Downtown Pgh bike-bus-only lanes

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MaryShaw
Member
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I’m looking forward to using the bike-bus-only lanes that are “to be installed” downtown, along with contraflow on Third Av.  I saw red paint on Ft Pitt Blvd the other day, which I assume is part of setting up a restricted lane there.

Are the bike-bus-only lanes officially open yet?

City to allow bikes in Downtown bus lanes, add contraflow bike lane to 3rd Ave

 


alleghenian
Member
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I was under the impression that bikes were allowed in bus lanes immediately after it was announced, even though it will take them some time to update signs and paint bike icons on the lanes.

I have taken the Third Ave. contraflow lane a few times from Wood to Smithfield. In my opinion it is scarier than just riding with traffic on a regular street because 3rd Ave. is skinny and it is weird having traffic coming right at you just a few feet away.  A big box truck was coming slowly down 3rd and I just had to stop and pull my bike over onto the sidewalk to let it pass because the large driver’s-side mirror was sticking out into the bike lane.  And the truck really had no room to move over for me, it was as close to the parked cars as it could get.


Benzo
Participant
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So, I didn’t really see bike symbols north of 3rd ave. Are bicycles allowed to use the bus lanes across their entire length between libety ave and ft. Pitt Blvd? Or only between Ft. Pitt blvd and 3rd Ave?

Are bikes also allowed to use the bus only left turn lane on liberty ave on to Smithfield st?


chrishent
Member
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I’ve noticed the same thing, @benzo. It appears that the intent is to allow bikes between the Smithfield St bridge and the new bike infra on 3rd Ave. Anything north of there is buses-only, it appears. Lame.


MaryShaw
Member
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The map in the article https://www.bikepgh.org/2018/09/26/city-allow-bikes-downtown-bus-lanes-add-contraflow-bike-lane-3rd-ave/  shows “yellow bus-bike shared lane” and the map shows yellow on Ft Pitt from Smithfield to Wood, on Smithfield from the bridge all the way to Liberty, and on Wood from Ft Pitt to Third Av (maybe 4th, it’s a little ambiguous).  However, on the Google Maps satellite view, it looks like markings for the Wood St bus lane stop at Fourth, so there may not be a bus lane to be using there (and we can clearly bike in the traffic lane)

The end of the bus lane at Smithfield and Liberty is tantalizingly close to Penn Av — next we need a connection there.

Does the contraflow lane on 3rd have any kind of protection yet, even just bollards?  Or is is just paint?

 


NMR
Member
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Only paint on Third Ave.

First time I used it I encountered two delivery vehicles in the bike lane, second time three delivery vehicles in the bike lane.

I’ve since gone back to using First Ave as a de facto shared street instead, which has been far superior to Third.

Also, anecdotally, I still see people riding both directions on the Fort Pitt Blvd sidewalk. Yet to see anyone using Third. I understand the intent and uplaud the effort to get some sort of formally established connection in place, but the Third Ave scheme is too indirect for anyone to logically end up using it to get from Grant/Smithfield to the Point.

Good lesson to be learned for the Strip District, to be honest.


Benzo
Participant
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I used the contraflow lane on 3rd last week. There was an inconsiderate clod in a jeep parked in the contraflow lane facing against my direction of travel.


Benzo
Participant
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FWIW, the 3rd avenue connector should make more sense next year if they extend bike lanes along Stanwix / liberty ave to the point, per phase 2 of the plan (see Mary Shaw’s link).

I’m pretty sure they chose 3rd since it intersects Stanwix at a traffic signal, to help enable left turns from Stanwix on to the contraflow lanes on 3rd.

The problem with 1st ave is it’s one way and it doesn’t have a traffic signal where it intersects Stanwix.

  • This reply was modified 1 month ago by  Benzo.

Eric
Member
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I’ve taken 3rd before and agree with everyone. It’s too narrow, and just 2 yellow lines separating you from cars.  Plus, I really didn’t see any signage anywhere pointing bikes to there. so unless you know it’s there, you’re not going to use it.

I know it was quite ballyhooed by the city, but i’m wondering if it’ll just end up angering the “SCREW YOU BIKELANE PEDUTO!” people while not helping any cyclists… If that’s the case, then it’s the worst of both worlds.


MaryShaw
Member
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Re vehicles parked in bike lanes, especially contraflow lanes:

When I filed a 311 complaint about trucks parked in the Penn Av bike lane, I got a note from an officer in that precinct saying I should call 911.  It does in fact create a dangerous situation to force the contraflow cyclists out into oncoming traffic.

So if the 3rd Av lane is actually posted as a bike lane, we should all call 911 whenever it’s blocked.

Re Ft Pitt Blvd and “why 3rd?”:

It’s true that 3rd isn’t a great connection of what you really want to do is go east on Ft Pitt Blvd.  However, most of that traffic is coming up the car ramp from the wharf.  When they eventually, finally, at last get the switchback ramp open, the ramp will address this connection.  (what part are they missing? can we 3D print one for them to use in the interim?)

However, if you’re coming from the vicinity of Penn and Stanwix, 3rd isn’t a bad way to get over to Smithfield.

  • This reply was modified 1 month ago by  MaryShaw.

alleghenian
Member
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Another thing about the contraflow lane: While there is a stoplight at 3rd & Smithfield, there is not a light facing the contraflow lane since traffic had previously never been able to that direction on 3rd. It’s easy to quickly judge it by the pedestrian signal but just another thing that could confuse people.


clengman
Member
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I didn’t know this bike lane existed. I generally take Ft. Pitt Blvd. going west and Blvd of the Allies heading east, but I rarely have any downtown destinations. Just passing through from station square to the northside.

Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve been riding in the Smithfield bus lane for years (but just from the blvd to the smithfield bridge). :/


NMR
Member
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The problem with 1st ave is it’s one way and it doesn’t have a traffic signal where it intersects Stanwix.

Right, the city couldn’t *officially* designate First for this reason, but as someone who’s worked at the corner of Stanwix and First for a decade I ‘ll say it functions much better for cyclists going against traffic in practice than Third has.

The Stanwix improvements next year should help with wayfinding, but I’m not at all holding my breath for an easy left hand turn from Stanwix to Third. Tough design.


Ornoth
Member
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Like cleng, I occasionally take the Smithfield contraflow bus lane from BotA, but I always face a challenge when I hit Ft. Pitt.

I usually want to ride the eastern / upstream sidewalk, so that I can dive down the curb cut on the other side to roll down East Station Sq. Drive to McKean and eventually the path. The problem is that means figuring out how to cross oncoming traffic that isn’t expecting me. I’ve typically been veering to the left sidewalk before I get to Ft. Pitt and crossing like a pseudo-ped.

Looking at it now, I realize I can take the western / downstream sidewalk and take four rights into Station Sq. and under the bridge and accomplish the same thing. So that’s cool.

However, two things still bug me. When the Mon Wharf ramp opens, some riders will still want to get across the intersection to descend the ramp. Tho it might be a small volume of riders trying to get from Smithfield to the wharf.

OTOH, more riders will look to cross traffic at Ft. Pitt in order to pick up the wide sidewalk that leads to the EFT. Or is that one of the Ft. Pitt blocks that’s getting a contraflow lane? Could still be sketchy…

Sorry. Just trying to think through the traffic flow at that intersection.


alleghenian
Member
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There is no contraflow happening on Fort Pitt Boulevard.  There are three one-way lanes all going toward the point, and the only change for Fort Pitt is that on the block from Smithfield to Wood, the right lane is now painted completely red, and it says that it is bus and bike only, just for that block.  I guess if you are in the right lane going from Grant to Smithfield, you have to turn right on Smithfield now.  (I think the right lane previously had street parking during certain hours of the day, and during rush hours it was open for all traffic.)

For what it’s worth, the upstream sidewalk on the Smithfield Street Bridge has signs marking it as a shared sidewalk for bikes & pedestrians, and that is the sidewalk that connects more directly to the EFT, so maybe pedestrians expect bikes more on that one.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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The Third Avenue contra-flow lane is handy if you’re leaving the bike parking facility in the garage between Third and Fourth Avenues and are headed south or east. I have no trouble using Fourth to head toward Smithfield and Grant, but intuitively head out the south exit onto Third if my destination is Jail Trail or across the river.

That said, this looks nice on pavement but in execution leaves much to be desired. For instance, pedestrians crossing Third are not accustomed to looking both ways before crossing a one-way street, so cyclists need to be wary of anyone approaching Third with intent to cross the bike lane.

As to the shared bus lanes, my understanding is that it’s the whole length of southbound Smithfield. Am I mistaken? Where is this documented? And frankly it’s silly not to allow it. If I’m coming from 9St Bridge, headed south, I’m getting in that lane at 7Av, and Liberty is only another 100 feet.


MaryShaw
Member
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@stuinmccandless  The map key in the article https://www.bikepgh.org/2018/09/26/city-allow-bikes-downtown-bus-lanes-add-contraflow-bike-lane-3rd-ave/  includes “yellow bus-bike shared lane”, and the map shows yellow highlighting  on Smithfield from the bridge all the way to Liberty.  It also shows yollow on Ft Pitt from Smithfield to Wood and on Wood from Ft Pitt to Third Av (maybe 4th, it’s a little ambiguous).

This map is consistent with your understanding that it’s the whole length of southbound Smithfield.


Benzo
Participant
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So, If the shared bus/bike lane is the whole length of Smithfield, can bikes use the left turn lane on Liberty (marked as no left turn except buses) to turn left on to Smithfield bus/bike lane?


erok
Keymaster
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I talked to Katy Sawyer, City Traffic Engineer about the bus-bike lane.

She says that yes, the full length of the Smithfield Bus-bike lane is for buses and bikes.

They did not yet install the signage. Also, she said that the contractor only installed the bike symbols for those two blocks, and were supposed to come back and finish it up.

As far as the left turn onto Smithfield from Liberty, I haven’t seen that level of detail, but will make sure to pass it along.

I will say that i am a bit skeptical that all of the pieces will be in place when we’d like them to be. The original intent was to only have the 3rd to Smithfield section available for bikes, but we pushed for the whole enchilada, which she said she’d do. Granted, it did add a bunch more work on to do that, so i wouldn’t be surprised if it’s all phased in.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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My former commute from north to the Union Trust Bldg had me using Smithfield from 7Av to Oliver almost daily. Nobody ever gave me any trouble, but also I avoided trouble by turning on Strawberry Way or staying on 7Av, if there were buses to contend with – which still isn’t a bad idea.


erok
Keymaster
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it’s simply another option. and now you won’t get harassed by cops or bus drivers (i have) and if something should happen, you’re in the proper place. also, getting to the smithfield bridge has always been a pain, unless you took the bus lane.


Benzo
Participant
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Yeah, this is so much better now that you can legally go from blvd of the allies on to the Smithfield Street bridge without ‘illegally’ using the bus lane for that 1 block stretch. This setup really does open up a lot of connectivity downtown. Hoping that the 2019 phase II happens earlier in the season than later.

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