FINAL Forbes Ave (CMU to Pitt) Redesign Public Meeting (with bike lanes):July 17
I must say, this layout is counter intuitive. You need to stay on the right and ride on the sidewalk to go left. What?
And, yes, the sidewalk will be nutty crowded sometimes. And the light pole.
This is going to end up as a “what were they thinking? 15 hilarious pictures of design failure” clickbait post.
2018 continuation of thread!
This has gotten precious little attention.
Come and hear from Gulisek Construction, LLC, the Contractor, and Project Partners about design plans for the Forbes Avenue Betterment Project, including project management, schedule and safety.
Thursday, March 1, 2018
Carnegie Mellon University
Cohon University Center
Rangos 2 – 2nd floor
5 PM – 7 PM
I cannot because it is too late. Why always so late? Any meeting starting after 3:30 PM I will not be able to attend until the clocks are changed. Can’t they have one around 1:00 on a Saturday for people who are jobless and do not want to deal with crowded buses?
Consider that those who are holding the meeting must be paid for their time, as well as those who maintain and otherwise staff the buildings in which they are held. It is expensive to hold them in the evenings, after work, when they are accessible to the greatest possible number of people; holding them on the weekend, when all the consultants and engineers must take extra time out of their lives, not to mention paying the janitors, security, and other personnel required to open a building up to public use, is orders of magnitude more expensive.
Meetings are scheduled so that as many people as possible might be able to come to one single meeting. Until administrations start providing vastly greater budgets for increasing the number, accessibility, and flexibility of such meetings–likely around the fifth of never–there will only ever be one meeting per phase of any project, and it will be on a midweek evening, around an hour after most people get off work depending on how far they expect people to travel to it*, in English**.
(* The fact that the meeting starts at 5 is a good indicator that the people they’re particularly interested in hearing from are those who work nearby, especially the CMU staff whose campus the project traverses. Also that everyone else wants to go home, too.
** Towns which are larger and have greater numbers of people who don’t speak English may have meeting materials in other languages, but the presentations and discussions are usually still in English.)
So, does that mean meetings that are intended for residents within a larger radius might start earlier and/or on a Saturday?
Saturday–perhaps, depending on space availability; DC recently held a meeting regarding a proposal to convert certain streetlights to LED on a Saturday afternoon, at a public library. DC, however, is at least twice the population of Pittsburgh and at least 30% larger geographically. You’d also better be providing childcare–which is a whole other barrel of enormous expenses.
However, more likely is that they’d be held at a different time on a weekday evening–later, not earlier. If, for example, you want people who get off work at 5pm possibly several miles away to show up at a meeting near their homes, you’d have the meeting start at 6 or even 7pm.
You will almost never see meetings start before 5pm on a weekday, except the occasional lunch-time meeting, unless they’re part of a scattered series of meetings held at a variety of times; while it’s difficult to get people to take time out of their evenings or weekends, especially if you’re not providing food and childcare, it’s almost impossible to get people to take time out of their paying jobs…
Z, you are the only person not working a night shift for which 5-7p is too late. I work daylight, and will be lucky to make it to the building by 6:15, let alone find the venue and have any chance to soak in what’s going on. And I am only traveling from downtown to Oakland.
Now can we please discuss the substance of the proposal rather than the scheduling?
Here’s our post about the meeting, hope it’s helpful.
In short, I haven’t seen any final drawings yet, so don’t know specific details. but from what can say, the new bike lanes are supposed to be extended from Craig St to Margaret Morrison. They will be on each side of the street and buffered. I believe they will get a bit narrow across the bridge. Don’t think it’s changed much from the last meeting, although there was a lot of talk about different ways to handle the bike lanes at the bus stops.
Also, there was talk about moving the parking in front of Schenley Plaza to the other side of the street, in front of the cathedral, as a parking protected bike lane. however, the bill to legalize moving parking away from the curb in PA is stuck in the Senate, so it will be interesting to see how PennDOT handles this.
I still do not see anything about a cycle track replacing the contraflow bus lane on 5th Ave. Is that still proposed in the BRT plan?
Don’t parking-protected bike lanes = DZBL?
- This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by zzwergel.
Every evening, I go east on Forbes and then turn north on Moorewood. With the road and signal changes, I’m wondering how my commute across this intersection will be impacted.
In the current road configuration: usually that’s pretty ok for me but automobile traffic behind me is slowed down since we share a lane and they can’t pass. About every couple weeks, I can’t cross from the right lane to the left-turn lane because cars won’t let me in, so I end up having to stay right and then use the pedestrian beg button to cross at Moorewood, and it takes a very long time for the light to change.
