Penn Avenue redesign

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Steven
Participant
#

In this thread, Scott posted a photo of a proposed Penn Avenue redesign.

I didn’t want to clutter that memorial thread with a discussion of street design, so I’m starting a new one.

My concern with the proposed Penn Ave redesign is right hooks. Simple bike lanes work OK where there are few cross streets; Penn has lots.

Suppose the street were just the same as proposed, but with the bike lanes turned into shoulders too narrow for cars, with sharrows in the main lanes. Cyclists would then be able to choose whether to ride in the shoulder or take the lane for safety. The infrastructure wouldn’t be encouraging less-safe behavior.

Also, having bike lanes suggests the street is recommended for cycling. Unless these changes reduce speeds and traffic a lot, getting many drivers to take other routes, Penn still wouldn’t be as safe for cyclists as nearby Thomas or Meade.

So I’d like to see bike-specific signage on Penn (and other places) directing cyclists to preferred routes, plus a road diet for Penn, but not necessarily bike lanes there unless the road diet really makes it about as safe as Thomas or Meade.

On the other hand, if there are bike lanes, maybe we could have bike boxes at each intersection to help with right hooks and left crosses?


rice rocket
Participant
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For a street as busy as Penn Ave, they should just eliminate the number of cross streets. Keep 5th, keep Dallas, keep Braddock. Everyone else can use a side street. I bet car traffic would flow much better too.


scott
Keymaster
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the lane diet would slow down cars and eliminate dangerous weaving and jockying for position that one sees all along Penn. The intersections could be made much safer with signs and colored paint like you see on cycle tracks like you see here http://www.streetfilms.org/kinzie-street-the-first-of-many-protected-bike-lanes-for-chicago/

more examples of better intersection markings for bikes http://nacto.org/cities-for-cycling/design-guide/intersection-treatments/intersection-crossing-markings/


sloaps
Participant
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the right and left hook is a product of giving the motorist too much speed and sight distance.

if the suicide lane with unrestricted sight distance is eliminated for vegetated islands and turning lanes that allow left turns to primary or secondary streets, then that should reduce the potential for left hooks, and reduce speeds.

Candlesticks at intersections that cyclists would filter through – like those which DELDOT implements – would reduce the speed a right-turning motorist could travel by eliminating the “merging” into the bike lane prior to the right turn (like I often see on ELB) and reducing the radius of their turn.

DELdot Candlesticks


scott
Keymaster
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great ideas Nat. Thanks.


salty
Participant
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Yeah, what is the current traffic engineers’ thinking on center turn lanes? I thought there was some doubt about their effectiveness especially on busy roads?

I was going to say “I don’t see how having candlesticks there helps anything” and then I clicked through and saw the note about how they’re supposed to be where I expected to see them (left edge of the lane) but they got sheared off. So much for “eliminating” that behavior – although it might discourage it, at least until someone runs them over and nobody bothers to put them back.

But, in general, forcing drivers to cut sharply across the bike lane seems more dangerous to me than allowing them to use the bike lane as a turning lane, or better yet do something like this, which I see around the bay area a lot:

I’d love to see that at i.e. ELB @ Negley Run, Beechwood @ Wilkins, Forbes, etc.

Without the center turn lane it’s probably workable on Penn as well. But in general, why do people have to be able to turn left at every intersection? Get rid of that “requirement” and you can just put “normal” turning lanes at the larger intersections.


Anonymous #

salty, that looks suspiciously like the intersection of ELB and Highland. Riding ELB every day, thats one of the few intersections where I haven’t been right hooked (yet?) so they might be on to something with that setup.


rsprake
Participant
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How about a two separated lane that starts at the busway and ends at fifth, terminating at the bike path with bike specific signals. The rest of Pen would need to be a combo of both sharrows and bike lanes.

You could also change the cross streets to one ways to reduce the number of right hook possibilities.


stefb
Participant
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Just wanted to add that route 8 from the 62nd street bridge to north park and beyond is terrible. It would benefit from a road diet as well. Speed, narrow lanes, no sidewalks create a scary situation, even when driving it. There are share the road signs, but I would never ride this way on a bike to north park.


rsprake
Participant
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Just saw this link in the other thread and like the medians in the middle of the road. That would help keep speeds low and prevent people from cheating with the turn lane.

Charlotte DOT is doing some pretty cool stuff to do with traffic calming. They have a whole section of their website dedicated to it where you can request changes to your street.


rsprake
Participant
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You could also make each newly “one wayed” cross street into two way bike ways.


Italianblend
Participant
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Is it really a possibility that they would change it?


sloaps
Participant
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they don’t call them suicide lanes for nothing…

the best you can do from an advocacy position is to hammer home the notion that highway design theory does not make safe urban streets – signage, geometry is all shoehorned from a vacuum into our collective front yards. Add another dimension to the project by suggesting stormwater detention for that end of town as a priority in every “retooling” of a city street regardless of jurisdiction.

For every impervious surface in the neighborhoods of north oakland, homewood, larimer, shadyside, highland park and morningside there’s often thick, pervious natural deposits of sands and gravels that can accept a good bit of rainfall. this is rare for our region and should be taken advantage of.


rsprake
Participant
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Storm water management is a hot topic these days with the rapid flooding that has been happening. Add in some bioswales and it gets easier.

It can happen. It just won’t happen overnight.


