Northside bike-ped panel discussion Thu 12/4

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paulheckbert
Participant
#

A message from Jerry Green:

The Northside Leadership Conference Bike-Ped Committee is hosting a panel of organization leaders who have the responsibility for planning, building, operating and maintaining trails and other bike-ped infrastructure in Pittsburgh. The meeting theme is the Northside riverfront trail as the backbone of the Northside bikeway system, its connections to the street grid and bridges and improvements/expansion. I think the discussions will apply in other parts of the city as well.

6:00 pm to 8:00 pm Thursday, December 04, 2014
Carnegie Science Center Auditorium

Speakers:

Former Pgh Mayor Tom Murphy on the origins of riverfront trails in Pgh and his vision for them
Susan Zimecki and Kim Amey of the Carnegie Science Center on CSC Riverfront modifications
Tom Baxter, Exec Dir of Friends of the Riverfront on Trail Expansion Plans
Scott Bricker, Exec Dir of Bike PGH on coordinating multiple agencies to produce bike infrastructure
Kristin Saunders, Bike-Ped Coordinator, Planning Department City of Pittsburgh on connections to on-street trails and bridges
Addy Smith-Reiman, Riverlife Project Manager, on riverfront trail improvement plans
Councilwoman Darlene Harris*
Councilman Daniel Lavelle*
* or member of staff

We would appreciate if anyone planning to attend would RSVP with Abe Stucky, but it’s optional.


srpit
Member
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This sounds interesting. I’ll try to attend. Thanks for posting it, Paul.


Ahlir
Participant
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I won’t be there, but here’s a view:

Bikes and peds are not a good mix in the narrower, more crowded, stretches. It works for leisurely family outings and such but it’s not right for general biking. And the sight lines suck… too many blind corners.

The city should consider a through bike lane from around the casino, then N Side Dr -> Mazeroski -> Gen Robinson -> River, to the N Shore trail. A nice ride from the pen to 40th, and beyond.


bear250220
Participant
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protected bike lanes leading away from the riverfront trail. Maybee a bike lane from the pen to riverview park


Ahlir
Participant
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ah!

A lane up Woods Run from the pen to Riverview is a brilliant idea. Once we conquer that salient we can mount assaults on Perrysville, in both directions. Victory will be ours!


Benzo
Participant
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I hope someone reports back about the plans discussed. I’ll be at the lawrenceville bike-ped committee meeting which is at the same time.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Darn, why both at the same time? I use two paths to get to work each day. One through the North Side, one through L’ville.

If I get to either, it will likely be the NS one.


Marko82
Participant
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This was a nice meeting I’m glad I attended. It wasn’t so much of a working meeting as much as it was a meet and greet. Several people spoke of the history of the trail and what some of the past dreams were/are for connecting the trail to the residential sections of the North Side. It was especially nice to hear from former mayor Murphy on what used to be along the river, and how it has changed.

There were presentations on what new trail changes are underway near the Science Center, the Mon wharf and also along the sculpture park just upstream of the 6th street Bridge. (And one secret N.S. project that isn’t ready to be announced yet – hey if you want to know you need to attend the meetings!)

So there really isn’t much info to report from the meeting, but sometimes a pep-talk like this is needed to add energy to what sometimes seems like an insurmountable challenge.


Swalfoort
Participant
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I agree with Marko’s assessment above. But, there were a few specifics of potential interest:

– Community is working with PennDOT on possible bike lanes on East Ohio Street; also looking at Pedestrian/Bicycle safety at a few key intersections; looking at options to connect East Allegheny neighborhood to the Sarah Heinz House/Chestnut street; would LIKE to see dedicated bike lanes on Chestnut Street
– Efforts of advocates and supporters critical to success of new projects/implementation. “Not enough money” usually means “not enough political will.” Let local elected officials know what is important to you, and why.
– Establishment of “finger” routes off of NS trail system seen as desirable/likely. These include Woods Run/Lecky to Riverview Park (and perhaps then down Venture Street to East Street), among others
– Remnants of old Pennsylvania Canal should be reinstalled/reconstructed in vicinity of Spring Garden/I-279 intersection, the original site of the canal locks.
– New trail design and Carnegie Science Center will permit more direct access from trail to their Café, which serves food and drinks. New design will include interactive exhibits/sculptures that looked pretty cool
– Riverlife Task Force is coordinating an effort to conserve/preserve the Allegheny Landing Park art and features. The rather troublesome mosaic at the riverfront will be preserved, but will be moved to a location a bit further from the riverfront/trail. Work will be conducted as time/money and coordinated effort permit (not everything can be done at once due to unique site circumstances)
– City will focus on protected bike lanes and their enhancement in the coming year
– Sixth Street bike lane (buffered) will be coming soon
– Look for Bike Share in the Spring
– Bike Pittsburgh suggested that folks consider how they use the trails, and how they would like to use the trails, taking examples from cities around the world. Sort of a “think/evaluate global, act local approach.”
– Ciclovia will be repeated next year, using the same roadways as this year (Sixth Street Bridge to Market Square). if I heard correctly, three events are planned.
– Friends of the Riverfront has a defined “plan design” for extension of the trail from Millvale north to Schenley, PA. They are a land trust, and are acquiring property along that route as it becomes available. Access through, along or across the railroads continues to be a challenge, but there seem to be signs of progress in cooperating and coordinating with at least one major railroad player in the region.
– Doug Shields represented Councilperson Darlene Harris. He wanted everyone to know that she full supports trails, trail use and trail development. She has concerns about the safety when bikes, pedestrians and cars mix. So, she has a strong preference for “bike only” facilities. As development of new bike facilities advances, she urges consideration of competing interests, such as parking, in the design of such facilities.

