City finally developing a REAL bike network?

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cburch
Participant
#

Just saw the link to this article over on the PORC board.

“Mayor wants consultant to develop citywide bike route”

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_648184.html


erok
Keymaster
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yeah. this is gonna be tight. the important thing to realize is that this is a blueprint, it doesn’t meant that everything will be striped and whatnot right away.

the main thing is that it’s going to be thoroughly signed with wayfinding signs. then, the idea is to stripe/mark the streets in that network.

in short, we’re trying to get our bike map marked, and signed IRL


erok
Keymaster
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here’s a bike wayfinding sign in chicago:

working on a blog post


cburch
Participant
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sweet. don’t you love how we keep finding this stuff before you guys get to tell us about it?


salty
Participant
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Of course, they had to blow it right in the first sentence:

“City motorists will be asked to share more roads with bicyclists beginning next summer.”

sigh. as if they aren’t already required to share all the roads and we have to get their permission or something.


erok
Keymaster
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haha. damn internet. yeah, we’ve been meaning to write about it. right now, it’s not all that exciting because they are just looking for bids. didn’t think the media would pick it up yet, and we’ve been so busy with other things.

What do yinz think of the language on how the article starts out “City motorists will be asked to share more roads with bicyclists beginning next summer.”

i think it kinda starts off a bit confrontational, and well, arent’ they supposed to be sharing ALL the roads anyway? it’s more that certain roads may see more cyclists. maybe i’m just hyper critical


Kordite
Participant
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No, it’s not hyper-critical. It’s the law.


reddan
Keymaster
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The language bothers me as well…I don’t think you’re being hyper-critical at all, as the article starts out with an incorrect premise. I’d prefer “New urban cyclists will find it a lot easier to get around the city beginning next summer.”

It’s one of the things that always makes me a bit uneasy about bike-specific infrastructure; I’m glad it’s there, and I’m glad it’s growing, and I agree that it’s a good way to get more people out pedaling, but I do wonder if it doesn’t somewhat encourage a “Bikes Belong, but only where we say so” mentality.


erok
Keymaster
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Yeah, i do feel that to a degree, but i think the proof is in the portland.


cburch
Participant
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well it IS the trib after all. they wouldn’t want anyone to think they were progressive thinkers. that would make them commies!


netviln
Participant
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Perhaps a few people should email Mr. Brandolph to inform him of PA State law?


sloaps
Participant
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Yay, more signage to ignore! Sorry guys, but I think these signs will only cause confusion. There are already wayfinding signs within the city for parks, amusements, libraries, neighborhoods and the like. These routes will be about as useful as the County’s colored Belts.

It stands to reason that the best means of providing safe biking is another cyclist.


eMcK
Participant
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erok, the proof is indeed in Portland.

More bicycle specific infrastructure, more bikes on the streets.

Nothing to argue about here, unless you like being wrong. ;-)


dmtroyer
Participant
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While not as catchy a tune, I would argue that the proof is in the Amsterdam.


erok
Keymaster
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sloaps, have you ever ridden in a town with bike wayfinding signs?

they are extremely helpful, especially when they are coupled with on street bike lanes/sharrows


erok
Keymaster
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not to mention there will be a bike map to go along with the signs


scott
Keymaster
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D.C., Chicago, Portland, Seattle, SF all have bicycle wayfinding signage that’s absolutely wonderful. Well, SF’s needs updating, but it’s absolutely necessary for new cyclists not to mention visitors.


sloaps
Participant
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Is your position on the wayfinding from the perspective of a visitor of the city or a resident?

The city has wayfinding signs already -> http://www.routemarkers.com/usa/Pennsylvania/Wayfinder/

How would the signs you’re proposing be any different?


mark
Participant
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i talked to a guy who was doing something like this for a cmu graduate project about this a couple years back and the idea that came out of it was a belt system, like the roads, with rings going around the city based on elevation and connecting roads between them… i don’t think it went anywhere but i’d love to see it implemented, or something like it… no nesecarily bike lanes but just like a purple/blue/green/yellow/orange/red/whatever stripe that guides people around the city on safe biking roads… you could say “take the red belt to 44th st, head up the hill, then take the blue belt into east liberty and turn on highland.” this would be sweet

wayfinding signs are nice for people new to the road, functional bikes routes that connect neighborhoods are nice for everyone though… with a map going with this plan i think it will be great for the city cycling community


erok
Keymaster
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How would the signs you’re proposing be any different?

