Bike/Pedestrian unfriendly intersections
There are places where the No pedestrian crossing signs are justified. In Oakland at the intersection of 5th Ave and Tennyson Ave. on the western corner of Tennyson Ave., there is one of those signs because all traffic on Tennyson Ave. has to turn right and sight lines are bad there This sign is there for safety purposes. Crossing Freeport Rd. at Delefield Rd. is forbidden due to there not being anywhere to walk on the other side.
There are also places where these signs are not justified. At the intersection of Washington Blvd. and Allegheny River Blvd. in Highland Park, Beulah Rd. and Churchill Rd. in Churchill, as well as several intersections along Rt. 19 in Cranberry Twp., There are no pedestrian crossing signs posted all the way around the intersection. All of the intersections in question have traffic lights and crossing in the direction of the green light should not be forbidden with signage. They should install pedestrian crossing signals and crosswalks in an attempt to make these areas somewhat more pedestrian, bicycle, and transit friendly. This kind of signage creates dead-ends for pedestrians and discourages physical activity which is necessary to end the American obesity epidemic and reduce pollution. Even the sprawling post-war suburbs can be outfitted with paths that allow pedestrian and bicycle use between culls-de-sac but are closed off to motor vehicle traffic.
Any comments would be appreciated.
I would distinguish among four distinctly different intersection types:
- Pedestrian signals exist, but the timing of the lights makes crossing the street with the ped-xing light dangerous.
- Signage or other infrastructure exists to support ped-xing, but it is still dangerous.
- No signage or infrastructure exists, or it exists and prohibits crossings, and it’s needed.
- Not really a crossing, but peds cross there often anyway.
I can name examples of each. Shall I begin?
Type 1: Trying to cross Perry Hwy in Ross Twp at Three Degree Road, from east to west, from in front of the gas station to Willi’s Ski Shop.
Type 2: Perry Hwy in West View, the ped-xing in the middle of the block just north of Center. Cars routinely blow through this crossing without yielding.
Type 3: Babcock at Siebert, Ross Twp. Explicit do-not-cross signs on three of the four corners.
Type 4: McKnight Rd at Houston Rd, Ross Twp. Riders of public transit exit northbound buses at this stop, then cross McKnight, despite no ped crossing, and in fact they have to jump the barrier separating north from southbound lanes, and traffic speeds often exceed 50 mph southbound. Peds are on their way to jobs in North Hills Village. The other two stops near NHV are far from these people’s jobs. Also, nobody on Houston Rd uses public transit to get to work (there is no southbound bus stop).
What about the intersections in Cranberry? I would not mind living out there if it had frequent and reliable bus or tram service to Downtown or the Northside as well as allowing pedestrians to cross the main street in order to get to/from a bus stop or to business on the other side on the street without needing a bicycle or a car. Amending the zoning ordinances in Ross, McCandless, Cranberry, Pine, Monroeville, and many other suburbs in the same manner that the City did involving parking minimums would encourage biking and the use of alternative modes of transportation.
In order for someone who lives in Wexford or Cranberry to use public transportation, they need to drive most of the way to Pittsburgh just to get an O1 Ross Flyer which only operates directional during weekday rush hours. I’m pretty sure if you have to drive 15 miles just to get a bus, mosy people would rather drive another 5 miles to Downtown and park there than have to deal with an unreliable bus and a park and ride lot in which can be impossible to find a place to park.
Not sure which of Stu’s categories this one falls into, but I would put up Routes 88 & 51, coming from the South (on 88) as a pretty rotten intersection for a cyclist, or pedestrian for that matter. The approach, from the McNeilly Road intersection is very narrow, there are no sidewalks or road shoulders, and the heavy traffic moves along faster than the 35 mph posted speed limit. Once the intersection is reached, the new alignment leaves only the choices of turning left or right onto the decidedly un-bike-friendly Route 51 (also sans shoulder or sidewalk). One can no longer cross 51 to get to Ivyglen Road or to cut through the Saint Norbert’s property because the traffic is all uni-directionally routed to the South. In other words, it is now essentially a one way and contra to the way the Northbound cyclist would want to go. I used to cross there, from the South, but haven’t done so since the traffic project was completed. Coming from the North, it is possible to cross over to Glenbury but this cannot be done in reverse.
