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

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dwillen
Participant
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I’d love them to stick the little barricades in the street and hang an 8.5×11 sheet of paper with 20 point font indicating cars should stay off “their” street.


J Z
Participant
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Only if the 20 point font was Comic Sans.


Steven
Participant
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I think the sign people are talking about is on the NE side of Water Street, visible when coming off the bridge, right? It’s something like “Trail” with an arrow pointing right, if I recall.

I think perhaps the sign was intended to say that the trail is about to turn right (as it does, on the opposite side of Water Street), not that the trail turns right exactly at the sign. It seems pretty clear that the city’s intention was for the new path they built on the SW side to be the trail, not the sidewalk on the NE side.

For a sign to grant permission for bikes to use a business district sidewalk, the sign has to be intended to mean that. I think this somewhat ambiguous sign wasn’t intended to refer to the sidewalk. (The alternative is that the city built a special trail-style path on one side of Water Street, then installed a sign saying to use the sidewalk on the opposite side instead.)

As to whether it’s a business district, as I read the PA code, it is.

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 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.

Measure off 600 feet from the middle of the Hofbrauhaus building, along Water Street, and you get almost to the middle of the AE building. So within that particular 600 feet (and various other 600 foot stretches), there are two commercial buildings. And the buildings (230 of frontage for AE, 150 for Hofbrauhaus) occupy the necessary 300 feet collectively. (The code doesn’t say the 300 feet of frontage must be within a 600 foot range, only that the buildings must be. I assume it means some part of the buildings must be, since if they meant 300 feet of frontage within 600 feet, they could have said that more directly.)

Admittedly the code isn’t 100% clear, so perhaps courts have interpreted it differently. But the way I read it, the area appears to be a business district.


salty
Participant
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I don’t see how anyone could look at this sign and think it refers to something 2 streets away.


salty
Participant
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… or the other side of the street or wherever it is, I can’t quite picture it at the moment. It doesn’t really matter because the reason people take the sidewalk is to avoid the conflict with cars turning right onto Water St. – so suggesting “just go across” doesn’t help.

In general, I don’t ride on sidewalks, I don’t advocate riding on sidewalks, I cringe when I see someone riding on a sidewalk. I think it’s more dangerous for both cyclists and pedestrians. This is one of the rare exceptions. Someone f-ed this up royally and I won’t accept that cyclists should be the ones who get the shaft as a result – especially not based on a technicality of whether it may or may not be a business district (which is a debate we already had a few pages ago).

How about just making Water St. a bike trail? It’s not like there’s not another street for cars to use 50 feet away.

There’s no doubt that AE did something illegal by blocking the sidewalk in the first place. Did they ever get fined for that?


netviln
Participant
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I think there are 4 main things that contribute to this problem.

1) the main path of the ss trail was destroyed with the construction and hasnt been repaired yet.

2) the temporary path in tunnel park is crap, not wide enough, not easy enough to access, and filled with rude drunks going to and from HBH.

3) the access ramp is poorly place, poorly designed and throws you into the middle of the intersection. Also lends itself to pedestrian blockage.

4) the signage coming off the trail is misleading.

I also ride in the street, but man a lot of stuff went wrong when AE built that building, and when that intersection was done in the first place.

Also, suggesting that water street be closed is pretty silly too. Emergency vehicles still need access to those building and those buildings still need the roadways for logistics.

Making water st one lane and one way might work tho.


wojty
Participant
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The absolute easiest thing that could be done here is just adjust the signal timing. Right now, it is very easy to have a cyclist come out into the road, on a green/crosswalk, and still get hooked from a right turn, or an opposing left.

Do the ped lead timing for the cross (2-3 seconds) similar to how oakland works, or have a ped-only section and no turn on red. Actually, no turn on red would be a great idea for all this anyhow (I don’t think it is signed that way as it is)

Anyhow, all of that would take a day with civil timing engineer who can code the box, a cop to manage things while they test, and a day or two of observation that all is well. Cheap!

