Local news stories and LTE 2017

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StuInMcCandless
Participant
#

Let’s start the year with a positive story out of Apollo. Kids installing re-purposed scrap bikes as part of a clothing drive.

http://triblive.com/local/valleynewsdispatch/11695109-74/bikes-apollo-clothing

Frankly, I’m more interested in the bike refurbishing project that got a brief mention.


chrishent
Member
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chrishent
Member
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And the corresponding Trib article on the subject:

http://triblive.com/local/allegheny/11727433-74/lanes-street-bike

The councilwoman who proposed this board is Theresa Kail-Smith, from district 2. Per the Trib article, she calls the existing lanes “ugly”. I wonder if there’s a correlation between that comment and the almost complete lack of bike infrastructure in District 2:

http://pittsburghpa.gov/district2/map


RustyRed
Member
#

Ugh, she needs to hear from residents.

theresa.kail-smith@pittsburghpa.gov


Benzo
Participant
#

Seems entirely redundant to have a bike lane advisory committee when there is already a complete streets committee. Shouldn’t the complete streets committee just be the bike lane advisory committee too?


Ahlir
Participant
#

Kail-Smith’s proposal will interject Council into the bike planning process. This is not necessarily a bad thing, depending on membership in the board (which however is tilted to the status quo). Basically, bike people need to get on it and be vocal and make sure its activities are public.

Further, [Kail-Smith] said, council would be briefed in detail on bike lane designs. Guidance from the advisory group would be delivered to the mayor’s office “subject to council approval,” she added. Board members would include city public-works, parking and planning representatives, along with people from the local business and bicycling communities.

Mayor Bill Peduto supports the effort, said Kevin Acklin, his chief of staff.

“We thought it was a good way to formalize a process that we think is already underway,” Mr. Acklin said. He said the Department of City Planning, which handles bike lanes, already undertakes a “robust community discussion” before any new ones take shape.

I can’t help but think that this is blowback from the Ft Pitt Blvd affair. Maybe more interaction with the stakeholders would have been advisable.


NMR
Member
#

This is so incredibly frustrating.

 

I take Ms. Kail-Smith’s intentions honestly, but is there no room for thought and explanation when fielding these constituent complaints?  There has yet to be a single stall of downtown or adjacent-neighborhood street parking removed for bike lanes.  The only locations where driving lanes have been removed were part of a redundant grid.  The single outbound lane of Penn Ave is bordered by four surface street lanes in the same direction and two high-speed, limited access lanes.  That single lane of Penn removed was also bounded by one-way sections making up the vast majority of it’s route.  Anyone using that lane heading out of town was forced to eventually turn onto one of the routes they’re using now.  Decreasing left turns *decreases* congestion in a downtown grid.  The outside lanes removed on Clemente were bound by six surface street lanes on adjacent bridges PLUS two massive limited access Interstate bridges.  The entire bridge was already closed 81 times a year for Pirates games without issue, and the entire bridge adjacent to Clemente is now closed for an extended rehab; again, without issue.

 

At best, this is poor governing.  Redundant bureaucracy adding time and money to projects.

 

At worst, this is a dog whistle that’s really intended to stifle any projects with the least amount of objection.  Kristin Saunders and City Planning *already* undertake a massive public outreach process for even the smallest projects, personally seeking out meetings with individual property owners.  Anyone claiming these projects are done without due process is being disingenuous, or more likely, simply complaining that they didn’t get their way.  It’s laughable to believe that setting up this board as a place for complaints will ultimately appease them.  Nothing short of canceling the projects will actually do that, which is exactly why the formation of this board is a trap that BikePGH should oppose.

 

 

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 11 months ago by  NMR.

jonawebb
Participant
#

I’m pretty convinced Ms. Kail-Smith isn’t really on the side of improving community input into bike lane decisions. She’s on the side of businesses and commuters who don’t want bike lanes interfering with their parking. I had one interaction with her, asking her to support changes to make the Wabash Tunnel available to cyclists, which would have connected her district to Downtown for bike commuters; she immediately referred it to BikePgh, and dropped it. I don’t think she will be our ally.
But from the story it sounds like the Mayor and BikePgh support the oversight committee, so it will probably happen. Hopefully it can be simply folded in to existing outreach efforts, and prevented from stopping new bike infrastructure development.


Eric
Member
#

it is an advisory board, which I think means it can have input but no direct vote on the matter.  so maybe peduto supports this because he feels it is the easiest way to give the opposition a feeling that they have a say in the matter (and, possibly, because it will allow for more input in the matter?).  But in the end, being an advisory board, he can ignore their input should he choose and do what he wishes.