Overall, a good, upbeat meeting. I don’t have a firm number, but I would not be surprised if there were 100 people in attendance.

Anyone have an update from the Millvale meeting?

Oh, and at least one Millvale Committee member was in attendance at the NS meeting last night.


bicycle heaven
Participant
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I thought is was a good meeting ,I never have time to get away from the Museum but was more than worth the trip and will go to more of them. Many agree that the North shore trail needs work and Tom Murphy thinks that the Chateau area will be the next place to rebuild for Restaurants and store fronts and other Business’s and I agree with that.I get people from all around the World to visit and we are easy to be found on the internet but to find us once you get to the North side it sucks.Everyone knows about the signs and the people who come from out of town appreciate them but I need help from the city to let us put up some professional signs . Bicycle Heaven in just two years is rated the third best place to visit when you come to Pittsburgh.Look up things to do in Pittsburgh on the webb.So my point is I think its worth the City to invest or River front people to help us out and I don’t mind paying for them.If you like bikes and want people to visit Pittsburgh i think its worth putting up signs to find us .I have so many people who live on the North side who cant find us lol,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,any help please call me or any suggestions ,,,thanks


fultonco
Member
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Craig, I ride through the Chateau Industrial area frequently, as a diversion from the trail. After normal business hours, there is essentially no traffic. Why not a signed and sharrowed loop through there to points of interest? Your place, MCG, UPS, Bidwell Training Center, and Aerotech, which will be moving there next year, to name a few.


bicycle heaven
Participant
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Sounds like a good idea,its good news about Aerotech is a class act and great for the bikers


Vannevar
Participant
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Is that Aerotech from Coraopolis?

One thing Mayor Murphy said was, consider the West End Bridge as an important gateway for Chateau and also West End Village to the city trail network.

He said, instead of having pedestrian sidewalks on both edges, why not use one side for a protected bike lane, and build switchback ramps all the way down to river level?


Vannevar
Participant
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I thought there was a generational aspect to the panel. Anchoring OldSchool was Mayor Murphy, and the NextGen was Addy, Kristen, Tom. Sitting in the middle (time-spectrum-wise) was Scott from BikePgh – an absolute sign of BikePgh’s establishment as a successful and established player.

Scott B talked about collaboration vs confrontation. Great line: It’s a city of bridges, and you can’t afford to burn any.


edmonds59
Participant
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“One thing Mayor Murphy said was, consider the West End Bridge as an important gateway for Chateau and also West End Village to the city trail network.”
Is that seriously supposed to be a viable alternative to providing a simple western connector along the 1500 feet of West Carson Street from Station Square to the West End? Holy shit am I glad I wasn’t there to hear that, my head would have exploded. Whatever idiot traffic engineer decided that W.Carson should be some kind of 4 lane highway connector to the western suburbs should be burned alive. If they’re dead they should be dug up and pissed on and then burned again. The abomination that is the Buncher building, 1600 West Carson needs to be seized by eminent domain, ripped down, pissed on, and a park and an actual trail connector to the west built. Seriously.


bicycle heaven
Participant
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Yes Aerotech of Coraoplis is moving beside / close to Bicycle Heaven and what a great shop to have next door.I know she was looking around for place in the same park as me but could not find enough footage but did land a nice building beside us,,,now I was told that happened last night but its here say for now.. Tom Murphy is right about the West End and he should know look what he has done for Pittsburgh with Biking and planning ,,think about what Chatoau can look like 5 years down the road,,,lots of land and big buildings cheap rent.I will do my best to get it done


fultonco
Member
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The West Carson debacle was briefly brought up and everybody just looked at each other with that knowing acknowledgement of the clusterfuck we have been left with, courtesy of PennDot. The group has other plans for making that connection to the airport, on both sides of the river. As Craig says above, Mayor Murphy’s message was that we have to look at what can be, not what currently exists. With that in mind, Chateau is looking a lot like South Side Works to me !


paulheckbert
Participant
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Former Mayor Tom Murphy was the most inspirational, with his summary of the ambitious vision he started forming in the 1970’s. Back then, Herr’s Island reeked because of past animal rendering and had a reputation for “rats the size of cats”. There was a marine salvage company called “Zubik’s Navy” squatting on the Northside riverbank. The riverbanks were industrial zones that most people avoided. It was hard to get people to imagine that they could become parks (related article). He co-founded Friends of the Riverfront to get things moving. He would jog along the paths by the river, sometimes joined by governor Tom Ridge, sharing his ideas about future trails.

