route advice: greenfield -> out past Sewickley

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bikefind
Participant
#

Sometime in 2011, I want to try to bike out to my mother’s house. I’ve got some motivation at the moment to try to figure out if this is plausible for me, so I’ve got some questions if anyone knows their way around areas out toward Sewickley, then up into the area on the other side of the ohio river.

Parts of the route I have an idea of, and other parts I’m pretty unsure about.

I’m starting in Greenfield, so I’m thinking:

Jail trail. Cut through Downtown into Northside and get on Brighton.

I then want to make my way out to Camp Horne Rd, which seems like I could do in more than one way. I’m looking at Left on Benton (which looks like it sort of merges in with California and California at some point starts being called Lincoln as well.) Right on division. Division becomes church, then center. Right on Camp Horne.

(A left on Camp Horne would take me to 65, the shortest route to the Sewickley bridge and that area, but I’ve driven on it and am thinking that biking on it would suck off the scale. So right on Camp Horne. Advise if you differ. I’m not going for scenic here, but I am going for safety.)

Once I leave Camp Horne I’m in completely unfamiliar territory. I’m looking at some routes described in a pdf of rides I have. Could be steep but should at least be ridable. Anyway.

left on Crawford, right on Roosevelt, left on mt Nebo, which becomes Blackburn, left on Glen Mitchell, which will dump me out on Beaver In Sewickely. (The pdf was more of a hill-climbing ride, so I cut some of it out. That puts me on parts of Mt Nebo and Blackburn they didn’t proscribe. If anyone knows of parts of these roads to be inadvisable, please let me know? Also, it may be that there’s more I should cut out – parts of the route I’m assuming to be necessary to get me there, but maybe they were just having fun with the hills. If you know of something more direct without getting myself into trouble (fast highway kind of thing)-wise, please let me know that too.

From Sewickley, the way I drive it is to go over the bridge, make a right onto 51, go up stoopsferry, right on mcgovern (still 51) and then I’m good, I can get to my mom’s via bocktown or harper, which I think will be ok. The part I’m uneasy about (well parts) are 51 between the bridge and stoopsferry, and the bridge itself. Has anyone biked these? I’m thinking stoopsferry’s going to be some work, but there’s an extra lane for passing going up, so it should be ok. Coming home, going down that big hill, that might shake me up. But anyway.

If that stuff feels too scary, I’m trying to think of alternatives. I could skip the Sewickley bridge and take beaver out into Ambridge. Last I checked we had a bridge out there, although google’s being feisty about showing it. Anyway, then take 51 back toward glenwillard and head up into the hills as before. But I don’t know. Has anyone biked *that* stretch of 51? I’m thinking maybe less scary than coming off the sewickley bridge, but I don’t know. And what about the ambridge bridge itself? What a pittburgher. Won’t cross a bridge. have to fix that.

Well, if you’ve got thoughts, throw ’em at me. Thanks!


steevo
Participant
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When i ride to sewickley

I go out the northside, california ave,

mckees rocks bridge. 51. When 51 goes up,

go right on neville island. take that

back over the coriopolis.

from coriopolis it is a pa bike route with

a huge shoulder to the bridge at sewickely.

To stay on the north side of the river

involves more hills

I go out california and all the names it

calls itself through bellvue, ben avon,

to stay north of the river, you can

turn on “union” going norht to Gass,

crawford, up to rosevelt…

or for a steep hill, just go up rosevelt.

take that to camp horn, mike the next right

on nicolson (?) then go left over to fern

hollow or something.

OR

go down mt nebo and make the right before

79. There is a road that parallels it that

takes you up to mcgee / audobon

this probably makes no sense


John
Participant
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51 isn’t so bad as it might seem. On a Sunday morning it is easily ridable from the South Side to Monaca, and is by far the flattest/fastest way. (Though you’ll want the detour across Neville Island.) Stoops Ferry is a bit of a hill.