I haven’t been out there on a bike since the rebuild started. My wife used to work in the area, in a private home near the Glenbury-Aaron intersection, so I’ve driven out there many times. No idea what it looks like at the moment, though.
For a northern version of weird, there are several contenders for bad, though none stand out as all that difficult. Babcock-Babcock-Three Degree is a bit dicey, since it’s so wide, and the Babcock-to-Babcock peel-off is hazardous for pedestrians. By bike it isn’t that tough, though.
Many of the McKnight intersections were just re-timed to improve traffic flow; that is, to make cars move faster. Getting across as a pedestrian is difficult, because none of them have a three-second advance like in-city lights do.
forward Murray and pocusite. sidewalks closed for construction 5 way intersection near I376 lots of turning cars
Blvd. of the Allies, Panther Hollow Rd., and Overlook Dr. Why is there an interchange here? There is a bus stop inside the traffic island formed by traffic coming from the Panther Hollow Bridge and eastbound traffic toward the Panther Hollow Bridge. There is no sidewalk or crosswalks in the vicinity., but the on ramp has a stop sign. For the westbound bus stop, there is a walkway that can be used to reach the pool or the Panther Hollow Bridge. Where the westbound off ramp to the Panther Hollow Bridge merges with traffic exiting eastbound traffic, there is a flashing red light and a yield sign for traffic turning right off of the ramp. I think a crosswalk should connect the two sidewalks of the bridge where the traffic island is. Better yet, rip the interchange out and replace it with a signalized intersection with crosswalks like the one at Bartlett St., Hobart St., and Greenfield Rd.
The Beechwood Blvd. Parkway interchange is one of the worst auto-centric pieces of infrastructure in existence. It is extremely confusing and dangerous since being in the wrong lane dumps you onto a highway!
I never found a good way to go westbound at the beechwood interchange. Eastbound I would play in traffic until monitor street but I would usually wait for a large break in traffic since traffic off the parkway tends to go 40-60 mph there. (actual speed limit is 25 I believe)
@andyc, Why would they speed near all of those houses? Why don’t they paint sharrows on the remaining sections of Beechwood Blvd. that do not already have bike lanes all the way to the Greenfield Bridge? That should be the next phase of bike network extension since the bridge is back. Also, a stop sign should be installed on the ramps where they meet Beechwood Blvd.
Eastbound: Impatience and perceived lack of consequences I imagine. – You can’t really put in a stop sign as the ramp simply becomes Beechwood Blvd with the exiting highway traffic having the right of way over traffic coming from Greenfield on Beechwood. (Which seems correct as there is far more traffic coming from 376 than from Greenfield.)
It’s not great but the cost to try and fix it in place (I don’t think sharrows would help) is probably less than the cost of even better alternative fixes.
It should be converted into a T intersection with a 2-way stop or a roundabout if that is the case.
Is it correct that if one was to walk along a road with no sidewalk or shoulder, the person must walk as far left as possible in the opposite direction as traffic?
This is impossible to answer. Should? Case by case. And may vary from one 100-foot stretch to another. Sometimes there’s somewhere to walk, sometimes not. Sometimes a wheelchair can traverse it, usually not. Sometimes what you’re walking in is a storm outwash area; sometimes it’s dry, sometimes it’s a river. Sometimes a spot is plenty wide enough but is thick mud.
Sometimes there’s snow; sometimes not. Sometimes it’s dark, sometimes not.
What should YOU do? Save your skin. Don’t cause a crash; don’t be the one hit. This may require crossing the street to walk on the wrong side because it’s safer there.
