They discarded the idea of allowing bikes access to bus lanes.
Nope. All I heard was a baby was thrown at an antagonistic roller derby player back in the day.
Taking the notion from conceptual to reality – I’m not so sure allowing bikes on bus lanes would be a good idea.
It would be like the jail trail on the east busway – except with 30 ton busses. That chickie yammering on her cell phone who chucked it at somebody a couple of weeks ago would get creamed.
I imagine some guy with his three elementary-age kids weaving up the Fifth Avenue bus lane during rush hour with, say, 17 buses stuck behind them.
How many other major US cities have shared bus/bike lanes?
Google says: Tucson, AZ; Madison, WI; Toronto, Ontario; Vancouver, BC; and Philadelphia, PA.
It would be a win for cycles and a lose for PAT, so I figured it would never happen. Oh well…
And sloaps, it was a midget, not a baby, and the roller derby player was off duty.
Point of clarification: The Port Authority and the Department of Public Works both said that they had looked at the possibility of putting bikes on the East busway, and found that the roadway geometry was not generally suitable for shared use. The generalization was that the other busways (South and West) were designed to similar standards, and probably had similar design issues. The specific concerns noted were the high speeds of the buses, and the large size of the vehicles, which created draft issues, as well as the sight distances, etc., especially around stops. It was noted at the meeting that there was never a study done to determine the COST of making the safe shared use of the busways possible. That was sort of left dangling as a possible future action. Also, when asked about bus lanes, the response was that “the issues are similar.” No one actually said it was impossible, or “never.” They said “not now” and cited reasons for concern.
@sloaps – did you understand why the baby got thrown at the roller derby queen? I heard the story, but never really figured out the baby angle
I would not want to be riding on the East Busway and have buses rounding the corners there at 40+ mph and passing me within inches. Those lanes aren’t that wide.
@ rgyoga – Perhaps the report you heard was something like this: http://wduqnews.blogspot.com/2010/08/council-gets-bikeped-update.html
I recall some previous discussion of a bike lane addition alongside the busway when it was originally constructed in the 1980s, but that element of the project was scrapped, probably for budget reasons. There was also a movement to allow the busway as a bike boulevard/lane during a possible Port Authority driver strike a year or so ago (“bike the strike”), but the labor dispute was resolved before anything happened on it.
Regarding shared bike/bus lanes on surface streets, I had a brief experience with them on a Vélib’ in Paris last year. It worked out just fine. Buses loading and unloading passengers will generally go at the same pace as a bike, and I did wind up waiting behind a bus a few times, but it wasn’t a problem.
The other evening the driver of my bus on the WBW got up to 64 mph on the digital, I was standing in the aisle up front. It was fun, like surfing, but I’m a bit of a freak. I don’t think I’d want to be on a bike on that busway.
Classic Pittsburgh maneuver. “Not now.” It’s their answer to everything, resulting in the leat effort or spending possible. Relieve congestion in SqHl tunnels? not now. Repair potholes on major arteries? not now. Actually invest for real in the schools? not now. Build a stadium everybody said to put off? NOW. Oh, wait a minute…
So what if instead of spending time and effort convincing elected officials and The Public At Large that we need/want bike infrastructure, we focused on getting the Steelers, Pens, and Bucks to agree. Could we convince them to work “Bike Pittsburgh” into their little “yeah, we gave it our best shot, we were focused, team effort, blah blah blah” interview responses, they could do PSAs for radios (maybe interviews). “Yeah, my training plateaued and I was frustrated, until I started biking on the trails and commuting using Bike Pgh’s maps. Then my endurance really came into focus” or whatever makes sense for their sport.
Because the only thing people seem to love more than their cars are these sports people. Then we could put referendums on the ballot, the “I hate bikes” contingent can vote it down, and the mayor can ignore it anyway. Win-win.
Wow I’m cranky when I drive to work.
ejw, I think ‘celebrity’ endorsement is actually a tremendous idea.
You hit upon a pretty accurate chord with the sports thing…so why not use them to our advantage? One thing EVERYone pays attention to here are sports, and we’ve all heard/seen reports of many of the ‘stars’ here riding bikes.
I have no idea what local advertising costs in this city, but I can only imagine how effective a short campaign with tomlin cruising down one of the many trails would be for a short stint (esp fall football season…)
I think enough of us have had bad run-ins with PAT that I can’t imagine why we would want to share facilities with them until we repair that relationship first…
@wojty I agree. Having been run off the road by a bus in a normal lane of traffic, I’m not too keen on being perceived as being in their lane – even if we were legally allowed to use bike lanes.
I would argue against sharing the busways. I would argue for paths alongside the busways.
We asked for and got a bike path along the East Busway extension, which opened in 2003. Except for Edgewood, which didn’t want to play nice. I’ve ridden it from one end to the other, including figuring out how to wiggle through Edgewood to get to where it picks up again.
There was supposed to be a bike trail alongside the West Busway, except for the Berry Street Tunnel, but the idea was axed during the planning stages. People on the west side of town didn’t then, and mainly do not still, know what a bicycle is.
The South Busway was constructed in the 1970s. It was one of the first busways built anywhere, so they certainly were not thinking shared anything. The original East Busway, similarly, was built around 1980 without a thought to shared anything. Just get the buses off of 51 and the Parkway East.
