Realistic ideas for Murray avenue

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Vannevar
Participant
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Squirrel Hill sharrows. Inspired by Millvale and Roberto Clemente Bridge. Concept by @TheIguana


Xuth
Member
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I don’t know if this would discourage the adding a penis to the cyclist graffiti on the cyclist logos on bike lanes that I’ve seen around town or not.


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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wait, what? where?

I don’t think i’ve seen that at all, but maybe i’ve just missed it.


RustyRed
Member
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“penis to the cyclist graffiti”
“but maybe i’ve just missed it.”

They can’t be that hard to miss.
Maybe we need to look harder.


Xuth
Member
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Maybe I’m imagining that there are more of them but there are at least two of them on the newly painted cyclist logos on the climbing lane on Forbes.


gimpPAC
Participant
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It’s been a while since I’ve posted a picture on here so hope this works… :P

You’re welcome.

EDIT: BAH GOOGLE DRIVE….
EDIT 2: AAHHHH YEAAAAAHHHH.


edmonds59
Participant
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Holy cow you have high expectations. lol.


Marko82
Participant
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“They can’t be that hard to miss.”

I haven’t seen any either… but it’s been cold out lately.


gimpPAC
Participant
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Holy cow you have high expectations. lol.

Nah, I just have a love for the ridiculously impossible. A squirrel with a dong the size of the rest of its body is pretty fantastic.

….plus I’m trying to make sure there’s no way anybody will miss it. :P

EDIT: Also, whatever makes Rusty happy! :D


reddan
Keymaster
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A squirrel with a dong the size of the rest of its body is pretty fantastic.

Nah, it’s just plain nuts.


Vannevar
Participant
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In another space @TheIguana suggested the beaver should have a yarmulke, but I think that’s too much like a merkin.


byogman
Member
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From Vannevar on FB and Buffalo^2 on twitter, reverse angle parking exists in Pittsburgh along River Avenue. Germane to the discussion of replacing parallel parking on both sides with single sided (probably downhill) to get rid of door zones.


jonawebb
Participant
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The Squirrel Hill Bike-Ped Meeting last night was interesting. I hope somebody posts notes. The best part, for me, was the idea to run a bike trail down the old route of Saline St, from Saline in Panther Hollow along the Parkway East to the ramp at Murray and Forward. This would pass under the Greenfield Bridge and mostly be on park land.
I like this idea because it eliminates the climb up Greenfield when going from the Eliza Furnace trail to Squirrel Hill. You still have to make your way up Murray, but hopefully we can do something to make that area more bike friendly. And it’s not as steep, or as long.
Also it opens a new bike route into Squirrel Hill.


Xuth
Member
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You would still need to climb the 250 feet between the bottom of greenfield and the intersection of forward and murray. And anything proposed won’t make things _much_ less steep. The best anyone’s talking about is a 5% grade and that’s optimistic. It would move most of the climb off of greenfield ave and onto a dedicated bike/ped path though. Furthermore, if the second choice were to be made, it’s up another 100 feet to pocusset and wightman.


byogman
Member
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The trail will be a nice asset. Whether it’s a game changer, and a lot of the future of biking in squirrel hill generally depends doing something about the terrible 5-way intersection and making climbing routes up the hill (Murray being the most important).


jonawebb
Participant
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Sorry, for some reason I can’t post the scan of the trail route.

It is here: https://flic.kr/p/B7PwRc

This is just an idea right now; please don’t get the impression that the city is going to do anything without consulting people.


A
Member
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Why is their no bike share in squirrel Hill by the giant eagles


chrishent
Member
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@a PGH bike share will expand in 2016 and, based on how often people ask for it, I’ll be very surprised if Squirrel Hill isn’t included in their plans.


FunkyDung
Member
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I think a trail from Saline St is a really cool idea. I wonder if it would be possible to branch off that trail to connect with the bike+ped portion of Pocusset St.


jonawebb
Participant
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No, it would have to go up a steep hill. You’d have to connect to Pocussett through the intersection at Murray.


