Realistic ideas for Murray avenue

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jonawebb
Participant
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Yes. We shouldn’t forget that poor infrastructure creates barriers for cycling. So the parts of the city where lots of people bike might be that way because they have good, or at least less sucky, infrastructure. Improving the infrastructure in areas of the city where lots of people bike is just making things better for people who are already relatively well off. It makes more sense, in terms of increasing biking, to improve things in the worst off areas. And the West End Circle is maybe the best example of this; lots of people live on the other side, which isn’t that far from Downtown, but there’s this big barrier in their way.


byogman
Member
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I agree with all these statements. And I’m really big on trying to do things that are trying to knock down the high pole in the tent, city-wide, not just in my particular neck of the woods. The only thing I’ll disagree with is the implicit assumption that it’s a the limited pool of resources that’s the barrier to getting things done most of the time.

I think it’s finding agreements among stake/rights holders and then being able to make a suitable pitch to the city, to apply to grants, to solicit deep pocketed organizations, foundations, etc… , that’s more often the problem. And a suitable window of opportunity. It sounds like we probably have all of that for the trail to Squirrel Hill.

As for the intersection and the climb up Murray, I have no idea whether we’re anywhere remotely near that. But it was obviously my hope in starting this thread and my hope now that the new bike/ped committee will be able to work us up to. And, well, I’m a parent, I started this because I want a bikeable squirrel hill for my kids, and the climb up Murray struck me something close to the gordion knot. Nothing remotely as efficient as slashing it down the middle.

The fact that there ~may~ be a way to the base of Murray that’s much better connected to the other low stress cycling infrastructure just amplifies the importance.


durishange
Participant
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Friday night I rode up Murray. I started the ride from town, climbed Greenfield then headed to Murray. Riding from Beechwood to Forward was a bit unnerving. I think the next time I’ll continue on Beechwood and turn left on Monitor. From there take Shady to Forward (or just stay on Shady). I didn’t have any issues climbing Murray. Kudos to the driver who wound down his window to shoot the breeze with me. He volunteered to act as a shield as I made the turn from Forward to Murray. There are good people out there :-)


jonawebb
Participant
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If you’re going to go that way just go one street to the east and follow Saline to Monitor. Don’t bother with Beechwood at all. Much less traffic.


Xuth
Member
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fwiw, Saline doesn’t connect to Monitor on the side durishange is talking about (assuming I understand his route correctly) and in the area where Saline intersects with Monitor, it is one way.


durishange
Participant
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I go up Greenfield Ave then turn left on any side street in Greenfield to get on Alger. I take Alger back to Beechwood then turn left on Monitor. Never really had any problems cutting across traffic to Monitor. ~ Gerry


MaryShaw
Member
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Back to the connection between Pocusset and the proposed trail connecting Saline St in the Run to Forward Ave. Recall that the latter is proposed to go around the back side (near the hill, not the parkway ramp) of the PennDOT maintenance yard.

We rode by again last week and took some pictures. In addition, I extracted the relevant section of the USGS topo, overlaid the satellite view, and located the maintenance yard on the topo. The east end of the yard is about 940′, and Pocussett St as mapped dips to about 960′. See topo map below.

So there appears to be only 20′, maybe 30′ of elevation change to deal with. At a 5% grade (same as Schenley Drive in the golf course) 20′ of elevation change would be only 400 feet of ramp. Just eyeballing the topo, it looks like more distance than that is available along the back of the maintenance yard — so switchbacks would not be required, just a single run, of less than 5%.

Conveniently, the dip in Pocusset is at the point where the hillside seems to be least steep. See photo below.

If the hillside is stable enough to hold this short ramp and if the trail connecting Saline St to Forward Av is constructed, this would be simpler than the proposals to build a long trail on the west side of Greenfield Av.

In addition, this alternative is worth looking at if it turns out to be hard to push the trail all the way to Forward Av


MaryShaw
Member
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Here’s a zoomed-in view of just the part of the topo of interest. The scale got cut off this in the process of zooming in, though. The blue blob is the PennDOT maintenance yard, based on the Google satellite view.


byogman
Member
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It looks like there’s about 60 feet of elevation lost between the high point on Pocusset (just west of Wightman) that this would go through and the 5-way intersection that has dominated the conversation and which the longer trail would take people to directly.

I’d characterize about 1/3 of that distance and 2/3 of that vertical to be lane-requiring to become inviting enough for newcomers (west of Wightman I don’t think you have to do anything since traffic volumes are so low).

I don’t know what the process is for doing things that require removal of parking in residential (Pocusset/Wightman) vs. business (Murray) areas. It seems to me that that is an even more major factor in considering what becomes most cyclists’ primary entrance/exit than what the trail would have to look like/cost as having the trail without low stress add on connectivity would put a very low cap on its value.

I strongly bias to connecting to the base and Murray overall because I think topography matters so much, the network effects (serving both in-neighborhood, into/out of and through trips) are also larger here, and because unlike with residents, you can at least make quantitative arguments about parking demand elasticity and/or supply thematic carrots (possibly wider sidewalks, additional crosswalks, signaling, healthyride stations) to reduce business opposition. In theory at least. Pricing uphill parking higher now, before shovels move dirt, seems like a very rational way to test demand elasticity even more.


byogman
Member
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Just sent this message off to the solution provider to the Pittsburgh Parking Authority. Will report back if I get anything.


