Relocating to Pittsburgh – Commute on Bike Feasible?

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4427
Participant
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My husband and I are considering relocating to Pittsburgh (from Denver) and we would like to continue to commute by bike. We have been looking at West View as a possible location to live and would be working in downtown Pittsburgh. How realistic is it to make that commute? We would probably take Route 19 (Perry Highway). Do people in cars generally share the road with bikes or would it be pretty hazardous from that perspective? Are there any areas that we would pass through that might not be safe for a biker traveling alone?

Another area we are considering living in is Mt. Lebanon – would we be able to commute to downtown from that area?

Thanks for any input….


rsprake
Participant
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I am curious as to why you are looking at those two places if you are going to be working downtown? My advice would be to move to another area, but others on the board can you give you real advice. :)


netviln
Participant
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Mt Lebanon would be more difficult to do by bike as would any place in the south hills. It is possible, but difficult because there aren’t any easy ways to get over Mount Washington to get downtown(I am assuming you are trying to get downtown).

In general, the easiest place to live and bike downtown is the east end. Unless you are set on West View and Mt lebanon, I would recommend Squirrel Hill, Regent Square, Shadyside, Friendship, etc.


4427
Participant
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Thanks – we will look into the east end as well.


rsprake
Participant
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All very bike friendly.


reddan
Keymaster
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West View would be perfectly doable; there are many ways to get from there to downtown via bike. Mt. Lebanon would probably be a little more interesting/exciting, but it’s also certainly possible.

I live in Brighton Heights (next to Bellevue, just across the 279 highway from West View) and commute through town on a daily basis. There are no roads in that area which I’d characterize as bad for cycling (with the exception of the freeways like 65 and 279…). It’s not flat, but no real soul-crushing climbs are required to get from Point A to Point B.


sloaps
Participant
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West View via Perrysville/Federal Street isn’t a bad haul. 35 to 45 minutes?

dunno about Mt. Lebanon other than the mt. washington issue…


bd
Participant
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I can’t speak for West View, but I do the Mt Lebanon to Downtown commute daily for 8 or 9 months a year. The route mostly on a fairly busy 35 mph road with a fair number of traffic lights. Not something I’d send my kids down but very reasonable for a bike commuter in my opinion. On average, it takes me around 30 minutes door to door in the morning and 45 minutes going home (more uphill in that direction). Unless you walk right onto the bus/trolley the rush hour bike commute is on par with the public transportation commute time and a little worse than driving. We moved to Mt Lebanon 4 years ago and I’ve been very happy with the community and the commute. Feel free to ping me with any questions you have as you look around.

The east end comments are right on though, it is much easier to bike on that end of town. We ended up going with Lebo for the schools, but the Pittsburgh Promise is a nice feature of the city schools. There are a lot of nice cultural amenities like museums and zoos that we drive with the kids to that would be walkable/bikeable from the east end.


Willie
Participant
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Do yourself a favor and stay away from mt lebanon. I lived there for about 6 months and biked to work using the T to get me past mt washington. It was really unreliable because there was many times the driver wouldent let me take my bike on the train. Now i live in mt washington and my commute is very easy. Plus riding the incline home at the end of the day is pretty nice.


HiddenVariable
Participant
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heading up federal on the way home would be pretty fun. so would heading down it in the winter.


Chris Mayhew
Participant
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You bunch of South Hills haters. You can get in from Mt. Lebo just fine. I regularly see 4 commuters every day. I do it every week as well to get to the track for the races.

@4427 Shoot me an email if you have questions about Mt. Lebo.

chris at jbv coaching dot com


cbobc
Participant
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On this site there is a handy map, its under “getting around pittsburgh” under resources. It has a feature that allows you to see street bike routes that are relatively safe and trails also. You can also search the forums there maybe info hiding in here.

Asking people here can be helpful but, they don’t know your experience level riding in urban environment. Also, everyone here has a different idea of what is safe and what is not. I’ve read of some rides people make here that I would never have the cajones to try.

The best way to find a ride is to get out and ride. You can use trails, backstreets and neighborhoods to customize a route that is perfect for you, just got to get out and do it.Weekend leisure ride are good for this, and you will know your neighborhood better. Usually the best route isn’t one that google maps brings up.

Also I would agree with rsprakes assessment that considering another neighborhood would make for an easier transit.


reddan
Keymaster
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You bunch of South Hills haters

It’s not the South Hills, it’s the people who live there ;-)

Back to the original question, cbobc’s point about getting out and riding is a good one. I’m sure that, if y’all wished to come out and visit the city for a few days before making any permanent decisions, we could work out a guided tour or two of some of the neighborhoods.


