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Bike escalators for Pittsburgh hills?

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

 

escalator

The Atlantic Cities reports on an innovation that could literally give bicyclists a lift over hilly terrain:

CycloCable works very much like a ski lift. But most of the design structures are placed just below the street surface for a safer and more seamless integration into the road.

To begin, you just push the green button at the “start station” and wait for the first footplate. You then stand up on your bike and put your right foot and all of your weight on the footplate. The launcher at the start station will give you gentle push to accelerate from zero to 1.5 meters per second. The lift can go up to 2 meters per second, handling a maximum of 300 cyclists per hour. It supports inclines of up to 18 percent grade and can extend as long as 1,640 feet.

The first prototype was installed in Trondheim, Norway, in 1993. Since then, it’s become a popular tourist attraction that’s powered more than 200,000 cyclists up a 130-meter hill, with no accidents recorded. The original lift was dismantled in 2012, and replaced a year later with CycloCable, an industrialized version upgraded to meet new safety standards.

Now, POMA Group, the French cableway company behind the CycloCable, wants to sell the idea to other cities around the world.

Pittsburgh has also considered the lift. According to Stephen Patchan, bicycle/pedestrian coordinator at Pittsburgh’s Department of City Planning, the cycling community sees the steep terrain as an amenity, not a challenge. But Patchan says it would still be nice to have that kind of assistance for people tired at the end of the day, for example.

A Pittsburgh nonprofit even proposed a bike lift modeled after the one in Trondheim several years ago. But the idea generated some initial questions about liability and wasn’t pursued further.

This time around, liability would still be the primary concern, but not one that can’t be overcome.

Patchan is confident that the cost-benefit of implementing something like CycloCable will be more acceptable as U.S. bike infrastructure systems continue to mature.

“It only takes one smart and cavalier community to figure it out and establish a model for operations and maintenance,” he says.

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In another boost for bicyclists, the state Senate has passed legislation to legalize pedal-assist electric bicycles.

Sponsor Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, issued this statement:

“Our goal is to modernize state law and pave the way for innovation. There are already a growing number of small businesses emerging to meet the demand for this transportation option. However, the continued growth of this industry relies on clearly defining and legalizing these bikes in the state code.

“As we encourage multi-modal forms of transportation, these bicycles offer another option for individuals with mobility issues or for the commuter tackling the hills of western Pennsylvania. I think there are more and more people who will reconsider cycling as a transportation option once they learn about pedal-assist electric bicycles.”

The bill, which goes to the House, defines the bicycles as having operable pedals and a motor of 1 horsepower or less, with a maximum 20 mph speed. The bikes are not motor scooters but are designed to assist the rider with pedaling.

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And still more two-wheeler news, this from Friends of the Riverfront:

The 2014 Three Rivers Heritage Trail Map & Guide was released today. The map has been updated to include the one-mile segment of trail that will connect Aspinwall Riverfront Park to O’Hara through the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority, currently under development. This map is ideal for trail users interested in exploring the Pittsburgh region on the 24-mile riverfront trail system and features an overview of the trail system and detailed maps of the North Side, Downtown and South Side segments.
 
Areas of interest, including business districts, green space, bike shops, cultural attractions, transportation, trail parking and dog parks can also be found.
 
This project was funded by ProBikes, Clearview Federal Credit Union, Eat’n Park, UPMC Sports Medicine, the EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta, Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, and Friends of the Riverfront members.
 
The Three Rivers Heritage Trail Map is available free. To request a copy, call 412-488-0212 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . The map can also be found on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail page at www.friendsoftheriverfront.org.

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roadworksign

This week is National Work Zone Awareness Week, and Pennsylvania officials are cautioning drivers that they will encounter more construction than usual this year, as the new transportation funding law ramps up spending by $600 million, to a total of $2.1 billion.

“We are asking drivers to use extra caution in work zones so all of us can get home safely,” said Brad Mallory, PennDOT executive deputy secretary. “With crews working right next to moving traffic, it’s especially dangerous and especially important that motorists obey signs and speed limits.”

