US Bike Route System comes to PA. Pittsburgh is still just a spur.

Via Bike Pittsburgh, another piece about PA joining the US Bicycle Route System, which was announced by the Adventure Cycling Association a month ago.

Ironically, though there’s multiple points in these pieces about riding to and through beautiful Pittsburgh on your way across PA, if you do so you’ll actually have to turn around and ride 20 miles back to McKeesport before continuing—that’s how bad the infrastructure is west of the city. There’s no safe way to get from the Point to the Panhandle on a bike, so the USBR 50 turn-by-turn directions (PDF) don’t even try.

How many USBR 50 riders will simply skip Pittsburgh, recognising that the route switches from the GAP to the Montour at McKeesport?

Campaigners have been working for many years toward a trail extending the Great Allegheny Passage along the Ohio River, from Pittsburgh up to Beaver and beyond to Ohio and West Virginia.  As trails are extended toward the City along Turtle Creek, the Allegheny River, and elsewhere, there is potential for Pittsburgh to become a great nexus of trails stretching in every direction–not just to Washington, but to Altoona, to Butler and Erie, to Cleveland, and to Columbus.  Towns like West Newton, Connellsville, and more have written of their revitalization on the strength of tourism brought by the completed GAP trail through their towns.   When will McKees Rocks, Monaca, Midland, and the many river towns in between get to see such benefits?

For a great many reasons, it is long past time for safe, accessible infrastructure for all west of Pittsburgh.

Letters to Legislators: Speed Cameras Save Lives!

Over in Philly, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia is asking folks to contact legislators to vote for House Bill 1187, a bill to pilot speed cameras on Roosevelt Boulevard, one of Philly’s notorious deathtrap stroads.  I don’t live in or anywhere near Philadelphia, but I still thought it was worth writing the local legislator:

This letter is to ask you to vote YES on House Bill 1187, which would legalize a speed camera pilot program on Roosevelt Boulevard, and to support future action to place speed cameras in Pittsburgh and across Pennsylvania. HB 1187 recently passed the House Transportation Committee, and will soon be debated in the full Pennsylvania House.

Roosevelt Boulevard is one of the most dangerous stretches of road in the United States.  This one roadway makes up only 0.6 percent of all Philadelphia’s 2,500 miles of streets. Yet over a 5-year period, 2011-2015, 13 percent of all traffic fatalities occurred on Roosevelt Boulevard. And 36 percent of those killed on Roosevelt Boulevard were pedestrians.

In Pittsburgh, dangerous roads with speeds well in excess of posted limits separate many of our neighborhoods; just for one example, we have a tremendous resource in the bike track at Highland Park, yet there is no safe access without a car due to high speeds and missing sidewalks along Washington Boulevard. Getting from The Hill to Bloomfield requires long, roundabout routes and unnecessary hill climbs because speeds on Bigelow Boulevard and Bloomfield Bridge are twice the posted limit, or more. Crossing through Schenley Park should be a safe, calm way to get from Oakland to Squirrel Hill, but isn’t because of dangerous speeds on Panther Hollow Road and other roads across the center of the park that have become freeway bypasses instead of park streets.

Long term, Roosevelt, Bigelow, and Washington Boulevards and roads like them need to be re-designed and engineered. But in the meantime, speed cameras have been proven to calm traffic and save lives. Please help make a safer Roosevelt Boulevard, and safer streets across the Commonwealth, a priority. Pass HB 1187 and lead the fight for speed cameras and traffic calming Pennsylvania-wide.

Bikes ‘n’ Brews, Pittsburgh Edition?

So Bike Cleveland in a couple weeks are having their Bikes N’ Brews event–basically they give you a punch card and you go visit a bunch of local breweries, and when you get back to the afterparty you get a sample from each brewery you managed to visit. It’s something like $25 and 20 miles (if you hit three) or 40 miles (if you hit all five besides the start/end brewery).  (And, again, the drinking’s supposed to happen at the end, to be clear…)

It’s kinda unlikely i’ll be able to make it up to Cleveland on Oct. 8, so i started thinking about a Pittsburgh version. Pittsburgh seems to have several more breweries than Cleveland–and the ones in town are significantly closer together, appropriately as Pittsburgh is smaller but significantly more dense than Cleveland, while the outlying ones are much further apart.  So you can get four breweries in less than two miles, but it’ll take you over 55 miles to hit all nine stops on this epic Pittsburgh Breweries tour (which is in fact missing a few, because Google Maps can only handle ten stops on a route, and I haven’t made an actual route for this yet).  Much like Cleveland’s, this event would showcase some of Pittsburgh’s long-time-favourite and it’s newest bits of bike-friendly infrastructure–and some of its areas most in need of improvement.

If anyone’s interested in making an actual event out of this–especially if you’re affiliated with one of Pittsburgh’s many breweries….–get in touch….

Since Wendy Bell won’t say it, I will: here’s how to actually contribute to Danny Chew’s recovery

Since Wendy Bell deleted several other people’s comments on her video soliciting prayers for herself^WDanny Chew, I didn’t expect mine to last long, either.  Here it is, now that it has “disappeared” from Facebook:

Danny Chew is an avowed atheist who would find your prayers laughable, but your omission of the link to actually contribute something tangible to his recovery is offensive even to those who do believe.

Since Wendy Bell has gone so far as to delete comments that included the link, here it is again: https://www.youcaring.com/danny-chew-640082

Still seeking justice for Susan Hicks: Blaming victims will not create safer streets

Yesterday marked four months since Susan Hicks was killed riding home from work. Next month, friends and others will join to complete her commute.

