Bigelow Blvd.–Blvd. of the Allies
I would like to bike Bigelow Blvd and the Blvd. of the Allies in their entireties some day. Is there any time and day of the week in which this would be safe for each boulevard?
Sunday early am. When light.
Blvd of the allies is basically a highway in uptown. Cars going 65-70 mph. Don’t die.
You win the award for wanting to bike the deadliest sections of road in the city.
Dude, if you want to keep putting yourself at risk by riding on what are for all practical purposes highways, just for the fun of it, go ahead. Why do you keep asking our permission to do something dumb and dangerous? I think you know the conditions, when traffic is heavy/light and you know what our responses will be.
Lots of novice riders read this board (logged in or not), or come here seeking advice because they need to get somewhere & may need to use a busy road. They usually want to avoid situations that put their lives at risk, not tempt fate. Just be an adult and take responsibility for your decisions.
Sorry for sounding crass, but please be careful out there, whatever your decisions.
@marko82, well said.
@zzwergel, for reference on which roads not to ride on, please see the BikePGH map. Highways and busways are clearly labeled, and as the map legend indicates, they are for “cars only” and “buses only”, respectively. (Boulevard of the Allies is not labeled as a highway for some reason, but it very much is. Do not ride on it).
No. See for example https://goo.gl/maps/w4MYnLkJfRu.
There are seven routes between downtown and the east. One is illegal for bikes (the Parkway East), two are unsafe (Bigelow & the Blvd of the Allies). Four are worth exploring: the Strip District to Liberty or Butler, Forbes to Oakland, the Eliza Furnace Trail, and Center through the Hill District. Lots of interesting ways to go without risking your life.
@zzwergel, I don’t think you’ll find a single person on this board that will tell you it’s ok to go on Bigelow Blvd. between downtown and Polish Hill/North Oakland at any time. It’s a highway. Don’t believe us? Get on a 77 bus and see for yourself.
You might be safe early some weekend morning on Bigelow or the Blvd of the Allies. OTOH you might encounter someone who thinks it’s a great idea to see how fast he can go on the empty road. And he won’t be expecting to see you.
I am a dumbass.
Everyone knows this. I’m not bragging.
I’ve ridden both those roads. Bigelow out of town to Craig St and Blvd into town (until Duquesne university, when I had the correct sense that was my last chance to end the idiocy.)
They are both on my list of “Things I don’t need to do again.”
To make this clear – I live maybe 50 yards from one end of the Blvd of the Allies and, for 7 years, I’ve worked at Mercy Hospital, which is adjacent to the Blvd. The whole time I’ve worked here, I have not once stayed on the Blvd west of Craft Ave. Including times where I might lose my job by being late.
I would advise you not to do it. If you feel you must, you might try very early Sunday morning. I respect Jonawebb’s opinion and I hate to outright contradict him, but NO you will NOT be safe.
While you’re at it, you might as well do Saw Mill Run.
Note: dying is a very real possibility on any of these rides. A driver involved might, or might not, get a ticket.
I have done Bigelow Blvd. from Bloomfield Br. to Craig St. before.
I’ve gone from Craig street to the Bloomfield Bridge dozens of times. That isn’t even vaguely like doing the length of Bigelow.
Is there any way I can get to that park from the 77 bus using a bike and/or walking while staying safe?
Three things that happened one recently and two a long time ago, but they make me think.
- A driver went through a red light and I called him on it “GO THROUGH A REDLIGHT, DRUNKARD!” His window was open and I notice that he did indeed have the facial aspect of a middle-aged alcoholic. A few seconds later cap car with his lights flashing headed in the same direction as the drunkard. I have no idea if the cop heard me or if he was after the driver, but I am sure the driver heard me and that the cop car came up after him a few seconds later.
- On Fifth, in the chute just inbound from Robinson one morning a woman tailgated me, and honked, then shouted something irate when she passed me that included the word “HOSPITAL.” She made a left across the Birmingham Bridge and so it strikes me as unlikely it was any emergency. But sometimes there are drivers that have some legitimate reason to be in a law breaking rush.