With the bike lane that will be installed: I’m wondering if there will be a bicyclist beg-button, and if so how long it will take (average and maximum) to change the light. The latest intersection design I’ve seen doesn’t have a left-turn bicycle lane. I love bicycle lanes, but I’m concerned this intersection is going to become an annoying delay if I use the (go-straight-only) bike lane… which will mean that then I am going to use the left-turn road lane and delay the drivers, who are going to be upset because they see a bike lane they think I belong in.
I will be at the meeting! Looking forward to learning about the mostly-wonderful changes planned for Forbes. Plus, maybe sharing my input on this particular intersection might help the planners to help me with it.
Why don’t you take Craig St. or Bellefield Ave.? If you turn right from Craig St. onto 5th Ave. at the beginning of the exclusive pedestrian interval, you can make it to Neville St. on red and get a protected left. Once on Neville St., turn right onto Ellsworth Ave. This way, you avoid the climb between the Boundary St. bridge and Morewood Ave. as well. I’ll video it tomorrow if the weather permits.
- This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by zzwergel.
@zzwergel: That route would be out of my way. The intersection is on my commute, only question is how bike-friendly the changes will be for turning there.
if there’s no left turn lane, will the intersection be crazy backed up during rush hours due to cars turning left from forbes onto morewood? I can’t see them re-doing the intersection and not having a left turn lane… or am I confused?
you’re allowed to get out of your bikelane to make a left turn. If the bike lane is 100% physically separated, then they should have some sort of mechanism to facilitate a left turn by a bike onto morewood.
Last version of the Forbes improvement plan that I have seen, there is a left-turn lane (regular lane, and yes bikes are legal in it). However, not a bike-only separated left-turn lane. This means that the current situation I described would still happen, but worse: cars behind me in the left-turn lane still cannot pass me (and I’m a rather slow bicyclist), but some non-bicyclist drivers will see the bicycle lane on the right and think I should be in it. (Their frustration and lack of education makes for a more dangerous situation for me, when I’m in that left-turn lane.) Would be awesome if the new road design will include a left-turn bicycle lane. Will let you all know what I learn at the meeting.
Left turning on a bike at Moorewood & Forbes was also one of my biggest concerns with the redesign.
My assumption is that there will be a dedicated left turn lane no matter what else changes with the finalized design. Slide 36 of the July 2017 presentation shows a proposal for the morewood-forbes intersection.
Note that the diagram shows a left turn box dedicated to bikes. It is an indentation in the right hand curb. That could take a while for people to get used to. I’ve never used a box on the right side of the road to wait while turning left. If the bike lane isn’t separated by a barrier, I’ll probably end up merging into the normal left turn lane. One issue with this type of design is that experienced/frequent bikers tend to use the normal left turn lane. Meanwhile, less confident or inexperienced bikers don’t know how to use the bike box to do a two stage left turn. The result is the bike turn box getting relatively little use.
If there’s a bike beg button and the average and max wait times are short, then people will (once they discover it) use the bike box on the right. However, if the current pedestrian beg button wait-times are maintained, hardly any bicyclists will ever use it. It currently takes way too long, in my experience.
- This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by Lori.
I think the left turn “indentation” treatments at Bellefield and Morewood will actually turn out to be pretty ingenious solutions and applaud the city for trying something new to them.
This situation, left turn from bike lane at three-legged intersections, is really tough for a designer. Especially without the real estate to do a Dutch-style “protected” intersection. Most of the time the turn treatment is simply ignored, leaving the turning cyclist to just sit in the bike lane like a dingus hoping for cars to let them turn and that another cyclist going straight doesn’t come out behind them.
These left turn “indentations” will work to separate turning cyclists from those going straight and provide more room to actually make the turn itself.
Check out this Streetfilms video of “Sidewalk-Assisted” Copenhagen Lefts installed by the city of Cambridge: https://vimeo.com/219134704
@lori, Are you coming from Hamburg Hall or one of the buildings much closer to Morewood Ave?
I still do not see anything about a cycle track replacing the contraflow bus lane on 5th Ave. Is that still proposed in the BRT plan?
Yes and it’s not part of this project
as far as the left turn onto morewood (which is supposed to have the cut-out for the two-stage left), i assume it will be treated similar to how i, and a lot of people treat the left turn onto craig st.
