July 3: Join as the Mayor announces protected bike lane plans
That was my take at first too. As bikers it is easy to be impatient and annoyed that more useful routes were not chosen.
Keep in mind that the city didn’t go in blind. My guess is that they were given advice that might seem counter intuitive at first. After a bit of thought, choosing easy routes first makes some sense.
Schenely and Saline are both inexpensive installations because paint and bollards are the primary expense. They are low traffic areas with sufficient pre-existing pavement width. While doing these projects, they will learn quite a bit. It would be far worse to screw up a more important and expensive route due to inexperience.
In fact it kind of concerns me that the Penn Ave lane is being tackled so early. But at the same time, changing public perception is likely the biggest benefit of the first few lanes. Once bike lanes are seen as normal, there will be less knee-jerk opposition when more lanes go in. Right now the general public is still in the “what the hell is this?” phase, as seen by how people are still parking in the new lanes.
But hopefully the Penn Ave lane turns out well and bike lanes become a natural part of the landscape for the general public. In a couple years, if truly needed routes aren’t being targeted, that’s when I’ll unleash a bunch of criticism. We’ve been engaged on the subject for a long time but the city has not. We’re ready to run but the city is just now starting to crawl.
This infrastructure is made of paint and some plastic sticks, that’s cheap compared to pavement and concrete.
If we screw it up, then it’s easy to move and change it to work better. I hope we screw up and learn a few lessons on this first round, and then fix them, so we keep getting better.
Honest question: How are you supposed to enter one of these lanes when you’re coming from the direction that places it on the opposite side of the road from you?
Second question: Are these lanes going to lead to laws that make it illegal not to use them where present? That would be a bad trade unless every lane is flawless for every purpose. I love the Schenley lane, but after descending the golf course am I supposed to cross two lanes of traffic and the median to get over into the bike lane? Surely not. It kicks ass as a climbing lane when going the other direction though, mostly through the elimination of street parking (the threat of ‘dooring’) on that side.
> Second question: Are these lanes going to lead to laws that make it illegal not to use them where present?
This actually used to be the law–vehicle code § 3505 (f) used to read
Whenever a lane or path for pedalcycles has been provided as a part of a highway and mandatory use of the lane or path has been indicated by official traffic-control devices, pedalcycle riders shall use the lane or path and shall not use any other part of the highway. This subsection does not apply when use of the pedalcycle lane or path is not possible, safe or reasonable.
Note that, even then, it was only enforceable under law when it was posted that use of the lane was required, and even then contained pretty broad exemptions…
It was repealed by section 33 of Act 151 of 1998, one of the state’s periodic omnibus (and utterly massive) vehicle code update bills, readable (or at least accessible) here: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/LEGIS/LI/uconsCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&yr=1998&sessInd=0&smthLwInd=0&act=0151.
(I’ll let someone who was actually here then comment on actual enforcement, as I didn’t permanently move here until 2005.)
I think of the lanes as part of an eventual larger system. Say extend the cycletrack up the south side of Schenley Drive to Forbes, then along Forbes to Squirrel Hill, still taking the south side of the road. Then extend it along the Boulevard of the Allies to reach South Oakland on one side and along Panther Hollow road to Hobart on the other. And, finally, run a cycletrack along the south side of Forbes to connect to the BRT trail to downtown.
In a way, we’re doing here what they did when building the Mon-Fayette expressway: Put the easy stuff in first (i.e., build north from Uniontown), then work on making more connections later. Hey, it works.
Where do I go from here, headed away from schenly towards bigelow blvd and bouqet st?
Seems I have to cross two lanes of traffic going in different directions. Is there going to be a signal change to let me cross? If not, I’d prefer the road.
Also, I assume cyclists should attempt to use the pedestrian crossing for a left turn off the bikeway on to schenly drive to go uphill towards squirrel hill? Or merge in to auto traffic? I’m really not sure what they want me to do here as a cyclist.
The path between panther hollow lots and the bikeway still feels really narrow due to so much plant life. They trimmed it back a bit, but the sidewalk still has lots of grass intrusion and the turn by the yellow railing at the walkway is a total blind turn with no sightlines.
I do see a way more people using this pathway between the junction hollow trail and the bikeway instead of the roadway since the completion of the bikeway.
At the City Planning/Bike PGH ride last night, someone asked whether there would be bike-specific signals along the Penn Ave bike lane* — the answer is apparently ‘no’, but they plan to have signs indicating that left turns must yield to bikes.