- On Forbes just east of Craft, I was tooling along about 6 one night. There was a huge honk and some shouting from somewhere behind me. I glanced over my shoulder and it was a car in the middle lane shouting at the guy behind me. I figured one driver having a quarrel with another? Why should I care about a shoutfest between drunkards? So I went on my way. Then, I heard the bonechilling phrase from the driver in the middle lane “YOU COULD HAVE KILLED HIM!” A bit later as the middle lane car passed me, a sympathetic voice came from the window, “Are you alright, man?” I have no idea what transpired behind me that caused all this, and I don’t think that knowledge would increase of my peace of mind.
BTW. My go-to curse towards drivers is “DRUNKARD!” I encourage you all to make a habit of that.
Once you use profanity at a driver, you’re just a biker with an attitude, end of story. That’s usually true for any spectators as well as the driver. It simply doesn’t matter that the driver broke the law and almost killed you, YOU are the one getting out of hand.
If you peg someone (that is driving badly) as a drunk driver, the world is on your side. When the police hear a biker shout “A**H***!” at a driver, they be would unlikely, indeed, to pursue that driver. It also reminds the drivers that their actions might have consequences I’ve seen bad drivers on the southside on a weekend evening straighten right up as soon as I’ve called them that. (Or at least, straighten their driving up.)
When some guy got vocally irate because I didn’t stop when I did not have a stop sign and so he did have to stop at his, and we shouted back and forth a bit, I realized that he had two kids in the back seat. I was quite proud that *I* hadn’t used any swears (and I suspect they might have heard other people call grandpa that, too).
The word “DRUNKARD” rolls quite easily off the tongue, it’s easy on the throat, and it flies at an impressive volume.
So please, consider adding the word to your vocabulary. I mean, like, even if you are just grumbling to yourself about the drunkards.
I’m not sure how my last rant got to this thread. I thought I was posting to the bad drivers thread.
@mick, no worries. It was a great rant.
And I don’t count your better knowledge of the Blvd of the Allies as a contradiction. We both agree, stay off it west of Craft.
Is there any way I can get to that park from the 77 bus using a bike and/or walking while staying safe?
It looks to me (based on Street View, not a visit) like you could take the 77 bus to Bigelow at Herron Avenue, then take the sidewalk (on bike or foot) to Frank Curto Park on Bigelow. (The sidewalk on Street View looks overgrown in spots, so actually getting through might require gardening tools, but at least there is a sidewalk all the way to the park.)
The sidewalk along Bigelow goes most of the way to downtown, until it just ends when Bigelow becomes a ramp, with nowhere for pedestrians to go except into the street. (There’s even an opening in the Jersey barrier to let pedestrians step into the path of the speeding cars more easily.)
@mick, your rant kind of does apply to Bigelow Blvd east of Herron Ave. These roads are called “Boulevard” and not “Highway” for a reason. Bigelow, Allies, Allegheny River, etc are intended as scenic, peaceful, multi-modal roads in which people take there time to enjoy driving, biking, or walking along. They were not intended as urban autobahns or race tracks for drag racing. I would recommend that some state police be stationed with radar guns in the Bigelow Blvd park, and near Craig St. There should also be police cracking down on speeding cars in the Blvd. of the Allies parking lots near Mercy Hospital and near Craft Ave and Grant St. These “Boulevards” (I use quotes as these are used as NOT intended) need a road diet with a bike lane on each side and a buffer stripe kind of like Negley Run Blvd. has. I do not recommend that anyone speed, but if any motorists MUST speed, please take the Parkway or RT 28. since bikes are prohibited from these roads and you are less likely to kill someone. Traffic calming should also be employed on Saw Mill Run Blvd. and Liberty Ave. as well.
@steven, I tried the 77 bus today with my bike on the front. It would be nice if a bus stop and shelter was placed before the western driveway into the park for travelers to board the bus to Downtown. Also, placing a bus stop opposite the Eastern ramp for travelers to the East End or Penn Hills to board the bus. Install a RRFB or HAWK beacon across the road to allow access to the shelter. a Sidewalk on the eastbound side from the 30th street steps to the crosswalk would be nice as well so residents can get a quick bus ride to Downtown or to Penn Hills.
Bigelow, Allies, Allegheny River, etc are intended as scenic, peaceful, multi-modal roads in which people take there time to enjoy driving, biking, or walking along
No. They are clearly intended to be bypasses to residential neighborhoods (the Hill/Strip Districts, Polish Hill, Uptown, etc.). And while it’s unfortunate that a more multi-modal design was not taken into account when they built them (hell, Pittsburgh’s Chinatown was leveled to make way for BOTA), the end result is not necessarily a bad thing. It means less cars on residential, dense neighborhoods, and more peaceful riding for you and me.