During busy rush hour times, and the left turn lane is backed up, I tend to continue straight and do the two-stage left onto craig, as it’s the quickest and most efficient. during non rush hour, i’ll use the left turn lane, as it’s the quickest and most efficient at that time of day.
My big concern is that Morewood, unlike Craig, does not have a traffic light from CMU campus. It only really has a walk signal, so unless a bike signal is in place as well, then bikes will have to use the walk signal. As we all know, this is technically illegal, and i know people who have gotten tickets at this exact intersection for going at the walk signal.
i just want to make sure that’s thought out and dialed.
@zz, this isn’t about where she is coming from and going to anymore but about the larger picture of the intersection in general and how bikes will make left turns.
I don’t understand why someone would want to climb Forbes Ave. coming from Oakland just to turn left onto Morewood Ave. and go back down the hill unless they were coming from Hamburg Hall or another CMU building that is much closer to Morewood Ave. than it is to Craig St. It would be much easier to descend the Hill on Forbes Ave. and turn right onto Craig St. If someone was coming from Squirrel Hill. Turning right to Morewood Ave to access Ellsworth Ave., Centre Ave., Baum Blvd., or Millvale Ave. would make more sense. In my opinion, A left turn from Forbes Ave. onto Morewood Ave. can be completely avoided in most circumstances due to the climb on Forbes Ave. just to descend Morewood Ave. Why climb more than necessary?
there’s lots of reasons. It’s very direct. One turn. they have a blank slate. let’s get it right. that is all
I agree. Then the bike lanes are extended, it will be more direct by about 1/4 mile. Until the road improvements are made, the 1/4 mile discrepancy in the trip from Hamburg Hall to the intersection of Morewood Ave. and Centre Ave. more than makes up for climbing a hill from Hamburg Hall to Morewood Ave. in the right lane with aggressive fast moving traffic prior to abruptly changing into the passing/left turn lane in the current road configuration. Before the bike lanes are extended, I would,
- Head west from Hamburg Hall on Forbes Ave.
- R. Craig St.
- R. 5th Ave. (into passing lane at the beginning of the Barnes dance, walk if police are present.)
- L. Neville St.
- R. Ellsworth Ave.
- L. Morewood Ave.
This is a little out of the way, but it is much less stressful.
@zz et al. : This isn’t about ideal routes for bikers; it’s about providing options for bikers. Just like the drivers get. We “own” the streets as much as they do and we should be able to go where we want.
That is true. Then something can be done about Washington Blvd., Bigelow Blvd. (inbound from Craig St.), and the Liberty Tunnel as well.
Info from the meeting:
The good news is there’s supposed to be a light for bicyclists waiting in the cutout area (south side of Forbes at intersection with Moorewood). The bad news is that possibly the current plan is for the bikers’ light to be green simultaneous with the car left-turn onto Moorewood signal, where drivers won’t be looking out for bikes to be merging with them from their right while they turn left.
A pedestrian and bicycle safety person (name Katie?) said she will work with the planners to help get something safe worked out, because as she said it’s definitely not safe to mix bicyclists and the turning cars. She was knowledgeable about the bike cutouts, apparently radar will used to sense that a bicyclist is there, and make the light change.
Bikers brought up more issues about the intersection:
- wanting a light that allows safely turning left (or straight) into CMU campus from Moorewood. Asked: could that be added to the intersection plan?
- for it to be legal for bicyclists to cross with the pedestrian signal, there would have to be special signage. Asked: will there be such special signage?
The official folks presenting said they will look into bicycle concerns about this intersection, and will communicate with Bike Pittsburgh to let us know the plan. Also they encouraged us to email questions to the Oakland Transportation Management Association: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I forgot to ask about how long the average and max wait times for bicyclists will be at that intersection, so I will email them that question, now.
Notes on additional topics:
- Unfortunately no bicyclist safety improvements as part of this project to the western part of Forbes (their ‘zone 1’, Birmingham Bridge to Bigelow Boulevard) that merges with a highway. They will only resurface it. (I’m personally very disappointed about that. I’ve biked along those highway-speed cars there many times, and it’s a very scary place to ride.)
- Bikers mentioned safety issues turning from the bike lane into driveways with steep height differences much higher than the road (since the bicyclist isn’t turning at a perpendicular angle, like needed for railroad tracks and these driveways). The contractor won’t be addressing that, and laws require minimum height differences for drainage. However, there are maximum height differences due to the ADA. As Mary Shaw mentioned, the way to make the driveways safe is to change the edge of the driveways so the height difference is angled.
