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Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Brilliant Stanwix Dog-Leg

Sun Nov.27 2016, 13m
Nov. mtd:361 ytd:2780
Today was unseasonably mild, about 50F and calm, so I rode myself over to the haircut place and took a standard route home. Great day for a short ride.

Today's Post Gazette (caveat: dense Yinzer comments) carries Adam Smeltz' report of the proposed Pittsburgh on-street segregated bike-lane which is absolutely a brilliant layout, but it may not seem elegant until you recalibrate the scope of evaluation.

The ostensible goal is to connect the GAP from Grant Street to Point State Park. The chosen solution is: a two-way bike line on Fort Pitt Blvd, and then bike lanes on Stanwix Street (maybe both sides, maybe one side), turning left on Penn Avenue, and reaching Point State Park at Penn and Commonwealth.

I suspect that to Pittsburgh cyclists familiar with the area, this may seem like a terrible way for a cyclist riding DC-to-Pittsburgh to get to Point State Park. It's an inelegant yah-tah, a slightly-too-kludgey approach to the Point. And that's true.

Connecting the GAP to the Point is not the only deliverable in this project.

Here's the 2016 layout of City of Pittsburgh bike routes, with the Mon Whorf trail de-emphasized (because it doesn't connect anything to anything)

Let's consider the assets in place in 2016.

  • Great commuter bike route from downtown north-east along Penn Ave.
  • Great commuter bike route along the NorthShore of the Allegheny River
  • Great commuter bike route from Grant Street via the Eliza Furnace Trail
  • Great commuter bike route on the SouthSide Trail.
What's missing from the 2016 bike route chart is a downtown connection, that integrates the Allegheny corridor and the Mon corridor into a connected network. That's the Holy Grail, and that's what this proposal delivers: a bike lane connection from, for instance, the Strip to SouthSide.

Consider again, if you will, the tremendous connectivity delivered by the Stanwix dog-leg:

Consider further: it takes place completely on streets the City Of Pittsburgh owns. No budget crisis in the State Parks (as in, Point State Park) can impair this network.

The Ft.Pitt Bldv - Stanwix - Penn connection is a thing of beauty, a strategic windfall wrapped in a tactical gain. It's like the 2017 bike version of I-579.

The Smithfield Street Switchback may be constructed, and it's a win if it becomes financially possible - but the use of the opportunity is brilliant.

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