for everyone…

the driving routes are very VERY different than the cycling routes.


erok
Keymaster
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ie. how is one of the current wayfinding signs on penn ave thru point breeze, or baum blvd going to help us out. i’d rather have them on reynolds st., or ellsworth


sloaps
Participant
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I’d rather see steeper fines, tighter laws and greater enforcement of all vehicles so we can be safe on every road, rather than applying signage to roads than are deemed “safe” and “bicycle friendly” today, but may not be tomorrow.

penn avenue and baum are only unsafe because of aggressive driving. I would contend that those four lane roads are better equip’ed to handle multimodal traffic and allow safer passage through intersections, than reynolds or ellsworth.

Do you have any forecasts of what traffic may be like on these roads 5 years or 10 years on? What effect would increased bicycle traffic have on the existing vehicle traffic? Would cars travel elsewhere?

I think we have the same goal, but are coming from different directions on how to achieve it: more cyclists = safer roads, or safer roads = more cyclists.


Willie
Participant
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I can agree with sloaps. It seems for me the police are not doing their part to help. I also think there should be alot more education on bike safety and laws. Both riders and drivers could benefit from this.


eMcK
Participant
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to the rescue


rachel_ding
Participant
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Sloaps: A good way to get more cyclists on the road is to make them feel like they should be there. Signs, bike lanes, etc. do that. People come into Free Ride and tell me that they ride on sidewalks, and then ask me if it’s legal for bikes to be on the road. Something is missing. We need more signs and infrastructure so that people who may not be quite as confident as you or I feel safe, comfortable, and welcomed on the road. If they feel like they should be there, they’ll ride!

You say that you’d like greater enforcement, and that would solve the problem.. really? Haven’t you noticed how incredibly ineffectual traffic cops are? We’ve been saying we want greater traffic enforcement since before cars were invented. Better enforcement is a reactionary solution anyway.. isn’t it better to shape the behavior of cars, bikes, etc. in a more positive way by creating urban environments where alternative modes of transportation can actually work well, and create safer roads meanwhile?


EricR
Participant
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Eric: As soon as I saw the cartoon I instinctively moused over it to try to read the alt-text. :(

#NerdReflexes


sloaps
Participant
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My code is compiling so I have a moment…

Rachel: Bike Lanes, yes absolutely. That is a physical space that people are attentive to – cyclists and the motoring public. It’s marked on the roadway and for whatever reason drivers respect it.

But signs in pittsburgh don’t cut ice. On a limited access highway, the signs are big, bright and simple. There are no other items to draw your attention away from the signs. However, in an urban environment like Pittsburgh there are passive and active features situated within a dense, confined space which very easily draw your attention away from a street sign. If it’s not a green light or a stop sign, then they don’t stand out and are often obscured.

We aren’t on a grid where all directions are X blocks here and Y blocks there; where all streets are the same width; where all signs and signals are in the same place; all traffic lanes are marked.

We are not Seattle or Portland or Chicago – far from it. I’d say we’re most like new york, south of canal street. Where roadways have varied widths from block to block; change from one-way to two-way and back to one-way; intersect at weird angles. And lots of commuters and out-of-towners unfamiliar with the environment by day with fewer local folk on the streets at night.

As far as enforcement, Portland has some pretty steep fines for cyclists and motorists don’t they? Folks learn real fast how to properly operate their vehicles when you hit them in the wallet it seems.

Just my $0.02


erok
Keymaster
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wouldn’t you say that a strange street pattern would justify wayfinding signs?

when i’ve ridden in cities with them, they don’t blend into the background. that’s because i was a) looking for them to help me find my way around (and surprise, they work), and b) when i’m on a bike i don’t look at many of the other signs like speed limit, parking signs, etc. so you can filter for them.


sloaps
Participant
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I can compromise with this:

Downtown Biking Sign


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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As in “throw one for a”?

These routes will be about as useful as the County’s colored Belts.