- By the end of October the Forbes improvements are scheduled to be completed
- Rainwater management on Forbes will be fixed by the project, according to the contractor. For pedestrians, no more enormous puddles for passing vehicles to spray all over you! (e.g., if you’re walking on the bridge by CMU) For bicyclists, we won’t have to ride through ponds in the bike lanes.
Nice summary Lori.
I’m the one who was against the side wall, and asked about the signal, and about how they were just like, “yeah, you can just cross at the all walk” while crossing at the all-walk has led to bicyclists get tickets.
The bad news is that possibly the current plan is for the bikers’ light to be green simultaneous with the car left-turn onto Moorewood signal, where drivers won’t be looking out for bikes to be merging with them from their right while they turn left.
I talked to Katie after the meeting. She’s one of the City’s traffic engineers. Because it’s a PennDOT owned road, in the City, they have arrangements in place on how they work together, approvals, etc.
One thing to realize is that the guy answering those questions was a project manager, not a traffic engineer. He clearly didn’t know what he was talking about, but it was a shame because he answered with such certainty, and PennDOT didn’t have their engineers on hand to answer the technical questions. You could see that with how he didn’t know how to answer the simple question on what type of signal it would be. Katie told me that he, indeed, didn’t know what he was talking about, and said that they will not be green at the same time. She didn’t really give me too many details, but assured me that she’ll follow up with us on it.
Here’s a link to our twitter thread from the meeting: https://twitter.com/BikePGH/status/969333021152370689
here’s a PG article http://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2018/03/01/Forbes-Avenue-in-Oakland-to-get-major-overhaul/stories/201803020133
I think the weave area with traffic coming from the Parkway should be converted into a Y-intersection with a stop sign and other signage notifying about bicycles at the end of the ramp. Forbes Ave should continue as two lanes from the Birmingham Bridge intersection to the left lane off ramp from the Blvd. or the Allies. Installing bike boxes on the eastern sides of the Craft Ave., Halket St., McKee Pl., and Meyran Ave. intersections will aid in cyclists turning left from Forbes Ave. onto their respective western sides. Left turns to Atwood St. and Oakland Ave. can be made via:
- R. Meyran Ave.
- L. Sennott St.
- L. Atwood St. or Oakland Ave.
More comments from the public meeting this past week.
People are gonna go where people are gonna go
The job of the designer is to lay out the space so people naturally go where they “should” (presumably wherever is best and safest for overall flow). Four elements of the design should be revisited with this in mind:
- The Morewood intersection. Cyclists are going to cross in the all-walk cycle. They just are. So design the intersection to provide a route for cyclists that avoids the pedestrians. For example, put the bicycle entry to campus directly across from the centerline of Morewood, away from the crosswalks (and next to the left-from-Forbes-to-Morewood pullout). Then post the intersection to say bikes may use the all-walk.
- Bus stops without bus pullouts. They need to decide whether the bus should go to the curb or whether they want to do what they proposed on Stanwix (raise the bike lane between the curb and the bus stop). If the bus pulls to the curb, cyclists have a choice between waiting and passing the stopped bus; many will pass. The challenge here is to design this so the bus drivers will get back into the street instead of driving up the bike lane. If they decide to keep the bus out of the bike lane (Stanwix plan) they need to figure out how to persuade the bus riders they should wait on the curb, not IN the bike lane and the cyclists that they shouldn’t just blast through the people waiting for and boarding the bus.
- There was also a question about a green marking that might have been a turn box but was identified as a striped driveway crossing, no left turn permitted there. I don’t recall details, but my reaction at the time was that it was a natural place for cyclists to turn left, so something should be planned.
- The new mid-block between Bouquet and Bigelow — is this underneath the 2nd-flor bridge that no one will climb up to to cross the street? Have they thought about how to get pedestrians to wait for the light before crossing, rather than flooding continuously across the crosswalk (think consistency with the mid-block crossing on Bigelow)?
Incidentally, I was at the symphony last night (excellent performance, BTW). There’s an all-walk cycle at sixth and Penn, next to Heinz Hall. Pedestrians were freely crossing with the traffic greens as well as the all-walk. They’re gonna go where they’re gonna go.
This whole bike lane vs bus stop thing is new. The City should figure out how to handle it and do it the same way everywhere. It’s going to be hard enough to get everyone to understand ONE way to handle this properly. Having different protocols for different routes will confuse everyone.
