What's up with the south end of Hot Metal?

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J Z
Participant
#

Thanks for posting this, I was wondering about it, myself. It started with 2 metal barriers, the homemade signs I saw today.


dmtroyer
Participant
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I feel totally left out, rarely using the hot metal bridge… and, when I do, admittedly, I use the sidewalk. I guess I won’t be going on my weekly American Eagle shopping spree anymore.


Impala26
Participant
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Solution: (at least temporarily) Close S. Water Street between Hot Metal and the Hoffbrauhaus to cars. There is too much redundancy in that area with Tunnel Blvd. being a parallel.

What did AE expect when they plopped down a building in the middle of a bike trail and bridge and not accommodate for it?


edmonds59
Participant
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Move one of the metal barricades right over the inductor wire for the lights for Water street, that should fun things up!


nick
Participant
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is there room for a bump out at that intersection? i always get real worried and slow down when i jump onto water street there about cars turning and crashing into me.

maybe they could transform the sidewalk there into a bike lane instead, that might be easier cause we’d already be in the street.


dwillen
Participant
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There has to be some law against blocking a sidewalk with metal barricades and claiming bikes aren’t allowed. How silly. Seems it would be equally illegal to move said barricades to block their driveway, rather than the sidewalk, since the cars entering end exiting there are the source of the danger (rather than the bikes).


salty
Participant
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So, what is the plan for dealing with this?

Do we even know who put up the barriers? Was it AE, Soffer, the city, or someone else? If it wasn’t the city, is it even legal?

Is there any viable solution to deal with the underlying problem? Closing Water St. to cars would likely do the trick but doesn’t sound very realistic. Making it one-way east (and Tunnel one-way west) would probably help but I guess that won’t fly either. No right on red from Hot Metal might help some but I don’t think it really solves the problem. Restoring trail access seems impossible due to the buildings and doesn’t help if you’re not trying to get to/from the trail in the first place. I can’t come up with anything very satisfying…

I generally don’t ride on any sidewalks but I definitely do it there, it unfortunately seems like the safest alternative.


sloaps
Participant
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Contact AEO Realty Company LLC. They’re the owners of the building, but not the sidewalk. And tell them to pay their taxes .

Report them to the mayor’s office, 311 or Building Inspection for obstructing the public right-of-way.

The sidewalks and pavement of South Water street is city owned…

For future use: If any road, sidewalk, step or other public path is blocked and there is no building permit within eyeshot and/or no detour signage or alternate form of egress, then the obstruction is unsafe and potentially illegal. 311 for city roads, or 1-800-FIX-ROAD for PennDOT roads.


Steven
Participant
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Why not put the trail on the median strip between Water Street and Tunnel Street? In other words, take the existing trail where it ends at 27th Street and extend it in a straight line, along the south side of Water Street, all the way to Hot Metal Street.

Then change the traffic signaling at Hot Metal and Water to include a protected crossing interval, where turning onto Water Street from Hot Metal or vice versa would be prohibited when the Walk light comes on to cross Water (if it doesn’t work that way already).


edmonds59
Participant
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!

+1 Steven. That’ a good idea.

And require AE to pay for the dang improvements, instead of putting up freaking barricades.


rsprake
Participant
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Bah. They should just close Water St completely to through traffic. I guess I can see a use case for the disabled to need to drive up to Hofbrauhaus, but there is really no other reason to have that street open to cars that I can think of. I bet in the summer it gets more bikes and runners than cars.


rsprake
Participant
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With the amphitheater going in they could easily install more bike racks on the street. I don’t understand why South Side Works hasn’t embraced bikes more. There are so many people on bikes just waiting to spend their money.

It makes no sense.


edmonds59
Participant
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Pff. Not only have they not embraced bikes, I have had guards on that “street” in front of the theater be openly hostile. I don’t know if that has changed since they started hosting Pedal Pittsburgh, but with this barricade thing, doesn’t sound like it.


edmonds59
Participant
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And by “guards” I mean overweight, undereducated crackers whose goal is to do as little as possible.


joeframbach
Participant
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Oh come on, don’t you think that’s a bit rude? Surely it’s a glandular disorder; they can’t help it.