You must have grown up here? I didn’t, and found these immensely helpful when I moved here at age 23. Then was amazed to find the locals had no use for them.


BradQ
Participant
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I like signage. For sure. I mirror Erok’s sentiments on things… I’ve ridden in a ton of cities in recent years, and the ones with easy to read signage are honestly better for me than those with lanes. Try riding in London where there are literally a million cyclists, tons of lanes and next to no signage. I found myself pulling my hair out at intersections fairly frequently.

The premise about the colored belt systems being useless is… well… wrong. You may not find them useful, but tons of long time residents of the county use and understand them. My parents were both born here and still use the belt system to navigate at times. I guarantee they aren’t the only ones.


greenbike
Participant
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When I moved here last year, the Blue Belt was a lifesaver for me as I knew I could follow it to get to my apt., to Aspinwall, and to 376. It helped me learn the roads and now I don’t need it so much, but it’s nice every now and then when I forget which way to go at that crazy intersection btwn Murray and Forward Aves.


eMcK
Participant
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I ridden across the state twice now, without looking at a map, thanks to the PA bike routes. These signs are often at very comfusing intersections that have a huge amount of signs for streets, interstates, state routes, county fairs, garage sales, etc. The State Bike route signs are of a differnet design, thus making them easy to spot in a sea of other signage.

Good signage works for the vast majority of people. It is also relatively simple and cheap to implement.

And I really don’t have a problem leaving some roads bike-unfriendly, as long as we can have roads that are car unfriendly to get us to the same places.

Hate to beat the Portland thing to death, but their bike boulevards usually parallel main arteries and use traffic calming measures that keep speeds down enough that most people trying to get somewhere by car will use the main roads. This works really well, and this is what bike-pgh seems to be doing here. Get some infrastructure in place, get more bikers, decrease car traffic, get all ELB on Penn Ave. Sounds like a plan.


bstephens
Participant
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I don’t think that signs like these are useful as much as reassuring. They reassure you that a) you’re going the right way and b) bikes are welcome. Whether bikes are actually welcome or not, it’s a nice fuzzy feeling and hopefully encourages more people to ride.


brian j
Participant
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I’m with Ben and Eric. I wouldn’t find the signs very useful myself, but I’ve lived in the ‘burgh for 36 years, and have been riding on these roads for a large part of that time. But for someone considering bike commuting, seeing those signs could be a great motivator.

One thing to note about the belts–roughly 15 years ago (maybe a bit longer, like 20? Gosh I’m old…) the street signage in Pittsburgh was HORRIBLE. As in, most streets weren’t signed. At all. Most locals just knew how to get places (that was certainly the case for me–it wasn’t ’til I was riding a lot, and commuting, that I learned the actual street names). So, in that regard, the belts weren’t very helpful.


Nick D
Participant
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Just wrote Adam Brandolph an email about his word choice, and forwarded him a link to this thread.


rsprake
Participant
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Bike specific signage like this is nice. When I was perfecting my commute I used the signs to Frick Park to find a new way around Penn Ave.


greenbike
Participant
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Speaking of Penn Ave., I hope that the network comes up with a viable bike alternative to Penn b/c the traffic and the pavement condition really makes me uncomfortable on it. I would love to get to Wilkinsburg, the East End Coop, etc. on bike, but since I’m coming from East Lib, it’s a bit hard to do (directly, that is).


erok
Keymaster
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greenbike- hey, take East Liberty Blvd to Hamilton. you can take Hamilton all the way to like Dallas then over to Thomas to the Coop.


Nick D
Participant
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The authors response:

Hi Nick,

First, thanks for reading. As a bicyclist myself (I bike to work about five months out of the year and drive the rest), think you’re being hyper-critical of the language.

Of course I know that motorists must share the road. Most drivers, unfortunately, don’t know that or choose to ignore the law. With the new bike routes, I suspect that most people will hopefully now know better.

When I’m in a car with friends, they pay attention to the law when there’s a distinct bike lane. Otherwise, they are hesitant to slow down for a bicyclist or pass him.

In these cases, I do believe they are being asked to share more roads because they will be more aware of the law.

And in case you don’t know, I’ve worked with Bike Pittsburgh before. I had the first story about their bike map.

Take care,

Adam

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