Bob is making a bike map too

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ieverhart
Participant
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As with many things in life, if they really wanted to do something, they could find a way–Exhibit A being the pole-mounted schedule linked by John above. This might be more expensive than shelter-mounted schedules, but I’d say nearly every stop has a pole-mounted “bus stop” sign where this could work.


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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Someone (at least used to) put schedules in the shelter at 5th & Bigelow outbound (Pitt Union), but I think the university owns that shelter, not ClearChannel…

When I used to occasionally ride that little shortcut behind Reizenstein about four years ago, I would find an actual full-sized gate closing it off once in a while, but it was awesome otherwise. (Haven’t lived that side of town for 3.5 years, so I don’t know what it’s like now…)


dwillen
Participant
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I don’t recall any other city I’ve ever visited that completely lacked bus schedule information. Portland, San Francisco, Minneapolis, San Diego, DC (and everywhere in Europe and Asia) all have schedules at shelters. For the first few months after moving to town, it was my number one gripe. How do you get tourists and people unfamiliar with the city to ride the bus when they don’t have an idea when it will arrive and where it will go? Even now, I completely rely on an android phone with google transit data. Seems money spent posting schedules would increase ridership much more than money spent on all other PAT advertisements I see (they have a full page ad in the most recent Pitt News, for example).

Edit: I like the pole idea. Find some advertising company and stick spam on the back, schedule on the front. Add it to the existing signs that designate routes. It will pay for itself.


Ahlir
Participant
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I’ve visited cities where bus stops (at least the mainline ones) have electronic displays that tell you when the next bus(es) are due. In particular, Edinburgh has these, despite the fact that transit is provided by two competing private bus companies. So it can’t be impossible to work something out, even in Pittsburgh. (On a side note, bus shelters in that city are right up against the curb with the closed side to the street so that you’re protected against splashing. Can’t we do that here?)

On posting schedules: citizens occasionally tape these up on their own, but they are removed by the shelter company, even if the advertising is not being obstructed. (If you’re contemplating performing this public service: the correct way to do it is to use newsprint and wet glue; more difficult to remove.)


ejwme
Participant
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while we’re discussing mass transit and the problems with it, why doesn’t it turn private? (it being the mass transit options in Pittsburgh, not PAT specifically, but the idea of mass transit in Pgh)

Aside from having to come up with someone willing to put up the capital for it, are there legal obstacles? What’s the story on private vs. public there? As Ahlir points out, private mass transit companies do exist and (apparently) thrive enough to provide amenities our system can’t handle – is the Pgh market so poor that we couldn’t pay for a private system?


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Less that there are legal obstacles, more that what we end up with that wouldn’t be a transit system. The only routes that would exist are ones that are overcrowded now, you’d likely be charged far higher than you do now, and the drivers wouldn’t make half what they’re doing now.

The TDP changes being made are long overdue, and accomplishing what they were intended: Much more efficient, less duplicative, more predictable scheduling, etc.

You just wouldn’t have half the system you do now. And that’s exactly what some people want.


Steven
Participant
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In Edinburgh, one of the two bus companies is owned by the local government. Wikipedia mentions a bus war between the two in 2001. The non-government-owned one tried to increase its share of the business, then retreated.

It also mentions that the average resident there takes 188 bus trips a year, more than twice the national average there. For Allegheny County, the corresponding figure seems to be 56 trips a year. So very high bus use might be necessary to have a private company compete with the government-owned one. (Or maybe the competition helped increase bus use.)


Ahlir
Participant
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@steven, thank you for digging up the extra information. I didn’t realize that one of the companies was municipal. (The one that I guess is the private one seems to also run transit in other UK cities.)

One the matter of private bus companies in Pittsburgh: They used to exist, maybe 50 years ago. But they mostly went bankrupt and were replaced by the transit authority.

Someone else who knows local history could chime in, but I expect that this had to do with some combination of declining ridership (cars!) and the structural inefficiencies of running competing bus lines.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
Participant
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I recall a program on PBS a few years ago which described the activities of a consortium formed by (and I may be off a bit here) GM, Standard Oil and Firestone.

This consortium bought up private and municipal trolley companies across the country, so they could then be replaced with (here comes the punch line): busses!

It wasn’t a “natural death” caused by declining ridership, structural inefficiencies or anything like that. It was bus makers buying the systems to create a market for their product.