On more than one occasion, I’ve walked squarely out in front of moving traffic (with plenty of space to see me and react) and forced cars to come to a halt, so I could walk around an obstruction, usually fast moving water. Once moving toward them, once making them follow me up the street at a walking pace, neither with them having the option to go around me. Was that legal? Hell, I don’t care, I was saving my skin.
The world does not always divide into clean rules.
Title 75 says:
§ 3544. Pedestrians walking along or on highway.
(a) Mandatory use of available sidewalk.–Where a sidewalk is provided and its use is practicable, it is unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway.
(b) Absence of sidewalk.–Where a sidewalk is not available, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall walk only on a shoulder as far as practicable from the edge of the roadway.
(c) Absence of sidewalk and shoulder.–Where neither a sidewalk nor a shoulder is available, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall walk as near as practicable to an outside edge of the roadway and, if on a two-way roadway, shall walk only on the left side of the roadway.
(d) Right-of-way to vehicles.–Except as otherwise provided in this subchapter, any pedestrian upon a roadway shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
So legally you’re supposed to walk on the left. But Stu’s right. What you should actually do varies with conditions.
When there’s no shoulder on either side, I usually pick whichever side has some place for me to get off the road fast if need be. On a blind curve, being on the outside of the curve makes you more visible. Of course, if you’re walking on the right, you need to be constantly aware of what’s coming up behind you, so walking on the left is easier when there’s no particular reason to prefer the right.
I had my first opportunity this weekend to experience and drive through a “diverging diamond intersection”. How a cyclist navigates one safely without taking a full lane and keeping their head on a swivel is beyond me.
How a 16-year-old cyclist navigates it is a complete puzzle.
Does that mean that one can legally walk away from Downtown via Bigelow Blvd., but not into Downtown. I would not recommend it though at least until some form of traffic calming is implemented. Are there any traffic calming chicanes in or around Pittsburgh?
No, it doesn’t mean that. I see nothing in the rules I posted that would permit walking on a road but only in one direction.
Note that the rule about walking on the left only applies when a road has no sidewalk, no shoulder, and lanes running in both directions. The ramps connecting Bigelow to downtown are one-way ramps. I’m not sure if the very narrow strip of road outside the painted white lines on those ramps is considered a shoulder (if so, you must walk there) or not (you must walk as “near as practicable to an outside edge of the roadway”, any edge allowed).
Such a one-way restriction could happen on any road, though, if there’s signage prohibiting pedestrians, but only when proceeding in one direction. I don’t know if Bigelow has such sloppily installed signage or not, but it has nothing to do with the section of Title 75 I quoted.
Why are there so many roads which lack shoulders even when there is no sidewalk? Rt. 51 through Jefferson, Parts of William Penn Hwy, Bigelow Blvd., Blvd of the Allies, McKnight Rd, and Washington Blvd come to mind. Also, Can the sidewalk on Beechwood Blvd. near the Parkway spaghetti interchange be used as bypass. Would Who should I contact about implementing traffic calming in these residential streets? Would the rumble strips like those on 9th St. in Aspinwall work? I’m pretty sure the neighbors would appreciate it as well.
Why would a cyclist have to navigate an interchange like that? Wouldn’t that be used as an interchange onto a freeway where cyclists are banned?
metal rumble strips in Aspinwall Video (Visable starting at 0:13):
- This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by zzwergel.
Tilting at windmills. Thousands of miles of roads that look like that. They can’t even keep them paved and the bridges fixed, so these aren’t ever getting better.
“Tilting at windmills.”, what does that mean?
Today, I biked Beechwood Blvd from the Greenfield Bridge to 5th Ave. I got through the spaghetti junction of doom unscathed, but the Hazelwood Ave./Beechwood Blvd./Browns Hill Rd. fustercluck is where I did run into some trouble. At the approach from the north on Beechwood Blvd., there is a sign banning left turns from 4PM to 6PM. What I had to do was a Copenhagen left via Hazelwood Ave. onto eastbound Beechwood Blvd. Waiting for a green light took FOREVER.