MaryShaw
Member
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We were on Pocussett St this afternoon, and when I looked over the edge toward the highway maintenance yard, I was surprised at how close it seemed (or how far down the hill we actually were, if you prefer).

I just checked the topo maps, and it looks like the maintenance yard is around 900′-920′ elevation and the trail is below 960′. ADA grade requires a foot of run per inch of rise. Call it 50′ of rise, you’d need a minimum of 600′ of run, preferably more. Schenley Drive through the golf course is 5%, a little shallower. That’s 20 ft of run per foot of rise, or more like 1000′.

My reaction as we went by was that if the connection to Forward didn’t work out, it might be possible to make the connection here.

PS: Did you know that USGS topo maps are online free at http://store.usgs.gov/b2c_usgs/usgs/maplocator/


jonawebb
Participant
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Mary, that’s really interesting. In a way that’s a better route anyway since it puts less pressure on the horrible intersection at Murray and Forward. I think we should try to get bikes away from there as much as possible.
And there are no houses etc on that hill. It could be easier to run a trail up there than continuing up to the intersection.
I drew the potential connection in red. The distance is about right according to Mary’s estimate of the terrain:
trail

I really like this idea. In addition to avoiding the nasty intersection, it cuts the overall trail length in half, while still achieving its purpose. It puts the trail into a nice wooded area that’s currently inaccessible, instead of along the Parkway. And, with Pocussett Drive Trail, it creates a create mostly traffic free connection to Squirrel Hill points north.


Ahlir
Participant
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I like the proposed routing up to Pocusset.

But maybe a switchback to make it hit the street closer to the (new) bridge would be better: riders coming from Greenfield could more conveniently connect to the Saline Trail. Riders bound for Squirrel Hill shouldn’t mind (and the existing roadbed remains in use). Maybe it will ease out the grade as well.

Mary’s link doesn’t quite work for me, but if you go to http://store.usgs.gov/b2c_usgs/b2c/start/(xcm=r3standardpitrex_prd)/.do
and click through ‘Map Locator & Downloader’ you’ll get there.


dfiler
Member
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I’ve spent hundreds of hours digging trails on this steep of hillsides and am probably nearing a thousand hours of bench cutting single track at this point. With that experience, here are my thoughts on putting a trail in that area.

Looking at the grade of the hillside below pocusset, benching a trail there would be problematic. And multiple passes, as needed for a switchback, would be nearly impossible. The bench cuts would need to be 8 feet deep just for a trail a couple feet wide. Connecting it from below pocusset would be equally problematic. There’s no way to do that without benching into the already existing pavement.

One solution I’ve been looking at is climbing that elevation on the west side of the greenfield bridge. There the hillside is wider and less steep. A switchback or two would be possible. The downside would be needing to cross greenfield road at the northern end of the bridge to connect with pocusset. But really I think that is the only viable solution. Or at least the only solution short of spending 6 or 7 figures on a concrete pylon bridge that would allow an trail to climb and connect to pocusset from below.


byogman
Member
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Given the terrain going up to Poccuset Street (thinking from the end of Saline, but it’s steep no matter how you slice it), I did float the trampe cyclocable idea to Richard Feder in email. Of course then you’re not talking about a bidirectional link, at least if you go most directly and take advantage of what the lift would be good at. While it’s neat, I’d hesitate to call it the best way.

What I’d think of as the best way for getting to squirrel hill on or east of Murray is the proposed trail directly to the base of Murray PROVIDED that the 5-way intersection and way up Murray can actually be made inviting. These are hard, hard issues, I hope the bike/ped group doesn’t flinch from them and finds a way.

To serve folks west of Murray better, especially those that aren’t further north and already near Schenley Drive ~something~ has to be done about Panther Hollow (Overlook is pretty but too indirect to be valuable except for recreation). One advantage of this angle is that there is actually low hanging fruit, stuff that clearly would benefit pedestrians a great deal.

Just some stupid ADA curb cuts and other improvements to the sidewalk crossing on the northern end of the interchange would be significant, and some downhill sharrows and serious speed control on Panther Hollow Rd. would be something (speed cameras and mailed tickets would be nice) downhill. It wouldn’t be first rate or anything, but as a practical matter it would be pretty ok.