The widening of Bigelow Blvd to four lanes was part of Robert Moses’s plans for Pittsburgh (http://www.brooklineconnection.com/history/Facts/Point39.html):
Preliminary work had already begun in early 1939, with the $1.8 million widening of Bigelow Boulevard to four lanes
Yes. They were clearly designed for cars only. I need to find the link about the development of Allegheny river Blvd. It was for white people to drive and look at the scenic river in the 20s and 30s when cars were becoming popular. That’s why there are those abandoned stone things every few miles. And why there is no sidewalks.
They turned into speedways when cars got faster and people used them for commuting.
I admire your wish to pedify and bikeify these areas, but it’ll take more that state cops with radar guns to do this. There needs to be infrastructure changes and also a need for them. There are plenty of other ways to get downtown from Oakland. So not sure anyone will fund traffic calming and peds infrastructure on Bigelow or the Blvd of the allies.
The solution for Allegheny river Blvd is not fixing the road but a trail next to the river and train tracks out to Oakmont and beyond
PAT might figure there aren’t enough pedestrians trying to get to Frank Curto Park that a bus stop there makes sense.
There’s actually a crosswalk at Frank Curto Park to get to the Ammon Playground Steps on the opposite side of Bigelow. So that’s another way to reach the park by bus. Take an 83 to Bedford at Memory Lane and head down Memory Lane to the Ammon Playground next to the Bedford Hill overlook. The Pittsburgh Stairs site says there are 115 steps down to Bigelow. I don’t know how safe it is to cross Bigelow there (painted crosswalk, a pedestrian crossing sign but no light), but perhaps there are sufficient breaks in the traffic.
There are indeed steps perpendicular to Bigelow near Frank Curto Park. The ones going up are in OK shape. The ones going down to Paulowna St were welded shut, the last I knew.
Why weren’t these roads designed for multi-modal travel? Most people still did not have cars in the 1930s. It is a shame because the view across the Allegheny River is great from Frank Curto Park. Also, why does the sidewalk only go downstream from the Highland Park Bridge and not upstream as well? Some traffic calming would be useful at the weave area here too. Why exclude people like me who do not have the desire to drive let alone a drivers license?
They really wanted to get people into cars, and people in cars had more money, so those were the people they listened to. Robert Moses restructured the entire road system in NYC on this basis. And Pittsburgh liked his work so much we hired him.
And yes, it had huge negative social consequences, which we’re still dealing with.
- The speed limit on Bigelow (at least the stretch between Bloomfield Br and Herron Ave) is 25mph. Should be pretty safe, right?
- On the other hand, I was once informed that the Pgh Police traffic enforcement unit has 12 people and that, you know, they can’t be everywhere.
What’s perfect about that picture is the 25 mph sign next to something laid out like a highway.
straight, center jersey barriers, 2 lanes each way with striped white, guardrail on the side.
Ain’t no one going slower than 50 mph in that section.
@jonawebb is correct — this was designed for cars. Everything was car-centric. Everyone wanted a car or had a car. Cars were the future. Horses were in the past. not many people foresaw all the social consequences. It is also politically and structurally hard to undo what was done.
- How about a road diet like that of Negley Run Blvd?
- Why is there no shoulder?
- Further east on Bigelow Blvd, There are bike lanes/sharrows and sidewalks. Why not here?
Perfect place for state police to write tickets for speeders.
- I don’t have the usage data for either road, but I would imagine that Bigelow gets far more use than Negley Run, with the former being a main thoroughfare into and out of the central business district, and the latter being a short road connecting two areas that are neither densely populated or filled with businesses. For reference on Bigelow’s use, see the traffic jams caused by it being closed two summers ago while it was being reconstructed. Even assuming there was a study that said that a road diet on Bigelow would be a good idea, good luck convincing PennDOT (who owns the road) of this.
- Bigelow is carved into the side of the hill. Space is a premium there. Widening the road to accommodate a shoulder on both sides has cost consequences. (read: cantilevering the road and/or increasing the height/size of the retaining walls along the south side of the road) See how relatively narrow the on and off ramps are. Not a lot a room there.