“Tilting at windmills is an English idiom that means attacking imaginary enemies. The expression is derived from the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, and the word “tilt” in this context comes from jousting.”
@vannevar: I found this on Diverging Diamond Intersections:
@paulheckbert, Good thing cyclists and pedestrians are mentioned.
The bike/ped-related DDI backlash is oddly misplaced.
The only locations these things get built are ones which have already been planned to be auto-dominated in the first place. These don’t get dropped into walkable neighborhoods and cities. They’re specifically used to connect high-volume arterials to limited access freeways. No part of these roadways are ones you want your 16 yo old riding on, period.
The DDI itself actually reduces the overall footprint and crossing distances that would be required for another type equal-capacity interchange. It’s a better engineering solution to crappy land use planning.
At the approach from the north on Beechwood Blvd., there is a sign banning left turns from 4PM to 6PM.
The best way to turn left in this case (IMHO) is to turn left is to turn left at Federal Street or Hezelwood Blvd. and then right at Saline and left at Beechwood Blvd. But as a group we often prefer to turn right at Loretta , go all the way to Greenfield, turn left and then left at Hazelwood — it’s much easier to turn left at Greenfield/Hazzelwod than at Murray/Hazzelwood — much less traffic.
Two intersections in Schenley Park:
Panther Hollow Rd./Overlook Dr./Blvd. of the Allies–Highway style interchange with bus stop in traffic island.
Panther Hollow Rd./Greenfield Rd./Hobart St./Bartlett St.–Used to be a car-centric intersection with only two crosswalks. Now a more pedestrian-friendly intersection with talking pedestrian signals.
If you’re interested in the Forward-Murray-Pocusset intersection or other bike safety issues in Squirrel Hill, please attend the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition’s 2017 ANNUAL MEETING & OPEN HOUSE, this Thursday evening, Nov. 16th, 7:00-9:00 PM, in Levinson Hall of the Sq. Hill Jewish Community Center (5738 Forbes Avenue). The Junction Hollow situation may also come up (but please attend the other meetings specifically on that, also at JCC, Tuesday 11/14 at 8am or Wednesday 11/15 at 6pm).
The evening’s focus is on “Transportation Safety & Mobility in Squirrel Hill.” Our featured guest speaker is Director of the City’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, Karina Ricks. Ms. Ricks will talk about how the City’s “Complete Streets” policy impacts the design of our streets and intersections to increase mobility and use by pedestrians, bicyclists, motor vehicles, transit riders and persons in wheelchairs. She will also describe the recent efforts that have been undertaken by the City to improve pedestrian safety at the Forward-Murray-Pocusset intersection in light of the many construction projects taking place in that area.
Another special speaker for the evening is Professor Mark Magalotti, coordinator of the Transportation Engineering Program at the University of Pittsburgh. He will illustrate the contrast between efforts to improve pedestrian transportation in suburban areas and such efforts in the City of Pittsburgh. Director Ricks and Prof. Magalotti will discuss how the City’s Complete Streets perspective and other possibilities for improving pedestrian/bicycle safety can keep drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians moving safely and efficiently in an intersection like Forward-Murray-Pocusset, particularly during the current period of construction.
ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT: The Nov. 16th meeting will include an OPEN HOUSE format, with board members and partners at information tables – including a Ped-Bike Committee table – to describe, and answer questions about, the various projects and activities undertaken by SHUC. Besides providing information at our table, we will seek to recruit additional individuals to join the Committee and participate in our activities.
I wish I could have made any of those meetings, but work and other commitments interfered.