So maybe this isn’t a loss, but rather just an extra step in the process?


Marko82
Participant
#

I am totally uninformed on this, but it sounds like the committee is an attempt to red-tape projects to death.

On the other hand, if the committee is stacked in the right direction, it could be used to advance even more projects faster; especially if a bike friendly mayor gets to assign the committee members.  Of course it works against us with an anti-bike mayor.


dfiler
Member
#

I am suspicious of Kail-Smith’s intentions. She tries to avoid saying anything directly about her intentions so all we have to go on is her description of the current lanes as “ugly”.

That in itself suggests that she thinks that there is something wrong with the current lanes and that she wants to change them or get rid of them. What is an alternative explanation? I don’t believe that this is an aesthetics issue to her, that she just wants more beautiful bike lanes. Instead it seems quite clear that she doesn’t want bike lanes.

Seriously, what else can “ugly” mean? Can a standard traffic lane be “ugly” too? What do beautiful lanes look like?

Perhaps she just wants a different color of paint or none of the green paint that is sometimes used. If she is genuine and merely takes issue with the aesthetics of the current lanes, I suppose that is preferable. But it still means we’re dealing with somebody who prefers to look at asphalt rather than to keep people safe with bike lane markings. Only a truly horrible person would put the aesthetics of painted asphalt above people’s lives.

Either way, Kail-Smith has lost all of my respect.


Vannevar
Participant
#

I think this whole dance is about Peduto’s reelection and possible challenger in Darlene Harris. So he’s going to agree with the panel, he can’t much do otherwise. It isn’t chess, it’s more like Steel City Checkers. In a post-2016 world, no elections and no challengers can be taken for granted.


Eric
Member
#

Again, I think it all turns on the word “advisory panel.” I’m pretty sure they have no actual power to change things, just make suggestions, and then the decision making body can decide to listen or not to they suggestions.

Correct?

 

May also have a positive effect. Bike Pgh will be on the panel. Getting in a room and discussing issues face to face is good for changing minds

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 11 months ago by  Eric.

Eric
Member
#

here’s info on another advisory panel:

The Contextual Design Advisory Panel (CDAP) is comprised of 8 members with expertise in the physical development of the City. The panel’s mission is “promoting quality of life in the City of Pittsburgh. CDAP achieves its mission through professional, voluntary design assistance to maximize the economic, civic, contextual, and aesthetic value of new development projects impacting the public realm.” To fulfill this mission, CDAP advises the Department of City Planning by reviewing and providing design guidance on selected, higher profile projects throughout the City.

CDAP is an advisory panel, not a commission. Together with staff design review, the panel works to resolve design issues through professional peer critique before the Planning Commission conducts its review. This frees the Planning Commission to focus on its responsibility of assuring that new developments are consistent with the overall planning objectives of the City. Some examples of these core considerations are:

The extent to which each development proposal addresses successful design, public space enhancement, context sensitivity, and sustainable urbanism.
Ensuring that projects feature well designed buildings and landscapes that engage both users and the streetscape. Buildings should also make appropriate connections to adjacent sites and to the larger neighborhood.
The use of green building materials and designs which consider the longer-term impact and use of a single project.

 

And the LGBT advisory panel:

http://triblive.com/local/allegheny/11554014-74/peduto-committee-council

 

They just give their input to council and mayor.

Yes, this will be a pain in the ass.  Yes, if the 9 of the 10 members are antibike they can raise a ruckus, but when else have you heard a peep in the news about other advisory panel findings? This is probably why Peduto was so quick to embrace it.

 


Ahlir
Participant
#

The P-G article refers to a ‘board’. This discussion, so far, has also mentioned committees, panels, groups and maybe others that I missed. Are there legal distinctions between these that we might be missing? It would be good to know.

There is nothing a priori wrong with any of this. (Well, other than that the people who now insist on it will later come back complaining about “gov’t bureaucracy”.) The question is how it plays out.

Here is a worst case: Council refuses to approve some bike-related measure. It’s waiting for the Board to submit its recommendation. Months pass. The Board is still “working” on it. As a courtesy to Council, the mayor and the City wait. Nothing happens. Finally, the mayor says screw it and goes ahead. The P-G letters column erupts in outrage. Block’s minions pen editorials attacking Peduto’s attempted power-grab. To the barricades!
(Yes, I’m exaggerating. Just humor me.)


J Z
Participant
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This sounds like the push the administration is making to encourage the model of “deliberative democracy”.  On its face, I don’t think that it is a bad thing.

How The Art of Democracy is making tough issues and decisions easier for groups to tackle


paulheckbert
Keymaster
#

Why haven’t you written a letter to the editor in defense of bike lanes? It’s not hard to do.