I would argue for opening the Parkway North HOV Lane to bicycles during the off hours. Eight minutes from the Perry Park & Ride to the 9th St Bridge without traffic? Sure! (I’ve done it.)
They discarded the idea based only on current conditions. There have been ZERO feasibility studies on what it would actually take (money, street width, additional infra.) to make busways, and bus lanes safe enough to share with bicycles. No one knows from the City or Port Authority what it would cost to do this, because it has not been studied in depth. The East Busway was supposed to have had a feasibility study over the past two years, but the City never ended up pursuing it.
San Francisco has shared lanes and DC did, but apparently just removed them.
+1 Stu: “I would argue against sharing the busways. I would argue for paths alongside the busways.”
Brilliant: the rights of way are established, they are likely already popular transit corridors. Now, to Scott’s point, how do we push for those feasibility studies for paths (and by path, I don’t mean trail, I mean a separated, paved surface for bikes) alongside existing busways.
(I still think sharing bus lanes is a recipe for chaos.)
There’s a bike path along the East Busway Extension south of Edgewood? The closest thing I’ve seen in the vicinity of Roslyn Station is a sidewalk that runs along Waverly Street for a few blocks just west of the station. Where is the path between Roslyn Station and Swissvale Station?
I assume the northern part is the path from East Hutchinson Avenue north, past Hamnett Station and up to South Avenue, a few blocks from Wilkinsburg Station. I think that’s about 2000 feet total. But where’s the rest?
Stu – ouch: “People on the west side of town didn’t then, and mainly do not still, know what a bicycle is.”
I’ve talked with my neighbors extensively about bikes. Interestingly, about half of them have bikes that they take out to the Montour trail, to North Park, to Robinson-ish. Many want to commute but ::everyone:: I have talked to is afraid of the West End Circle.
If there were a bike path that eliminated the need for WEC, I think there would be a lot more cycling activity from the western burbs…especially once the planned Port Authority cuts go through.
Where does the east busway extension go? Is this something I could pick up in, say, Swissvale?
pinky – Yeah, hate to say it, but it’s true. Even today, I can drive from the Thornburg Bridge to the West End Bridge and not see more than five bicycles. In 1995, when the West Busway decisions were being made, there was near-zero demand for a bike trail, so it was the first thing zapped.
West End Circle – I have not tried it myself, but it is certainly a whole lot less nasty looking since construction wrapped up in August. Anyone who made up their mind about the WEC prior to that needs to try the paved path, the crossing signals, and carrying a bike down the staircase. Granted, riding down that ramp to inbound West Carson still looks scary as hell; it has not changed. (At this writing, Sep 1 2010, Street View still shows lots of construction work.)
JZ – I think we need a How To Use It ride along the East Busway. Start at that lot at the Swissvale/Rankin end of the busway. You have to ride Waverly Street to Roslyn, where the path picks up, looking more like a sidewalk. Watch for pedestrians, i.e., people headed to/from an EBA/P1. It continues with a few wiggles until the Edgewood Boro line, where it ends abruptly. It picks up again just as abruptly at the corner of Hutchinson and Railroad St, at the Edgewood/Wbg line, and continues right down to Hay Street Wilkinsburg (view looks back towards Swissvale).
A ha. I was hoping I could hop on in Swissvale and then head *east* from there. Or south. Or southeast.
I just came back from madison which has sared bus ways, but they are not like ours. It’s like carson street with no yellow lines, busses that stop on every block, less cars in general because most people there bike or ride a scooter, and if everyone was high and moving in slow motion. EVERYTHING in madison was very chill, everything here is “get out of my way, I’m late!!!!!!!”
I don’t think shared busways would work here. Maybe shared bus LANES and bike lanes on the busway.
we’ve all heard/seen reports of many of the ‘stars’ here riding bikes.
One more data point for that: Paul McCartney (via http://www.facebook.com/goldentrianglebikerental/posts/101051359954603 and http://twitter.com/gtbikerentals/status/21671770396 )
It continues with a few wiggles until the Edgewood Boro line, where it ends abruptly.
And that’s another data point as to why having 130 municipalities in Allegheny County is so crazy!
People on the west side of town didn’t then, and mainly do not still, know what a bicycle is.
I don’t get over to southern or western neighborhoods (beyond the East Carson Street) all that often, but whenever I try to bike over there, I am reminded why so many cyclists seem to live in the East End. They don’t call them the “South Hills” for nothing.
The east busway is like a highway in my opinion, or at least the part of it I commute on. It might not be an appealing ride for the average bikelane-seeking (= non-highway-seeking) person unless there is real physical separation i.e. a fence or something for psychological security. On the maybe positive side, like the jail trail it has some good urban graffiti scenery and gets you where you need to go… I would still take a bus since unlike some other stretches of my commute (mixed mode for the win) it is the faster option but I can imagine use-cases for others.
East Busway is especially narrow in the area near Shadyside Hospital. If two buses and a bike were to meet in there, either or both buses would have to brake very hard very quickly. Unsafe for bike rider, unpleasant for bus riders.
There are a couple other spots which are either narrow or have very limited sight lines; outbound just before Negley Station comes to mind.
On the West Busway, there is a particularly narrow spot between Sheraden and WCarson, near the Comcast building.
The entire South Busway is wedged into a narrow valley. I’m trying to think of any spot along the pavement that has much expansion space. There is, however, space for a walking or bike trail from Glenbury at least to Whited.
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