Similarly, the left-at-T-intersection we see at Bellefield and Morewood is new. Be sure those are handled consistently at all locations (not all intersections have the all-walk, so they can’t be identical). There is similar confusion about when bikes should cross the Schenley Drive intersection at the end of the cycle track (near the carousel). The issue is that all cars are turning either left or right, since they’re coming out of the stem of the “T”. Note to people earlier in this thread who thought the whole idea is strange — think of these like the jug-handle lefts for cars, for example out Route 22: Instead of queueing up left turns in the traffic lanes, they add a little ramp to the right which quickly swings back to cross the road at right angles (at a stop sign or light). It’s the same idea here, just takes up less space.
See above about consistency of protocols at mid-block crossings, for example the ones on Forbes and Bigelow. Maybe a light should be added to interrupt the continuous flow of pedestrians on Bigelow.
I’m personally a fan of approving bicycle use of all-walks everywhere unless there is a very good reason not to, with understanding that pedestrians have the right of way, just as they do when they are in a crosswalk on an ordinary green and a bicyclist or motorist wants to turn across the crosswalk.
I’ve often said the same thing about crosswalk markings. The city seems to be standardizing on hi-viz piano keys, which is much better than the variety we were getting a few years ago.
Necessary vs sufficient
There was discussion of the rule for a 1.5″ drop from a driveway to the road. The consultant explained that it’s a requirement, mentioning runoff from the driveway to the street, not from street to driveway. I asked why it had to be a vertical lip rather than a beveled one. His answer seemed to be “because” or “rules is rules”. As numerous people noted, a vertical drop is a safety issue for bicycles
Someone should check on what the actual requirement is. I wouldn’t be surprised if the requirement is for the elevation difference but not the profile of the lip. It’s probably easier to construct a vertical lip, and that is certainly a sufficient design — it satisfies the requirement. It was not clear to me, however, that the vertical lip is a necessary part of the design — other profiles might be allowed. In particular, safer ones might be allowed.
This would not be the first time I encountered a highway design where the consultant really wanted to use a familiar design element that he knew would work rather than going to the effort of getting a variation approved.
After playing back video I got during my ride today, I noticed the traffic light and parking lot across from Hamburg Hall is gone. It appears that there still is a crosswalk at this location. What are they building there? Also why is the middle lanes near Beeler St. all dug up?
Short answer: Beeler is planned work by PWSA; work will continue to Mon/Tues. Hamburg light is probably related to the Forbes Betterment project, see link below; the project will also install bike lanes. Not sure which parking lot you’re talking about — the one where the new building is went away a long time ago.
OTMA should have been publicizing this. Here are three messages from CMU to staff and neighbors
========1, from CMU to neighbors about whole project ====
Two updates on the Forbes Avenue Betterment Project:
1. PennDOT has made available a copy of the presentation used at last Thursday evening’s public meeting on the construction scope and timeline; it can be found here. It will soon be posted to PennDOT’s website for the project: http://forbes.otmapgh.org/
2. I have forwarded below this week’s e-newsletter from Oakland Business Improvement District (OBID). As you will see, it includes a two-week look-ahead schedule for construction. If you would like to join this e-newsletter list to get updates like these in the future, please visit: http://onlyinoakland.org/contact/ and submit your email address in the light blue box located halfway down the page.
========= 2, from CMU to staff and neighbors re this weekend ======
PWSA has confirmed that crews will be working this weekend to repair: (1) a water line and valve at the intersection of Beeler Street and Forbes Avenue, and (2) a water valve at the intersection of Morewood Avenue and Forbes Avenue. Digging activities will start around 7:00pm on Friday, March 9, and water shut-off and repair work will occur on Saturday, March 10, beginning as early as 5:00am and ending as late as 5:00pm.
We have determined for certain that the water outage will affect university buildings located on the eastern side of campus and along Morewood Avenue. PWSA believes that the outage should NOT affect the surrounding neighborhoods, but it will not be known for certain until the water has actually been shut-off.
As a precautionary measure, I would suggest that near-campus neighbors reserve some water prior to the outage. Also, please know that the Cohon University Center (which will not be affected by the outage) will be open and available for restroom use from 5:30am to 6:00pm on Saturday.
============== 3, further on this weekend ======
PWSA has identified potential additional repairs associated with the Forbes/Beeler water shutdown on Saturday March 10th which might require digging at the intersection of Forbes and Morewood on Monday, March 12th from 7pm to 6am. This would be necessary in order to prepare for a water line repairs to be done Tuesday, March 13th and there would be traffic interruptions both Monday and Tuesday from 7PM to 6AM. The buildings listed below would be without water from 7pm to 6am on Tuesday, March 13th. We will send an update on Monday if this is needed.
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