So now, the left from Hobart onto Beacon is apparently impossible

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byogman
Member
#

Of course it’s not. Just not the most pleasant left.

I’m accustomed to having to drag bike route directions to get to the more direct routes I usually prefer. Just not accustomed to that NOT WORKING.

Doesn’t appear to be “no, you really don’t want to go there” by the fact that you can drag straight uphill from blvd of the allies through Panther Hollow road. How can you get google to fix it?

Noticed at the same time. Still thinks you can use Pocusset Trail drive. At one point I checked in and saw a tiny wedge taken out, but I think the city basically said f-it because it was there months later. Tree’s still down right?


jonawebb
Participant
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Yeah, I was through there. Emailed 311 and Lynette Lederman to no avail. It really seems to me that this is something Corey O’Connor’s office would be worried about.


Steven
Participant
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The segment of Beacon from Hobart to the edge of the park is marked Closed for Maintenance in Map Maker. In Street View, there’s a Road Closed sign from whenever they went through there. Is it open to all traffic now? Or just accessible by bikes despite being closed?


byogman
Member
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It’s open.


Steven
Participant
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I just edited it to open in Map Maker, so Google should start routing along it. I’m not sure how long it takes such changes to propagate.


richierich
Member
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Regarding that tree, it’s probably park workers who would remove it. If trees fall on a trail in Frick they’re out the next day chopping it up. Probably the right people haven’t been alerted. I’ll try the park people if it’s still there the next time I go through there, but it may be a while.

I have wondered whether that tree wasn’t felled on purpose, since it appeared right after the other one was cleared away and more people started using that path. If someone wants a tree there …


Mick
Participant
#

In the past, that trail was covered by many felled trees that appears to be deliberately obstructing the path.

I’m guessing there is home owner there who believes (probably rightfully) that his property would be more pleasant and worth more if people didn’t use the trail through the park.

But then, if they forbid everyone except people with property bordering the park to use that park, the property would be worth more, too.

I’ve seen more than few staircases and park trails blocked apparently for this reason.

I brought up this idea when that trail was first being cleared.


jonawebb
Participant
#

My guess was that it’s the miscreants who use Prospect Drive as a meetup spot and who don’t want to be disturbed. The tree did fall suspiciously quickly after Paul and I cleared the path. But the homeowner theory is good too. More directed at upper-class resentment than at outsider rebellion.
In any case, all the city has to do is keep the path clear for a while, and people will get used to it being open.


Ahlir
Participant
#

The tree is annoying, but you can get around it without too much work. (Well, I did have to get off.)

I think maybe a metre or two off the branch side should make everyone happy (looks blocked, acts passable). Pruning saw could do it…


edmonds59
Participant
#

Beavers. Dam them.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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earlier today:

30 minutes later:

So Pocusset Drive trail is bikeable again, without dismounting.


jonawebb
Participant
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Thanks to whoever did this, Paul, it was great you were able to capture a couple of photos.


Ahlir
Participant
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oh noes! It looks like the Happy Woodsperson left his or her bow saw hanging on one of the severed limbs. Hope no one rides too close…


byogman
Member
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Awesome! Will be there with my daughters on a nice weather day sometime soon, maybe Wednesday or Sunday.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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oh, that was my work


Benzo
Participant
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I had put in a 311 ticket about this and there was a work order created for parks. Nothing ever really happened as a result. I did this in june when they were already over there tearing out trees across the street. I figured parks could saw this log too, but I guess it wasn’t a priority.

—————

311 Response Web Form Reply Notification
The following reply has been made to Ticket ID #98063:

Thank you for contacting 311. Request ID# 390922 has been assigned to your concern. The Dept. of Public Works now has a work order to removed the tree at Pocussett Drive @ Pocussett Drive Trail.

311 Response Team


paulheckbert
Moderator
#

Thanks, Benzo. Let’s continue to hold the city and Public Works accountable. When this or any other city bike trails need work, 311 is a good way to notify the city.


jonawebb
Participant
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Hey, I got a response to my last 311 about the Pocussett Drive Trail tree:

Summary of action taken:
THIS TRAIL HAS BEEN CLOSED PER THE POLICE. THE TREE TRUNK WILL NOT BE REMOVED BECAUSE NO ONE SHOULD BE ON THIS TRAIL. — J. KOCH


Mick
Participant
#

Wow.

I wonder who ordered that trail closed, and why? I’m guessing someone was angered that their felled tree was partly removed.