Swalfoort
Participant
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There are links to bike suitability maps for communities outside of the City of Pittsburgh (including the West View and Mt. Lebanon areas) on the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission’s website. The direct link is http://www.spcregion.org/trans_pedbike_maps2.shtml#all


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I live about 2.5 mi N of West View and ride through it often. Perry/Perrysville is not flat, but ridable. Heading W out of West View into Bellevue and then California Ave and/or Shadeland is quite flat. Federal St coming out of the North Side, between Perrysville and Perrysville, is a very, very steep hill.

Same school district as West View, stay in Ross Twp but along Babcock Blvd, you’ll have a very nice ride into the city, through Millvale.


mark
Participant
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live in the northside or the east end… regent square, point breeze, nexican war streets, edgewood specifically.


4427
Participant
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Thanks everyone for your feedback. We will be heading to Pittsburgh over Thanksgiving and will check out all of your suggestions, as well as looking at the potential bike commute routes.

The main reason we were looking at Mt. Lebanon was that we have family in the south hills, the schools are good, and we could ride the T to work when not biking. We also like the fact that Mt. Lebanon is somewhat walkable. The reasons we were looking at West View was that the housing prices were more affordable, the North Hills school district is good, and we could take an express bus to work when not biking. (Also, we liked the architecture of the houses in both those areas.)

I don’t know much about the east side of town – thank you for that suggestion. I will be looking into that area.

bd – could I ask you what route you take for your commute from Mt. Lebanon into the city?

Thanks again everyone!


Lenny
Participant
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I would also like to know the route you bike from Mt. Lebanon into downtown bd.I’ve tried doing it from the the city and couldn’t find a safe way??Please let us know your route.


gimpPAC
Participant
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If you look into the East End, there’s definitely the East bus way to consider, for alternate transportation. There’s also some cool-looking houses for pretty reasonable prices.

I can’t vouch for schools as I’m not familiar, but I suppose the length of the trip and closeness to amenities is another consideration. If you want a good workout to/from downtown, you might find living out further from the city center less of a problem (though you can certainly add miles to your trip by taking long scenic routes if you live in the city limits).

If you live in the East End you’ll always be a 15 – 25 minute bike ride away from work and 5 minutes from other interesting neighborhoods.

Also, if you’d want to be involved in the city political scene, you’d need to be a resident of the city of Pittsburgh. I believe West View and Mt. Lebo lie just on the outside.

All that said, being close to family can be important when you have kids, so I don’t blame you for planning around that.


bd
Participant
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http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=40.373751,-80.048704&daddr=Southern+Ave+to:Shiloh+St+to:Smithfield+St&hl=en&geocode=%3BFVa2aAIdFxc7-w%3BFXLpaAIdWC87-w%3BFQoQaQIdbVA7-w&mra=dme&mrcr=0&mrsp=0&sz=15&via=1,2&dirflg=w&sll=40.384115,-80.028362&sspn=0.02808,0.052314&ie=UTF8&ll=40.427806,-80.000339&spn=0.028062,0.052314&t=h&z=15

This is the route except for the loop de loop at Warrignton. If you search the forums, there are a couple of threads about the merits/faults of Pioneer and Broadway which run parallel to W Liberty as well as the alternative roads going up and down Mt Washington. I’ve explored some of the alternatives, and this is what I’m happiest with. As I said before, I would not let my kids ride this route, but it is reasonable for a commuter. If you gap the traffic at a red light, you can actually go quite a while just dealing with what pulls onto W Liberty/Washington from the side streets. I used to commute on Penn and Liberty in the days before the bike lanes and I don’t think this is any worse than that traffic wise.

I lived in the east end while I was single and then left the Pittsburgh area for several years before moving back to Mt Lebanon with a family. The east end has a lot of advantages and we looked at it when moving back here, but I like the Mt Lebanon better as a family community. One man’s opinion. Feel free to private message me if you have any questions.

Lenny, if you want to ride in with me one day, and can leave around 7:30, let me know.


netviln
Participant
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So, at Liberty and 51, do you just take the left turn lane at the tunnels up to Warrington?


bd
Participant
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Exactly, left in front of the tunnels to the 51 ramp, right on Warrington for 50 feet or so and then the left to Boggs/Southern. I think the transit bridge is confusing the route planner for some reason which makes that loop. You don’t actually get on 51.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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The county bus system, Port Authority of Allegheny County, is making major changes to its bus routes, starting the first of the year. West View (at least the center of it) loses a lot of those express routes, though the park & ride lot just a little south, gets a lot more service.

Every other part of the system will see changes, too. Details at http://tdp.portauthority.org

Just today they’re seeking public input on the changes.

Specific transit advice, PM me.


sloaps
Participant
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hoping that the port authority will relay their up-to-date routes and schedule to google: I’ve found that relaying out-of-towners to google maps and the “transit” option for routing provides an ease of use that the port authority’s website just simply cannot afford.

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