(Unfortunately, I didn’t think to ask about at the ends of the ‘tracks, though I’ve suggested them before, including in this thread.)
* – btw, due to a just-discovered collapsed sewer underneath Penn between Sixth and Stanwix, repairs for which are likely to close the entire block for a while, the planned Downtown bike track has apparently shifted to Sixth to Sixteenth. They did indicate that despite the change, they still plan to have it installed before PWPB.
This afternoon a dozen and a half cars were parked in the cycle track in front of Phipps, near the farmers’ market. I called 911 and asked for enforcement. Is the part of the road outside the buffer zone one lane of parking and one lane of traffic? The solid lines suggest this. If that’s the plan, it will take signage and education to convey this to people. (Maybe the bollards will have hints?)
It should be possible to accommodate cars and a bicycle track, at least for the less-narrow bits of the street in front of Phipps. Works elsewhere. Might help in traffic calming as well.
Is the part of the road outside the buffer zone one lane of parking and one lane of traffic? The solid lines suggest this.
That is the plan, yes.
(Note that they still have meters on the curb, despite parking in the mid-roadway, just like Schenley Dr…)
And more useful street stuff:
Manhattan (Chelsea), NYC (yes, that’s my finger)
This is at an intersection.
I was curious if there were any specific (PA) laws surrounding cars parking in bike lanes. A google search found this article out of Philly. While it doesn’t seem like there is a bike-lane specific law, it does appear that “no parking” and “no stopping” are very important distinctions. I wonder if the folks leading this effort are aware of the distinction.
Somebody mentioned the Friendship Park lanes… They’re definitely smaller. The bike lane strip of paint now intersects with the bike lane symbol that was already on the road.
the project isn’t done. there will be bollards, which is when the city will start to enforce, signs, and some green paint.
I kind of like being on the outside, watching these projects develop, even though it would be nice to know exactly what the plans are from the beginning. It’s like getting a series of presents instead of just one. First: looks like they’re planning crappy bike lanes in the door zone. Then: whoa! cycletrack! But folks keep parking in it! Everybody’s going to be mad when they take the parking away! Finally: awesome! Parking protected cycletrack! Everybody’s happy!
I am sure there are plans for the rest of Schenley Drive, etc., like I posted earlier, but don’t tell me. I want it to be a surprise.
Fair enough, let them finish the project.
In the meanwhile, though, how about doing windshield-leaflet distribution with a diagram of the final plan and a nice friendly message saying “change is coming, here’s what to expect, you’ll be parking in a slightly different place, just want to make you aware of what’s going on here”?
I’ll bet a lot of cyclists who go through there regularly would sign up to do this, once each, on a designated day.
It appears the Penn Ave bikelane coverage area has shifted from [Stanwix to 11th] to [Sixth to 16th].
(since this is teh interweb, it seems like an unqualified kneejerk reaction is called for, so..)
It seems like this is a great thing. It extends the bike path across the boundary into the Strip, and after the euphemistic “utility work” (which is remarkably non-specific) they can revisit Stanwix-to-Sixth later.
So it leaves us with a connector likely to grow, rather than a constrained path unable to expand. (?)
I think expanding the protected bike lane to 16th street makes sense, particularly since there was already a bike lane on westbound Penn between 16th and 11th streets. This bike lane is on the opposite side of the street from where the new protected bike was initially set to be installed, making the crossing at 11th street awkward to say the least. One would assume that the 6th to 16th protected bike lane would be all on the same side of Penn Ave.
Personally, this stretch of Penn never did seem to me like it was crying out for a bike lane. Cycling through there is generally fine, as traffic is slow because of all the traffic lights. However, I think making Penn Ave one-way could improve overall traffic in that area. Also, the bike lane would add a barrier of sorts for those sitting outside at one of the many restaurants around there. Because really, who likes to eat with Port Authority buses rushing by you every few minutes?
Overall, I think the bike lane is a good idea. Hopefully this is just the start of something greater.
I’m glad this was a good excuse to extend the bikeway further up penn ave to the 16th st bridge. Hopefully we can connect it to the point in the future. Is there still going to be two way traffic on penn between 11th and 16th st?
the utility work is pretty intense. the city was replacing some of the cycling unfriendly sewer grates, and trying to bring the other utility grates to surface level for the bike lane, in preparation for paving it. they discovered that the sewage drain, under Penn Ave between 6th and Stanwix, has collapsed. So they have to bring PWSA in, who says it may be several months before they can fix it.