Post-Gazette instructions

Tribune-Review instructions

Some common whines you might address:

  • Bike lanes are bad for car traffic
  • Bike lanes are bad for businesses – taking away parking spaces and all
  • We have enough bike lanes; too many, in fact!
  • Cyclists are entitled, spandex-wearing scofflaws
  • It’s too dangerous to bike on roads; cyclists should stick to the trails
  • Pittsburgh streets are too narrow for bicycles
  • Pittsburgh weather is too cold for bicycles
  • Pittsburgh is too hilly for bicycles
  • waah!

jonawebb
Participant
#

If you want to give City Council your opinion about the need for a bike lane advisory committee, here’s an opportunity (from this article in City Paper):

The proposed bike-lane advisory committee will be discussed at 10 a.m. Wed., Jan 11, in the city council chambers, located on the fifth floor of the City-County Building at 414 Grant St., Downtown.


Marko82
Participant
#

I think maybe we should have a sidewalk advisory committee; and a roadway advisory committee; and a parking lot advisory committee; and ….

 

Simi-seriously, I think most of our roads are ugly, under her reasoning doesn’t that require more input from “her” constituents?


StuInMcCandless
Participant
#

I like the idea of an advisory committee. I just don’t think I’m the one who should be on it. Aside from the fact I am not a city resident, a more salient concern is that I’m not a fan of bike lanes. I would rather we tackle the larger problem of intolerant motorists, something the idea of bike lanes addresses by separating motorists and cyclists for much of the time, except for when they do have to interact, and then the unsolved problem becomes a real-time problem.

In short, rather than worry about bike lanes and how and where to put them and what they should look like, I would rather we focus on the 99.8% of the lane-miles in the city that do not now and likely will not ever have a bike lane, but can be expected to have bike-car interactions. We accomplish that by:

  • Enforcing speed limits, particularly on streets cyclists should be able to use
  • Prosecuting drivers who endanger cyclists
  • Assisting cyclists with the knowledge necessary to video and report dangerous drivers
  • Establishing laws, at the state level if necessary, for a bounty system to reward cyclists for bringing dangerous drivers to justice
  • Educating law enforcement, magistrates, and others relevant to the justice system, to what the law truly means concerning best-practices cycling (so cyclists don’t get pulled over for taking the lane, as one example)
  • Forcing state, county, and city planning and engineering entities to design streets that make it less possible for drivers to have a chance to mow down cyclists and pedestrians
  • Getting road maintenance departments at municipal, county and state levels to address road surface hazards that endanger cyclists, such as diagonal rail crossings, longitudinal drain grates, unswept shoulders which cyclists are expected to use, etc.

Somehow, I do not think it is envisioned that a bike lane advisory committee would have the charter, let alone the teeth, to bring that about. But that is precisely what we need to get us to the next level of bicycle usage for routine transportation in both the city, and by extension, the metro area.

So, while I will not stand in the way of setting up such a committee within the city, I do not think its purpose is all that useful.

I cannot say it often or loudly enough: Make it possible for the average person to do anything other than drive.


Ahlir
Participant
#

I agree with Stu. My own list would start with:

  1. Enforcing speed limits, particularly on streets cyclists should be able to use.
  2. Getting road maintenance departments at municipal, county and state levels to address road surface hazards that endanger cyclists, such as diagonal rail crossings, longitudinal drain grates, unswept shoulders which cyclists are expected to use, etc.

I just want to be able to ride in peace. I don’t mind the drivers, as long as they behave.

 


paulheckbert
Keymaster
#

Studies show bike lanes can reduce congestion, contrary to Pittsburgh residents’ criticism

http://www.pghcitypaper.com/Blogh/archives/2017/01/06/studies-show-bike-lanes-can-reduce-congestion-contrary-to-pittsburgh-residents-criticism

“But the assertion that bike lanes cause more congestion actually runs contrary to studies in multiple big cities across the country. In New York City, a protected bike lane on Columbus Avenue actually improved congestion, decreasing travel time for cars from 4.5 minutes to 3 minutes along a 20-block stretch. In Minneapolis, the U.S.’s top bike-commuting city, news-data website fivethirtyeight.com studied 10 segments in the Minnesota city in 2014 and determined that the addition of a bike lane at the cost of a car lane had no affect on traffic times for cars. In fact, a 2013 University of Virginia study shows that bike riders only reduce congestion when they have bike lanes to ride in.”


