Penn Circle Plans – Cyclists look away now!

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UrbanJeff
Participant
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I received this email from my landlord…

Penn Circle Plans – Cyclists look away now!

Beth and I have just returned from the above meeting with Public Works and ELDI.

The short of it is that they are going to make two way, the stretch of road that is Penn Circle at Fifth/Third Bank past Kelly’s bar, down past the proposed Target store site and connecting (down Collins) into East Liberty Boulevard. It is hoped that this will facilitate economic growth within the area as visitors are no longer funneled out/around the community as exists with the current arrangement.

The bus terminal will be closed, with a new retail development planned (in addition to the Target site) and with the buses having a pull in stop in a similar location along Penn Ave. This work is planned to start Spring 2010 and completed within 12 months, as the Target store should be the same.

Unfortunately the developer and City, despite consulting with Bike Pittsburgh to install more cycle racks, have overlooked cycle lanes in favor of wider footpaths. They believe, quite how, I do not know, that changing the system to a two way road layout which will generate more traffic in fewer lanes, will make it safer to cycle upon! I suggest people call ELDI/Public Works if they are a cyclist to make their complaint known! Why they installed the cycle way on East Liberty Boulevard without plans to extend it around Collins to Penn Ave is beyond me!

The (proposed) street furniture does look good however, which includes new street lamps, trees, benches and bins, and wait for it, bus shelters with grassed roofs! Yes, they thought of that, but not cycle lanes!

If anyone wants a copy of the plans we should be able to download them from the internet over the coming weeks.


dmtroyer
Participant
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They’re closing the East Liberty bus terminal!?!? I thought this was going to be a major artery in the PA’s new route system.


rsprake
Participant
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I think it will be much safer cause it’s no longer a highway where cars can pass each other with little penalty and people on bikes won’t be forced to ride in the middle of four lanes! Wider sidewalks are a great idea as there will be more pedestrian traffic in the area once Target goes in. More pedestrians, wider sidewalks, less lanes should all assist in slowing cars down IMO.


Lee
Participant
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wtf? So East Lib would no longer be a busway stop? This sounds weird if true.


greenbike
Participant
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It says that the buses will have some stop in that area, but the question is whether that’s on the busway or not. I’m thinking this is the upper level stop where the 94A and such pull in…not the lower level one on the busway itself, but I can’t verify that. Honestly, it kinds of makes sense that it’s getting moved around with all the Port Authority bus routes changes going on also.

I got the email also, and once I get more info from my neighbors, I will post that info here.


cburch
Participant
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they are also NOT putting in bike lanes as part of the Penn Ave rehab project through garfield. I found this out reading the Lawrenceville/Bloomfield local paper. They in fact made a point of saying that the decision is absolutely not open for debate.

yay bike friendly mayor luke “what’s in it for me?” ravenstahl!!!!


jakeliefer
Participant
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Do you have the phone numbers or emails that we can contact the appropriate people about both the East Liberty situtation and Penn Ave rehab? I’ll give them a call today, I just don’t know who exactly I should be contacting.


brian j
Participant
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RE: the bus stops–I don’t think it would be a Bad Thing(TM) if the area around the busway would be redesigned a bit. As it is, that intersection can be pretty difficult to navigate regardless of your mode of transportation.

I wonder if the lack of bike lanes has anything to do with the bad blood between some parties regarding the ELB bike lanes?

Who is leading the charge on the Garfield rehab project? The city or the state?


erok
Keymaster
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I wonder if the lack of bike lanes has anything to do with the bad blood between some parties regarding the ELB bike lanes?

i don’t think so. they claim there isn’t enough room when you add in things like turning lanes and whatnot that they say will be necessary when the target goes in.

Who is leading the charge on the Garfield rehab project?

that would be the city


greenbike
Participant
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Talked with my neighbor and the bus stop isn’t going anywhere—it’s just being reconfigured such that it would look just like a normal street stop on Penn Ave. Doesn’t sound like the ELB bus terminal is affected.


rsprake
Participant
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I guess I need to see the plans before I can really say, but it seems to be that true bike lanes would be seriously difficult around Penn Circle, even with the redesign. So long as the traffic is slower and I don’t have to cross four lanes of traffic to turn I think it will be much better than what is there currently. Ever try to go from Whole Foods to the East Liberty bike lanes? It’s a nightmare.


erok
Keymaster
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re: Penn Ave garfield. in order for bike lanes to be put in there, they would have to take a lane of car parking away. people think this would be bad for business. we asked for them to conduct a parking study to determine that this is true. it still hasn’t happened.

in neither case do i think that all is lost.


Nick D
Participant
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i don’t think so. they claim there isn’t enough room when you add in things like turning lanes and whatnot that they say will be necessary when the target goes in.