Benzo
Participant
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Ok, it looks like bob’s map has been posted to his site.

You can find it here

http://pdfs.bobsmaps.com/eend_bike.pdf


dwillen
Participant
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I don’t get it. He acknowledges just about everyone but bike-pgh, who apparently had nothing to do with the underlying infrastructure his map highlights, publicizing said infrastructure, and marking it on a fantastic map of their own. Bike-pgh makes one of the best bike maps I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world (and others agree), and gives it out for FREE. He says “the masses of bike route squiggles might as well be a pile of spaghetti for how daunting they can be to decipher.” Really? I didn’t seem to have a huge problem with it. Maybe I’m a genius.

Hopefully this gets more people out there riding bikes, and helps Bob sell a lot of his books.


erok
Keymaster
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haha, he even tried to take credit for the forbes ave bike lane


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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The one thing I most like about his map has nothing to do with bicycles. I do like how he color codes the business districts. That’s a visualization that I have not seen on any other map. Subtle hint: Anything other than driving out to the damn malls can only be A Good Thing™ for the city. (sorry, Nick D)

But like dwillen says, anything that gets more people on bicycles, especially those who would otherwise not do so, can only help us all in the end.


erok
Keymaster
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there is no key for how he marked Bigelow Blvd or the Blvd of the Allies into/out of town. it almost looks like you can ride on it. it should be labeled blue with the white stripe.


Steven
Participant
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I believe neither Bigelow nor the Blvd of the Allies to downtown are limited-access roads, so (unlike the blue/white freeways) it’s legal to bike on them.

He used the purple color that indicates a major artery that’s bad for cycling, combined with a divided-highway pattern that makes them resemble the roads where it’s illegal to bike. I think that successfully gets across the idea that it’s legal to bike on them, but a particularly bad idea.

I think he’s done a good job overall.


erok
Keymaster
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i just think if you are going to make a map that is for novices, you should make sure they don’t accidently end up on these roads, whether it’s legal or not. I’ve seen bikes pulled over on the BOA, so i don’t think that it’s legal. i mean he does include places where you technically have to trespass (ie cut thru someone’s parking lot), so legality doesn’t seem to be a factor


erok
Keymaster
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as far as making a nice loop of the east end, it’s nice and i’m sure will encourage more people to give it a try.


salty
Participant
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What is illegal about riding on the BOA? Or Bigelow? Not saying either one is a necessarily a good idea, but *illegal*?


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Seems to me he might be running dangerously close to lawsuitland by publicly suggesting trespassing. Not that the rest of us haven’t here or there, but to publish something and try to make some money at it? Ummm, someone might have a problem with that.


erok
Keymaster
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i don’t know. i used to live with a view of the BOA from my house around the Birmingham Bridge area, and would see cyclists frequently stopped on the BOA by a cop.


ejwme
Participant
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erok, maybe the cop stopped them to ask them where they got their sweet wheels.


dwillen
Participant
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Every time we are flocking and some cop pulls up next to Nick on his tall bike, they ask him where he got it.


erok
Keymaster
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regardless, the way it’s marked isn’t in the key. neither is the way Allegheny River Blvd is marked


Aaron S
Participant
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I like 90% of the map and it has lots of low-stress routes that I normally take while in the city w/ the exception of the bayard/bigelow/centre area, and the way Beacon (which I would call cycling friendly) is the same labeling as the blvd of the allies.

He is missing taking Smallman down to Butler st. which is kinda key for the return trip from the strip to lawrenceville/bloomfield.


erok
Keymaster
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what is the difference between solid gray and solid purple. they are both “major arteries, cycling unfriendly.” is there a reason to have two colors representing the same thing? am i just missing something?


ErinK
Participant
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Someone pointed out to me about 20 years ago that east coast cities’ transit systems take pride in being surly and obtuse. That’s how you can tell Pittsburgh is part of the east coast and not part of the midwest. Schedules on the stops? Where are we, Minnesota? ;-)

I did try that SMS code thing on a bus stop last year and absolutely nothing happened. It might become a workable system if it was QR barcodes instead.


Ahlir
Participant
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Bob’s map looks pretty good (inasmuch as he understands the casual biker’s needs). There’s at least one avoidable climb, but I’m willing to admit that it’s probably a matter of opinion.

