Cyclist hit on West Carson
At one point I mounted a “wheel cam” to my front pannier, I only used it for a day and felt it was too much of a pain so haven’t used it since. Anyway, I pulled a clip of my commute on to Carson Street from earlier in the summer. On this day I was able to get onto the sidewalk at Pacific Pride…
Thanks for the video Stu. I was wondering what the sight-line was like at the pedestrian crossover. It looks like it’s at the crest of a very slight up hill, however a driver paying attention should have no difficulty seeing a person in the cross walk.
The ride in memory of Dennis Flanagan, and in protest, is this evening. See erok’s post above.
Tuesday, September 6 at 7 PM – 9 PM
meet at S 27th St & Tunnel Blvd (at REI), Pittsburgh, PA 15203
With all the hand-wringing about PennDOT’s being “tone-deaf” to our cries for safe streets and our disdain for their beloved “level of service”, we forget that PennDOT reports to the state’s Secretary of Transportation, who acts under the direction of Governor Tom Wolf, who reports to us, the citizenry. And we have a tool for asking him to change the direction of the aircraft carrier that is PennDOT, via this radio show, which airs on KQV a couple times a week.
For some reason edits aren’t working. From the Trib article:
“Bicyclists share a 14-foot lane on West Carson with motorists. City crews will paint a line 4 feet from the edge of the road to create a shoulder, PennDOT district executive Dan Cessna said.
“That sort of addresses their issue,” he said, adding that the painted line was something PennDOT and the city agreed to before the project began.”
It kind of bothers me that PennDOT put up the “Share the Road” signs on West Carson Street, which suggests the street is someplace bicyclists should feel comfortable riding, but are only now getting around to finding some white paint to make a shoulder (not a bike lane, BTW)–which, if respected, actually will make the street safer to ride on–weeks after the road was opened, and after someone was killed riding there. Seems like something they should feel bad about.
And the snarky tone–“we were always planning to do this”–come on, dude. Someone died. Show some honor.
“That sort of addresses their issue,” Wow, if quoted accurately, that’s remarkably tone deaf. The issue isn’t a stripe of paint. The issue is that poor engineering and design, coupled with ignoring community input, is resulting in injuries and fatalities.
Ask the families affected if that stripe of paint “sort of addresses their issue”. If road users are sort of less injured or sort of less dead. Maybe there is sort of less liability.
The “there’s no room for bike lanes” argument bothers me so much. Of course there’s no room for bike lanes when the lanes are 14, 12, and 14-feet wide. That’s the problem. Make room for bike lanes by NARROWING THE LANES.
The widest a vehicle is permitted under federal regulation (non-construction vehicle or other special vehicle type thing) is 8.5 feet. Why, then, do we need 14-foot wide lanes.
Incidentally, this past week I’ve driven West Carson outbound three times. In two out of those three occasions, after passing through the West End Circle underpass, I was passed by a car who used the super long merge area to pass. I’m not talking about a car merging from the WEC ramp – this was a car that had been behind me, who swerved into the merge area to pass. Twice in three trips.
Kudos to BikePGH, the Major Taylor club and others who helped organize the ride. Loved that we rode with Dennis’ family. It got real dusty at the end, when his sister spoke.
Aside, one thing that caught my attention was the number of cyclists I saw riding on the West Carson sidewalk, who seemed to be riding on their own and not as part of the ride. Must’ve been 5-10 during the short time that we rode out and back. And this at a relatively late time of the day. Imagine if we had proper infrastructure…
The Trib article says PennDOT may give us a four-foot shoulder. Is that on one side or both? Recall that a quasi-bike lane on the inbound side of West Carson is useless in winter, since it’s a north facing slope. Which means that it will be in shade, frozen over for three months solid, and thus not usable.
If this is PennDOT’s idea of “sort of giving us what we want” (quoting Dan Cessna), he really needs to dig those comments we gave him back out of the trash can. Oh, sorry, that was four-may-as-well-say-five years ago, and the truck has long since taken away that load in the dumpster.
So, come and actually talk to us, find out what really will work. Start by shrinking those lanes from 14 feet to 11, and dropping the speed limit to 25. THEN we can talk about an eight-foot space for bikes on the river side of the road, separated from traffic by jersey barriers.
This is the same crap they did on Freeport.