I want to hope that by the end of March there will be some news of the investigation or efforts to make Oakland a less dangerous place to be, but it is difficult to be optimistic.  Our local leaders try to find ways to make it illegal to cross the street while ignoring rampant reckless speeding. Our safety studies give brownie points to transportation associations who tell students to “walk safe” and “don’t be a road zombie” but don’t even comment on the lack of safe-driving messaging—nor do they have any idea why large numbers of students would want to cross the road between classroom buildings.  The university itself responds to pleas for a safer campus with bike racks, carpool marketing, and walk-safe messaging. Our bus drivers and police accost cyclists for occupying lane space, and even drivers who kill while sober rarely get more than a $500 fine and a few points on their licence.

When will we act to protect our people from those who actually do them harm, instead of blaming victims for the positions we force them into?

Windshields are surprisingly effective at deflecting fault

Today in the PG: “Viewing Oakland through the windshield of a Port Authority bus driver: Bus drivers describe dangerous behavior of pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists

Oakland Transportation Management Agency called it an “Interesting perspective from the view of our local PAT drivers.”

“[Pedestrians] can’t see and they’re not looking. People absolutely do not pay attention.”

“[Cyclists] can be frustrating… We put up with the Triangle Messengers Downtown for years, but now [bike riders] are all over.”

“Drivers unfamiliar with Oakland add another layer to traffic strife.”

Apparently the problems and dangers on Oakland’s streets are everywhere but behind Port Authority’s wheels. “Interesting perspective”, indeed.

I’ll probably have more response later as this percolates further, but for now I offer this: I will be more willing to consider increased jaywalking enforcement, as suggested by one driver quoted in this piece (of, I believe, two total), to be a valid tactic when police increase by a proportionate amount the resources devote to driver behaviours that make crossing legally unsafe.

For every student who walks out in front of a bus, how many are forced to stand on the curb for minutes at a time by bus operators and other drivers who refuse or simply fail to stop at marked (let alone unmarked, though legally defined) crosswalks?

For every person who runs across in the last seconds of the blinking “don’t walk” light, how many are brushed back by a bus driver trying to squeeze through the waning seconds of an “orange” signal, or jumping the light before it turns green?

For every individual who appears to expect that “a 20-ton bus can stop on a dime”, how many have simply miscalculated the available time to cross based on the mistaken assumption that drivers will obey the speed limit?

Letters to Congress: Cuts on TAP?

Via People for Bikes and the League of American Bicyclists:

Congress is considering three amendments to the transportation bill that would significantly reduce federal bike funding by cutting two critical programs, the Recreational Trails Program and the Transportation Alternatives Program. If they pass, these amendments will make it much more difficult for communities to build bike infrastructure. Please tell your representatives to oppose the amendments from Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL).


Rep Carter’s amendments would make biking and walking projects ineligible for certain types of transportation funding and allow road and bridge projects access to funding currently designated for walking and biking improvements; Rep Yoho’s amendment would make the Recreational Trails Program ineligible for any transportation funding. In Pittsburgh and in many other places, park corridors and other ‘recreational trails’ are forced to stand in for actual transportation infrastructure, and the significant source of funding for bicycling and walking.

The League of American Bicyclists has their own, slightly different letter you can send; I went with the PfB one mostly because their email showed up first. I also recommend Caron Whitaker’s post for the Bike League for more on the Transportation Bill which is currently pending in Congress.

Dear Representative ________,

As a resident of your district, I am writing to ask you to oppose three amendments to the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act—Rep. Carter #68, Rep. Carter #69 and Rep. Yoho #158. These amendments undermine the bipartisan agreement on federal funding for popular, cost-effective bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects that communities rely on throughout the country.

These projects are helping a growing number of communities nationwide to quickly and efficiently address daunting transportation challenges such as road congestion and the high costs of providing parking.

The federal investment in bicycling has already produced significant results. U.S. bicycle commuting has nearly doubled during the last 15 years. In 2014, nearly one in three Americans pedaled a bike–making a total of more than four billion rides.

Given that half the trips Americans make are four miles or less (a reasonable distance to bike if the route is safe and appealing), bicycling is likely to keep growing and keep producing tangible benefits. The federal government must continue to keep the door open to support modest community investments.

The benefits of this federal spending go far beyond transportation. Bicycling generates more than $81 billion annually for the U.S. economy, $10 billion in tax revenue, and supports more than 750,000 jobs. New bike infrastructure often increases nearby retail sales and spurs residential, commercial and retail development.

As you are likely aware, in Pittsburgh we recently had three people killed by drivers in less than a week, a woman waiting at a traffic signal while biking home from work and a wheelchair user and his partner who were crossing the street from one bus to another. Just outside Washington, a Maryland couple were killed by a drunk driver last week while on a bike ride together. It would be a tremendous slap in their faces to eliminate this funding–indeed, their deaths and those of the other thirty thousand people who will be killed by US drivers this year show just how critical it is that we increase dedicated funding for safe spaces to walk and bike across the country.

For these reasons and many others, I hope you will oppose these amendments (Carter #68, Carter #69 and Yoho #158). It is important for communities to have the opportunity to invest in bike infrastructure projects and reap the important economic and safety gains that follow.

Please: send your own message to your Representative via People for Bikes or via the League of American Bicyclists.