They were all at bad times, either too early or too late. I am rarely awake before 9:00 AM
I have another intersection. On Rt. 19 at Circle Dr. an Moccasin Dr. in Peters Township, crossing Rt. 19 from either side of the cross street is forbidden with signage. Crossing Circle Dr. is allowed and crossing Moccasin Dr. is also forbidden with signage. What would happen if someone wants/has to walk from there house on Old Washington Rd. or Moccasin Dr. to the Market District Express on Rt. 19? Do they have to dash across a four-lane road with center turning lane without a crosswalk posted 40MPH with 60 MPH traffic at Old Washington Rd., at a mid-block location or just disobey the signs and cross Rt. 19 on green at Circle Dr?
Signs are visible :here
What about this Upper St. Clair monstrosity?
Actually, this is very useful entrance/exit. Almost nobody bikes on US-19. Come of Davenwood through High School Access road through traffic light to this “monstruosity” to stay on Old Washington. I use it a lot when I commute from work.
Somewhat relevant to this discussion, a study was just published highlighting the most dangerous intersections in the county. The firm that put this study together was using 2014-2016 crash data from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. This focuses on car crashes, but has some interesting information
A study on Allegheny County’s unsafe intersections
I am also pleasantly surprised that the Market District Express has two of the “Three Rivers” bike parking racks. Is Peters Township and/or Upper St. Clair seeing an influx of cyclists who use their bike for serious non-recreational purposes like commuting and shopping, or is it due to proximity to the Montour Trail? I stopped in the Rite-Aid in Library today after my excursion on the Bethel spur of the Montour Trail.
Some street-level can serve as mini Park-and-rides for cyclists to bike to and lock up their bike and take the T to their destination. Racks at Park-and-ride lots can serve a an alternative in case a disabled person is on the T or their are already two bikes aboard the tram. Also, racks at high platform stations can be used for storage at the far end of someone’s trip if their final destination does not have bike parking facilities nearby.
- Allegheny (Already there)
- North Side
- Gateway (Already some nearby)
- First Ave. (Already some nearby)
- South Hills Junction (Already there)
- Bon Air
- Dormont Junction
- Mt. Lebanon
- Castle Shannon (Already there)
- Memorial Hall
- St. Anne’s
- Bethel Village
- South Hills Village (Already there)
- Logan Rd.
- W. Library
Somebody mapped “the most dangerous intersections in Allegheny County”. Apparently this was done using car-car crash data. I see no mention of bicycles or pedestrians in the data. Some top conclusions: West End Circle, Liberty Bridge & McArdle, and Saw Mill Run Blvd are bad.
They have a zoomable map and a table of crash counts: https://www.dallashartman.com/blog/2017/11/intersections-allegheny-county/
I was disappointed by the weak analysis. For example: they don’t display any traffic volume data. They only give crash counts, not crash risks (i.e. number of crashes divided by number of cars). It’s no surprise that the intersections with high traffic volume have high crash counts.
I wonder who has traffic volume data. Google? Apple?
PennDOT has a fairly robust traffic monitoring system (iTMS) that’s publicly available:
Note that volumes are shown as average annual daily traffic (theoretically, total volume of cars per year divided by 365) and aren’t complete for all roadway segments. You’ll have to do some math to add up the volume entering an intersection from each leg in order to determine a rough crash rate.
I locked up my bike on the wave rack at South Hills Junction and rode down to Sarah. It appears that there is space for a second shelter on the northbound track that is taped off. Are there bplans of installing a rack there?
Today, I ended up taking the 1 Freeport Road bus from Aspinwall to the 31st St. Bridge Instead of the 91 because it came first. After successfully crossing the two ramps from Rt. 28 with a walking man symble, I got the red hand signal on the relief island between the outbound exit and River Ave. I pressed the beg button and waited between 3 and 6 minutes. I told myself “Piss on this, I’m going to cross because that direction already has a green light. I’m not waiting here any longer.” I also hit the button repeatedly to no effect. Once I got across River Ave., I called 311 and reported the problem. William on the other end said they will check into the timing of the traffic light.
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