I think netviln is addressing the crux of the whole thing, that a good trail was removed for ‘commercial interests’ and a VERY unsatisfactory temporary arrangement was made in stead. I won’t say the same thing doesn’t happen to cars every now and then, but this instance seems heavily biased.


ieverhart
Participant
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The code doesn’t say the 300 feet of frontage must be within a 600 foot range, only that the buildings must be. I assume it means some part of the buildings must be, since if they meant 300 feet of frontage within 600 feet, they could have said that more directly.

I reckon the distance between American Eagle and Hofbräuhaus at 390 feet. Here’s my Google Earth screen:

If the rule is 300 feet of frontage within 600 feet, it seems clear that this area does not qualify. Any 600 feet including both buildings is going to have at most 210 feet of frontage. And neither building by itself would exceed 300 feet.

If you read it as meaning the simple presence of buildings within a 600 foot stretch that elsewhere exceed 300 feet (but that need not exceed 300 feet on that segment in question), this area is a business district. If that had been the actual intent, I think it would have been easier to say something along the lines of “A business district extends 600 feet from any building (or set of buildings) which occupies 300 feet of frontage.” In this scenario, the business district extends 600 feet in every direction beyond the end of the last building, so long as the buildings extend 300 feet along the street.

Take the hypothetical where the AE building is 300 (or 301) feet wide. Would the business district extend 300 feet from the corner of the building… or 600 feet? I hold that it would extend no more than 300 feet, unless there were other qualifying business buildings nearby. And under that interpretation, given the actual buildings on the ground, I have to conclude that the area does not constitute a business district under 52 Pa. Code § 37.202.


Steven
Participant
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+1 on fixing the signals to make crossing safer.


reddan
Keymaster
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+1 on no turn on red. That alone will make things way, way better.


Lyle
Participant
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ian has it right – the pa code’s requirement that the buildings must occupy 300 feet of frontage clearly refers to the “within any 600 feet”.

So the AE building doesn’t quite qualify, until they develop that vacant lot, anyway.

The law is still fairly flawed, though. I mean, what’s more dangerous, riding a bike along a sidewalk next to a 1000′ warehouse, or riding a bike along a sidewalk in a residential neighborhood dotted with blind driveways, small children, and pedestrians?

I’d think a general rule about a maximum speed in the presence of pedestrians would make more sense, be that in an industrial or a residential setting.


Mick
Participant
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@ salty How about just making Water St. a bike trail? It’s not like there’s not another street for cars to use 50 feet away.

I’m thinking they could block Water Street to though traffic at both ends, then set the street up for parking and bike trails. That could probably get support from the businesses. The motor vehicle traffic would be relatively slow and light. The proper markings could reduce door zone issues.


Impala26
Participant
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At the very least I like the idea of making Water Street a one way street. I’m supposing it would be best to be one-way going TOWARDS Hot Metal. That right lane could be used as a second lane to accommodate turning right onto Tunnel Boulevard instead.

If that cannot be done, really the easiest (read: cheapest) thing to do is to make it a no turn on red. Beyond that, the curb cuts could be improved and the ped signals given that “pre” phase like those along Forbes and Fifth through Oakland.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
Participant
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Fact: the existing condition of HMB dumping onto the AE sidewalk is essentially a DETOUR (as in a temporary circumstance).

Fact: Water Street will be completely demolished within the next few months so the rail line beneath can accommodate double-stack train cars. The beams undergirding Water Street will be raised to make this happen, and the surface will be restored.

Fact: construction of the planned (as in intended) alignment of the trail (please see the illustration Scott posted above in this thread) is underway, and appears to be on a similar timetable to the Water Street project. The trail alignment appears to dump HMB onto the sidewalk (as it does now), but will add another switchback down toward the river where the trail will be rebuilt.