According to PennDOT data, there were more than 1,800 crashes in Pennsylvania work zones last year, an increase of about 200 from the previous year.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike will conduct Operation Orange Squeeze, in which troopers stationed in construction trucks use radar to nab speeders. Fines are doubled in work zones, so offenders can kiss several hundred dollars goodbye.

“The State Police will have zero tolerance for unsafe and aggressive work-zone driving.” said Capt. Gregory M. Bacher, commander of Pennsylvania State Police Troop T, the unit in charge of turnpike patrols.

The turnpike plans 62 roadway and bridge construction projects for 2014 at a $1.3 billion cost.

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From the PG’s Liz Navratil, a police training exercise at the ballpark:

Traffic near PNC Park will be restricted Tuesday while Pittsburgh emergency responders and federal officials conduct a training exercise.

Mazeroski Way from General Robinson Street to North Shore Drive will be closed from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and parking there will not be allowed, city public safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler said in a news release. Only local traffic will be allowed on North Shore Drive, at Tony Dorsett Drive, she said.

The city’s Office of Emergency Management, Homeland Security, the Army National Guard, the Ohio State Civil Support Team and PNC Park officials will be training for a hypothetical scenario in which suspicious packages are reported during a World Series game.

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Carnegie Mellon University’s spring carnival will cause road closures and parking restrictions in the area of the campus this weekend. Margaret Morrison Street, Tech Street, Frew Street, Circuit Road and Schenley Drive (Panther Hollow and Schenley bridges included) will be closed from 5 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens will remain open during normal hours. Visitors will need to park on the streets by the Carnegie Library and the surrounding area. Pittsburgh police stationed at barricades will give bus drivers instructions for passenger unloading.

On-campus parking will be limited for those without permits and other visitors all week. Additional parking will be available for $5 (cash only) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday at the Bob O’Connor Golf Course at Schenley Park, with shuttles running to and from campus. Free parking will be available at East Campus Garage on a first-come, first-served basis on Saturday.

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menatworkThe city will pave the section of McArdle Roadway from from the Liberty Bridge to Arlington Avenue starting at 11 p.m Tuesday and ending by 5:30 a.m Wednesday. Traffic from the inbound Liberty Tunnel will be detoured across the Liberty Bridge and traffic from Arlington Avenue will not be able to access the affected section of McArdle Roadway.

Lane closures are possible on outbound Route 51 between Fairhaven Road and Stewart Avenue in Overbrook and Whitehall from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today through Friday. Cable crews will be installing lines in the area.

Overhead sign improvements will cause intermittent lane closures on the Parkway East after 10 p.m. on weeknights in both directions between the Squirrel Hill Tunnels and Second Avenue, through April 19.

A lane closure is possible on the inbound Parkway North in Ross from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today through Wednesday for emergency repair of a washout.

Bridge construction has changed the traffic pattern on Interstate 79 at Route 422 in Butler County. Southbound traffic now crosses over to the northbound side, with one lane open in both directions. Work and restrictions will continue into the fall.
    
Cleaning in the Liberty Tunnels will close a lane in both directions starting at 10 p.m. today through Thursday. Traffic is restored by 5 a.m. daily.

Center Road in Plum reopened Friday afternoon after being closed since March 25 because of a collapse.

Hunter Road in Penn Hills has been closed between Barger Street and Colorado Street for about four weeks for emergency repairs.

Overnight lane closures have begun on Route 8 in Hampton. Traffic is down to one lane in both directions after 8 p.m. weeknights from the Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange to about 1,000 feet north of Hardies Road. The widening and turn-lane project continues through October.

A section of McKee Road in North Fayette and the Route 22/30 ramps at Oakdale have closed for reconstruction. The closure of McKee Road in the area under the Route 22/30 bridge will continue through April 26.

Alternating one-way traffic is in effect on Snowden Road in South Park between Riggs and Cochran Mill roads from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily through May 17 during utility pole relocation.

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