How do we get a mirror on the chute?

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stefb
Participant
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Now that the RR is sitting in the UPMC parking lot not allowing people to cross the tracks, and the road (second ave) from the Jail Trail to Panther hollow gets backed up/is difficult to pull out on, the stupid chute is the best option. However, even with slowing down, yelling out, ringing my bell over and over, people are coming around the blind turns from the opposite direction on foot and by bike wearing headphones. They can’t hear. And even if they aren’t wearing headphones, the noise from traffic makes it too loud to hear sometimes. Even if I got off and walked my bike, chances are some other tail user from the opposite direction is still going to be coming at me at speed around a blind turn.

We need a convex mirror on both sides so we can have visual confirmation of people approaching from the opposite way. Who do we talk to about this? At this point, we are being forced into a more dangerous situation by th RR being douchebags.


Jason-PGH
Member
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I 311’d this, maybe we can get something done. If not, pressure the RR maybe, if you eliminate a route, make the other ones safer?


Ahlir
Participant
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@stefb: I admire that you continue to use the chute even though it’s broken, as you point out. I only wish I had the discipline you have to do the right thing, as opposed to the convenient thing. Your patients are lucky people. I’ve given up and just use the street to get through that bit. The chute should be for just pedestrians.

Why should bikers have to put up with the existing arrangement? Why can’t we have a marked sharrowed path, in both directions that legitimates bike presence on the street? In reality this is what works anyway, given the traffic light patterns (except maybe at the height of rush a hour). But legitimation is key for having motorists accept the reality and accommodate.

Also, an actual traffic light at the rump Swinburne intersection.


Vannevar
Participant
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The chute is a long-standing disaster, an attractive hazard connecting two wonderful, frequently used bike routes. It’s not wide enough for 2-way traffic, and it’s got two blind 90-degree turns.

In the midst of a year of so many improvements, I wonder if it’s not addressed because “soon” there’s going to be an Alomono transition built and they want to do it all at once? Just uninformed speculation. (you know, it’s the web)


stefb
Participant
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I do use the road in the morning and other times of the day cause you can keep your speed up and flow with traffic. However, there is still the issue of gravel at that turn up to the UPMC parking lot/trail head.

Ok rant time:

The whole thing has me annoyed. Obviously the safer way to get to certain parts of schenley is to cross the tracks leading to Panther hollow lake (that are now patrolled by the RR) rather than take the road , as mentioned in other threads. Now that option is gone.

The hazelwood trail was nice cause it got you pretty close from the HMB to to duck hollow, which connected to Frick. Now that is closed. And even if it was open, you can’t cross into the duck hollow trail, which is marked as part of the trail system with markers IN the trail.

I am completely dissatisfied with the taking away of bicycling options. Is the trail through the strip open again? Sure, we are getting more bike lanes, but they are still taking safe trails away from us.

Sometimes the jail trail is open at 530am and sometimes not. So I take a chance, but this past week, I have had to take second ave, whereas last week it was open. Still no detour posted. And still no signs from the downtown end indicating that it is closed. I don’t know what people who are traveling outbound are doing, but when I see that the trail is closed, I can easily bail out on the hot metal pedestrian bridge.

Whatever. I can only hope that we can get something permanent and good. That may not happen while I am still living here to see it though.


byogman
Member
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These “soon” items, Almono, BRT, they can’t come soon enough. There are real problems, serious problems that need to be dealt with now. What I’d propose is to focus energy on those that effect pedestrians as much as us.

The trail needs to be open or there needs to be a clearly posted alternate. At all times.

Mirrors in the chute and sharrows on 2nd so more bikes continue in the road rather than going through the chute inbound… I never understood the attraction but some folks on bike do go inbound via the chute and it’s a problem.

And while the greenfield bridge is out can we please address a couple trivial items to make Bates/Panther Hollow less of a disaster?

On Bates, can we please get handicapped curb cuts so it’s possible to cross the parkway ramp smoothly without going counter-flow briefly?