I saw here that you’ve implemented the parking kiosks for the city of Pittsbugh. http://www.duncansolutions.com/pdfs/stories_Pittsburgh.pdf

I’m just a private citizen who moonlights on the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition’s bike/ped committee.

But it has occurred to me that getting information on parking utilization in certain zones, and possibly trying experiments with the pricing, to get a gauge of price elasticity and/or to what extent pricing might drive the utilization to other nearby zones, would provide valuable information to us about what sorts of re-configurations might be plausible that might create more space in key spots for other uses.

Chiefly, we’re looking at creating space for uphill direction bike lanes and/or bus stops.

Another possibility to the bike lane, assuming traffic speeds and parking utilization run strongly opposed might be different hour windows on parking availability, or even possibly a system that introduces a first parker per zone disincentive, so that there’s a cleaner whole block/zone on, whole block/zone off pattern, to reducing the need/incentive for bicycles to weave in and out of the main flow of traffic.

I’d also like to learn a little about the pricing model, to gauge what conversion of private lots to public ones metered by your kiosks would mean to in terms of revenue, as in general I expect metered lots to be more efficient, but there also be resistance from the businesses we’d be soliciting for use of their lots. The more realistically we can gauge the size of the available carrot, the better.


jonawebb
Participant
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@mary, I think it depends from where you measure.
The 900′ line makes a bend to the south right at the west end of the maintenance yard. Then there is a climb up to about 940′ along the northern edge of the yard, up to under where the letters “PO” appear on the map.
I think it’s about 600′ from the bend on the 900′ line to where the letters PO appear on the map — too short for a 40′ rise.
Then I figure it’s about 400′ from there to the lowest point on Pocusset St, heading back west. That’s OK, as you say, assuming the rise is 20′, as it appears to be on the map. Basically you’re making a switchback from the trail at the edge of the maintenance yard to get up to the street.
But then you’ve got about 260′ to climb up to the point where the 1000′ line crosses Pocusset — 260′ for 40′ of rise. Way too short.
I don’t know if you’d technically be allowed to not count the part on Pocusset, since that’s pre-existing, but it definitely would be a barrier for anybody with a disability. But I think that not counting the part of the trail along the northern edge of the maintenance yard would be a problem. (Of course, the trail to Forward and Murray would have to work around this too, maybe by cutting into the edge of the maintenance yard.)


Ahlir
Participant
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Thank you all for the detailed analyses.

The majority of Sq Hill bikers can easily get to Pocusset. And it does not have to be re-engineered with lanes and such: It’s a dead-end street, with only sparse local traffic (from Wightman out). Causing people to bypass lower Murray and Forward seems like a good idea in any case. We’re not cars.

I would still like to see a plan that incorporates the [new] Greenfield Br. It’s a practical concern: Greenfield residents should be able to easily access the proposed bike way. This might include anyone living in the area W of Murray, SW of Greenfield and to the NW of the ridge-top (more or less). Basically most of the district.

A switchback above the maintenance yard would likely satisfy everyone’s constraints.

You’re otherwise asking Greenfielders to funnel through the Forward/ Murray/ Pocusset five-way. That’s not nice. They’re not cars either.

I’m not a civil engineer but I don’t see that the cost difference would be in the orders of magnitude. Can we cause this to be figured by some pros? Help me here; I could make phone calls to somebody. (And so could you!)


jonawebb
Participant
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Benzo
Participant
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I was pleasantly surprised by the trail nod in the article.


MaryShaw
Member
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PUBLIC MEETING ALERT: March 30, 6:30pm

The Sq Hill bike/ped group is advocating for bike/ped improvements, including a trail connection, to be included in the project.

There’s a message from Sq Hill Ruban Coalition at http://shuc.org/2016/02/23/murray-and-forward-theres-a-lot-going-on/

Note in particular: “The URA and the Coalition are convening a public meeting to discuss the Conditions Report and the next steps in our continuing efforts to attract redevelopment and investment in the Murray-Forward Area. It will take place at 6:30pm, Wednesday March 30, 2016, at the Multi-purpose Room at Children’s Institute in Squirrel Hill (1405 Shady Avenue). We hope to see you all there”

The bike/ped group is trying to get a spot on the agenda. Come and lend your support


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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Seems odd they’d have to go so far away for the meeting. Too bad there isn’t, y’know, a movie theatre or something right on the property….


Steven
Participant
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The movie theater owner might not be interested in unlocking the dormant building and heating it for the span of a meeting.


jonawebb
Participant
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Last night there was a meeting at the JCC on the Buncher property development (at Forward and Beechwood, near the Parkway). Oh, my, I was struck by the defensiveness of the Buncher company representative. He certainly didn’t want to hear about a trail or sidewalk on “his property.” Somebody should tell him that you catch more flies with sugar than vinegar. And also that the property might be worth more if it had a bike amenity connecting it to Squirrel Hill, Greenfield, and Downtown.

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