Biking- east suburbs

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Italianblend
Participant
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Hi, I have a growing family, and we are looking for a bigger house. We have looked in places like Churchill, Monroeville, penn hills, Verona, etc.

 

im wondering what the possibilities of biking into town from these communities is. I couldn’t imagine biking to downtown from Monroeville is very convenient at all. Does anyone have experience with these areas? Not really as a commute, more for warm weather exercise. I live in the Swissvale area and have been spoiled being so close to the trails and have been able to get downtown in about 40-50 min on a bike.

Thanks for the info.


jonawebb
Participant
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I bike from Monroeville every day. You’re right, it’s not easy, mainly because of the creeks that radiate like a fan from Turtle Creek, the Parkway limiting the available routes to a few, and the absence of bike infrastructure.
I think if you’re just looking for exercise, not a commute, you’d be better off sticking with places like Trafford, that are doing trail development, though not with a connection to Pittsburgh. If you want a trail connection to downtown I’d suggest McKeesport though I have no idea on the quality of the housing stock.


Italianblend
Participant
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What is your usual route? Are you on trails? Residential roads? How long is your commute?

 

Trafford is really out out of the way. I don’t think we want to move that far south and east. We saw a house we liked on the far end of Monroeville near Forbes hospital and even that was really too far for us.

 

Thanks for the quick reply.

 

Ps: we aren’t totally opposed to the north suburbs either. I’ve commuted to Ross township through millvale and that wasn’t too bad either.  What about aspinwall area?

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by  Italianblend.

StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I used to live in Monroeville, and have biked out there a couple of times in the recent past. It’s not at all pleasant. You couldn’t give me a house with the mortgage paid off to live any farther east than PA130, if I had to travel downtown every day.

North I can tell you about a lot better, though I can’t talk knowledgeably about east of PA8. You can’t go wrong by West View. New housing going in on a former golf course right off I-279. All the old houses are pretty good, too. Excellent biking all through that area, modulo ignorant motorists just about everywhere.

I’m north of that, about 500 yards into McCandless from the Ross line. McC is North Allegheny schools; Ross/WView is North Hills.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Aspinwall isn’t currently an easy ride from downtown, but within 5 years (my guess), it probably will be. That’s probably how long it will take to get trails built between Aspinwall and Millvale.


jonawebb
Participant
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My route is here: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/1991334. It takes a little more than an hour.
I’ve experimented with different routes over the years and this is the safest one I’ve found. But I think it’s less pleasant than what you’re looking for.
I think that if you want a safe ride to downtown you’d be better off finding a location close to the trail connections, i.e., in a suburb near the river trails along the Allegheny or the Mon.


Dberlin
Member
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I live in Aspinwall and commute to town daily by bike. It’s not a bad ride. I typically ride through Sharpsburg on Main (a little hairy but generally ok) and then take the path next to the railroad tracks that connects to the Millvale trail. It’s pretty bumpy in parts, but entirely manageable on a mountain bike. Alternatively, I take either the Highland Park or RD Fleming Bridge and then Butler into town. Both routes I expect are better than anything you’ll find coming from Monroeville, and as paulhecbert mentioned, plans are in the works for a trail connection the whole way in the not-too-distant future.

Another alternative is to drive to Millvale and leave your car in the free parking there, then take the trail in. I do that with my kids when we go into town for baseball games or to the Science Center.


Eric
Member
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+1 the Millvale parking solution. Only issue is daily morning 5-10 min traffic delay around the Shaler water works between 7-830 am


Swalfoort
Participant
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If the Original Poster is as flexible as he seems to indicate, I think there are areas that could be considered.  The connection from Churchhill or Blackridge via Penn Avenue to East Liberty is only 15-20 minutes.  Another 30 minutes or so into town from there.  I used to ride that route all the time (from my home in Bloomfield – so, I would ride the in town and out bound legs separately independently.)  I think if you are west of Beulah Road, or thereabouts, you are in pretty good shape from a commute perspective.