On Panther Hollow Drive, can we please get something to make crossing the northern side of the interchange next to the playground less harrowing? Like, say, something cool for people with strollers?

Make a crosswalk from the southwest corner of panther hollow and hobart and another crossing of Beacon (this one with a pedestrian activated signal) at the top end of the field to get bikes back on the right side. Bonus for fixing the grading and paving the path through the field as then it’s not a mess, not an ankle turning hazard, and it’s a reasonable bike route continuation from the panther hollow sidewalk going east.

It always frustrates me to see stupid things like this hang around without resolution waiting for some big fix. Who knows if/when that actually comes? Fixing these things should be an instantaneous reflex not a who knows if it’ll ever happen thing.


gg
Member
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I never understood the attraction but some folks on bike do go inbound via the chute and it’s a problem.

Good point. There is no need to use that chute inbound, since you are going downhill AND making a right turn. Talk about easy! I always am going outbound, so I do use that chute. I haven’t met anyone inbound yet, but I suspect I will someday.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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The new bike lane funnels people toward that chute. And if you do not feel comfortable riding in the lane on Saline with its very light traffic, then you are certainly not going to ride in the lane on the 200 yards of Second.

Second is not easy. You absolutely have to take the lane AND you have to slow down considerably to make that turn. If there isn’t a vehicle coming down from the parking lot, there is loose gravel making that turn dangerous at speed. Not a lot of riders have the gonads to slow a line of would-be-40 mph traffic to a near stop to make a turn.

Myself, I’ve hit the opposite curb trying to recover from a near wipeout trying to turn there. I suspect I’m not alone.


Mikhail
Member
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I’ve used my leaf blower to clean up gravel. So it’s all good till the next rain.


byogman
Member
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Stu, that’s a very good point. The same contours that make the turn in the chute ridiculous still make the by road turn quite unpleasant. Still, putting down a couple sharrows (and sweeping the gravel!) is a very cheap and very worthwhile intervention.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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It cannot be kept clean. Each rain washes new silt, gravel, etc., into the center of that turn. You have to slow to sub-10mph to make that turn, well below that if there’s a car coming down the hill to the stop sign.

Move those jersey barriers out 10 feet, forcing Second to be one lane each direction, and then we can talk.


gg
Member
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I think a mirror would be vandalized within a week in that location.


RustyRed
Member
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We saw two cyclists actually WALKING their bikes inbound yesterday.


salty
Participant
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That chute is an abomination and an embarrassment. Stu has it right, there is no need for 3 car lanes there.


abf
Member
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This idea may sound preposterous, and may be superbly expensive — a tunnel going from the parking lot, and exiting at Saline Street at street-level.

This would be a good replacement for the chute. It is probably not practical, aside from cost, since there may be utility pipes below the lot, and since the earth the lot is on was probably put there in the 1800’s when the railroad was built.

However, hopefully this (crazy) idea can stir up some more ideas on how to better this connector in place of the chute :-).


abf
Member
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abf
Member
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BTW, another crazy (and potentially hilly terrainy) idea is to built a trail connection on the Frazier Street Bridge (the I376 bridge), by attaching a pedestrian bridge on the side of or under the bridge (there are two catwalks under the bridge (and on the I376 Commercial Street Bridge at Frick Park further east), although I doubt these could be safely/easily made into a regular connector.


abf
Member
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About the I376 bridge idea: The connection on the east (schenley park) side would be to the Bridle Trail, and on the west side to the back of the DPW building on Swinburne.

Personally, though, would prefer a nice bridge, tunnel, or level crossing over the RR near Panther Hollow Lake to a I376 bridge-connection to Bridle Trail; since the Junction Hollow trail, together the Hollow Run trail and Lower Panther Hollow trails in Schenley Park present a easy, smooth ride, suitable even for children, while connecting easily to multiple points along the way (four mile run, junction hollow (and on to oakland), panther hollow lake and trails, etc.).


abf
Member
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See also: Another thread from 2012 with more ideas @ http://bikepgh.org/mb/topic/bike-advocacy-with-a-view-toward-cost-of-improvements/


Marko82
Participant
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Steel Valley trail just put up a mirror at the bottom of the little hill by Kennywood back in August. It has a plastic lens and I think it cost about $90. Here’s some mirrors from grangers (they have a store on Liberty in the strip) http://www.grainger.com/category/convex-safety-and-security-mirrors/traffic-safety/safety/ecatalog/N-i61?ssf=3&bc=y

Of course we had a fence to attach ours to, I’m not sure what’s available to attach to at the chute.