On the other hand, the north-west corner of the map is pretty confused. (But why don’t we let Bob figure this one out on his own…)


dbacklover
Participant
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I have tried the sms messages on a couple of occasions and they seemed to work just fine. im just a little upset that I only noticed a few of them. with it being an automated system it should be easy to have it for all timed stops on the schedule.

Its not like there is just one guy with a flip phone and a bunch of flyers answering the texts you send.


edmonds59
Participant
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Dback – There’s not?

Based on my experience with PAT I assumed it would be an old lady with a headset and a switchboard full of cables in front of her.


ejwme
Participant
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Hey, don’t hate on the old ladies at the switchboard, they have saved my butt more than once! Until the map that Stu pointed out, if it wasn’t a 61A,B,orC I couldn’t make heads or tails of the schedules or the maps. Where are the stops, when are the stops, what connections can I make, what do I need if I miss them. I call up their help line and the men and women that answer that phone have universally been incredibly patient and helpful, even when I call back 17 seconds after hanging up, get the same person, and say “ok, I still don’t get it, where do I go?”

I have many times called the general number and left messages telling Whoever that their phone people have been awesome to me. They must have all the schedules and maps memorized, or be wizards. My money’s on wizards, because the maps never make sense and the schedules are always wrong. Wizards!


scott
Keymaster
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Smoothie break!


scott
Keymaster
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I was just riding aimlessly around Oakland and you know what I started craving? Smoothies!


Tabby
Participant
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it really is a smoothie ride map, isn’t it? I wonder if he’s pushing an alternative agenda, like he’s part of the anti food chewing lobby and/or owns smoothie shops.


J Z
Participant
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paulheckbert
Moderator
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bobsmaps has an updated Pittsburgh bike map (2015) – 11×17 version and 2 page version:
http://www.bobsmaps.com/

A few observations:
It’s oriented toward comfort cyclists.
It’s timid about encouraging cyclists to ride near cars, even when sharrows or paint bike lanes are present.
It attempts to identify “easy-riding routes”.
It’s graphically confusing (six colors to indicate road/trail character).

Details I disagree with:
* It recommends Northumberland for E-W travel across Squirrel Hill (Aylesboro is better).
* It recommends 44th or 45th St to get from Strip/Lawrenceville to Bloomfield (I’d use Liberty or Sassafras-Lorigan).
* It marks Stanton Ave as a road to avoid.

But a lot of it is useful information, and it documents how fragmented the bike network is, currently.


Benzo
Participant
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I like maps, these are kind of cool. A bit confusing to follow, but the simplicity is good. Too many options can be really confusing.

It’s a good start for someone who’s intimidated by wayfinding on a more comprehensive map.


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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“It recommends Northumberland for E-W travel across Squirrel Hill (Aylesboro is better).”

If I recall correctly, there are traffic signals at Northumberland’s intersections with Beechwood, Shady, and Murray, while Aylesboro has only a two-way stop (with no cross-traffic stop) at at least Shady. Otherwise I find them largely indistinguishable.


JaySherman5000
Member
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After taking Bob’s advice and rereading his Op-Ed piece from 2012, I have no desire to follow this guy’s advice. In his own words:

“Statistics show that the more cyclists there are on the roads of a given city, the lower the rate of car-bike accidents.” Yet here he is recommending a set of routes that encourage cyclists to hide out in places where they will be less visible to motorists, including avoid BIKE LANES. That is the very definition of being counter-productive.

I’m sure Bob’s maps contain some useful shortcuts and pleasant rides in the park, but hiding in the woods and carrying your bike up some stairs won’t make cyclists more visible to motorists, which means Bob’s line of thinking isn’t helpful to our cause of advocacy. I’ll stick to my hybrid Forester-plus-bike-infrastructure ideology, thank you.


jonawebb
Participant
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I think Bob would be OK with that, because the map’s not targeted at you. It’s for the folks who are scared of bicycling for various reasons, and who, once they get on a bike and ride around where there’s little to no traffic, might then venture out onto roads with traffic, and become more visible.


Benzo
Participant
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Yeah. I wouldn’t follow bob’s maps myself too often, a lot of the routes are very indirect, but I could see it being helpful for a more timid rider who’s just getting used to riding in traffic.

Or when riding at night where there is a higher rate of DUI drivers I’d like to avoid.

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