Swalfoort
Participant
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Actually, EROK, there is a solution to this. That whole area will be redeveloped in the next two years as part of the CSX J&L Tunnel/National Gateway Project. They will rip up Water Street, raise the walls of the tunnel underneath, and then replace the surface, and all the existing landscaping. The total change in elevation will be just a couple of inches — hardly noticeable to anyone by cyclists and wheelchairs…! But, CSX is working with the Soffers, and with the URA NOW. Work should be underway this Summer. Contact the URA and let them know that this is a problem in search of a solution, and that the perfect opportunity to address this problem is around the corner. To all who are getting ready to ask, yes, the trail will remain open the entire time; trail access will be maintained, and in some cases even enhanced. There may be brief interruptions in one trail access point at a time, as construction progresses, but such interupptions will be short.


myddrin
Participant
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Has anyone followed up on @sloaps suggestion?

Don’t know about Pittsburgh, but I know I did get a warning about blocking sidewalk access when I was living in central PA (Du Bois)since they are considered communal property.

This is on my new commute, and to me coming off the bridge it looks like I’m supposed to follow the sidewalk, which is what I’ve been doing.

(That whole trail confuses me as to when I’m supposed to be on the sidewalk and when I’m supposed to be on the road. Heading down that way, there is a parking lot which dumps out on a street with a wide sidewalk. I always take the street, but I’ve seen plenty of bikes on the sidewalk….)

If the city determines that we shouldn’t be there, that’s fine but there needs to be better signage. Having a barrier across the sidewalk in a place where the curb is an inch or two high is rather disruptive. When last I encountered this barrier, I had options of 1) turning around and going back, 2) jumping a 1-2 inch curb (guestimate) or 3) riding in their landscaping around the barrier. Neither 1 nor 2 seemed safe. (Well, ok 1 is safe if there are no pedestrians around… but if there are a bike suddenly turning seems like a ped-crash waiting to happen). Not saying which option I chose, just saying that nothing seems really safe.

If there *HAS* to be a barrier, seems like it should be up closer to the corner, rather than a 100 ft down the road.


reddan
Keymaster
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I hit 311 online a few minutes ago; my coworker called it in this morning. We’ll see what comes of it.

More complaints would probably not go amiss…http://www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us/mayor/html/311_request_form.html


netviln
Participant
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I agree with sloaps too.. we all need to put in 311 tickets about it.. Or of course, we could just move the barriers, leave a nice note on them saying they were blocking a public sidewalk and right of way.


Marko82
Participant
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I 311’ed this yesterday. After being on hold for 18 minutes (one person in queue!) I sent it in via web.


myddrin
Participant
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I just submitted via web as well, along with a bit of a rant.


joeframbach
Participant
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I sent my 311 submission, stating that I believe the barricades are illegally placed, and S. Water St. should be closed to vehicle traffic since it’s already heavily used by pedestrians.


Impala26
Participant
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On a somewhat unrelated note, but still dealing sidewalk blocking, how many people use the sidewalk along Fifth Ave to get from the Birmingham Bridge to Oakland? If you’re like me I’m sure you’ve noticed that the car dealership thing there and the daycare place consistently block that sidewalk with parked cars and a mini-bus. Thankfully you can ride on the bus lane for a short distance without having to get off because of natural curb cuts, but I still don’t think you can be blocking a sidewalk like that, lack of space or no.

I personally hate the 5th Ave sidewalk stretch because like half of it was redone and is very nice but it was like city didn’t understand the concept of finishing the sidewalk between the Birmingham and Craft Ave. There are several large holes and even two big gaps, one of which was “solved” by covering it with a wooden board and the other just has a traffic cone in it.


netviln
Participant
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to get to oakland, I typically drop down to forbes from the birmingham bridge, but yeah that sidewalk is a pita.


myddrin
Participant
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Here is what I got back from 311:

We have already notified a street inspector to contact the building owners to remove the barrier, as it is obstructing the sidewalk. However, it is a city ordinance that in business districts (including this location), bicyclists are to ride in the street only. However, most police officers will not enforce that law as long as you are not causing a nuisance to pedestrians, as they are aware of some of the dangers.

Regardless of the cycling law, though, this business owner cannot obstruct the sidewalk without a permit for any reason, and that issue is being addressed.

Thank you for contacting our 311 Response Center!