This would of course have a lot more value as improvements come to Bates Street and BRT, and I’d think you could do something with blvd through that stretch since you’ve got 5 frickin’ lanes, but maybe Zulema to Ward if there’s too much balking at that.

It’s pretty poor that they blocked off greenfield road so high that there’s no access to the demotorized section of Poccuset, but in any case, probably there’d be as much or more traffic that would want to use the Beacon Street bike lanes similar actual inviting crossing made across Bartlett onto the path through the field (which should be paved), and then a pedestrian activated signal to cross beacon and get on the right side of things and connect to the existing infrastructure. Again, returning to the pedestrian angle, these would also be a heavy benefit to pedestrians/joggers/dog walkers going into Schenley Park.

We shouldn’t stop there, the Beacon street bike lanes should continue at least to Murray (the three lane arrangement from Wightman to Murray is poorly utilized, totally dysfunctional and very dangerous for the kids at Hillel). It would be better still if you could at least have an uphill lane going to Shady, as then you’re basically at the high point of squirrel hill, which is quite useful if you figure that the worst stress in cycling is the combination of traffic pressure and a hill to battle.

You could of course justifiably keep going on Beacon, I think the justification would be a bit weaker, but there’s more open room and less traffic on the road west of Shady so it should be easier. If you do one thing that probably ought to be done for more value/connectivity if you do is create a counterflow bike lane on Darlington between Beacon and Beechwood, which is currently one way. Even though there’d be a good bit of climbing, being about to get across the neighborhood without tangling with cars so much (major bonus if some key intersections get a Copenhagen treatment) would be pretty sweet.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Can we please not write off possibilities at this point because of money? Do the right thing with connecting Saline to Pocusset. This should not be a project only within the confines of a bunch of volunteers with shovels.

If it costs a million or two or ten, let’s spend it. This will be THE connection from the east-of-Oakland part of the city into downtown. I think one switchback off the closed end of Pocusset, pointing east, will give us enough length to run the trail up from Saline within ADA requirements. That first run might need to be a couple hundred yards long, but so be it.

Let’s also not forget that the mess at the corner at the bottom of the hill barely handles the bike traffic it has now. That needs some serious money spent, too.

If it takes ten friggin’ million to do both ends right, then spend it. Twenty. I don’t care. Decades from now, we will look at it as money well spent. Or a missed opportunity.

In my own studies, I know that New York State managed to put a barge canal along the edge of a sheer rock cliff in the 1840s using mule power, capable of running a railroad into the 1950s. I think we can figure out what amounts to a wide sidewalk on a hillside.

Photos: https://www.google.com/search?q=pennsylvania+railroad+rochester+branch&biw=1554&bih=913&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwj6usyp4OXJAhUJHB4KHWS8CqMQ_AUICCgD#tbm=isch&q=genesee+valley+canal&imgrc=kYFc3VOhQ-fcGM%3A


jonawebb
Participant
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Yeah, and let’s not forget that spending the entire budget and more for bike infrastructure on a bike connection for Squirrel Hill will benefit relatively wealthy white people. So it makes a lot of sense to do that, instead of spreading small amounts of bike-related improvements all over the city, where less affluent people probably won’t know what to do with them.


FunkyDung
Member
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I took a look at the historical maps, and a couple ideas came to me.

1. Extend Alexis St so it connects to the car wash lot (or Haworth St).
2. Rebuild Juno St along most of its old path, but instead of connecting it to Swinburne St, connect to to Boundary St. Along the way, it could be reconnected to its old side streets in Oakland (Semple St and Collision Pl) .


byogman
Member
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Economy = price/usefulness

Many aspects of my sub-optimal but fairly easily implementable western approach are the epitome of that, especially since there are a lot more pedestrians than cyclists and it’s a decently heavy corridor for both. It drives me kind of bonkers that these (and yes, while we’re at it, the absence of a handicapped curb cut on bates crossing the parkway ramp), keep getting passed over.