Erica
Participant
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started typing out a response to this, but it turned into rambling that ultimately didn’t pertain to this thread, so I posted it here instead. (Wanted to post it, without cluttering up the thread)


Pseudacris
Participant
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An elevated light rail from Wilkinsburg to Downtown. 2-way bike lane underneath, surrounded by wide sidewalks and green bioswages / stormwater gardens. Bike share stations every .25 miles the entire length. No cars allowed. Car-free green spaces for kids every so often. Penn Ave as Pittsburgh’s permanent Ciclovia?


brian j
Participant
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Question regarding Penn Avenue: is the section running through Point Breeze to Wilkinsburg maintained by the county rather than the city? Somehow I have this stuck in my memory, right or wrong. If so, would that complicate a redesign effort, since multiple levels of bureaucracy would be involved?


edmonds59
Participant
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I think you’re right, that section is part of PA Route 8, Penndot jurisdiction. Probably part of the reason it is so hazardous to peds and bikes. Peds and bikes are mere obstructions to motor vehicles to Pndot. Uggh, yes, more complicated.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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So, how do we get through to PennDOT that we are real, have real needs, are true users of the road? Granted, the designs come from the lower-level mechanical-pencils-and-slide-rule people, but they take their direction from the officials. When Allen Biehler was PennDOT secretary, there was a glimmer of hope that we would not continue building roads, roads, wider and bigger roads, ad nauseam.

How do effect change within that organization?

The drum I keep pounding is “anything but the car”. As to roads, “fix it first, drive it last”.


scott
Keymaster
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Look, this isn’t going to be easy, but PennDOT needs to hear from the communities their streets cut through that they don’t appreciate the lack of safety for the sake of improving car speeds. We’re talking about a multi-year effort, but I truly believe we can make a difference or else I would have stepped down from my position at BikePGH a long time ago. It’s about starting a conversation now and showing how dangerous that stretch is.

I just filed a RTK request for crash data on Penn from S.Braddock Ave to Fifth Ave for the last 10 years. My guess is that there have been a lot.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Until the mid-1980s, much of that part of Penn was still brick with the trolley tracks, though there hadn’t been a streetcar on it since the mid-1960s. The improvement by paving it was to improve traffic flow, i.e. speed and capacity. It has not changed at all since that last big change.

RTK=right-to-know. Got it.


sloaps
Participant
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I’ll echo Scott’s multi-year effort as Penn avenue from east liberty to Lawrenceville has been slated for redesign since the late 90s.

Also for Penn avenue through point breeze, PennDOT 2010/2012 traffic data shows similar daily traffic volumes to butler street through lawrenceville. Hazard to guess the number of lanes on butler?

;-)


rsprake
Participant
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+1


Benzo
Participant
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One of my favorite ideas for reducing speeds on roads like this with frequent traffic signals is to automatically trigger a red light sequence via sensors when speeding is detected as opposed to giving tickets. It slows down traffic and fights bad behavior by introducing an immediate response that annoys the offender.


HiddenVariable
Participant
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posted this in the comments of the pg article (on the mayor’s message, not on the “accident”), thought i should post it here, too:

it’s pretty simple, really. one lane in each direction, add a tree-lined median with occasional left turn cutouts, time the lights better, reduce access to side streets, and add bike lanes or cycle tracks. it would reduce the average vehicle speed, but would not likely reduce throughput. this has worked time and again the world over, and i suspect it would work on penn as well. keep in mind that this is a residential area, not a highway.


ejwme
Participant
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hey, if we put in tree-lined medians, can we have roundabouts too?

But we need to educate people about how to use them, on Thomas about once a trip I see a usually older driver come to a complete stop and drive the wrong way around the circle. A sign would help.

I don’t want to start a roundabout flame war, so if I’m the only one who likes roundabouts, I’ll conceded the point in favor of plain treed medians and stoplighted boulevard style intersections.

I’m not entirely sure why PADOT seems to vehemently cling to decades-old policies proven time and again to kill off road users. Seems like reckless endangerment to continually enable crap drivers to kill each other (and peds and cyclists) despite well accepted, well known information on how to avoid it AND move traffic.


sloaps
Participant
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a radar gun and a large chalkboard that states, “_____ speeding vehicles since _____AM/PM”

I’ll donate the radar gun; I don’t have a chalkboard handy.

should draw a crowd and/or the SWAT team and LRAD device.


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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Pretty sure you can get a small whiteboard at staples/wherehaveyou for about $5. Paste that to a large cardboard/whatever sign, and….


Jacob McCrea
Participant
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There may be a political aspect to redesigning Penn that benefits cyclists. I suspect that a decent majority of the speeding drivers live outside the city, work somewhere in the city, and use Penn to either avoid the tunnels or to get to the East End, Oakland or the Strip District. Since many (again, I assume) don’t live in the city, they have no ability to vote against the mayor or any other politician who wants to push for a redesign of Penn. The same is that much more true of PennDOT – no one is elected so drivers can cry their eyes out, but not “vote the bums out.” Hopefully I am correct and the powers that be can push for a redesign of Penn without fear of backlash from voters.


orionz06
Participant
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The proposed redesign would likely end up having faster times from A to B for both motorists and cyclists. That road is a bitch no matter what in a car, we know what it is like for cyclists, and hell, if you’re a cop it ain’t any better.

The proposed change has also worked, without bikelanes, in other towns. Didn’t agree with it then when I was younger but I sure notice it now.

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