Make a big shoulder that could be a bike lane, but don’t mark it as such because no one wants the liability to call it a bike lane, and then run away as fast as possible and tell people to shut up and be happy about it.
At least the trib did a “fair and balanced” article about this. Didn’t want to get anywhere near the comments on the article because I’m sure they are all trolls. No use getting the blood pressure up. And don’t need to feed them.
The first three commenters were cyclists, including myself. I haven’t been to it in a few hours, but you’re probably right that the trolls have come out from under their rocks and bridge abutments.
Comments on the Trib article are pretty good so far (n=3), actually. A few names you may recognize, in a good way…
I’m too scared to look and I get too a get reading them that I try to avoid as much as possible. Though I guess the death being mentioned may keep some of the trolls away as it may make them look extra trolly.
Pittsburgh cycling fatality highlights life-and-death struggle for road space in America http://www.pennlive.com/news/2016/09/pittsburgh_cyclists_death_high.html
<i>According to PennDOT, 95 percent of the deaths of bicyclists occurred on state roads in 2014, while 56 percent of the injuries occurred on non-state roads. By comparison, 63 percent of cyclist deaths occurred on state roads in 2015, while 55 percent of the injuries occurred on non-state roads that year.
He said his brother was on West Carson Street, a road without a bike lane, because it was the only feasible route between his home and the city, the other being a major highway. Sean blamed this on the project’s planners and a wrong-headed approach to the business of integrating bikes with existing infrastructure. </i>
To be clear, the wrong-headedness began when the contractors were given the Level Of Service to design the road to meet. In software terms, that was the source code. Everything else was compiler output and formatting.
BTW, talking with a friend of mine who is a para-legal this weekend, PennDOT is pretty wide open on this issue: they ignored public comment telling them the new road was dangerous, opened it anyway as a signed bike route without any bike accommodations (not even a painted shoulder), and someone was killed. It’s the sort of thing people sue and win over.
I’m sure that this family is consulting with a lawyer and I’m also sure that if they bring the case that penndot will drag it out forever and then settle with a nondisclosure agreement.
Which doesn’t bring anyone back to life but will force penndot to make changes since crash #2 will be more legally painful.
Driving outbound, maybe a tenth of a mile from where Dennis Flanagan was struck and killed, I was passed by yet another vehicle using the airport-runway-length “merging” lane as a passing lane. I believe I’m 4 for 5 in that happening, now. It’s the same factual scenario every time: I’m driving 35-40, a junky car (this time, a dumpy 90’s truck packed to the gills with… stuff) comes flying up behind me, starts tailgating hard, then flies around me in the merge area, probably going 50-55 at the very least.
I’m so angry and saddened by all of this. I’m just some guy on the Internet, how do I have more care and concern about public safety than the state agency that we employ to design our roads. It’s asinine.
By the way, any word about what actually happened to Mr. Flanagan?
Another thing, I have yet to read one word faulting the driver. Have I not been looking in the right places?
I haven’t heard anything at all on what happened. AFAICT the only source of information is going to be the police report, when that is made available.
The Post-Gazette had a story with some good photographs. One included the “PennDot KILLED Dennis F.” sign:
My photos from the 9/6 ride:
Scott Bricker speaks
Dennis’ brother, Sean Flanagan speaks
the cops-on-bikes were great
approaching spot where Dennis Flanagan was hit and killed by truck while cycling
Corra Flanagan, Dennis’ daughter at right, and Corra’s mother Rebecca Flanagan at left
Thanks, Paul. And thanks to BikePgh for organizing this. I understand it meant a lot to the family; I am glad we were able to do something for them.
That was literally the only time I’ve felt safe riding on that road.
Coming up on Gateway View Plaza, outbound Carson St, on this mornings commute the light turned red and a box truck stopped at the light. Lady in a beater came up on him doing at least 70 locked up the brakes, skidded on and off for at least 50 yds, crossed center a couple of times and slammed right into his rear. I was sure glad to be on the sidewalk and equally upset to not have the camera mounted today as it I had a great view of the whole scene.
I talked to the truck driver while waiting at the light at the West End Circle and he thought she was doing 90 said he was trying to ease up as much as possible but didn’t want to hit the car in front of him. In any case he didn’t take her insurance as his rear guard was already damaged from a previous hit.