Marko82
Participant
#

Eric
Member
#

paulheckbert
Keymaster
#

Another PG letter skeptical of bike lanes. This letter says, in part:

“To me, bicycles belong on trails, parks, playgrounds, etc. … Do bike riders on city streets need a license like drivers? Do they have to pay what we car drivers pay?”

http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/letters/2017/01/11/Bikes-in/stories/201701110099

Have you written an LTE in defense of bike lanes? What are you waiting for? See links in my 1/5 post above.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
#

PennDOT is starting to build roundabouts, and even mentions bicycles in the same breath.

Trib story


Eric
Member
#

East side of Cleveland has a lot of “circles,” as they call them there.  Although you could get stuck in one for hours like the Griswolds did in European Vacation.


edmonds59
Participant
#

Paul, I’ve stayed away from LTE comment sections for a few months now and my mental health has been all the better for it. (although the whole POS-elect situation hasn’t completely let that go away) :) When I can get out and go for a ride to blow off steam after some debate, I am much more able to handle those situations, and I can jump back into it.


dfiler
Member
#

I have mixed feelings about roundabouts. They decrease intersection speed, which is safer for motorists at least. But they can be almost impossible for pedestrians to cross. And as a hyper-vigilant cyclist, I actually prefer typical signalized intersections while riding. With traffic lights you can clearly have the right of way and ride through intersections safely. That’s no the case for large roundabouts.

With that said, they have their place and I would like to see more of them, just not in areas where people walk or ride bicycles. While increasing fender benders in exchange for decreasing high-speed collisions is good for motorists, I’m not convinced it is a good thing for pedestrians and cyclists.


Eric
Member
#

Millvale building a natural playground at the Riverfront Park.  Hopefully this also means that the bathrooms at that end of the North Shore Trail will be open 24/7 instead of only open when the picnic area is rented.  The 40th street bridge seasonal portapotty just doesn’t cut it.

<rant>I also wish that the trails, especially the north shore trail, had water fountains.  There is one in Millvale and then none on the rest of the trail (Between the possibly soon to be closed prison and Millvale).  You have to cross over to point state park or go to the water cube on Penn between 8th and 9th for water.  A water fountain down by the stadiums would be a natural fit, but with the Pirates and the city at war over improvements to PNC park, ain’t nothing going to happen there.</rant>

http://triblive.com/local/hamptonshaler/11732093-74/park-millvale-grant


Marko82
Participant
#

Pittsburgh council delays plan to help naysayers like bike lanes more

Pittsburgh council delays plan to help naysayers like bike lanes more

 


Ahlir
Participant
#

There are many roundabout designs, including ones with traffic lights (at high-volume intersections, and which would incorporate crossing opportunities for peds). Past that, they just make sense in that they allow vehicles to continue moving when there’s little traffic and have clear rules for precedence. As a cyclist I’ve found them generally easy to deal with, even in contrast with traffic lights (consider right hooks, for example).


dfiler
Member
#

I think it is good that the creation of an advisory board was tabled. But it seems Theresa Kali-Smith is still unable to think logically about the topic. Here is what it was reported:

Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith said the proposal she introduced was not meant to be “adversarial.”

“We are getting a lot of complaints regarding bike infrastructure,” she said. “If we were doing such a fantastic job, we wouldn’t have the volume of complaints that we are receiving across the city of Pittsburgh.”

So apparently she doesn’t understand that people can be selfish and that there will always be people complaining about things that don’t benefit them directly. For example, compare this to when civil rights laws were enacted. A massive percentage of white Americans were outraged that minorities were getting equal rights. Would she say “If we were doing such a fantastic job, we wouldn’t have the volume of complaints that we are receiving”?

Kali-Smith is still trying to not anger cyclists but her perception of bike lanes is clear.

 

EDIT:

I toned it back a bit and sent Kali-Smith the following email. Not sure if she actually reads all of the email sent to that account but it is worth a shot. I urge others here to send constructive feedback as well:
theresa.kail-smith@pittsburghpa.gov

Some feedback on the recent tabling of a bike infrastructure advisory board and in regard to this statement of yours.
“We are getting a lot of complaints regarding bike infrastructure,” she said. “If we were doing such a fantastic job, we wouldn’t have the volume of complaints that we are receiving across the city of Pittsburgh.”

Please consider what motivates those complaints. People can be selfish and will complain about things merely because they don’t benefit from them. A massive percentage of white Americans were outraged when civil rights laws were enacted. They didn’t want minorities to have equal rights.

This is a perfect analogy. Bike infrastructure isn’t special treatment and it isn’t a mere convenience. This is literally a life and death matter. I personally have been hit by cars 5 times while biking, 3 of those in Pittsburgh. Nearly every biker who rides on Pittsburgh roads has bean threatened or assaulted. I know cyclists who have ended up in a coma or hospitalized for months. One even had his throat slit by a driver.