Good questions:

1) Who ordered the trail closed?
2) How can we get the trail authorized?
3) Was that tree deliberately felled to block the path? Easy enough to tell by looking at the bottom of the tree/top of the stump. That would be a crime, and even if the trail had some legitimate reason for being closed (which I doubt), it would still be a crime – possibly a felony.
4) Who was it that cut down the tree?

It was be a shame if someone worked against the forces of order and good governance by keeping the trail open, wouldn’t it? Who will rid me of these meddlesome fallen trees?


jonawebb
Participant
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It is certainly possible that the tree was chopped down by some upperclass homeowner who resents the intrusion on “his” property. But as a less classist explanation, consider the possibility that it was one of the poor lonely homosexuals who use Prospect Drive as a rendezvous spot and resent the loss of privacy. I did see a condom on top of the fallen tree once. Perhaps someone was marking his territory. Or the tree could have fallen over on its own.
I think that the non-responsiveness of Corey O’Connor’s office on this issue (I’ve written Lynette Lederman more than once about it) speaks more to general indifference than to somebody behind the scenes manipulating the bureaucracy to maintain their privacy.


Ahlir
Participant
#

If the trail is closed “per the police”, is there signage to that effect? I’m not sure I’ve seen it. Or maybe Koch decided that you were talking about driving a car down there?


paulheckbert
Moderator
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“Closed per the police … No one should be on this trail” – That is a weird thing to say!

If this is more than nonsense, then exactly which part of Schenley Park is closed, and why??

I examined the base of the fallen tree the other day and saw no signs of cutting; I think that tree fell on its own.

If people who use Pocusset Drive Trail speak up regularly, hopefully we can get Pocusset Drive Trail officially opened and moderately maintained.

Polite phone calls and emails recommended:

Corey O’Connor’s district 5 web site: http://pittsburghpa.gov/district5/
District 5 office phone: 412-255-8965
email form: http://pittsburghpa.gov/district5/feedback


byogman
Member
#

Yeah seriously, I told my daughter we could go there tomorrow based off the fact Benzo’s 311 got accepted and turned into a work order. Holy heck.


edmonds59
Participant
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What the hell? Didn’t Pedobear make a big whoopdedoo about this opening? I find it inconceivable the Pgh Po would do anything in support of privacy for gay rendezvous.


paulheckbert
Moderator
#

I just sent this to Corey O’Connor, via http://www.pittsburghpa.gov/district5/feedback

I’ve lived in Edgewood for 22 years, my kids grew up here, and I love and enjoy Pittsburgh’s parks regularly.

I’m writing because there is an abandoned road in Schenley Park that is now basically a trail, called Pocusset Drive Trail in Google Maps, between Prospect Drive and Pocusset St, that makes a very nice connection for cyclists and pedestrians, and I’ve heard, unbelievably, that the police regard this trail as “closed” but I see no reason for that policy.

Suppose you’re in south Squirrel Hill somewhere near Hobart & Wightman and you want to bike to the Hot Metal Bridge. (Please send me an email address and I could send you a map that I annotated to make this quite clear). The best bike route currently available is west on Hobart, left on Prospect into Schenley Park, left onto the old road called Prospect Drive Trail that is fenced off to cars but open to bicycles, it’s asphalt all the way down the hill (gentle grade) to Pocusset St, where you turn right on the new section of Pocusset St that is closed to cars but open to bicycles. Then left across Greenfield Bridge and right toward Winterburn, and down Greenfield Ave toward the Hot Metal Bridge. It’s the safest fast route, safe because of the Pocusset Drive Trail and Pocusset St sections that are car-free.

In recent years I’ve done volunteer work on the Pocusset Drive Trail clearing fallen trees (using bow saw and elbow grease, mostly) to keep this route passable for cyclists like myself.

But my cycling friend Jon Webb asked a while back via Pittsburgh 311 about getting a fallen tree cleared and was told “THIS TRAIL HAS BEEN CLOSED PER THE POLICE. THE TREE TRUNK WILL NOT BE REMOVED BECAUSE NO ONE SHOULD BE ON THIS TRAIL. — J. KOCH”. Huh? This is very puzzling to me.

Is it true that the police regard Pocusset Drive Trail as “closed”? What else in Schenley Park is closed? Why??

If this is indeed the current policy, it sounds silly to me, and I suggest it be changed immediately, to facilitate (a) people who live in the vicinity of Pocusset St that want a path to Schenley Park, and (b) cyclists and pedestrians who want a good, safe, car-free route through this area to get up or down the hill, as I described.