You could petition Friends of the River Front (donations probably help) or pester Corry O’Connor’s office http://pittsburghpa.gov/district5/ or “what are you doing with that ladder at midnight?”


gg
Member
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The mirror would have to be mounted up high or it will be destroyed. Maybe across the street on a pole would work. It doesn’t have to be all that close to be effective.


jonawebb
Participant
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Across the street is a good idea, assuming that you really will be able to see well enough. I hadn’t thought of that. It could be mounted up high there, on the traffic signal pole, and would probably be pretty safe against vandalism. There are stainless steel as well as plastic mirrors that are designed for just this purpose.


DoubleStraps
Member
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I’m trying to follow this discussion but honestly am not terribly familiar with much east or southeast of Oakland, besides the route I used to take in my car from downtown to Shadyside (2nd Ave. to Bates). What’s the “chute”?


jonawebb
Participant
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It’s the area between Second Avenue and the wall where the Eliza Furnace Trail starts that is blocked off with Jersey barriers. It directs two-way walking and biking into a small, confined area, with two right angle turns.
BTW we’d need another mirror at the other end. It could be attached under the railroad bridge.


jonawebb
Participant
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I emailed Corey O’Connor’s office. corey.oconnor@pittsburghpa.gov. He can make it happen, I think, and is more likely to if other constituents do, too.


chrishent
Member
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@jonawebb, if that fails, I’m partial to @marko82‘s “what are you doing with that ladder at midnight?” approach


jonawebb
Participant
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DoubleStraps
Member
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Oh, I did indeed use the chute a few times back when I lived in Shadyside and was just starting to bike with regularity. I figure that, given I was a cycling novice in the truest sense of the word (first time biking since I was a teenager, first time biking in an urban environment), I would be Peduto and company’s target market. My experience was that I was SURE I was doing something wrong going through that section, and I tried to get through as fast as possible. I do believe I walked my bike at least once.

That sort of anxiety and confusion-inducing moment is exactly the sort of thing that scares new cyclists from jumping on a bike. Why should I put myself in an uncomfortable situation when I don’t have to? I could always just drive…


J Z
Participant
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311’ed this, will report back the response.


edmonds59
Participant
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I thought for sure there was one there YEARS ago, maybe when they first did the chute, but it didn’t survive long.


Mick
Participant
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“what are you doing with that ladder at midnight?”

Sir, I am merely trying to rescue lost kittens. I assure you it has nothing, NOTHING AT ALL, to do with your daughter’s bedroom window. I’m so glad we could clear this up.


helen s
Participant
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At the risk of being flamed, I feel I need to weigh in on this location. Having ridden through that area year round during my 5x per week commute for 13 years, I am quite familiar and comfortable with that section.
Riding inbound, during rush hour, since I was going downhill and making a hard right on the road, I was at least going as fast as the cars, if not faster if they were backed up. No problem there, if you are comfortable riding in traffic. Making the hard right to get up to the parking lot, I never noticed gravel, but never expected to take that corner at speed as there were sometimes others coming down the hill towards me. Anywhere where I am turning and road conditions dictate slowing, it always seems like the impetus is on me to ride safe in that location.
Riding home, rather than having to cross the road twice, I rode the chute. I never looked at the mirror when it was there, but did buy a good bell to use at both corners and to let people waiting for the bus know that I was coming through. I got tired of yelling “YO” coming into the corners.
Sure, it would be nice if the chute was a foot or two wider so 2 bikes could pass more comfortably. Yeah, people sometimes throw stuff against the wall, usually fast food related, sometimes glass. Litterbugs are everywhere. I did stop sometimes to unblock the drain, especially if it was going to freeze overnight. When the road puddled up, cars sometimes splashed a lot of water onto me, but that could have happened anywhere.
But all in all, I thought it was a good, although not perfect, but acceptably safe place to go through every day. There certainly are much worse areas to ride through.
As we wish the car drivers would do, if an area dictates less speed and more attention, slow down a little, be safe for yourself and anyone you share the road with.