So that section will most likely be closed during work. It’s interesting, because now the Port Authority has to move the 2 bus routes that were on outbound penn, so it’s not just the bike lane that is forcing the move, but that the street could collapse. Also, it gives the city a bit of time to figure out how to connect the project to the point.
So, for the time being, the bike lane will begin/end at 6th and 16th.
thanks Erok. It really does seem like a gift if it stays up to 16th and has the possibility of moving to Stanwix or the Point. well played.
Good to know, Erok. I was wondering what the hold up was for that bike lane. I live in that area and I’ve noticed that the pavement on Penn between 6th St and 5th Ave is pretty rough and was not quite worthy of a new bike lane yet. This would explain why they had not done any repaving on that section in preparation for the protected lane.
It might also explain why one of those drain grates by Fifth Ave Extension always becomes a pond after a strong rain.
For Schenley Drive – If anyone has a photo of a car parked in the correct location adjacent to a clear protected bike lane please post it here. We could use it in an advisory poster we are working on to educate people about where to park.
Once the bollards are in it will be easier too.
This morning, going by Phipps, it appears that they’ve now put down lines for a parking lane alongside the bike way. I’m with Mary on waiting to see what the end product looks like. Though it would have been nice to have seen some informative publicity beforehand.
@p-rob: There’s this poster from Arlington VA I posted yesterday: http://www.arlnow.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Hayes-bike-lanes3-600×400.jpg
Arlington Co Env Svcs posted the image as well: https://twitter.com/ArlingtonDES/status/499972317234360321
The photos seem to have come from Seattle DOT and/or Cambridge (MA?) Dept of Community Development…
ARLNow has a photo of the parking in use: http://www.arlnow.com/2014/08/19/protected-bike-lane-open-in-pentagon-city/
(These are all single bike lane, rather than our double track, but it should suffice, neh?)
BTW it felt weird parking the the parking lane. At first I was angry with all the folks parked in the bike lane. It’s a brand new bike lane with new paint, and you’re parked right on top of it! And the poor bicyclists coming by had to work around the cars. But if felt exposed to be in the parking lane. Cars driving past didn’t know what to do, and slowed down. Probably a good thing. It’s going to take some time for people to get used to parking properly, even with the bollards, especially since Phipps draws a lot of out-of-towners who’ll have no idea what to do. The signs will help, and the example of the other drivers will help a lot, but I hope they’re ready to replace driven-over bollards.
Could always install a bunch of these between bollards (or every other one) to make it a little less inviting to drive in to the bike lane if people don’t get it after a while. That or just agressively ticket. They are VERY active at ticketing in oakland.
Or they could just put more candlesticks inbetween the existing ones to ‘fill the gaps’. I’ll hold off any judgement until we see the finished product though.
We are going to start posting the sign asking them to not park in the bike lane. We cannot ticket them until after the bollards are up.
We may be using the parking stops on the bridges, because you cannot drill down into the deck to fasten a bollard. We are looking at something heavier because rain can actually move the light ones around.
As far as what to do at intersections, we are working on it based on what other cities are doing. Without exclusive bike signals (yet) the basic rule is to yield when turning across other traffic. Cars are to yield when turning across the bike lanes (on Penn) and bikes would yield when leaving the lane to merge into traffic or turn.
@jonawebb – thanks BTW for modeling your car. I see people using the parking lane as a passing lane and I’m glad no one rear-ended you. This type of change is going to take some time getting used to all around. That and some bollards.
Would it be possible, for the first week of real operation, to park one of those portable traffic control units with the flashing arrow in the first of the parking spaces, along with a message sign that says “cars left, park this lane, bikes right” or some such? At minimum, its mere presence in the first parking space would discourage cars from driving in the parking lane and running into a parked car farther down the line.
I just noticed how this really narrowed the traffic lane and perceived shoulder area. With parked cars being close on each side, it will have a significant psychological effect on drivers.
The previous lane width subconsciously encouraged drivers to drive much faster than the speed limit. When people see an highway sized stretch of pavement, they treat it as such and drive at highway speed. Visual confines tend to calm traffic. Even a canopy of overhead tree branches slows traffic. I wouldn’t be surprised if the average speed of cars decreases by 5 or 10 mph.
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