I’m very excited by the huge strides that Pittsburgh has made in the decades I’ve lived here to improve the paths along its rivers, in its parks, and along its streets to encourage pedestrians and cyclists. I look at Pocusset Drive Trail and Pocusset St as helpful links in Pittsburgh’s growing network of routes that make the city healthier and more people-friendly.

Can you make this happen?

map to be emailed later:
A: Hobart & Wightman
T: site of fallen tree that used to be an obstacle
B: Greenfield Ave & Winterburn


JaySherman5000
Member
#

Questions:

1) Who the hell is “J. KOCH” and why should I care if they consider this trail closed?

2) As I recall, there isn’t signage that matches Koch’s explanation of the supposed closure, only a simple “Road Closed” sign that seemed to be intended for motorists. Was that signage put there by the cops?


jonawebb
Participant
#

I think that the trail was never really “opened” — we just managed to persuade some people to replace the guardrails with bollards. The police are telling us that.
So, basically, it’s ours to maintain, as Paul has done so well. Just don’t make a lot of noise doing it, and everything will be OK. It’s like the connector across the railroad tracks between the Panther Hollow Trail and the Schenley Park trails.


paulheckbert
Moderator
#

After my 10/7 message to the office of Corey O’Connor (Pittsburgh city council district 5) about Pocusset Drive Trail, I got this email:


From: Lynette Lederman
Cc: Judy Trombetta, Pat Hassett, Mike Gable

Paul…I am in receipt of your District 5 Feedback regarding the status of the path off Pocusset Street into Schenley Park. I communicated the latest information to Jon Webb on September 2, 2014 ;nothing has changed since then.

To recap…..this road was closed in 1989 following the murder of a man who frequented the park and whose body was found at the end of the path at Pocusset Street. Today, the road remains closed for a variety of reasons, the most current ones being the unsafe condition of the road surface and the gulley/drainage/water issues and the risks and costs attached to that.

There are additional issues that have arisen since the closure of Pocusset Road which will have to be addressed before adding more bicyclists and pedestrians to the area. In addition, the Pocusset Street residents will stand firm that the road should not be open until and when the area at the top of the road is cleaned out of illegal sexual and drug activity. They do not support the idea that opening the path will do that.

DPW Assistant Director Pat Hasset has communicated to me that in the future , he will entertain a discussion with the Conservancy, DPW, Parks, the cycling community and the Pocusset Street residents about this pathway. In the meantime, there is no plan to remove the tree, remediate the area or open the road.

I am sorry if the decisions reached by the city are silly to you but there are more issues to be dealt with than the obvious ones you cite. This is a residential neighborhood bordering a park and there are more constituencies to deal with than just the cycling and pedestrian communities. The public safety, public works, parks and quality of life issues have been taken into consideration for everyone in this instance . In addition, the volunteer work you note that you have done over the years is essentially trespassing; you know you cannot come onto Parks or City property (or any property other than your own) with a bow saw to clear trees with no permission , permit or authority.

So having said that, I hope you now have all the information to answer your question. Should you find yourself traveling from Edgewood to Hobart and Wightman, you can easily follow Hobart either to Wightman down Pocusset to the beautiful new Pocusset Road for bicycles and pedestrians and turn onto the Greenfield Bridge to head to the Hot Metal Bridge. You can also take Hobart left onto upper Greenfield Avenue, then over the bridge or take Hobart through the Park to Parkfield Street where you can pick up Greenfield Avenue to the trail over the Swinburne Bridge. I have a biker in my immediate family so I am pretty familiar with the roads she travels. Keep in mind also that Greenfield Avenue (starting right past the entrance to the Oval) and the Greenfield Bridge will be closed as of October 2015 and there will be no access open on that side of Sq Hill for the following 16 months. Then you can take that last suggestion to Parkfield to the Swinburne Bridge and lower Greenfield Avenue.

To be clear, as winter approaches, there is no plan to remove the tree nor open the path. There will be no movement on this until all stakeholders and city personnel meet to discuss it. Please do not enter the park with the intent of taking matters into your own hands as you create a tremendous liability for the city.Hope you understand……

Stay in touch…..