None of this is news, because none of this is new. This is part of the plan, and these kinds of plans simply take time to come to completion. All of these ideas about what should or could be done are a lot of wasted energy. There is a plan, and it is happening. It is causing certain inconveniences in the near term – and possibly some dangerous circumstances, but these are temporary conditions, and if we can all just exhibit a little patience, when the project is complete, hopefully it will solve some of these shortcomings we have identified.

(Whew. Please forgive the soap box.)


salty
Participant
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ALMKLM, if you want to direct “exhibit a little patience” at anyone, how about AE? None of this was an issue until they decided to close the sidewalk.

I think most people are aware of the plans you mentioned, but in the meantime most of the “inconvenience” is being borne by the cyclists.

Just because there is a “plan” doesn’t mean it’s not a shitty plan.


BradQ
Participant
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I’m typically against riding on the sidewalk, but am exhibiting the patience required to ride on this section of sidewalk until a safe access point to the trail is completed.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
Participant
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@salty: didn’t mean to poke it at anyone, but I was just noticing a lot of “we should do…” or “they should do…” and I was just trying to make the point that “they” have already decided what is being done, a plan is in place and in process, and that while it may be an inconvenience, it is not a terminal condition.

As to the quality of the plan, I’m not versed enough in what the alternatives were to say whether this plan is shitty or not. By the looks of it, it’s a tough spot – a small spot as well, that has to accommodate a lot of competing needs, and so likely represents some sort of compromise. Regardless, it is the plan we have.

But, I agree, cyclists bear the brunt, and AE isn’t behaving well, and it is an imperfect solution, but we’re all adults, right?


wojty
Participant
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The light timing and pre-walk conditions on the light should happen regardless. They would help peds, cyclists, even motorists if everyone obeyed them. So I see that as something that should be pushed for separately from any development “they” may have decided.

In the same tone, whatever “they” may have decided, that is not being communicated effectively, nor a time line actively managed. While all these things may be going on, the current signage does not in any way suggest this will change the mindset of AE or how one interacts with that area.


Lyle
Participant
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Not all cyclists crossing the HMB wish to continue on the trail. Personally, I’m most likely going to REI, and I’m most likely going to want to get on Water St to do it. Everyone who wants to get from the HMB to SSW or Carson St is still going to be in conflict with right-turning automobiles. So “the plan” still fails, even in the hypothetical future.


mark
Participant
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so there are still signs on the AE sidewalk that say to cross to tunnel park, which doesn’t exist right now… someone should take them down probably…

also the path behind the AE building is complete now so maybe AE should direct people that way.

i personally will continue to ride on the sidewalk and get off of it at the curb cut right after the AE building, because that’s the fastest, safest way to go in my opinion… but that’s just me.


Anonymous #

Just be careful. There are people coming out AE building without looking and there are car sneaking for delivery purposes at curb cut at the end of AE building.

Personally I go on the road every time and feel pretty safe.


rsprake
Participant
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I went down the south side trail for the first time in over a year last week and I was shocked at how bad the intersection is for cyclists. The button to cross is on Water St, not Hot Metal so you have to scoot over on your bike to press it. That intersection needs a bike specific light pronto.


Benzo
Participant
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I’d like to see a no right on red sign for drivers on hot metal street coming towards carson st. Both ways would actually be preferrable due to the high amount of pedestrians and cyclists crossing at the crosswalks there.


Pseudacris
Participant
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Apologies if this has already been suggested, but how about a “scramble” light for this intersection? I think that’s the term used for intersections such as the one at Forbes & Murray, where peds can activate a 4-way crossing light sequence. Combine that with a “no turn on red” sign that lights up during the 4-way ped crossing and move the buttons back far enough that cyclists can use them without dismounting.

An extra bonus would be to have a flashing bicycle icon along with the flashing pedestrian symbol.

Forbes@Shady has a “no turn on red” sign that is only on during the rush hour.

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