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Old 08-20-07, 02:13 PM   #1
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Pittsburgh PA. Parkway detour means faster and safer cycling.

For the past few months PENNDOT has been closing Pittsburgh's parkway all weekend for repairs. They'll close it in just one direction every weekend. So this has created mega traffic jams as parkway travelers are detoured onto about 5 miles of city/residential roads and 2 business districts! Motorists can easily take 30 minutes to go two miles. To help alleviate the congestion there are 8 - 10 police officers controlling the lights at key intersections.

Several factors come together to make the detour an indirect benefit to cycling. Since the cars are going so slowly it is great for cycling. While you could still have an accident the cars are going much slower than normal so it likely would not be as bad.

Also since the lights are being controlled manually, all you have to do is not be the last vehicle and you will make the light! On a few occasions it looked like the cop has pushed the button in order to prevent me from making it. I figure that I was just paranoid. If you'd imagine the buttons from "Jeopardy" you get the idea-- I can see the officers as they move their arm in an effort to press the button quickly. But they were too slow and I still squeaked in under the yellow light. During the detour I can easily "time" the lights and keep up with traffic, (a bit of drafting involved here), moving up to 46 mph! The cycling is so good I question if we should not just let car use continue, unabated.

Finally since traffic is so bad, people are not road raging. They can easily see that going faster merely means catching the tail of the car 70 feet ahead and waiting some more.

Of course there still are some risks involved. For example when the cars back up, I split the lanes. And if some knuckle head decided to fling open a door, they'd have a hefty bill to pay.

Next week will be another outbound closure yee haw! Hope to see you there.
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