Lynette


Lynette R. Lederman
Executive Assistant to the Councilman
Councilman Corey O’Connor


paulheckbert
Moderator
#

And I sent this reply:

From: Paul Heckbert
Subject: Re: Pocusset Drive Trail
To: Lederman, Lynette
Cc: Judy Trombetta, Pat Hassett, Mike Gable, Jon Webb

It sounds like you’re saying Pocusset Drive got closed to cars 25 years ago. That’s interesting; I didn’t know that history. I’m not suggesting that this road (which people are now calling Pocusset Drive Trail) be reopened to cars but merely that it be maintained as a Schenley Park trail that happens to be asphalt; a less polished analog to its “sister trail”, the recently-converted trail portion of Pocusset Street down the hill.

Pocusset Drive Trail has been and is currently used by pedestrians (e.g. dog-walkers) and cyclists. For that purpose, its surface is fine – better than most trails and many streets in Pittsburgh. A few days ago I bow-sawed the tree that fell across the trail, so it’s now as bikeable and walkable as it was a few months ago.

Regarding the sex and drug issue, based on traffic flow, closing Pocusset Drive to cars in 1989 must have made Prospect Drive more attractive to people looking for a quiet cul-de-sac to do their business, and conversely, increasing bicycle traffic on Pocusset Drive Trail would make Prospect Drive less attractive for that. It will bring more sunlight on the area. I can’t think of a more cost-effective way for Pittsburgh to put a dent in Prospect Drive crime than to encourage bike commuters on Pocusset Drive Trail. Not that it will end all that crime, but it will reduce it.

I didn’t live in Pittsburgh in the 80s, but I understand that areas down by the rivers, e.g. near where the Southside and Eliza Furnace Trails are today, used to be seldom-visited and quite seedy. Opening up those areas to trail users has made them safer and more family-friendly.

The attached map is the one I alluded to earlier. It shows the nice bike route from (A) Wightman & Hobart, past the fallen tree (T), to (B) Greenfield Ave & Winterburn. I don’t think the alternative bike routes you mentioned are as desirable because the intersections of Hobart & Beacon or Hobart & Greenfield Rd are dangerous; and Wightman to Pocusset is OK but not as nice (not as car-free) as the route I recommended. The reverse direction, from B to A, is where the route I’m recommending really shines: cyclists get to do most of their hill climbing on car-free roads without worrying about getting run over or honked at.

If you have future discussions of Pocusset Drive Trail, please give me a call; I’m interested in improving our parks for all users. [phone no]

-Paul


paulheckbert
Moderator
#

The latest from Lynette Lederman of the city:

From: Lederman, Lynette
To: Paul Heckbert
Cc: Mike Gable, Pat Hassett, Jeffrey Koch, Corey O’Connor, Judy Trombetta, Curt Conrad, Wendy Urbanic

Sorry, Paul…..but you just destroyed all your credibility in this matter by admitting you entered the park illegally with a bow saw after you were warned by the police on December 31st to cease and not return.
Cutting the tree and removing it after you were informed on numerous occasions that the road was closed for safety reasons created liability issues for the city and legal ones for you. I was pretty clear on the steps in this process; none of my emails indicated that you could take the matter into your own hands.
I passed this on to the DPW Director and the police.
Lynette Lederman

[informed on numerous occasions that the road was closed? not. never heard that until now.]


paulheckbert
Moderator
#

And my reply

Subject: Re: Pocusset Drive Trail
Cc: Mike Gable, Pat Hassett, Jeffrey Koch, Corey O’Connor, Judy Trombetta, Curt Conrad, Wendy Urbanic, Jon Webb

Ms. Lederman:
I suggest you stop attempting to intimidate people like me who are voluntarily clearing debris from park trails.

While I’ve got your ear, here’s an idea for a new bike trail in Schenley Park that would GREATLY help cyclists wanting to get between Southside/downtown and Squirrel Hill. If the “Naylor Trail” (black dots) I’m proposing were created, it would help cyclists in our new bike lanes on Saline St down along Four Mile Run get up the hill safely to Pocusset Drive Trail and Hobart St and the center of Squirrel Hill. Much safer than Greenfield Ave. It would help pedestrians too. Can you make this happen?

-Paul
[phone no.]


