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

Dr. Heinrich Koppers, a German inventor, developed a process to distill and capture the by-products of coal combustion…. Dr. Koppers developed his new process in Germany, and he was brought to the United States in 1908 by US Steel to build by-product coke oven for its use.  As war clouds gathered, Dr Koppers became anxious about mounting anti-German sentiment, the possibility of war, and the seizure of his patents and operations.

Following the German attack on Belgium, the demand for the by-products of Dr Koppers’ ovens skyrocketed. “With the advent of war came the realization that the striking power of a nation in modern warfare is largely determined by it supply of coke.…Altogether the company played a most important part in the successful prosecution of the world conflict.”

In 1915, the Mellons moved in, reorganized, and effectively secured control of the company, leaving the inventor with a 20% share. When the United States declared war on Germany, the Koppers Company, undoubtedly motivated by the deepest patriotic sentiment, notified Attorney General Palmer of the German inventor’s stake-holding, whereby his share was confiscated and sold at auction to the sole bidder — the Mellon interests.

— McCollester, The Point of Pittsburgh, citing David Koskoff’s The Mellons: Chronicle of America’s Richest Family and Frank Harper’s Pittsburgh of today: Its resources and people.

Locally-owned home goods store in Pittsburgh?

At the moment I need clothes hangers, but in general, where in Pittsburgh do you go to buy small items for your home that isn’t a major national chain store?

My only requirement is that it be somewhere I can reasonably reach by bike from Oakland. My default pretty much since it opened has been the Target in East Liberty*, but if there’s an alternative I’m not thinking of I’d love to hear about it…

 

* to be clear, I am perfectly happy to shop at Target; I absolutely am not boycotting them. But as a general rule I prefer to support local business when possible, and got to wondering if it is in this case…

Comments on Port Authority’s Fare System Proposal

Port Authority is considering overhauling their fare system.  If you missed the two public hearings, in late February and today, you can submit your comments online, by email to farepolicy@portauthority.org, or by mail to Port Authority, Attn: Fare Policy Proposal, Heinz 57 Center, 345 Sixth Avenue, Floor 3, Pittsburgh PA 15222, until the end of March.

My comments:

  • I favour the reducing of fares as much as possible. However, as I’m sure you’re aware, certain long distance (especially suburban commuter) routes cost significantly more to operate, and it is substantially unfair to those who live in and near the City to be forced to once again subsidize exurban riders. I am also concerned about the impact of eliminating the Downtown free-fare zone on the elderly, disabled, and others who use it to bridge the gap between one side of Downtown and the other.Consider, for one, the rider who takes a bus in from lower Greenfield Avenue, planning to transfer to, say, the 12 to McKnight Road. Without the free-fare zone, they are faced with either a double transfer or a long walk from Allies or Fourth Avenue to Liberty and Seventh. With it, a rider who doesn’t feel like making the walk doesn’t have to worry about whether they can pay for the transfer or whether the farebox will accurately credit multiple transfers against their card.

    I would much rather see the zone system recalibrated so that it has less impact on lower-income communities such as McKeesport and Clairton while not further privileging suburban commuters.

  • I am generally opposed to a surcharge for using cash, as those who are using cash are often either infrequent riders or those who can least afford (in terms of money or time) the outlay to acquire a special farecard. However, I do recognize that it does cost extra for PAT to process and handle cash, and so I am not strongly opposed to a minimal cash surcharge that allows the system to recoup that cost.
  • I am strongly opposed to a fee to acquire a farecard, especially in concert with a cash surcharge. If there must be a fee to recover the cost of stocking vending machines, it again should be as little as possible, and not charged at in-person service centers, groceries and other sales agents, etc. (Additionally, there should be many more such sales agents–Giant Eagle is still not as ubiquitous as they’d like to think they are…–and either the hours of the Downtown Service Center should be massively increased or it should be possible to handle farecard problems at other locations or remotely.  I know of too many people who’ve had problems with their farecards but because they don’t work Downtown or don’t work a standard 9-to-5 (or both) can’t get to the DSC to resolve the problem without making special arrangements.)
  • I am especially opposed to any fee to transfer lines, especially if there is any movement toward more trunk-and-feeder systems. Transfer fees disincentivize riding, especially along feeders; even a trip from the Hill to the Strip can require multiple routes, and if it costs yet more to ride just because there isn’t a single vehicle that makes the trip, it will further encourage driving for trips that shouldn’t need it.  (Or, as Jarrett Walker puts it, Charging for connections is insane.)
  • Regarding light-rail proof-of-payment, I strongly endorse PPT’s concerns about enforcement. Especially in light of the multiple recent violent incidents involving PAT Police and related agencies, PAT must tread very, very carefully when considering expanded policing on and around its system.
  • Not only am I strongly in favour of the day-pass idea, it should be automatic.  Rather than forcing someone to purchase a day-pass special, if a card user uses their card more than some number X (2? 3?) times in a day, further rides should be free.  If someone realizes on their way home from work that they need to stop at the grocery store, they shouldn’t have to worry about how much more they’ll need to pay in bus fare–it should just work.  Similarly for weekly, monthly, and especially annual passes; individuals should not be denied the benefit of being able to pay for 11 monthly passes and get the 12th free just because they don’t have nearly $1,100 in the bank at one time… if you buy eleven monthly passes in a row, the twelfth should just be free, whether or not you paid for them all at once.