California Ave is ok. Anything Northeast of Sewickley is good riding but super hilly.


Swalfoort
Participant
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I live right near the intersection of Camp Horne and Ohio River Boulevard. Knowing you are a competent cyclist, this is what I would suggest as a route. Others may want to weigh in, of course….

Jail Trail to Point State Park; ped bridge to North Shore.

Trail Option: Trail past casino to Westfall, Eckert/McClure to Brighton Heights

Road Option: Tony Dorsett Drive to Scotland/Merchant (behind Clark Bar Building), left on East Ohio, Right on Brighton, left on California, follow California to Brighton Heights.

From Brighton Heights, follow Lincoln/Division/Church/Center (all one street) to a right on North Avenue (just past the Camp Horne Road Bridge).

Up one very steep block, then left on Roosevelt. Past Avonworth School, Ohio Township Muni Building to left on Mt. Nebo. Mt. Nebo will turn into Blackburn after crossing I-79. It will be ugly for about a mile between Nicholson and I-79, but you’ll be fine.

You could do any number of routes (all nice, and in the outbound direction all mostly downhill) into Sewickley. staying on Blackburn will take you past the Sewickley Hospital and Y, and dump you near the Starbucks on Beaver.

I’d go with the Ambridge routing, as I don’t like Stoops Ferry much. So, at Beaver in Sewickley, turn right. Follow through Leetsdale. At the Red Belt there will be a sort of tricky little S turn you’ll have to negotiate, but it’s pretty intuitive if you know to expect it.

You could take the main drag though Ambridge (Merchant) or the higher road (Duss) until 11th Street, which will take you to the bridge.

Once you cross the bridge, you’ll get to a section of Route 51 that is actually Pennsylvania Bike Route “A.” Doesn’t mean it is pleasant riding, but it beats Stoops Ferry, in my book. You can make your way to Bocktown or???? from there.

Worst part of the ride, in my mind, is a 2+ mile (fairly gradual) uphill on Roosevelt, which is not heavily travelled, and has a relatively low posted speed. But, there isn’t much in the way of shoulder area. That’s followed by a fast straight downhill on Mt. Nebo to the Interstate ramps. Could be great, could be terrible, depending on the day. Soem people love riding the hills around Sewickley. I would appreciate better shoulders, but I don’t have any trouble riding them, for the most part.

The route from Greenfield to Camp Horne Road is lovely, and I think the ride from Sewickley to Ambridge is also very nice.

Have fun!


reddan
Keymaster
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Lots of good advice here.

I’d probably choose the California Ave->McKees Rocks Bridge->Neville Island->51->Stoops Ferry route, for simplicity. The Sewickley Bridge-Ambridge Bridge detour to avoid Stoops Ferry is a fine one, although I’ve personally had significantly more close calls with traffic in Sewickley than climbing up Stoops Ferry.

Roosevelt->Mt Nebo->Blackburn through Sewickley Heights and into Sewickley has some significant climbs and descents. Fun, but way more vigorous than the 51 route.

Let me know when you wish to go; I’d be happy to roll along with you.


bikefind
Participant
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Wow, thanks everyone! I thought I’d be lucky to find anyone who knew even a part of the route. You guys get around.

Steevo: alot of it made sense. Thanks for the idea of 51. I never even thought about the other side of the river, until I get close to home.

John: from the south side! Right. duh. I can drop right down there over the hot metal bridge and avoid downtown entirely.

My god Swalfoort! It’s like having a tour guide. I’ll have to go through this slowly, with a map in front of me. Thanks for the heads up about that stretch of Mt Nebo, etc. It looks like I’ll have to ride out to my mother’s more than once and check out all these routes. That’ll make her happy. (For the visits. The idea that I’m doing it on a bike will mortify her, but guess whose problem that is? I’ll just tell her I found lots of cool backroads from the people on the bike pgh forum. Won’t be a lie.) But what in the world makes you think of me as a competent cyclist? (maybe just your nice way of saying “don’t do this if you’re not” ha.)

