prehistoric.


boostuv
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In Kansas City they have metered on-ramps similar to what CA has. I dont really think they would work in this situation unless enforced.


Anonymous #

Around Chicago there are lights on some on ramps that turn green for a single car during certain times of the day. They are only safe when the ramp is long enough to allow the vehicle to get up to 55mph between the light and the merge point though. There are a lot of short ramps around here, and I imagine a “one car green” light would be implemented similarly to that awful stop sign on the Squirrel hill on ramp.

Sorry, but even if you are driving a $100k+ sports car, you’re not going from 0 to 55mph in 100 feet.


pinky
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Route 22 in Allentown PA has metered ramps, too. But the only time I’ve seen them on is when 22 is a parking lot, which sort of defeats the purpose.

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