That said, as a practical matter, having agreements and a funding source in place is a requirement no matter what. Where was it that Rich Feder said there was money for the trail from? I don’t recall, but it seemed as presented that it was, at least in principle, something that had a strong chance of being blessed once it was a formal recommendation of the SHUC bike/ped committee. It seemed, this is basically ready to go and is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed… if development blocked this routing I have little doubt we’d be mourning it later. There’s the promise of major gain provided there’s willingness to do the necessary follow/on work at the intersection and up Murray.


jonawebb
Participant
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I’m on board with the trail Feder was presenting, assuming an outside funding source is found. Just not with spending tens of millions to build a switchback (if that’s what it would cost).
Connecting Squirrel Hill to Downtown via a trail system would be awesome for biking and would probably stimulate more trail development throughout the city. But we should do it in a way that creates space for other parts of the city to grow infrastructure — we shouldn’t grab all the funding for ourselves.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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…relatively wealthy white people…

This benefits Hazelwood and Greenfield as much as Squirrel Hill, if you take into account the lower end of Saline, too. I had not thought of those areas as either particularly white or wealthy.

Nor should it. In the long view, this is about getting people out of cars, giving everyone an alternative to dragging a car with them everywhere they go. I look around Squirrel Hill and see two- and three-car households. Why? Even with a multiple-six-figure household income, why is it necessary to equip every adult with a car which moves each day? I think they would use the alternative if it existed.

I don’t know how to get people to pony up a million bucks for a project. What I do see is the cost of not building it — continued total dependence on cars, except for the couple thousand of us who’ve figured out this cycling thing. There will always be resistance to spending money, so I am not giving that much credence.


jonawebb
Participant
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I just want to say that I wish there was a way to build infrastructure so bikes didn’t have to ride Murray Avenue all the time. I say that as someone who rides it every day. In addition to it being the north-south corridor for shopping in Squirrel Hill (with parking implied), it’s also the primary path to the Parkway East, as well as the detour route whenever the Squirrel Hill tunnels are closed. It would be really good if there was a way to remove bicycles from that mix.
I don’t think there is a way to do this. Every time I try to work it out I can’t figure out how to get bikes to all the shopping areas, restaurants, and the theater. I just wish there was a way to, say, move north-south bike traffic to Wightman, so that bikes don’t have to fight for space with semi truck drivers and motorists eager to finally get on an interstate highway.
The best plan I know if is to somehow reduce the amount of parking on Murray, so that there’s enough space for a climbing lane (and, ideally, a protected bike lane all the way up to Forbes. If you really want to make biking in Squirrel Hill safe you need a protected bike lane where there is truck, bus, and impatient auto traffic fighting for space).


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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i think the answer is not to remove the bikes from Murray, but the trucks and impatient motorists just trying to get to the freeway. Let the retail street be for neighborhood retail traffic, and make the people who just want a bypass find one.

now, what’s going to be the truck route..? ….i have no idea.


jonawebb
Participant
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Maybe up Forward to Shady? But that puts it in front of Dice, which would be worse in some ways.
At least, if the traffic to the Parkway was on Shady, it could avoid the Murray-Forward intersection completely, by continuing on Shady to Monitor and then right.
In fact, this could be the path for traffic going the other way. Just don’t make the left onto Forward. Left onto Monitor instead.
There have been some improvements in that area lately. Maybe the city is thinking something like that.


byogman
Member
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“I just want to say that I wish there was a way to build infrastructure so bikes didn’t have to ride Murray Avenue all the time.”

“I don’t think there is a way to do this. Every time I try to work it out I can’t figure out how to get bikes to all the shopping areas, restaurants, and the theater.”

Quite right. Wightman doesn’t really take you where you want to go, except in a few cases, and even in those, Murray is very nearly as direct, and the climbing gradient is more even. Pocusset/Wightman has even more parked cars on the routing up the hill. At least Murray has lots off to the side to supplement the street parking.

I don’t think there’s any way that there won’t be a lot of competition on Murray. There will always be a good bit of bus traffic… and actually, that and bikes both SHOULD go through business districts and uses can dovetail, so I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, it just takes planning. Lower speed enforced with speed tables where there’s no light but a crosswalk is needed (Douglas and Nicholson come to mind) will also help, though having a lane would be what’d really make the difference.