Whoa, reddan. Ride with reddan. That’d be awesome. (A riding partner would make alot of these roads less scary.) Except that the only thing that scares me more than the idea of getting hit by a truck is the severe embarrassment when you realize I can only go half as fast as the bottom of your comfort zone. Anyway, this gives me something to work toward. If/when I can sustain a respectable speed for a decent duration, it’ll be time to give you a yell.

Reddan showed up at FreeRide one Saturday and I got all stupid like I was meeting a celebrity. Once I realized who he was. He’d left at that point, but someone said something about him, and I said “that’s reddan? from the bikepgh forum? Really?” And the other staffer was like “forum? I don’t know. But he won the blah blah blah race” (can’t remember. don’t follow races much.) And I was like “Wow. That’s reddan. Bossanova.” And ran out into the parking lot to introduce myself and babble.

Big fun.


reddan
Keymaster
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@bikefind: RE: speed, yinz must be thinking of the other reddan. I’m not fast, just persistent. Or tenacious. Boneheaded. Stubborn. Foolhardy…

Offer’s open, regardless.


bikefind
Participant
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Thanks Reddan!

Maybe you (he?) came in second, not sure. I sort of zone out when people talk about races and places and all that. It might have been something across Pennsylvania?


reddan
Keymaster
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Crush The Commonwealth. See da official blawg for details.

I was third last year, behind the Tressler(sp?) brothers. Darn you, Bedford roach motel, and your comfy bed too…


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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About 18 months ago I biked to Robert Morris Univ from McCandless using Rochester and Camp Meeting Roads and the Sewickley Bridge. Read the blog entry for details.

@bikelove, in your case, I’d bike to West View (there are a couple of ways to do this) and continue up Perry Highway one traffic light, then L on Rochester. Rochester isn’t a great road, but not entirely horrible either. Like every road in PA, there’s no shoulder to speak of, a fair amount of traffic, and general disregard for speed limits, but if this was a problem, we wouldn’t be having this conversation in the first place.


bikefind
Participant
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@stu: Rochester into Big Sewickley Creek down into Ambridge? Nice.

Thinking about how to get to West View. I’ve ridden up spring garden/ mt troy from the northside a few times. Turned into Ivory and T’d at Perrysville. When I’ve done that I’ve made a left and headed down into riverview park, but if I made a right it looks like it would take me to where you’re talking about. I have no idea what that stretch of 19 is like though. Bike-able? Without nerves of steel?


ejwme
Participant
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I’ve got half a set of inlaws perched atop stoop’s ferry, these directions will come in handy, thanks guys! :D


bikefind
Participant
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@ejwme: give me a yell if you want to try and co-ordinate our rides!


ejwme
Participant
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bikefind – that would be AWESOME, will do!


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Working from Perrysville & East (Perry HS), it’s a fairly pleasant ride to past the bus garage, then a big downhill. The best thing to do here is hang a right (a rightleft, actually) at the base of that hill, across from the park & ride, and take Center into West View. This follows the old trolley line. You come close to getting back on WhatWasPerrysvilleNowPerryHwy at the horseshoe curve, but it’s easier to continue on straight-ish on Center. The traffic light is Perry Hwy. Turn right.

Perry is a narrow uphill. Depending on how busy it is and how gnarly I’m feeling, I will either take the lane or just pull over and let everyone past. It’s 25 mph, busy but not horribly so, and the squeeze is only a few hundred yards. By the time you get to Highland it widens out a bit, though still two lanes.

Rochester is about 1/4 mile past Highland. I almost never have any trouble through here, as it is still posted 25. Rochester has a left-turn lane, then a downhill, then you’re following a stream for several miles so the grade is fine, the only problem being that by now you are definitely into Suburbantwolaneville, and will remain so for the next 40 miles.