Sharrows? Or maybe the bike lane that goes through turning lanes with green paint?


brian j
Participant
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in neither case do i think that all is lost.

I agree. There are enough traffic signals and general traffic in that area that it doesn’t feel unsafe. The current road conditions are far worse than traffic, IMO (though I haven’t commuted consistently through the corridor in awhile).

I agree with Ryan, too–bike lanes on the new Penn Circle would be swell, but saner traffic would be an improvement for everyone (including drivers).


alnilam
Participant
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Sharrows?

Hell yes. I am in the camp that sharrows are the best solution for almost any situation.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I’d be shocked if they took out PAT’s big bus loop above the East Busway. That’s less a bus stop and more a terminal designed to handle hundreds of people at a time. But I do agree that the design of street lanes around there is confusing. I myself have ended up driving in the buses-only area.

If they kept traffic speed to 20 to 25 mph, and enforced it, cyclists could more easily co-exist with auto traffic. That said, I still wouldn’t be comfortable having my 10-year-old out there on a bike — my yardstick for having streets really safe.

+1 alnilam, add sharrows.


cburch
Participant
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i think there should be sharrows on EVERY surface street. but i also think people should be nice to each other in general…

its good to dream.


rsprake
Participant
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Sharrows would be nice to even just to visually connect the bike network.


Swalfoort
Participant
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We participated in a discussion of the East Busway stop in East Liberty a couple of years ago now. The basic determination was that the current configureation just doessn’t work well. Busses have to make idiotic turns, the platform area is not well integrated into the neighborhood, and the site does not take advantage of the excess property/air development rights of the location. I think a reconfiguration is being proposed to solve some of those problems. I have not yet looked at the PAAC’s Transit Development Plan relative to the East Liberty Station, but I would be very surprised if the TDP suggested radical changes in the way that station operates. Right now, it is a major “entry point” onto the busway for buses that serve the outer reaches of Eastern Allegheny County. I don’t think that will change, other than maybe to offer INCREASED use of the busway.

That said, my involvement in the project ended a couple of years ago, and things might have changed. Port Authority or East Liberty Developmnent, Inc. (ELDI) would be the best sources of current information.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I’ll ask about any planned physical projects involving the EBwy @ ELib, but this is the first I’ve heard of it. Projects like this take painfully long to come to fruition; think large fractions of decades. Remember, you’re only getting 55 new buses this year, not 85, because of the absence of capital funding, and it’s capital funding involved in such a project as this.


JZ
Participant
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I live near there and bike through it all the time. I think that making that stretch two-way will actually improve things for both bikes and cars.

Similarly, redesigning access to the bus station would help everyone: bikes, cars, and pedestrians. The current design forces busses into awkward maneuvers. People not familiar with the flow also tend to get confused approaching the intersection with Shady. I’ve been cut off any number of times (both on a bike and in a car) by someone making an abrupt, unsignalled lane change because they suddenly realized that they’re in the wrong place. (Don’t get me started on no-signal lane changes.)


dmtroyer
Participant
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If they kept traffic speed to 20 to 25 mph, and enforced it, cyclists could more easily co-exist with auto traffic

@stu Is speed enforced at all in the city limits?

Ever try to go from Whole Foods to the East Liberty bike lanes? It’s a nightmare.

@rsprake Try Penn Circle to Highland. It really isn’t that bad, traffic is generally slow enough through ELib.


Lyle
Participant
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The surface condition is the worst. I’ve nearly flatted so many times lately from unseen potholes, it’s maddening. I’m sure my wheels are all wobbly now.

rsprake, you’re exaggerating about crossing four lanes of traffic to turn, aren’t you? Whole Foods to the ELB is easy, even with a trailer full of groceries! Where are you trying to get to? I think maybe if you were more comfortable looking over your left shoulder, it wouldn’t bother you so much. Have you tried using a mirror?


greenbike
Participant
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For Whole Foods to ELB, I take back streets in order to avoid Highland. I usually go on whatever street is btwn Motor Square Garden and the Parental Stress Center (I think this is Beatty). Then I cross Baum and follow that street till it dead ends into the parking lot. I cut thru the parking lot, and continue north on Beatty (assuming that’s what it is) and then Beatty runs smack into ELB.

It’s quite bumpy, but not really that much diff’t from going on Highland. For me, it’s lower stress b/c there’s usually not that many people driving there and I don’t have to worry about getting doored or T-boned.


brian j
Participant
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Beatty is my preferred route, too. Crossing Penn can be dicey, though, depending on the time of day.


greenbike
Participant
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This is from one of my neighbors who had gone to the meeting. He clarifies:

“The Busway system will be unaffected. It is only the terminal pull in above the Busway which will be removed in favor of a retail and apartment scheme, with buses having a specifically designed pull in lane off Penn Ave so they do not hold up traffic.

