Seeking input from bike lane / sharrow experts

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Shawn
Participant
#

All- I’m a bike pittsburgh member and board poster, but I live outside of the city in Irwin, PA. Recently, I’ve joined a group in Irwin that is attempting to add trails and bike lanes to our town.

The good news is that we have the go ahead to look into it from our Council, but the bad news is that we don’t have a lot of money, and the terrain of Irwin isn’t ideal.

So, my plea to the board today is for someone with bike lane / sharrow experience to let me buy them lunch in Irwin one day while I get their opinions of a few of our proposed routes. Are the roads wide enough? Would people rather bike on a road with less traffic even if it means a few monster hills? What are some of the complications we aren’t thinking about.

I’d just like some help seeing if this is something we can actually do BEFORE spending a ton of money with engineering studys.

So please let me know if you’re interested.

Sincerely,

Shawn


cdavey
Participant
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@Shawn – I’ve been a long time lurker on the board. I’m from Butler. I’ve been involved with the group here that is laying out a shared roadway system on the street here in town. We just morphed into a City Bike Commission. I helped decide what streets we wanted to include and have done most of the field work/measuring on the streets.

I don’t know that qualifies me as an expert, but I’ll pretend I am if you’re willing to buy into it. :>)

I think I may be able to save you some time re-inventing the wheel. We spun ours for about six months before we figured out how to proceed.

I think the conversation will be more efficient by phone or ultimately f2f than e-mail. If you’d like, PM me a phone number so I can contact you.


erok
Keymaster
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shawn, if there’s one thing i can say is familiarize yourself with the 2009 MUTCD, Chapter 9

http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/pdfs/2009/pdf_index.htm

it will help you with the road width/specs and such.

and if there’s one thing i’ve learned from dealing with narrow hills and bike stuff is you may often be able to have a bike lane uphill, sharrows downhill


Swalfoort
Participant
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Shawn/Cdavey — we would certainly concur that the Butler approach might be viable. Also, feel free to engage Ryan Gordon of SPC in the effort. We’ll be doing bike suitability assessments in Westmoreland County this Winter/Spring, and it might provide some input into your efforts, or at least create some synergy. PM me if you need Ryan’s contact information, our you can find it at http://www.spcregion.org


cdavey
Participant
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@erok – That’s definitely one of the Bibles you need to bave working knowledge of. The other one is the AASHTO manual on bicycle facilities. I started with it first. In my experience, I found it gave me a foundation to understand the more technical info in MUTCD.


Shawn
Participant
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Thanks eveyone.

@cdavey – I will PM you. I’d really like to hear what you have to say, and it’s been a while since I’ve been to Butler. Maybe I see a road trip in my future.


cdavey
Participant
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@erok – forgot to add that as far as I am aware PennDOT hasn’t yet adopted the new 2009 MUTCD yet unless they have done so since we met with them this summer about sharrowing the sections of our system that invovled state highways. IIRC they have until December 31, 2011 to adopt it. They will since I understand it affects their ability to get Federal funding for transportation projects. I believe thay have discretion to adopt portions of it, not necessarily all of it.

The only reason I mention it is that sharrows are a new creation since the last version of the MUTCD was done about 10 years ago. They don’t appear in it, and that’s the version PennDOT is still using. We didn’t know whether we could get their apporval to use sharrows on the state highways segments in our system because they weren’t “offishul” yet. But we did.


Swalfoort
Participant
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Confirming that as of last week, PennDOT had NOT adopted the new MUTCD.


erok
Keymaster
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yeah, true. it could be a simple letter of approval from PennDOT at this point, since using sharrows seem to be in a weird purgatory until PennDOT accepts the latest MUTCD.

FHWA might not even be accepting requests to use them as “experiments” at this point because they’ve already done the work to get it in the MUTCD.

Since they are in use in Pittsburgh and Butler, you can point to these as precedent. Is Irwin in PennDOT District 11?


Shawn
Participant
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It’s distict 12.


Swalfoort
Participant
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And Butler is D-10. No telling how D-12 will take this “suggestion.” Let me know if I can help, or if you think Westmoreland County Planning folks might be of assitance.


cdavey
Participant
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@erok, swalfoort — as you both know, but for others who may be following this thread and don’t know, PennDOT enters into this only as to the roads/streets that they have jurisdiction over and maintain. Any streets or roads that are under local municpality control, they don’t care what you do. You have to work with the local municipality for those streets.

When I was researching this, I looked at the AADT map for the City of Pittsburgh. I was amazed to see how few streets, even the big main ones, are state roads. Then I concluded that a lot of your focus and effort there must be on the dedicated bike lanes.