When he became mayor, one of Murphy’s strategies was to put in trails in order to “put a stake in the ground”, and reclaim land for the city. He met resistance: Alcoa didn’t want a trail between their headquarters and the river, because they feared crime, PNC didn’t want to cede space for the Eliza Furnace Trail, and the Steelers and UPMC wanted to build their practice field and Sports Medicine building right up to the Mon, but Murphy insisted that the riverbanks belonged to the city, he got his way, and the trails were built.

Murphy remarked that today “the trails need another injection of energy”. He advocates for the West End Bridge bike/ped ramps to be redone, and for a nice trail from the Alcosan end of the Chateau Trail up to Riverview Park. I was impressed at the ambition of his ideas – and so many good ideas!


I found a picture of Zubik’s Navy


I made a map of the route Murphy described


fultonco
Member
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Forgot to mention that Joe McLaughlin was there representing the Millville Group. He is also a steward for the North Shore Trail, I believe. Joe had several good comments during the meeting. He is holding off on publishing the notes from the last Millville meeting until he receives some news regarding a grant.


paulheckbert
Participant
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Other tidbits from Thursday’s meeting:

Addy Smith-Reiman from Riverlife said that the ramp from the Smithfield Bridge down to the Mon Wharf that they’ve designed, and the path from Mon Wharf to Point State Park that DCNR is designing could start construction as early as Spring 2015. Riverlife simplified and narrowed the ramp to 10 feet to make it fit the limited space they have. DCNR’s design for the path at the other end of the Wharf is no longer cantilevered, but is simplified; will involve digging into existing concrete along the riverbank. The work for both is expected to take a year or two.

Tom Baxter of Friends of the Riverfront said that Norfolk-Southern railroad is showing new willingness to discuss FOR’s overall trail plan, rather than negotiate on a narrow, site-by-site basis.

Vince Troia of Ohio River Trail Council spoke up from the audience and said that they have secured money to build trail along the Ohio from the Coraopolis end of the Montour Trail to the Sewickley Bridge. Might start building that in 2015.

There will be three Open Streets events in 2015: http://openstreetspgh.com/


jdgPGH
Member
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I’ve just finished transcribing the attendance sheets and we had 59 people sign in. I want to thank this community for getting out the word on the meeting and for showing up.

You are correct that the meeting was set up as more of a meet and greet than a problem solving session, unless you agree that a big part of the problem is a) knowing who is doing what on the bike-ped infrastructure and b) getting more people fired up to be involved in the movement.

Regarding Aerotech Designs, I understand that they have closed on 2 of the three old Post-Gazette buildings, right on the trail.

…jerry green


Vannevar
Participant
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If I could ask for a clarification – a few times in the meeting, Tom Murphy referred to “three overpasses” and I really didn’t know what he was talking about. Anybody know what the reference was? TIA!


jdgPGH
Member
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I heard that too, and wasn’t clear on what he was talking about, but I can guess. There are multiple dark and foreboding railroad underpasses on the Northside but three in particular gather the most complaints; Federal St., Sandusky St. and Anderson St.

The walking public on the Northside has been complaining about those three for ages, and improvements have been made on lighting, public art and protection from falling concrete and dripping water. Maybe Mayor Murphy had something to do with the improvements.

J


srpit
Member
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I was also assuming those underpasses were the ones being referred to.

I know there is a rehab project in the works right now for the Federal St underpass. That’s why the artwork (The Underpass Gallery -arranged by the Children’s Museum’s Charm Bracelet Project) wasn’t done last year. The artwork has been removed until the work is finished. I have no idea what, exactly, they’re doing though.


edmonds59
Participant
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The picture of Zubiks navy is very enlightening. What it says to me is that the 1600 West Carson building is the last remaining detritus of the industrial era that faces the open space of the point, and hopefully it can be treated as such. As far as I’m concerned it’s not a Golden Triangle until that turd goes away.
Also Paul Heckbert what does the mapped route represent? It looks like it includes part of the route that Pedal Pittsburgh used last time. That climb from the North side up to Riverview was murderous. I don’t think too many casual bicycle riders are going to be interested in that unless we want to put in one of those Norwegian bike elevators.