And my reply to their reply:

Thank you for your reply. Are there any plans to redesign that intersection? Coming off the HMB pedestrian bridge, cycles HAVE to be on the sidewalk, and as a said trying to be legal and enter the traffic on S. Water St is potentially dangerous.


joeframbach
Participant
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To get to Oakland from Birmingham:

I take forbes, take the full lane at the end of the cattle chute, then signal like crazy when merging to the right.


sloaps
Participant
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+1 I take forbes, take the full lane at the end of the cattle chute

But I try to stay to the left because there’s usually less traffic coming off of the boulevard ramp and the right lane is backed up pretty far often from folks turning right.


dwillen
Participant
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Does the city have a map of “business districts” or some other way of determining if you are in a “business district”? I know parts of downtown are, and parts of Oakland. Seems this particular sidewalk is not adjacent to any retail buildings.


Impala26
Participant
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@joe & netviln: I know that is another way to go, but being uphill in high-way speed traffic is quite intimidating on my usually loaded down mountain bike. The Fifth Ave sidewalk route is much more pleasant and slower (and gives great views to the South Side), but the sidewalk blocking and condition there is perhaps even MORE egregious than the Water Street situation.

On that note too, biking through Soho/Uptown is a test indeed. I took Mick’s advice and coming back to Oakland went along Forbes to turn left on Jumonville then followed (safely) the bus lane to Birmingham (which is mostly downhill). Also, there are NO signals whatsoever if you’re on the Fifth Ave sidewalk on the bridge side, making that intersection coming that way on a bike quite harrowing.

LOL, the one time I used Forbes I think it scared me to much to think to use it again…


joeframbach
Participant
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Their response:

Regarding the sidewalk obsturction, we have notified a street inspector to contact the buidling owners and remove the barricades, because they cannot obstruct the city sidewalk without proper permits.

Bicycling is prohibited from sidewalks in business districts. However, regardless of the reason for obstructing the sidewalk, it is illegal to do so, and this is being addressed with the building owner.

I can place a request for your idea of the changes to those streets to be considered. The Service Request ID number associated with this request is 174218.

Thank you for contacting our 311 Response Center.

My reply:

The Hot Metal pedestrian path lets out onto the sidewalk; there is no boundary visible between the bike path and sidewalk, so enforcement of the law here will be difficult. Thank you for considering the service request.


joeframbach
Participant
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This 311 operator is fantastic!

Officers do use discretion in ticketing for this, and it is very uncommon for them to do, actually. If they see that there is no where else to go, they are not going to write a ticket.

Thank you!


Lyle
Participant
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“ยง 102. Definitions.

Business district — The territory contiguous to and including a highway when within any 600 feet along the highway there are buildings in use for business or industrial purposes, including but not limited to hotels, banks, or office buildings, railroad stations and public buildings which occupy at least 300 feet of frontage on one side or 300 feet collectively on both sides of the highway.”

It doesn’t have to be retail. I’m not certain if this area qualifies — I’d have to measure it. Unfortunately, this does include warehouses, and maybe parking garages, so there are a LOT of business districts in places you wouldn’t imagine.

I would like to point out the cynicism of building “bicycle facilities” that are inherently illegal to use on a bicycle, or whose construction explicitly anticipates their illegal use. Not only the HMB — there is no way to legally reach the downtown end of the Eliza Furnace Trail on a bicycle. Or if there is, I haven’t been able to find it.


edmonds59
Participant
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Joe, find out who this operator is and send doughnuts. I hear they are a useful negotiating/reward tool.


erok
Keymaster
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sarah- i realize there is a plan for the future, but the bike traffic here is incredibly high, and there was obviously very little thought put into the trail detour in the interim. it’s obvious considering AE’s reaction


sloaps
Participant
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I think the operator may have been Mr. Patchan…

8-)


Swalfoort
Participant
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Mentioned this to Pat Hassett this morning. His suggestion is to get Mr. Patchan in the loop ASAP. I’ll send him an email NOW.


joeframbach
Participant
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Sara,

I’m sure Mr. Patchan would like a few citable 311 tickets to refer to. Mine was ticket #5964. If other people here would kindly post the ticket #s, you could show with a bit more credibility that this is an issue.


myddrin
Participant
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Mine was #5963. I asked about if they would address the issue in the future, and the response said that it had been already been forwarded to the planning committee. Is there a way for us to communicate with said committee?


reddan
Keymaster
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My ticket was 5957.


Impala26
Participant
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Also, nearby with me suggesting improvements to the Bates Street corridor via an online 311 form, the ultimate response I got was this:

“There is no official access to the Eliza Furnace Trail from Bates Street.”

Can anyone verify this? I’m pretty sure there is existing signage that would contradict this statement. Regardless at least the response said they reported this to Mr. Patchan.

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