- Because that section is not a highway anymore and has a lot more pedestrian traffic. Houses, businesses, schools, etc.
State police will never sit on Bigelow Blvd and pullover speeders. Their nearest barracks are far away. I’m sure they have other things to do. And they’d be stepping on pgh pice territory. And in a city like Pittsburgh there are higher priority uses for police than pulling over speeders.
In a world of unlimited resources we could do everything. We don’t live in that world. With many safer alternatives to get downtown from Oakland area and the very real possibility of miles of dedicated bike Lanes as part of a brt system, right now you’re just tilting at windmills trying to make non bike/peds roads more friendly.
- This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by Eric.
I agree with Marko.I think this guy,(ZZwergel),is trying to be funny,(hopefully), or truly is a nutcase .I think the answer is quite obvious if this is a safe road to cycle.Yes ZZwergel,go ahead and kill yourself by cycling on this road.
Cars didn’t replace horses in Pittsburgh; they replaced streetcars. Pittsburgh used to have a very good, remarkably extensive, streetcar system. You still see the repurposed car barns and rusted metal trolley poles.
Pittsburgh police would enforce the speed limit laws more if they had access to radar, which is forbidden to cities under state law (Pennsylvania is the only state that does this). There’s a law changing this, which I hope we’re advocating for. See http://www.pennlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/04/lawmakers_call_for_arming_loca.html.
Oh, we didn’t say that you’d kill yourself. Being killed by a car going 65 mph on a road not designed for multi-modal transit is much more likely than you killing yourself. :)
When I was in my teens and 20s I would have thought about doing this, but now that I’m old(er), have a job and a family, I think more than twice about any of these things.
- This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by Eric.
Part of Bigelow is posted 25, sure. So is the Bloomfield Bridge. Actual speeds on those roads are closer to 45mph, minimum—they’re among the only roads I’ve ever seen where people routinely do twice the posted speed limit without anyone even blinking. I have seen people do closer to 70 on occasion, especially west of Herron (which is posted 35).
I have ridden (on the sidewalk) from Herron to Curto Park. I wouldn’t try to ride that sidewalk on a skinny-tire bike, but it’s certainly doable on 32s or wider. Frankly, though, once you’ve been there once, there’s not much reason to go again; the view from Cliffside Park at the top of the hill is better, and the environment in general more pleasant, what with the lack of speeding cars flying by you on the Hill…
If you want to get from Oakland to Downtown quickly, taking Fifth Ave and turning right on Sixth gets you to almost exactly the same place as Bigelow, in less distance–from Bigelow at Bayard to Bigelow at Sixth is 3.3 miles on Bigelow, and 2.8 on Fifth, and with about 25ft less climbing. If you want a challenge, take Centre or one of the other roads over the Hill. If you want a safer, lower-traffic ride, take Gold and Melwood to Polish Hill and Penn or River through the Strip, or better yet the Jail Trail.
I live in Polish Hill; occasionally, I walk home from Oakland along Bigelow Blvd. It’d probably improve my life if its traffic were slowed and the sidewalks reconstructed. But, frankly, realistically, it wouldn’t do so enough to be worth the time, effort, and cash it would require to make it happen.
I regularly bike the bit of Bigelow east of the Bloomfield Bridge, after biking the bridge. It’s my main path coming from (beyond) Millvale. 40th St Br, 40th St, Liberty, Bridge, Bigelow, then one of the forks from there, depending on which end of Oakland I’m headed for. Short version, I take the lane, not the sidewalk, riding a bit left of center in the lane. I do not typically use the Liberty Ave bike lane, though that is not a hard and fast rule.
Liberty Ave bike lane is nice, though you need to watch for “cheaters” when traffic is backed up on Liberty heading toward the business district of Bloomfield. People will start driving in the bike lane about a block before.
Also, although it is striped green and well marked, I always worry about being side swiped when travelling straight again on Liberty as cars merge onto the Bloomfield bridge.
What’s the reason for speeding if you are going to have to stop for a traffic light ahead at the Bloomfield Bridge, Herron Ave., or 6th Ave. anyway? The traffic light is not going to change any faster if you speed as you approach it. Also, it causes more wear and tear on the vehicle. The same applies for crossing bridges. YOR ARE MOST LIKELY GOING TO HAVE TO STOP AND WAIT ANYWAY AT THE OTHER END FOR A TRAFFIC LIGHT.
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