DEC 14: PUBLIC MEETING -EXPANDING, CONNECTING DOWNTOWN BIKE LANES

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buffalo buffalo
Participant
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Ft Pitt is also a state road, thus the need for PennDOT approval. But Allies is the detour when the Parkway is flooded or otherwise closed, yes.


NMR
Member
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re: Data

 

“Either there’s an opportunity here that’s not being fully capitalized on or else the data isn’t favorable and they’re just sitting on it.”

 

Nothing subversive to be found.  The answer is the usual: time and money.  Good-faith surveys of business owners have been found to be highly biased, producing junk data presented as fact.  Open-book analysis controlling for various factors would be needed, and in the end, we’re going to be talking about percentages on the margins unless the impact is truly for the better or worse.  Before/After traffic analysis is labor intensive, could cost as much as the design itself, and again is subject to human perception.  How many folks in the East End are super happy about the SureTrac signals supposedly cutting delay by 25%?  Is that even perceptible? Same logic applies to bike projects.

 

I fully agree with the concept and in a perfect world this should be done for all transportation work, but it’s an unfortunate reality of the current state of humanity that presenting factual data has only a marginal impact on public opinion.  The City is building good projects for good reasons, and people that refuse to believe that most likely aren’t going to be swayed by charts and graphs.  Think about the people you see in comment sections claiming the Penn Ave bike counts are rigged by people standing there and going back and forth over them.  People respond to narratives.


Benzo
Participant
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With the Ft. Pitt Blvd option, It’s also nice that you could use the bikeway from wood street (if coming from the center of downtown as opposed to coming from penn ave lanes) as an alternative to the highway like conditions you currently have to face to get on to the Smithfield street bridge via the highway ramp style path you have to take.  Since it’s illegal to bike in the bus lanes downtown, even between BOTA and the Smithfield street bridge, this creates a better legal option.

Wood street to Smithfield street bridge is definitely not bike friendly the way you have to do it now, if you want to do it by the book.

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by  Benzo.

Eric
Member
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Thanks to both of you.  If pat was able to implement the bus routing around the CBD with larger feeder stops around the perimeter it probably would have eliminated the bus stop issue.

The bike route is supposed to turn onto Smithfield, right?  That has a lot of parking, bus stops.  Or am I getting confused?


chrishent
Member
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@benzo, I actually think that Wood to Smithfield bridge is fine, provided you take the lane (and yes, I realize that inexperienced bike riders are not likely to do this). Because of the sharp left turn past Ft Pitt Blvd onto the ramp that goes to Smithfield bridge, drivers coming from Wood are not going fast, and those coming from the Parkway have a red light. The ramp to Smithfield is quite wide and gives plenty of room for passing vehicles. I do this maneuver all the time and will likely continue to do so after the cycle track is completed. The cycle track provides no advantages (for me) in this case. YMMV.

@edronline, the route only goes on Smithfield at the intersection on Ft. Pitt Blvd. There’s talk of a north-south bike route in the future, but nothing is set


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Adding to what others have said: Saunders said they chose not to continue on Fort Pitt to Commonwealth because the traffic flows on that westernmost block of Fort Pitt are the highest, and a bike lane going around the corner from Fort Pitt onto Commonwealth would constrict that intersection so much that there would no longer be room for cars to make a right turn there. The rest of Fort Pitt doesn’t get much traffic except at rush hour. I think they’ve looked at the traffic issues quite carefully.

Bluebird Kitchen on the first floor of the Keybank/First Niagara building, at Stanwix and Fort Pitt, should see benefits from cyclist traffic, as should the Starbucks at Fort Pitt and Wood.


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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If pat was able to implement the bus routing around the CBD with larger feeder stops around the perimeter it probably would have eliminated the bus stop issue.

This would be so thoroughly a disaster for so many people who use the buses–notably, but not only, persons with limited mobility who not only shouldn’t be forced to cross half of downtown to get to their bus but physically couldn’t do it if they wanted to–that it was rightly shot down when it was proposed.

The bus network downtown could stand to be simplified and regularised, but the idea of pushing all the buses to the edge of the CBD is a non-starter.


Steven
Participant
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I was opposed to that plan too when it was initially described as pushing the buses to the edge of the central business district, but once I heard the proposed route, it seemed like an improvement (and the “edge” description seemed misleading).

Consider the east end buses (61x, 71x) which currently run on Sixth Avenue, Liberty, and Fifth Avenue. The proposed rerouting would have put them on Sixth Avenue to Grant, then north to Liberty, then Stanwix to BoA and back to Grant and out again.

There are certain blocks which wouldn’t have been as close under the proposal (mostly those actually on Sixth and Fifth), but overall it covers a lot more of downtown, and the average downtown block would be a good deal closer to the proposed route than to the current one. The current route for those buses doesn’t get all that close to Point State Park, the bus station, the convention center, or Point Park University; the proposed one would.


chrishent
Member
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The bus network downtown could stand to be simplified and regularised, but the idea of pushing all the buses to the edge of the CBD is a non-starter.

Yup. Nothing like making it more inconvenient for people to take the bus to drive those ridership numbers down. I think the #14 route would have higher usage if it didn’t terminate at the Allegheny (Heinz Field) T station.