StuInMcCandless
Participant
#

Recitation of Vogon poetry initiated.


jonawebb
Participant
#

Paul, I suspect at this time you’re not making things any better by discussing things with Lynette Lederman. It might be better to contact local homeowners if you want to pursue this. Perhaps signs along the trail would be helpful. Note that she says, “They do not support the idea that opening the path will do that.” I think so long as they think that, or she thinks they think that, nothing is going to change for the better.
In the meantime I also suspect that quiet maintenance of the trail will continue to be appreciated by all trail users, including local homeowners and bicyclists.


reddan
Keymaster
#

As far as “informal” trail maintenance and related problems go, it might be worth talking to people who’ve dealt with similar trail-related issues for years…the local mountain biking community. I’m pretty sure they’ve gone through the process of fighting to get new trails formally established in city and county parks, and they may have some insight as to the most productive approaches.


buffalo buffalo
Participant
#

For anyone else who was wondering who all those extra names are:
* Mike Gable is Director of Public Works; Jeff Koch is DPW Division 3 Supervisor. Pat Hassett is Assistant Director of DPW’s Bureau of Transportation and Engineering.
* Corey O’Connor is Councilman for District 5; Judy Trombetta is O’Connor’s Chief of Staff. A search of the City’s website for Curt Conrad’s name does not return any results, but his LinkedIn says he’s Constituent Services Coordinator, responsible to “Facilitate positive constituent interactions on behalf of” O’Connor’s office.
* Wendy Urbanic is the City’s 311 Manager.


neilmd
Member
#

You may want to contact the parks superintendent, Tom Paulin, at tpaulin@pittsburghpa.gov

I did send a note to O’Connor’s office registering my displeasure with the aggressively negative response, as I live in the Councilor’s district.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
#

Do we need to assemble a set of people to go around the neighborhood, knocking on doors, and finding out what people’s real problems are (actual or perceived)? We might even get some people to help us keep an eye on things and make any real problems go away.

Maybe at the very least, do some informal bike counts at the corner of Pocusset (bike lane) and Pocusset (trail through the woods)?

Another thought: The 3-foot-wide space between the jersey barriers under the 40th St Bridge probably classifies similarly.


Ahlir
Participant
#

Some comments on the last batch of posts:

1) Paul was incautious in identifying himself as the sawyer. Even if nothing happens,he’s now on some list that he probably shouldn’t (or want) to be on. The proper statement might have been: “On a recent ride through that area I noticed that someone had taken the trouble to saw off some branches from the tree blocking the path. It would seem that many people found this to be an impediment to their enjoyment of Schenley Park and someone took action. The city should take note of this”; i.e., the masses rose up and took action by invoking propaganda-by-the-deed.

2) I really liked the riding the road the last time I did: a clean path, showing asphalt, makes things much more pleasant (you’re not continually on the lookout for a problem). Do those Velo-Orange people sell folding leaf rakes (you know, along with those folding pitchforks)?

3) It was sad to learn that the street closure was precipitated by something as awful as a murder (I hope they caught the killer). But maybe the right response would have been to put in street lights and maybe the occasional police drive-by? (I had always assumed that the closure had to do with protecting the gays from attacks by closing an obvious sneak-up/run-away route. Which I guess it sort of might have been.)

4) I can accept that drugs are (still) illegal in our society. But I didn’t realize that “sodomy” (broadly defined) was still illegal in Pennsylvania. Can that be right?

I can see the folks on Pocussett don’t want to see the road opened. All those gays who used it to get to/from the Parkway would now have to go up their street (since, obviously, none of those people actually live in Squirrel Hill).


Pierce
Participant
#

I bet there’s a handful of people complaining about drugs and gay sex, and they’re the same people who have the time/knowledge of when meetings are happening to complain about crap like that.

I bet the actual feeling of the neighborhood is either “who cares” or “yeah, having a properly maintained trail would be less seedy” Having a half trail is more seedy than a well maintained one. Paul, be careful though. Next thing you know, you’ll have to be lifting your bike over jersey barriers


paulheckbert
Moderator
#

Councilman Corey O’Connor called me and we talked for 10 minutes. He says: Pocusset Drive Trail was closed for safety reasons years ago and will remain so. There are some missing manhole covers there. We don’t want someone getting injured there. The area near Prospect Drive will be a staging area for construction of the Greenfield Bridge in the coming years.

He says he’s talked to people at BikePgh recently about these trails. He is interested in the idea of creating a new trail connecting Greenfield Rd down to Saline – maybe we could do a walk-through some time in the future. But he’s not sure there would be much money for this.

I mentioned that I’d never seen missing manhole covers, that park trails always present safety hazards. I repeated that encouraging traffic on this trail could help discourage crime on Prospect Drive (but also mentioned that I didn’t think sex in a car was a crime). I told him I’d explored the hillside below Greenfield Rd and would be happy to show him the route I like, for a future path.

Overall, it was a good conversation; much better than Lynette Lederman’s emails.

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