That’s a different animal from signed shared roadways because of the change of existing traffic patterns and creation of new ones. It’s the new traffic patterns that generates the requirement for traffic studies and traffic engineering. Sharrows are easier to do because bikes already have the right to be one that road/street same as cars, and you aren’t changing the existing traffic patterns (read: rights)of either group.

Yes, erok, and for us, with the sharrows it did come down to a simple letter — actually an e-mail — for approval. I think we may have impressed them with our preparation and presentation when we met with them, and since it is probably a foregone conclusion that they will adopt Ch. 9 of the new MUTCD when the time comes, in effect they gave us an early OK.


Swalfoort
Participant
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Butler definitely found a creative way to do this. Sort of guerilla sharrows, if you will…. But it worked, and it looks like cycling is on the increase, or at least more visible, in Butler as a result. Congrats to all involved in a very successful year….


cdavey
Participant
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@swalfoort – Sara, what a great name — guerilla sharrows!! Wish I would have thought of it. Thanks for the congrats. It’s always nice to have others recognize your efforts. I’ll let Chris and Jon amd my other colleagues in crime know. And in return, thanks for your input and Ryan’s ongoing work on the maps.


Shawn
Participant
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@cdavey – Let me know if you didn’t get my PM yesterday. When I tried to send it, your name didn’t show up. It seemed weird.


dwillen
Participant
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You have to send private messages using the link on a forum topic page:

If you click on the name, then click private message, it sends your message to nobody:


Shawn
Participant
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Thanks Dan. That is exactly what I did wrong.


Mick
Participant
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@cdavey When I was researching this, I looked at the AADT map for the City of Pittsburgh. I was amazed to see how few streets, even the big main ones, are state roads.

Residents from outside the city, and even outside the county, use the city’s streets, tax-free hospitals, universities and museums, and they come see the tax-subsidized sports events.

They are resistant to having any of their funds (state taxes, federal taxes, city parking fees) go to the city, however. They just want the benefits.


cdavey
Participant
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@shawn – Yes I did this try. Will be in touch. Looking forward to conversing with you.


ejwme
Participant
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dwillen – thank you for that clarification, I was terribly confused.

WOOHOOO… “small” town sharrows are awesome. Maybe Irwin and Butler can shame Pgh into faster action – can you guys put down more than 12 miles of lanes in a year? I betcha can! Systemic inertia is a burocratic excuse to do nothing, not a reason to invoke patience :P

Best of luck!


Shawn
Participant
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Hahaha… I bet Irwin has less than 5 miles of roads!


edmonds59
Participant
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Easy, sharrow them all!

Still, I don’t have any expertise to offer, but I have to give big thumbs up to you guys doing the efforts in the outlying areas. Good work.


Shawn
Participant
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Thanks edmonds. I am bringing some new blood to a group that has some pretty grand plans. Irwin is basically in tiny island within Noth Huntingdon, and Irwin’s main street is really the only active main street for much of the eastern suburbs (North Huntingdon, Penn Township and Murrysville).

We’re starting small, but the grand plan is to have our main street serve as a hub connecting to our local parks and schools (via fitness paths and bike lanes). In addition, it’s possible for us to connect to the GAP in west newton (about 15 miles south)via an abandoned railbed.

We’re headed down the path of creating a nonproft, etc, but just seeing one mile of lanes/sharrows/trails will be a major milestone.

I’ll keep you all posted…..

Either way, I’ve been telling Nick that if we do a flock ride in Irwin next year, I provide the food and beer……


Marko82
Participant
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“Either way, I’ve been telling Nick that if we do a flock ride in Irwin next year, I provide the food and beer…… “

Woohooo roadtrip!


cdavey
Participant
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This kind of connectivity between parks, schools, public facilities like libraries, and destination stops is exactly what the AASHTO bike facilities manual recommends.

The idea of connecting into something larger like the GAP is the next natural step. Here in Butler the plan is to use the city route system as a connector between the Butler-Freeport trail and then head west out of town toward New Castle and Ohio to connect into Bike Routes A and V, the ACA Undergtround RR spur and the systems in Eastern Ohio/Cleveland Area.

It looks to me like even though they are just starting, they’ve got it figured out.

As to food and beer (and a group bike ride), I say we hold Shawn’s feet to fire on this one. I’d make a trip to Irwin for this one. What say you all?…


reddan
Keymaster
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“Either way, I’ve been telling Nick that if we do a flock ride in Irwin next year, I provide the food and beer……”

Sweet. I’ll lead the randoFlock ride-to-the-ride from Oakland when this happens.


Charles
Participant
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I would totally go.

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