Benzo
Participant
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Who would have guessed. 1600 west carson is owned by the Buncher Company.

As for the riverview climb. That looks different from the pedal pittsburgh route. This looks like it takes kilbuck rd in to the park and connects via a short stint on trails (old killbuck rd and killbuck trail, which are actually still mostly paved with asphault as this was a continuous street at one time which connects to near the top of riverview ave.

Now, it’s not the easiest climb, but all things considered, there really isn’t a super easy way to climb up to the top of the hill and this route is rather direct (as opposed to winding all the way up riverview drive) and the climbs are relatively short.

The trail on the hillside could be quite a development effort. However, setting the route to the top of riverview is a great first step. East st is still an option to connect on the other side of the central northside until a better connnector could be developed.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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My understanding of the East Street Valley piece is that most of the grading for a trail along the western side of I-279 from Venture Street on down already exists. Virtually unused Howard Street forms a big piece of it.


paulheckbert
Participant
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@edmonds59: @benzo is correct: the route I mapped is not the same as the more popular route on Woods Run Ave and Riverview Ave. The route that Murphy proposed up to Riverview is shorter and the Old Kilbuck Rd portion, in the park, is steeper. I wonder if most cyclists would like the steep part.


Vannevar
Participant
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@jdgpgh, @srpit: yes, I’m sure you’re right. My mind had glommed on to the Route65 elevated structures north of the McKeesRocks bridge and the California Street bridge, and I couldn’t think of anything else. But I’m sure you’ve identified it. thanks!


byogman
Member
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Just an aside, but couldn’t help but notice a very DDish quality to Rising Main Avenue/Tobaggan Street… Rising Main Avenue. A whole lot of vertical in a short, straight run, I’m guessing questionable condition at best roadway / steps, high value climb, it’s hard not to wonder about squeezing in this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trampe_bicycle_lift


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Rising Main Ave is 370-ish steps. I’ve carried a bike up it several times. The un-stepped street beyond that is very nearly as steep, and even that isn’t the top of the hill, where a significant residential district exists.

The DD hill that’s close by is Suffolk-Hazelton-Burgess.


Swalfoort
Participant
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Yes, I’ve been around long enough to confirm that the three underpasses are the Federal, Sandusky and Anderson Street routes under the elevated road/railroad just north of General Robinson Street.

There was an early Transportation Enhancements (or similar) grant to do some work. The early plans were for enhanced lighting, painting, maybe some murals. But, issues were encountered, and costs went up. The City no longer had sufficient funds to do all three underpasses. I think in the end, a modest improvement was made to one of the three, or maybe even two of the three. But, the reality is that these are monumental and OLD structures that will need A LOT of money to be made to feel more open, and more welcoming.

The early plan was not a mistake, but the start of a journey of discovery.

As for Woods Run to Riverview, I’ve done the part trail connection (yuck) and the connection via Oakdale/Mairdale – also yuck. But, it is still a really important connection. And once connected, I’d like to see SOME sort of connection re-established at the Davis Avenue Bridge location.


Marko82
Participant
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Ruth Ann Daily wrote about the meeting today in the PG. She’s the lady that spoke up near the end of the meeting.

http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/ruth-ann-dailey/2014/12/08/We-re-rolling-on-the-riverfronts-at-last/stories/201412080032


paulheckbert
Participant
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I was pleasantly surprised by that Ruth Ann Dailey column. I added this comment:

The riverfront trails have been a positive development for tourism, for commuting, and for recreation. We need to keep going with trail development in several directions: trails along the north bank of the Mon through Hazelwood to Braddock; trails up both banks of the Allegheny to Oakmont and Blawnox and beyond; trails down the Ohio to McKees Rocks and on to Ohio state; a permanent bike lane to the South Hills through the Wabash Tunnel; and good, safe, broad bike/ped sidewalks on the Highland Park Bridge, the Rankin Hot Metal Bridge, and many others. Our trails are making other cities envious.


Benzo
Participant
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One thing about the trail connection in Riverview, is that there are a few easier ways to do the climb up. You don’t have to go straight up old kilbuck rd. You could climb on the old zoo trail to old kilbuck, which might be a bit easier than the more direct uphill.


wassat
Participant
#

Hey guys, gotta question for ya. I went to this, however many moons ago, and Vince Troia has not stopped emailing me. It’s the only place I can think where he stole it from. I’ve asked him numerous times to stop, but he won’t. Obviously, I could block him, but it occurred to me that others may be having the same struggle. Why is this person so useless?


Steven
Participant
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So you emailed him numerous times? Did you get a response? If not, how do you know he even got your emails? Emails regularly get incorrectly spam-filtered, after all. And how do you know your address was “stolen”? Organizations have been known to share their email lists with like-minded organizations.

But it seems like it would be a lot less effort to block his address than to send him a bunch of emails.

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