More West Carson stupidity witnessed today:
I was on a bus traveling inbound on the west end of West Carson in the Esplen neighborhood. Going inbound, it’s one lane only with a double yellow line the entire way. My bus stopped to let off a passenger and pick up another. During this time, which was maybe about 20 seconds, 4 or 5 drivers passed the bus on the left crossing the double yellow into the outbound turning lane, instead of, you know, waiting for 20 freaking seconds. Naturally, the bus caught up to all these idiots at the next light by the Corliss St tunnel.
I saw this on facebook:
Stuart Strickland: I’m heading out on West Carson. I want to replicate Dennis [Flanagan’s] trip, minus getting crushed.
Hogan J: Don’t replicate his. He rode on the sidewalk and got hit crossing where it ended.
Lyle Seaman: Is there evidence for that? I’d heard speculation but no witnesses
Hogan J: Dennis and I talked every day. He’d told me his routine.
Stuart Strickland: I made it out here unscathed. … Paid particular attention at the crash site. It’s possible to do it safely, but so so so easy not to.
If what Hogan J says is true, that’s important news about the incident. News to me, anyway. It adds strong evidence that sidewalk+crosswalk on West Carson aren’t good enough for safe passage of cyclists. Do we have confirmation from any other sources?
The crash report from police is a public document. Can someone at bike Pgh request it? Worse case scenario it will take a foia request. That looks better coming from an organization than a random citizen.
Making a FOIA request as a citizen isn’t a big deal, find out who the representative is who handles FOIA requests, then make one in writing.
I have video of my ride, including getting off the bike and walking it across WCarson to the other sidewalk. Links:
Front camera: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBInRsiLosM
My quick take, as summarized in my Fb post quoted above, is that it looks to me that he rolled off the end of the sidewalk on the river side and tried to ride diagonally over to the other side. On the rear camera, you can see how fast ambient traffic flow is. Also, there is a slight rise/dip at the city-side of the traffic signal pair, exactly where it hides someone in the road (crossing however), so sight lines are not all that great. Driving, you don’t see the bottom two feet or so of whatever is in the road.
If you do what I did — stop, dismount, press the walk button, wait for the signal to change, walk the bike across, then continue on your way on the opposite sidewalk — it’s hard to see how you can get hurt. But cut any corner in that process, you’re dead.
If only PennDot would have made that sidewalk a little wider (say 10-12 foot) with either a low wall (as can be seen early in your video near WEC) or even just a metal guid rail, you could allow a child to bike on this – with only the cross over presenting any danger. The way it is now, I don’t have any desire to use it as either as a pedestrian nor as a cyclist.
I’ve been thinking about this over the last couple of days. Was there ever an incident report for this, or is the investigation still ongoing?
Then today, I saw this on the PG Traffic article:
West Carson Street/ Route 51 — Daytime traffic shifts weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. between Stanhope Street and the West End Circle. Crews installing electronic speed limit signage. A single-lane will be maintained in each direction, through May 19.
I almost died today on West Carson. And I don’t say that with any kind of joking or exaggeration. This really is the closest I’ve ever come to dying on my bike. I’m very shaken.
From my 311 report (which I stupidly forgot to enter my email so now I don’t know how to follow up).
The owners of 1600 West Carson (Gateway View Plaza) have installed orange “snow fencing” to replace their metal fencing that was missing.
This snow fencing curls out into the sidewalk and narrows the sidewalk.
Today, I was bicycling on this sidewalk as I do every day for my commute. The curled end of the fencing caught my handlebar, which made my bike turn a sharp right and caused me to swerve out into the roadway.
I’m pretty sure the only reason I didn’t die today was that there weren’t any cars coming. Within a second, I went from pedaling slowly along the sidewalk to facing oncoming traffic directly in the west-bound travel lane.
Cars routinely travel upwards of 50 MPH on this road, oncoming to sidewalk users.
It’s intensely dangerous to use this sidewalk. But now that it’s narrower, and the fencing is obstructing the sidewalk, it’s a pedestrian or bike fatality waiting to happen.
Wow. Thanks for reporting this. I’m very glad nothing bad happened.
This is scary. You need to talk directly to the landlord, too. Looks like that is owned by the Buncher Company.
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