PUBLIC MEETING AUG 31: Forbes Ave redesign and bike lanes
Many US city planners have the misguided belief that cities or towns need more “stroads” (see the video below) for prosperity. Unfortunately, it actually reduces the productivity as the businesses can only be accessed by customers with motor vehicles, and most space are taken up by parking lots which are empty most of the time. A better design is to have streets that encourage people to use alternative transportations as depicted in Pittsburgh’s Complete Streets Policy: http://www.pittsburghpa.gov/dcp/completestreets
I’ve just written a letter: http://tedzellers.com/penndot.html
I sent this to my state senator, state rep, Gov. Wolf, The Mayor’s office, Dan Cessna, and PennDOT HQ. I’ve included links on my page to contact all those folks so you can do the same.
The 8/31 meeting with PennDOT was discussed on The Confluence (new WESA program)
2 minutes starting at 16:10, first audio segment:
BikePGH put a note on facebook:
“Submit Your Comments about the Forbes Ave Redesign by Monday, Sept 26
Alert! There is a one week window to submit comments on the Forbes Ave Redesign project. This project will change the face of Forbes Avenue, and quite possibly set the stage for how traffic in the rest of Oakland will behave. Learn more about the project and how to submit a comment here: http://ow.ly/XkfY304oCDQ “
I wrote PennDOT & OTMA a letter following those instructions. Synopsis of my recommendations for Craig-to-Beeler section:
a) Bike lanes must be protected; paint isn’t enough.
b) Use bus stop islands, and route the bike lane outside that.
c) Keep car lanes narrow, do real traffic calming. Speed kills.
d) Extend these bike lanes all the way west through Oakland. Don’t stop at Craig St.
e) Do not remove the pedestrian all-walk phase from the Craig St traffic light.
f) Speeding cameras that issue citations. Make it sting!
OTMA have apparently requested an extension to submit comments, since PennDOT didn’t provide them the meeting slideshow until this week:
— Oakland TMA (@OaklandTMA) September 22, 2016
Note that while the initial indication was that you had to print, fill out, scan and submit the official feedback form, OTMA have also said you can just email comments to them directly.
— Oakland TMA (@OaklandTMA) September 20, 2016
I’ve been on a slow email exchange with PennDOT. I started by sending Dan Cessna the letter on my website. PennDOT sent me back what I considered a form letter, so I asked a simpler set of questions:
1) Does PennDOT consider incorporating bollards when designing bike lanes? (Like the type used on Penn Ave downtown)
2) Where can I find the non-vehicular usage data that was collected on the Forbes Ave corridor?
3) How is the Functional Classification of a road determined? Where is this rubric located and defined?
4) Does PennDOT object to adopting a complete streets policy? Could such a policy be adopted at the district level?
The Short answers were:
1) PennDOT will follow the city’s lead, and the city is developing standards right now but hasnt’ finished.
2) It’s on the OTMA’s website. I poked around and I think it’s here: http://pedestrianstudy.otmapgh.org/progress-report/default.asp But these reports are Over 5 years old… wasn’t there newer information gathered? If no one here knows I’ll ask PennDOT.
3) It’s complicated
4) PennDOT wants to get better about listening when people ask for Complete Streets but has no plans to adopt it as their own design guideline right now. District 11 cannot act alone but must follow state guidelines.
For an answer to (3) especially, please read the full response on my website
Clearly I will have to do a lot of research to understand Functional Classification, although I have several preliminary issues with the answer:
– How can speed limit be a determining factor, when the ability to set the speed limit is constrained by the classification? This is circular.
– What does it mean for a road to carry “a high proportion of urban travel”? Are there any roads in Pittsburgh that carry rural travel?
– I am very bothered that pedestrian use has no bearing on the classification of the road, although I could be wrong. And I wonder if bicycles are included in “vehicle mix”
Ted, kudos on your rational dissection of this thing. Thanks.
Ted, I really appreciate your following up on this and keeping us informed.
Thanks for topping this.
I suppose it’s worth mentioning the latest developments.
The City has committed to installing bike lanes from Craig St to Bigelow Blvd, which was our short term ask. Since they invested so much in bike lanes on Bigelow, Schenley Dr, Ohara/Bayard, it only makes sense to connect the 2 blocks to the CMU section of Forbes where they intend to install bike lanes.
Other developments include:
Port Authority has selected a consultant and plan to introduce the City’s preferred alternatives for the BRT project early next year. This means that the City can move forward on bike lane development between Oakland/Uptown/Downtown
Also, The City has committed to hosting public meetings for PennDOT’s Betterment Project, which PennDOT says that they were not required to have. This project will be making minor improvements along Forbes, from the Birmingham Bridge to Craig St. It’s unclear what these improvements will be, but they’ve alluded to better crosswalks, bump outs, etc.
Oh, and for #2 – The way i understand it is that penndot did indeed to the counts 5 years ago. they apparently recorded video and manually counted the cars, bikes, peds. I’m not aware of newer counts that penndot did.
Port Auth may have their own more recent counts in their research for the BRT. I’m not sure what their scope was, like whether they counted at CMU or if they are just using penndots data.
This is really awesome. What is it like to finally get movement on this after, what, fifteen or twenty years of advocacy?
I think one thing PennDOT struggles with, especially at the management level, is language when talking with active transportation advocates. It’s admittedly new to them, and most DOT folks that far removed from actual design work, which isn’t all that different from a lot of industries. I don’t think their consultant did them any favors in that regard at the public meeting, either.
Functional classification simply establishes hierarchy in the street network. Local streets feed into Collector Streets which feed arterials. I’d be almost certain that they actually used their preferred classification method of identifying roadway “typology” before selecting design criteria for the project, or at least should have; this essentially is a way to design for the specific context through which a project is located instead of one set of rigid criteria for the entire route. This is outlined in their Smart Transportation Guide, which is actually pretty solid. This section of Forbes should probably be considered a “Community Arterial” in an Urban Core. The speed factor isn’t actually based on Posted Speed but “Desired Operating Speed”, although for existing streets it’s common to use posted as a shorthand. It’s ridiculously hard to get a speed limit lowered, but this is more of a bureaucracy thing than any. It took JSK a decade to get the speed limits lowered in NYC, and her transpo dep’t was clearly in favor.
Pedestrian and bicycle use isn’t explicitly factored into Functional Class, but this isn’t really a factor since designing for bikes and peds is absolutely still possible regardless of functional class. The recommended criteria for community arterials, for instance, has 5′-6′ bike lanes and 14′-22′ sidewalks.
Protected infrastructure will be a battle and this is absolutely something they should be more flexible accepting but FWIW, they approved the only parking-protected bike lanes in the state as part of the E Ohio St project.
Hope this helps answer a few Q’s.
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