+1 the suggestion of ignoring Camp Meeting and continuing on Big Sewickley Creek Road.


sloaps
Participant
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+1 on steevo’s route.

51 from mckees rocks bridge to Tunnel road is narrow but slow, and although traffic picks up the pace from tunnel road to the neville island bridge the road is very wide.

Same for neville road/grand avenue on neville island. lots of fast moving truck traffic, but the shoulder is as wide as a lane and was repaved only a few years ago.

Once over the bridge, on 51 and into Coraopolis, the Allegheny Passage/Ohio River Trail runs parallel to 3rd avenue, which is one block towards the river from 51 (fourth ave.). You can take the trail, if you like, all the way to the Sewickley bridge onramp which is by an ambulance facility along 51.


bikefind
Participant
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Thanks Stu – very clear. And nice links!

Sloaps, that’s helpful to know about the big nice shoulders. I’ve never been that way through neville island, or not that I can remember, definitely never on a bike, so at least my lack of familiarity will be the only major challenge. I think.

Ejwme: looks like we’re going to have some choices to make. Luckily, there’s lots of time. I’m thinking after winter.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Forgot to mention, if you rotate the view at the “Turn right” link above, you will be looking directly at Scholl’s Bike Shop (light blue building). In case you need an in-trip part or supply or something. </unapologetic plug>


Steven
Participant
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Once over the bridge, on 51 and into Coraopolis, the Allegheny Passage/Ohio River Trail runs parallel to 3rd avenue, which is one block towards the river from 51 (fourth ave.).

Does the Ohio River Trail trail really exist now? I know Google shows it, but they tend to show proposed bike trails the same as ones that have been built. (See the three GAP trail routes south of Duquesne, which I believe are all fictional but one.)

Last I heard, the Ohio River Trail was still working on feasibility studies and raising money, and the only thing they’d built was an elaborate website. It’s great news if they’ve opened up a trail segment already. But have they?


Steven
Participant
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In fact you can look on the Ohio River Trail web site and find a feasibility study dated September 2010, which shows a proposed route for the trail through Coraopolis that’s almost completely different from the one Google shows as, apparently, an existing trail.

I’ve been reluctant to report such discrepancies to Google until I’ve actually been there to confirm that there’s no such trail. But it sure looks to me like this is another proposed trail where Google has incorrectly guessed the future route.

In practice, the trail segment isn’t too far from that existing PA Bike Route, so it’s not like its absence is a major problem for experienced cyclists.

By the way, this feasibility study is quite detailed, and I’m not sure anyone’s posted a link to it on the board before. Folks interested in planning for future trails might want to check it out and send them comments.


ejwme
Participant
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Steven – the satellite view on google shows the ground under their Ohio River Trail green line to be railroad tracks with dirt paths connecting it to something called Bob Tracey’s World of Cycles (sigh, Bob Tracey meant MOTORcycles, sadly enough) and later to Stoops, but with no clear path up to Sewickley Bridge. That’s something that would be key to someone hoping to get to Sewickley via this (soon-to-be) path, or for Sewickley users to get to the path. (That, and google’s rendition of “third avenue” seems to go overtop of some kind of construction or transport storage yard when it’s not on top of the rail line.)

Bikefind – next time hubby and I go visit by car (probably within the next month or so), I’ll pick a likely set of directions and follow to see how they do. I’m particularly interested in the bit from the North side to the sewickley bridge area (either side of the river), as those are neighborhoods I don’t know at all. I’ll let you know what I find :D

That feasibility study… So many times I see feasability studies that start with a solution and determine if it’s feasible or not. That one seems to start with an idea and attempts to discover what would make it feasible – I like that approach. It’s a subtle difference, like the difference between a project that happens and one that doesn’t. That being said, it does seem to have a 15 year timeline. I can’t wait that long.