I live in Emsworth now.  The commute from Emsworth/Ben Avon is 8 miles or so, and mostly downhill on the inbound leg.  You can catch a trail half way in, or so, but I usually stick to the roads at that point.

 

Will the new bike lane on East Street make that connection into Ross easier or better?

 


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Into Ross itself, the new lane on East improves things only slightly. East was already pretty easy to ride. The virtual brick wall, though, is the connection straight north of that. You. Simply. Cannot. Bike. North. From. There. Friggin’ suicidal trying to get past the I-279 merge point, northbound. Yeah, I guess you could swing up and around Evergreen, but that gains you so little that going through Millvale doesn’t do for you.

OTOH, East St to East St up to Perry HS, then up Perrysville past the bus garage, and on into that part of Ross, and to West View (and beyond), is quite do-able. One or the other of that, or Babcock, is my commute home.

The west side of Ross Twp, accessible from Bellevue, is also a very do-able bike commute, totally separate from the Perrysville, East or Babcock approaches. Think Chateau Trail to Eckert to McClure to wiggle over to Calif or Brighton, and on into Ross or Bellevue from there. That said, also consider the Avalon & Ben Avon areas, and for more on that, I defer to @swalfoort.


Italianblend
Participant
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Is Churchill doable?

We are also looking at Bellevue, which actually intrigues me due to proximity to the north shore trail near that old prison.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Bellevue means you will learn about the five-way corner of California and Termon, and the slight wiggle over to Fleming to Antrim to McClure to Eckert to the trail. Also, just up the street from that, the Benton-Calif corner which gets you to Orchlee to a couple little turns to the Shadeland Ave bridge over Woods Run. Even if you don’t live there, these are definitely tools to keep in your head if you ride out that way. And don’t overlook Marmaduke Park, one block away, very handy for filling a water bottle on a hot day.

I do have to ask, though, why no mention of the city itself. There’s precious little difference between Brighton Heights (city) and Bellevue in terms of bikeability.


Italianblend
Participant
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Not opposed to the city. Just want a good neighborhood for my son to grow up in. Saw a nice house in Marshall shade land area and then I looked up news stories about that neighborhood and shooting after shooting after shooting = no thanks.


Jacob McCrea
Participant
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I’ve biked into the city (downtown, specifically) from Churchill a number of times. If you are comfortable with climbing hills on the way home (i.e., Penn Ave.) and dealing with the traffic at the end of Wilkinsburg on Penn Avenue, it isn’t that bad, although I imagine you could find an easier neighborhood in terms of city access. That said, I think it is a much easier neighborhood to ride from compared to most, if not all, of Penn Hills. All else being equal, and for a variety of reasons, I would probably choose Churchill or the near side of Wilkins Twp. over the other communities mentioned in your first post.


zzwergel
Member
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What is the reason for banning pedestrians from crossing the intersection of Beulah Rd. and Churchill Rd./Bayers Ln. in Churchill in all directions? This essentially makes this intersection a dead end for pedestrians. The same applies at the intersection of Washington Blvd. and Allegheny River Blvd. Wouldn’t painting crosswalks and putting in buttons/signals be pretty simple?

https://www.google.com/maps/@40.4447554,-79.8481148,3a,75y,239.57h,80.84t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s5yEHGFX7j6BTOLZVvE6hxA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

https://www.google.com/maps/@40.4447554,-79.8481148,3a,75y,34.75h,73.33t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s5yEHGFX7j6BTOLZVvE6hxA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

 

  • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by  zzwergel.

paulheckbert
Moderator
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But if you allow pedestrians, it would slow down the cars. Cars über alles, PennDOT says.


Eric
Member
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Zach, I appreciate your duty to making everything in pgh bike/peds friendly, but at the same time sometimes you seem to get stuck on things that you’ve already asked before (ie arb/wash Blvd)

 

A good rule of thumb to avoid alienating people is to bring it up once only, or to create a discussion thread in which people with a special interest in that area can debate. Maybe a “bike/peds unfriendly roads/intersections” thread.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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You’re also going to get the same answer in every case. We are a decade away from getting the suburbs fixed, and that’s IF we get some proper politicians in at the state level, and that is anything but a sure thing.