Ahlir
Participant
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@helen s: I do not use this route 5x a week but it’s still the least complicated way to travel between Oakland and the South Side or Downtown, so I’m on it quite often.

I used to take the chute (and even thought that crossing the tracks was a good idea) but eventually just stayed on the road. It’s much simpler.
Why do we have to put up with inconvenience just because we’re on bikes? We don’t do this stuff because we’re masochists. We certainly don’t “deserve” a harder life.

So let’s be reasonable:

1) Dedicate the chute to the walkers and joggers. I somehow believe it originally was meant for them anyway. Why make them dodge bikers all the time?
2) Traffic light at Swinburne for benefit of outbound bike traffic [sensor activated to make everyone happier.] The parking lot people will surely appreciate it as well.
3) Sharrow 2nd between Greenfield and Swinburne, both directions. Northern lane. The turn and the lights will calm car speeds and make it work.
4) Repave Swinburne, already.

Bikers deserve these amenities, and not just because we “pay taxes”. It’s the civil thing to do.


J Z
Participant
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Here’s what I got back from 311:

“City does not install mirrors as a traffic control device because they show distorted images to drivers.

Vehicles appear to be much farther away than they actually are; mirrors require routine cleaning & subject to vandalism

and unfamiliar drivers require time to become oriented when attempting to use a mirror.

Any individual not familiar with the images displayed may misjudge the speed and distance of oncoming traffic.”

So apparently, the priority is for drivers. Anyone else we can ask about this?


dmtroyer
Participant
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What about a bike elevator?

Madison has one.


J Z
Participant
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I thought there once was one there, if that is the case, who installed it (DPW/UPMC/Lot owners)? Is that Kraus’ district?


edmonds59
Participant
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Someone should get a few pieces of mirror finish stainless steel and just epoxy them on to the inside face of the barrier itself at strategic points. Would be adequate to show something coming the other direction, and would probably survive as well as convex mirrors.


jonawebb
Participant
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edmonds59
Participant
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If anyone complains, tell them it’s art.


byogman
Member
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I am writing to add my hearty support to the notion that there need to be mirrors in the “chute” along second avenue between greenfield avenue and the driveway to the EFT parking lot. I have read a prior response and would like to address it head on.

“City does not install mirrors as a traffic control device because they show distorted images to drivers.”
Vehicles appear to be much farther away than they actually are; mirrors require routine cleaning & subject to vandalism
and unfamiliar drivers require time to become oriented when attempting to use a mirror.
Any individual not familiar with the images displayed may misjudge the speed and distance of oncoming traffic.”

If by traffic you mean roadway traffic, there is no conflict since the orientation of these mirrors would be substantially lower and further to the inside of the turn toward pedestrians and cyclists in an area physically divided from the roadway. Thus oriented, it would not provide any attractive illusion of visibility that might be misused by motorists. And while the images presented are distorted, distorted images are vastly better than the alternative view, which is, at present, so obstructed as to be non-existent.

Cleaning is a concern, but not a significant one given that again, what we’re comparing with is no view at all. Vandalism concerns can be significantly ameliorated by mounting these mirrors high enough and using the ones made of steel. The expense of these is vanishingly small compared to the bike and foot traffic they improve safety for.

Functionally, this is just an extension of the eliza furnace trail, a part of the trail system, and similar mirrors are present and quite helpful where the GAP goes by the metal recycling plant. If the concern can be addressed there, why not here, where there’s more traffic through a narrower restriction?

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