A concern with the lack of cycle paths is that the two way system will generate more traffic (especially with Target) and less lanes, so the density of traffic will increase the dangers for cycle/vehicle collision. Even with a number of lanes in the current one way format, the frequency of traffic lights slow down the cars at present.

Those wishing to make your voices heard should call Patrick Hassett at Public Works (412) 255-8850 and/or Ernie Hogan at ELDI 412-361-8061.”


rsprake
Participant
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Lyle, I am plenty comfortable in traffic, it’s more to do with the way people decide to drive in that area that bothers me. The only time I am ever over there is after work on my commute home so it’s rush hour traffic.


caitlin
Participant
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i just want to note that by installing other road side infrastructure like trees, benches, etc, and by cutting the lanes drivable in half like they are doing (instead of 4 lanes in one direction), it will really slow traffic and make it safer to cycle on. Sharrows or bike lanes would be great, but just because a roadway is being altered doesn’t always mean it is a good idea to stick bike lanes on it. You still have to cycle in traffic alongside parked cars either way.

any chance for bike lanes on negley or a negley road diet? I am pretty sure that is my number one east liberty chance of injury right now.


cburch
Participant
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“any chance for bike lanes on negley or a negley road diet? I am pretty sure that is my number one east liberty chance of injury right now.”

agreed! it is THE WORST part of my commute.


brian j
Participant
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^^^

+100

I ride Negley between Hampton and Ellsworth every day. There are four trouble spots, at least:

1. The intersection at Black, especially when traveling northbound. Throw buses in the mix and it’s nutty.

2. The merge point just south of Penn.

3. Between Friendship and Baum, during rush hour, when people are illegally parked.

4. Between Baum and Center. Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.


dmtroyer
Participant
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@bjanaszek it didn’t help that the light at Penn & Negley was broken this morning.


caitlin
Participant
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ELDI says there will gazillions of bike racks. GAZILLIONS


caitlin
Participant
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between kids and people just running into the street between ELB and Penn (one was in an inch of getting hit after running into the street the other night!), the buses, and the pavement itself, I am positive my first accident is waiting to happen between black street and center ave along negley. i hope i didnt just jinx myself.


brian j
Participant
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it didn’t help that the light at Penn & Negley was broken this morning.

I’m quite happy I’m working from home, then.


Lyle
Participant
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I don’t have much experience with Negley in the morning, some at 6:30 or later in the evening, mostly weekends, so MMMV.

1. The intersection at Black, especially when traveling northbound. Throw buses in the mix and it’s nutty.

I concur. The pavement on Negley around Black St is horrible, and makes it very difficult to ride a straight line.

2. The merge point just south of Penn.

This would be going southbound? No experience during rush hour.

3. Between Friendship and Baum, during rush hour, when people are illegally parked.

Can you explain this? The road isn’t actually striped for two lanes until you get close to Baum, IIRC. Do you mean northbound or southbound?

4. Between Baum and Center. Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. I think the only problem here is the intersection with Roup while you’re traveling southbound — and that’s a doozy.


brian j
Participant
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Can you explain this? The road isn’t actually striped for two lanes until you get close to Baum, IIRC. Do you mean northbound or southbound?

Yeah, this isn’t striped as two lanes, but if cars are parked along here, it narrows the road significantly. Add to it the fact that one in ten cars actually travels the speed limit, and it gets hairy. Going northbound can be particularly bad because people treat the intersection at Baum as two lanes going straight (when in reality, the right lane should be right turn only), so you often have drag races as cars try to move to the left when cars are parked. If cars aren’t parked along the road during rush hour, you generally get pseudo bike lanes on that stretch, since most sane people don’t treat it as two lanes.

Heading southbound is particularly hairy because you need to be in the left lane approaching Baum to go straight.


greenbike
Participant
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The merge point just south of Penn.

Yes. I nearly got squashed here last year during rush hour and have avoided Negley ever since.


ieverhart
Participant
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4. Between Baum and Center. Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.

I think the only problem here is the intersection with Roup while you’re traveling southbound — and that’s a doozy.

I took Negley to Ellsworth on the way home from the members’ meeting at the Union Project and making that exact merge to go straight across Centre Avenue, a minivan with California plates with two young guys in the front seats was in the left-turn lane trying to move into the straight-through lane. I was going probably at 20+ mph and when these guys went right (without signaling, I think) and had to hit the brakes hard. I was pretty sure I was going to slam into the side of their van (which was moving at just a crawl) but came to a stop a few feet short of it. I had three white front lights on (one if not two on blink mode since I could see the road pretty well from the streetlights).

I just shudder what at what would happen if a car or truck were tailgating me when I had to stop suddenly on this–or, really, any other–occasion.


Lyle
Participant
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I guess they’d hit the back of the van…

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