Last week, a motorcyclist was struck by a car and seriously injured on the S-curve at Gold Way. She was knocked unconscious and doesn’t recall exactly what happened, but it appears that the speed of the vehicles and narrowness of the road were factors. The driver who hit her left the scene.
And on May 31, a woman in a sedan was hit head-on by a small transport van at the intersection of Melwood Avenue and Finland Street. A resident at that intersection told us that an off-duty firefighter pulled over to help the woman, who was injured.
We don’t know the details of each of these accidents, but both illustrate the increasing problem of speeding and too much traffic on Gold Way and Melwood Avenue. Many drivers are non-residents who use this small, quiet back route as a shortcut between Oakland and the Strip. Many drive much too fast on this stretch where, in many places, there is only room for one vehicle at a time. It seems that every resident along Melwood has stories about damaged vehicles, near-misses, and accidents.
For years, residents have been asking the PHCA and local representatives for help in solving this problem. A number of solutions have been proposed: speed bumps, reducing the speed limit, making the road one-way, or closing it to through traffic, as it was in the 1980s. Any solutions that would help reduce the problem would come at the cost of some inconvenience to residents.
If cut-through drivers and speeding traffic on Melwood Avenue and Gold Way (or elsewhere in the neighborhood) have affected you, we’d like to hear about it. One of the goals in the Polish Hill Community Plan is to address this problem, and we are collecting data on the situation. If you would like to share your experiences or be part of the discussion, please come to the next community meeting on Tuesday, June 5. The meeting will be held in the senior center on the lower level of West Penn Recreation Center.
If you can’t attend the meeting, call 412.681.1950, or email us, with your input. By sharing information, we can start moving towards a solution. And to contact local officials directly to share your concerns, here is their contact information: District 7 Councilman Patrick Dowd, 412.255.2140, or email here; Senator Jim Ferlo, 412. 621.3006, or email here.
(Top: The Gold Way S-Curve. Bottom: the intersection of Melwood Avenue and Finland Street. Both photos taken in 2010.)
Comment received via email, from Adam Mistick:
I’m writing in response to the blog post about traffic and safety concerns on Melwood Ave and Gold Way. As a cyclist living in Polish Hill and working in East Liberty, Gold Way/Melwood is part of my daily commute. In the mere 3 months that I’ve lived in Polish Hill, I’ve had numerous close calls with speeding vehicles while riding my bicycle on these streets, particularly through the Gold Way S-Curve. Drivers take the turns at too high a speed, and end up traversing the curve in the wrong lane, creating a head-on collision danger. During rush-hour, cars are also inconsiderate of oncoming traffic along Melwood, often plowing through while giving no deference to other drivers or cyclists.
I’d like to think that restricting access to these streets is not the solution, as that would unfairly punish those who use them safely, as well as those who create the problems. I think speed bumps might be a good solution in the S-curve section to slow vehicles and help keep people on the proper side of the road.
Many people have suggested speed bumps. They are an obvious solution and one we suggested to our Councilman a few years ago We learned that because speed bumps (which are a very specific dimension) interfere with the passage of snow clearing equipment, and as such are not permitted in the City at all.
Speed humps, on the other hand, might be allowed. They are a lower, more gradual shape, and snow plows can clear them. We are looking into this and hope to get some sort of consensus among residents on whether this is desired. We believe that a multi-faceted approach is necessary, combining a few solutions, such as speed humps, signage, or lowering the speed limit.
We appreciate your feedback. I have taken the liberty of posting your email as a comment on the blog post, so that others can see what you had to say.
I don’t live in polish hill but I agree this is a great route for cyclists. I ride through there fairly regularly, but speeding cars are definitely a concern. When I’m driving, I take Bigelow; I think it is inconsiderate to use someone’s neighborhood street as a bypass, but it’s an unfortunately common occurrence and people impatient enough to do it are also predisposed to drive well over the speed limit and blow through stop signs.
Good luck with your efforts – as far as I can tell the city is completely indifferent to these kinds of concerns even after people are killed as a result.
Thanks for your comments — and your sensitivity about using Bigelow when you’re driving. Would that more drivers had your attitude! We welcome cyclists and are working on strengthening the pedestrian and bike-friendly aspects of our neighborhood.