OT, but mentioned by one of the city people during the breakout sessions at this meeting: apparently, Penn Ave sees more car traffic than Liberty ave during rush hour. Liberty has become such a bus-dense road, that drivers are avoiding it.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Kinda wish I’d stayed around for the after-meeting meetings, but I ironically had to run off to a transit meeting.


Ahlir
Participant
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A belated comment on the Penn Ave bike lane:

That businesses along that street, particularly the restaurants, are doing better is a bit of a no-brainer. Previously the curbside lane had speeding cars; getting near the street felt dangerous. Now all you have are bikes (still dangerous to step in front of, but much less menacing). Putting tables out on the sidewalk now makes sense, and each table is more revenue. People are now more likely to be wandering down the street and likelier to sit down and spend. It’s more enjoyable without the gas fumes and swirling dust.

As a cyclist I was at first a bit annoyed at people stepping out into the lane, standing around and generally ignoring the bikers. Later I figured out that this was actually a good thing for the businesses: people were no longer afraid to walk down that street, hugging the storefronts, worrying about some speeding SUV jumping the curb. People stepping into the bike lane is just one side-effect of a much-improved environment.

Yes, it would be nice if hard data were available to the public. (I thought that all that open-gov’t stuff was supposed to do that; whatever.) But the changes along that street are pretty much self-evident. Heck, more than once I’ve been tempted to jump off my bike and go in for a drink in one of the bars. Of course I then notice there’s no bike racks…


Eric
Member
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Ahlir
Participant
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ah, of course. not so observant as i fancied myself to be… mea culpa.
i surely need to broaden the range of bars that i find attractive; but this might have to wait for a hot summer day when a cold beer is that much more compelling.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Is there an organized effort to bombard the papers with letters to the editor opposing this Fort Pitt Blvd bike lane (and Peduto’s reelection)? Here’s the latest whiny letter:

http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/letters/2016/12/21/The-Fort-Pitt-bike-lane-will-present-hazards/stories/201612200020


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Another whiny letter, titled “A Fort Pitt bike lane will be terrible for businesses”:

http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/letters/2016/12/24/A-Fort-Pitt-bike-lane-will-be-terrible-for-businesses/stories/201612250060

In a comment, I wrote “The title for this letter should be “I fear that MY business might be hurt by Fort Pitt bike lane”, because Mr. Pass makes a case that his business could be harmed, but he makes no case that it’s worse for Pittsburgh, overall.”

We need our own letter-writing campaign. To write a letter, follow the instructions here: http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/2014/03/04/Post-Gazette-opinion-FAQ/stories/201403040169


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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My 2 cents on that story: All the problems being reported here are not being suffered by people, specifically, but people in cars. It is cars that are the limiting factor here, not bikes, not bike lanes, not politicians, not which voting lever Grandpa used. There is absolutely no problem here at all for people, only people in cars, and that in the very specific case of not having to walk more than a block or two to get to a building. Instruct anyone who might need to access that building to park in one of the parking facilities nearby, or get there by bus, or get dropped off by carpool or equivalent (or, dare I say it, bike there!), and the problem simply goes away. Every car you replace with a transit rider or cyclist frees up more parking for those who must get there by car. Improving cycling facilities makes it easier to get around by bike, indirectly benefiting drivers.


Eric
Member
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I biked Ft. Pitt a few days ago. There is parking between Smithfield and Wood which doesn’t seem all that important in the grand scheme of things.  Right now the parking is pretty much gone due to construction anyway (and, they have pedestrian traffic routed out onto Ft. Pitt Blvd without any barrier between the peds and the traffic).

The biggest issue is Ft. Pitt between Wood and Market Street.  That stretch of Ft. Pitt has several storefront type businesses on them, including lawyers and design firms (including the one that re-designed Bike Pgh’s website).  I could see how eliminating street parking would be a potential hardship here.  I think the current pay parking on that block accommodates short term (i.e., a few hours or less, not all day) use and as a business owner I could see where the concern comes from in terms of potential loss of business (and, for the landlord, property devaluation) given their current operation assumes easy paid parking out front.

I’m wondering if there’s a compromise somewhere — one option would be having Ft. Pitt just be one lane for cars, meaning 1 lane for bikes and 1 lane for parking.  But then buses would block traffic with pick up and drop off. Another option would be having the bike lane skip that block — Wood -> First -> Stanwix.  However, if I remember correctly, First is very narrow and actually quite quaint. It would need to turn into sharrows on First. Neither is a great solution.

Of course, if/when they build the bike lanes as planned, businesses will adapt, people will adapt.  The businesses will point their customers to other streets nearby with parking, and some may actually show up to an appt by bike.  But the animosity doesn’t go away as quickly and may flare up again with other bike-friendly projects that don’t directly affect these businesses.


Eric
Member
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<p style=”text-align: left;”>99 Percent Invisible link</p>
<p style=”text-align: left;”>http://99percentinvisible.org/episode/plat-of-zion/</p&gt;
 


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Here is what the route looked like on New Year’s Day. The parking spaces along Ft. Pitt Blvd. were in use. I had no trouble, but traffic was light. Quite a few bikes on the Penn Ave bike lane, though.

 

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