Nobody at the state level, in the rural part of the state, which is 2/3 of the electeds, wants to know a damned thing about bikes, any more than they want to fund transit.

Pick your battles wisely. Yes, document everything, but don’t expect solutions in this decade. It took five years from chalking Negley to getting an actual bike lane, and that’s with all the right people pulling in the right direction.


zzwergel
Member
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@stu,

Is there something inherently so dangerous about that intersection that it cannot be crossed without at the very least a bicycle? I also wonder how often those signs are ignored. Were those signs put there in the 1950s or 1960s by any chance?

  • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by  zzwergel.

Drewbacca
Participant
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I suspect that there is a preferred crossing spot and that those signs are just meant to push people to a nearby safer crossing… would have to investigate to be certain though.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I don’t know the eastern suburbs on foot as well as I do the northern suburbs, not recently anyway (haven’t lived or worked there since the 1990s), but I suspect there are dozens of intersections where pedestrian safety is non-existent. In fact, the only thing you are going to see is ped-xing cycles at traffic lights, since that was required by the 1990 ADA law. Once you get past that signal, you’re stuck. And maybe a more direct answer to your question, they want you to only want you to cross at a ped-xing light, even if getting to that corner is distant, difficult or dangerous.


zzwergel
Member
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@stu, there are still a lot of traffic lights in the city limits that do not have pedestrian signals. Most traffic lights in Lawrenceville and the Strip District do not have them. There are a few in East Liberty, Shadyside, and Uptown as well.


jonawebb
Participant
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There’s a group trying to do something about it, with political support in Churchill from Paul Gamrat (pgamrat@churchillborough.com). Mike Boyd, who posts here sometimes, is involved in West Mifflin, I think. Contacting folks like these, going to political meetings, and so on, is the way to make change happen.


zzwergel
Member
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@jonawebb, @stu,

Is the political support for having those signs removed? Btw, I can get the 77 bus to Frankstown/Graham and bike down Graham to Churchill to attend these kind of meetings. Is Graham Blvd. difficult to climb, or should I take Penn Ave. back to East Liberty (Taking Thomas Blvd. through Point Breeze)? The reason I’m asking is because service on the 67 is hourly for most of the day, but on the 77, its every 30 minutes except on weekends.

  • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by  zzwergel.

StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Those signs are pretty much a non-issue, not on anyone’s radar that I know of. To the larger point of making it safer to cross the street most anywhere safely, I think you’d get more traction. Myself, I think that’s more a symptom of a larger problem than a solvable problem itself, and that larger problem is that there is virtually no reasonable way for local law enforcement to enforce speed limits. That might change soon, as a couple bills make their way through Harrisburg, so that’s why I’m not putting much effort into it myself.

All of this is coming around to that there isn’t much you can do right now, other than document the problem spots, be they for walking or biking.

I cannot speak to riding conditions out that way. And I deal with a once-an-hour bus myself.


jonawebb
Participant
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@zz, taking the bus out will get you up the hill. Graham is not especially pleasant to ride on as you’ll be in traffic. But not worse than many Pittsburgh streets.
I don’t know about the political situation specifically, but I do know that there’s interest in making the eastern suburbs more bike/ped friendly generally.


zzwergel
Member
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@jonawebb,

Would taking Penn Ave. to Wilkinsburg and getting the P1 be a good idea? I’ve been through the intersection in question as a passenger in car several times. I appears pretty safe to me and I would bet many pedestrians cross the street here despite the signs in order to get to a bus stop, the nearby church, or a neighbor’s house. Maybe, I’ll get the 77 to Frankstown Rd./Beulah Rd. and ride down there. Since It’s all downhill. It shouldn’t be a problem. Afterwards, I can stop at Biddle’s escape and get some coffee.

  • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by  zzwergel.

jonawebb
Participant
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I used to take the 67 bus out that way. It worked really well to get up the hill. I think that would work better than the P1.
Bus all this depends on their being a meeting scheduled, and so on. Probably talking with Paul Gamrat or Mike Boyd would be the place to start. They’ll be able to give advice on good steps in this direction.


zzwergel
Member
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@jonawebb, The 67 does not go up Beulah Rd. or Graham Blvd. What hill are you talking about? From the 77, It is all downhill from Frankstown Rd. to Churchill. I do not want to have to wait for a whole hour to get on a bus that will likely be late and crowded due to going through the traffic nightmare known as Monroeville as well as being infrequent, especially on the way back to Aspinwall. The P1 operates every 12 minutes, and the 77 every 30 minutes. Isn’t it all downhill to Wilkinsburg anyway?

  • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by  zzwergel.

jonawebb
Participant
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The 67 turns left though that intersection you posted the photo of, before it goes on the Parkway briefly. I used to take it all the time.


zzwergel
Member
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@jonawebb, I am going to record myself biking through there as well as walking. You still didn’t tell me what hill the 67 goes up on the way to Wilkinsburg from Churchill. Beulah Rd. and Graham Blvd. are downhill from Frankstown Rd. and Penn Ave is mostly downhill to Wilkinsburg. The 67 does not go up Beulah Rd. or Graham Blvd. The main reason I keep asking is because I prefer not to rely on a bus that only comes by once per hour.


zzwergel
Member
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Look at this.

There were cyclists in Churchill in 2007!


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Relying on a bus that only comes once an hour is easy if you can ensure you will arrive 5-10 minutes ahead of its arrival.


zzwergel
Member
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@stu,

I did it today. The 67 showed up in Oakland by the Carnegie Library only 3 minutes behind schedule. . From Aspinwall, I caught the 10:48 AM 75 to Stanton Ave. at Chislett St. and biked to Oakland via Stanton Ave., Negley Ave., Ellsworth Ave., Devonshire St., Bayard St., Bigelow Blvd., And Forbes Ave. Then I caught the 10:43 67 at Forbes Ave. opp. Bellefield Ave. It was actually one of the least stressful bus rides I’ve been on for a long time. There was plenty of space, ans was not too late to the bus stop in Oakland.I  got off the bus in front of the Churchill Borough Building and biked to the crest of Holland Rd. After that, I recorded video of me biking from 38 Holland Rd. to Hamilton Ave. at East Librety Blvd. The ride took about 30 minutes. I believe if I lived in Churchill and worked in East Liberty or Oakland. I could do the morning commute entirely by bike. If I worked in Downtown, I could Catch the P1 at Wilkinsburg, Homewood, or East Liberty to Downtown. Going home from Downtown, or Oakland I could Catch the 67 to the Churchill Borough Building and bike to practically anywhere in the town from there unless my house is west of the Penn Ave./Beulah Rd. Intersection. In that case, I would get off at a bus stop that was closer to home. If I worked in East Liberty., I could take the 77 to Frankstown Rd. at Graham Blvd. and go down Graham Blvd.

Here is a link to the video.

Edit:  At 4:38, Could this be argued as a malfunctioning traffic light?

  • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by  zzwergel.

joannajhonson
Member
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First I would like to thanks, who create this topic here. Thanks man for your good work. I like to biking in anywhere. But My favorite riding is in the hill area. I have a dream to ride in mountain Everest! But is it possible to ride there? I don’t know! Share yours though on this. Thanks in advance.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I suspect the above post is spam.

Person who posted, one simple question: Name any nearby hill regularly ridden by cyclists, or any street with a notable hill, or a ride involving hills, or any neighborhood in the area represented by this board whose name has the word “hill” in it.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Or: Complete this phrase: Lyndon Baines ______. Spelling counts.


zzwergel
Member
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@paul,

Is it Johnson?

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