Swalfoort
Participant
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Ohio River Trail project is moving fairly quickly, as such things go. But, what we have now is the start of a plan, and a proposed route for much of the distance. No actual construction to date. Railroad tracks will not go away. CSX is spending $842 million to make that line even more valuable to them by accommodating double stack trains. But, on road options are being pursued, to create a safe(r) route between the Ohio line and the Montour Trail at Coraopolis/Groveton. Neville Island, some routing through McKees Rocks, and the improvements slated for West Carson Street for next year will all make access from Pittsburgh to Groveton better. Stay tuned. A 15 year timeline to a final product doesn’t mean NOTHING useful happens for 15 years. We’ll start seeing elements of the plan move forward very soon.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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ejwme, you can’t go wrong with: Trail past Heinz Field, to end, circle around the N end of the old jail, onto Eckert, L McClure, L Antrim, R Fleming, L Termon, R California and then follow your nose for a long while. This gets you out in Swalfoort-land, btw, so I’ll defer to her on details. As described earlier, getting TO Sewickley is the itchy part. There aren’t a lot of choices that I’m aware of to get across the Wal-Mart-landslide fiasco other than most unfriendly PA65.


ejwme
Participant
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swalfoort – I didn’t mean to come across as negative about the long reaching plan… It’s one of those things with me, you tell me a trail will be complete next week and I’ll say I want to ride it tomorrow. You say tomorrow, I’ll say today. It’s not that I’m not appreciative, it’s that I’m not patient. Scary thing is I used to be worse!


reddan
Keymaster
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There aren’t a lot of choices that I’m aware of to get across the Wal-Mart-landslide fiasco other than most unfriendly PA65.

Nope, at least not if you’re coming up through Brighton Heights from town.

Option 1: in Emsworth, pick up Roosevelt to Mt Nebo, then across the highway to Blackburn into Sewickley. Good climbs on this route.

Option 2: At the end of California, take the shoulder on 65 for the half-mile or so to get past Sam Walton’s Landslide Debacle, then right on Tom’s Run, left on Duff Rd, up to Mt Nebo, then Blackburn. Even more climbing, plus short highway ride with grumpy traffic.

Option 3: From California, take McKees Rocks Bridge to 51, hop over to Neville Island to skip the climbing, then back to 51 to the Sewickley Bridge. This is my preference: minimal climbing, no heavy traffic, only highway riding has a huge shoulder and is a signed bike route.


edmonds59
Participant
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That ORTC seems like something maybe I should get interested in, I have not really heard of them before. Sara, do you get involved with them at all?

Also, for info, the Sewickley bridge is easy crossing, traffic doesn’t get going very fast, decent shoulder, sidewalk if you want it, watch the expan joints, though, I think it has the kind with the scary wavy teeth.


salty
Participant
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@steven (and anyone else) – please feel free to “report a problem” for things that aren’t actually there or are otherwise incorrect. i don’t know exactly what the data sources are (the initial press release mentioned the RTC), but things do get fixed based on user reports.

[not speaking for my employer]


Swalfoort
Participant
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Which report a problem link? We have one at SPC that comes directly to me at (http://www.spcregion.org/trans_pedbike_safe.shtml)

I assume you mean another one?

@Edmonds, ORTC is going to rock your world, one day, opening access to that whole river corridor. The feasibility study is complete, now they are in the grant writing stage. Your involvement might result in one section of the corridor/trail being developed before another, but that Stoops Ferry connection will be tough for a long time due to terrain issues. The short term solution is a cross river routing through Sewickley to Ambridge. I’ve been peripherally involved, and can put you in touch with folks who are driving the process.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I think what salty is referring to is a Google maps issue.


Steven
Participant
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Thanks Salty. I actually report Google Maps issues all the time, once I can confirm that their data’s wrong. Just reported the ORT today, along with the Three Sisters and West End Bridges (which are drawn as solid green “dedicated bike trail” instead of dashed green “preferred bike route”).

Google has been good at fixing these issues (though sometimes it takes two tries for them to get it right).

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