I certainly support the idea of using Monitor to Shady as being a bit further from the action and thus the preferred alternate for as much of the other motor vehicle traffic as possible. This is said as a parent of a three children who will ultimately go to Taylor Alderdice. There’s a side entrance on Forward. Maybe it needs an upgrade. Maybe the crossing guard at Forward and Shady needs an AR15. It’s the best we’ve got to work with.


byogman
Member
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The last comment was a bit tongue in cheek, for those that don’t know me. But if you talk to the crossing guard there right now, you get an earful. A couple weeks back, when still riding through there pretty consistently in the mornings, we’d talk from time to time, and it’s an unusually stressful place and exasperating place to be a crossing guard. Redirecting most motor vehicle traffic to Monitor, while it might not reduce the traffic through that intersection so much, it would at least establish a clearer prevailing direction for the insanity and that might be useful.


Benzo
Participant
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A couple things I thought of reading this thread that would be cool connections. I’m sure none of this is original thought, and I’m probably just regurgitating something someone else has come up with but…

Juno street kind of connects to the underside of the blvd of the allies bridge with sketchy wood stairs. It would be cool if they could cut some switch backs in under the bridge and make a traversable path to connect juno and sidewalk adjacent to blvd of the allies (or edgehill st).

Connecting to hazelwood via old sylvan ave. Just make a crushed limestone or paved path through this old right of way. Maintenance hell though due to knotweed.

I trust dfiler’s opinion on the trail connecting to poccuset st. A connection to the murray / foward intersection would be cool though if that could be done, and while it’s a bit of a roundabout way, it could still be a useful connection if you could get the right of way through there. If a trail connection could be made on the west side of the greenfield bridge, then that could be somewhat complimentary if both would happen to get built.


FunkyDung
Member
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Benzo,

The old maps (http://peoplemaps.esri.com/pittsburgh/) show Juno St intersecting with Collision Pl. Seems to me that could happen again.

As for Sylvan Ave, I’ve been told by Corey O’Connor that there are plans and funds to make the abandoned part a proper bike/ped trail.

It occurs to me now that most of the vacant lots around the Gladstone St steps are owned by the city (http://www.lotstolove.org/). Seems to me that the city could cut a switchback trail up that hill, connecting the driveable sections of Gladstone St. Or, heck, they could recreate the portion of Bristol St that used to extend down to Home Rule St.


Ahlir
Participant
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1. @dfiler is correct in that engineering a Four Mile Run / Pocusset connection might be complicated. A path could be cut into the hillside but maybe a cantelevered ramp would work better in the space. (Yes it costs money, but it’s *our* money.)

2. I think Murray works fine as is, certainly in the business area. This is because the speeds are very low: cars and bikes can work together. I don’t think it needs anything more than some sharrows that legitimate bike presence. Maybe some white lines along the sides to herd the cars to the center ti make room for bikes.


chrishent
Member
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I like the Sylvan Ave idea. It allows you to bypass that sucky Irvine St section, though I suppose so does the Hazelwood trail once it reopens. Uphill bike lanes in Greenfield Ave and Murray would be great. The former is particularly feasible between the Alexis St steps and Lydia St. Plenty of space there

*Somewhat OT rant* Since some of the ideas being discussed here involve possibly spending a bunch of money for bike infrastructure (i.e. not just bike lanes. Concrete, ramps, etc), to me the priority should be the West End Circle. It’s the gateway to a major area of the city, as pretty much all roads from the southwest lead you here. And it just absolutely sucks for cycling. A novice would be rightly terrified to ride through here, with faster traffic and probably more trucks than you’ll find through Squirrel Hill. By comparison, there are a plethora of options for going to and from SH. I’m not saying they are all ideal, but they are much better than the WEC. Granted, the WEC is PennDOT territory, so I’m not sure how much the City can do here, but if we are talking about spending millions of dollars on bike infrastructure, this where I think the focus should be *now back to your regularly scheduled topic*

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