Babcock Boulevard

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StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Oh, definitely. In my younger, um, less enlightened cycling days, I very nearly got wiped out at the Babcock-Geyer corner. A pickup was trying to make a left onto Geyer, I went sailing past on the shoulder, and had to make an emergency maneuver to not get hit by a car crossing Babcock.

Get in the lane, stay in the lane, don’t do stupid stuff like that, and you’re probably going to be all right. That presupposes, though, that motorists are playing by the rules and considerate. Which is asking a lot.


Callahan
Participant
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Stu, you might already know this, but be careful going down that stretch near the Shop ‘n Save. There is a (what’s it called – parallel? horizontal?) drain that is always covered with garbage/leaves/snow.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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This one? The first photo in that post’s sequence.

That’s the one I refer to at 0:59 in my videos. Just a little toward Millvale from the S&S entrance.


Callahan
Participant
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Yep! That’s it. Didn’t see you mention it earlier. I think it gets deeper every year. Can’t 311 that.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Babcock got significant attention at the newly formed Ross Twp bike-ped meeting last night. Easily 10 people there with a specific interest in cycling, both commuting and recreationally. @callahan, it was good to meet you in person!

Some thoughts, and the general sense of attendees:
* Many reiterated the need for at least a decently paved shoulder along the length, if not a formal bike lane. Possibly sharrows.
* Apparently the state owned part is due for a repaving in the very near future. A widening or redesign isn’t likely.
* The absence of any sort of pedestrian accommodations along the section from Northway Car Wash to Northway Mall was noted.
* The need is to make this a main bike thoroughfare, as it follows a natural valley. That will require the cooperation of the county, PennDOT, and neighboring townships (Shaler, McCandless).

Let’s see what happens with this group. It’s only its first meeting, but plans are to meet monthly for the foreseeable future.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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The portion of Babcock from the north end of Millvale to Peoples Plank Road — that wye in the road a mile south of the southern McKnight corner — was milled during the week. The milling is nasty. They apparently did more than one pass, at different depths, so there is a largely invisible one-inch lip running longitudinally, right on the road edge.

One good thing that’s come of this is that the massive hole around the drain grate outbound, just before the wye mentioned above, was filled yesterday.

Much of the work is being done at night. I came through there about 10 p.m., and they had a long segment of alternating one-way traffic.


Benzo
Participant
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This sounds like an opportunity to get new bike things painted or shoulders widened during resurfacing and re-striping.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I hope they fix the sunken drain grates on the bridge. I hold no high hopes of getting anything widened. That stretch between Rita’s and the Shop’n Save, there is nowhere to go without condemning property.

My worry is that by improving the road surface, that will embolden drivers to go even faster through here. When what I really want done is to lower the speed limit from 35 to 25.


Benzo
Participant
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You don’t need to widen the pavement to widen the shoulders. Just take it out of the lanes.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Widening the shoulders will make it easier for drivers to blow past me at 35+ mph an elbow width off my brake handle. To me, that’s not acceptable.

This half mile of road is the thin funnel that everything must squeeze through to get from the river trail to North Park and the central North Hills. Every other road involves a major hill.

The city equivalent of this is Butler Street. On Penn and Liberty through the Strip, regardless of the posted speed limit, there’s a passing lane and people can fly past at whatever speed they want. But on Butler, between about 51st Street and Doughboy Square, there isn’t anyplace to go. You can’t pass because oncoming traffic is constant. There is no “over” to move to. Cars have to follow bikes down the street, at whatever speed the bikes are going. But at least on Butler the speed limit is 25. On Babcock it’s 35. If you try to get right, you get a close pass. If cars try to pass, they’re risking a head-on, because there isn’t any “over” for oncoming traffic to move to, anymore than there is for bikes to do so.

There is one solution that keeps everyone safe: Lower the speed limit to 25. I don’t care who this pisses off.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
#

The repaving project on Babcock between the wye at Peoples Plank Rd and Millvale is essentially complete. If that isn’t the final top coat of asphalt, it’s very nice, and includes the shoulders. However:

* The half mile between Rita’s and 1717 Sigmas is still as narrow as it had been.

* Inbound, there is still zero room. You have to take the lane. Outbound, there’s about a two-foot shoulder, tempting enough to pull into to let traffic pass, but that only invites close passes.

* The deep drain grates on the little bridge by Shop’n Save are untouched. That means if you do hang close to the road edge, you’re going down into a six-inch-deep hole with longitudinal slots in it, both directions.

I still don’t know who I have to strangle, but that section needs to be 25 mph, nice new pavement be damned.

 

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