Currently 2% of commuting in Pittsburgh is done by bike and yet we don’t have anywhere close to that percentage of the infrastructure budget. The percentage of bike commuters would be even higher if riding in the city didn’t require risking serious injury. That means we should be spending more than 2% of the infrastructure on cycling, not less. On top of that, cyclists are subsidizing drivers because most cyclists are also drivers. Cyclists pay all the same taxes while doing less damage and despite not receiving adequate infrastructure. Put simply, bike infrastructure is drastically underfunded.

We are merely asking for proportionate accommodation, funding and protection from being killed by speeding drivers. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated even though I it will be unpopular by those who only care about themselves.

I know it’s a tough job and I appreciate your attention. Good luck!


dfiler
Member
#

There are many roundabout designs, including ones with traffic lights (at high-volume intersections, and which would incorporate crossing opportunities for peds). Past that, they just make sense in that they allow vehicles to continue moving when there’s little traffic and have clear rules for precedence. As a cyclist I’ve found them generally easy to deal with, even in contrast with traffic lights (consider right hooks, for example).

Roundabouts can be good for traffic flow because traffic is always moving. The trade off is that without stopped traffic, it is more dangerous for pedestrians and inexperienced cyclists to cross the road or navigate the intersection.

This isn’t meant to be anti-roundabout. Just noting the tradeoffs that affect where they are most suitable. If you ever have the pleasure of walking or riding about a European city with roundabouts, I think you’ll quickly discover that they are best avoided when walking or riding.


Ahlir
Participant
#

There are many roundabout designs, including ones with traffic lights (at high-volume intersections, and which would incorporate crossing opportunities for peds). Past that, they just make sense in that they allow vehicles to continue moving when there’s little traffic and they have clear rules for precedence. As a cyclist I’ve found them generally easy to deal with, even in contrast with traffic lights (consider right hooks, for example).
Roundabouts seem intimidating at first, but they work surprisingly well on a bike, based on my European riding. (Ok, maybe I’ve managed to suppress my fear reflex a bit too deeply.)


dfiler
Member
#

While roundabout backlash can be unfounded, we shouldn’t ignore the very real tradeoffs of different intersection designs. Beyond perceptions or “intimidation” there are different dangers involved. Roundabouts are optimal for some settings and people and not others. The specifics of this are controversial even among pedestrian and cycling advocates.

Imagine an elderly, blind or disabled people trying to cross an intersection on foot or on bike. I think it is clear that a typical, signalized intersection is safer for that. Reserving space and time for navigating the intersection is beneficial to pedestrians and riders who are physically or mentally unable to deal with merging traffic from all directions.

Granted, there are many forms of roundabouts. The difference between single and multi-lane roundabouts is immense. In some areas there is room for physically divided entrance/exit lanes. Pedestrians thus have to cross fewer lanes at a time. Conversely, in high pedestrian traffic areas, an all-way scramble can be applied to a conventional intersection.

With all that said, I am generally in favor of more roundabouts. Just pointing out that they are not optimal everywhere.


edmonds59
Participant
#

Ffs, Theresa Kail Smith, if I started recording and reporting all my complaints regarding shitty Pittsburgh driver behavior and shitty Pittsburgh vehicular infrastructure, her office would take out a restraining order on me.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
#

This is where Twitter comes in. I know she has a Twitter account. She was one of only a couple of elected officials other than Mayor Peduto who thanked me for my help when we swept the upstream sidewalk on the West End Bridge a couple years ago.

What I’ve learned after 27,000 tweets, most of them my own typing and not just retweeting someone else’s work, is that invective is usually unnecessary. I compose a thought, key it in, it comes to 149 characters, then I start hunting for words to remove. Guess what goes first? Unnecessary adjectives and exclamations.


NMR
Member
#

European junctions controlled by roundabouts are wildly safer for people walking and riding than American signalized intersections.

 

They may not have a place in extremely pedestrian-heavy areas, but reluctance to them in this country is almost certainly due to their large, dangerous traffic circle predecessors. I can’t fathom that Europeans would prefer our typical infrastructure.  Small roundabouts calm speeds and eliminate the need for turn lane additions which increase pedestrian exposure.  Fully protected pedestrian phases are exceedingly rare for signalized intersections in this country due to the almighty flow of traffic, which removes almost all improvement over modern roundabouts.


Eric
Member
#

$1 million for Homewood streets.  Traffic calming. Bikes. Walking!  (Seriously)

 

Pic of biker in the article.

 

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2017/01/16/Homewood-streets-slated-for-nearly-1-million-upgrade/stories/201701160026

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