Type 2 Diabetic. Clydesdale Bicyclist. #NextBurgh Flâneur. Caffeine User and Coffeeneur.
A bike geek with a gadget obsession and a high-viz fetish. by Vannevar Bush       about       /       murals

Friday, December 19, 2014

Pittsburgh Homeless Memorial, Millvale bike lanes

12.19.2014 16m
When you go to the bikeshop for mechanical help, it's important to be able to describe the problem. But all I could do on a Friday afternoon before Christmas was say, something must be rubbing or such, it's like the bike is weighted down.

LHT? We're down with IPA

Fortunately, the excellent folks at Thick knew just how to fix it and the bike rolls so much better now. Crossed the Bloomfield Bridge (possibly one of Pittsburgh's most bike-friendly spans) to check out Sir Samelot. Unfortunately, Sir Samelot is still celebrating regional tribalism and hasn't yet transitioned into global consumerism:

Next on the itinerary was finding a Memorial described in today's Pittsburgh City Paper article, Memorial this Sunday for those who died homeless.

This Sunday, 7pm, there's a vigil where 6 new plaques for 2014 will be added to the 138 markers signalling homeless people who died on the streets across Allegheny County since 1989. The plaques are produced by Operation Safety Net, an organization that helps provide medical care to the homeless through the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System.

The vigil has been an annual tradition since 1998 and coincides with National Homeless Persons Memorial Day on December 21, the longest night of the year. More than 150 other cities are expected to participate.

In the back of her mind, [the organizer] is hoping for bad weather. Being out in the elements without shelter, "You start to realize that’s every day, every moment for a lot of people. Just having a roof over your head is a major advantage in terms of staying healthy."

The memorial service, which will run from 7-7:30 p.m., will include brief remarks, a reading of the names, a musical selection and a prayer.

So once again: Go nuns! I was struck that the Operation Safety Net website presents a quote from Catherine McAuley, (founder of the Sisters of Mercy); my mother went to Catherine McAuley high school in Brooklyn.

click photo to embiggen in new window

That's an awful lot of markers. The background is the PNC Bank complex on Grant and First, and the northern terminus of the Jail Trail. It's a tremendous juxtaposition. In 2015, when the Smithfield Street switchback ramp is introduced, cyclists from DC to Pgh will pass across the street from this memorial on the Pat Hassett flyway (shared sidewalk). I'm going to point it out to everybody I take through there.

Rode outbound using the Penn Ave bike lanes, continued out into Lawrenceville and checked out Jeremy Raymer's outdoor studio at Charlotte and 35th.

So Jeremy Raymer is the artist and the canvas/building belongs to his brother Luke Raymer, who is proprietor of Pittsburgh Float, a sensory-deprivation facility located at Capristo’s Salon and Spa in Shadyside.

The picture on the right is of John C Lilly, inventor of the Sensory Deprivation Tank, with a backdrop of neurons and synapses. Very cool.

Rode over to the 40th Street Bridge to see the new bike lanes, up and down the roadway from the TTT (trailhead train tunnels) up to Route 28 and the bridge. Right now, Pittsburgh is like a remake of a Star Wars movie: you look around and see new stuff! all the time.

These bike lanes are like an unexpected Christmas present from PennDot. It's wonderful - there's planning, investment, signage, markings - but it does seem that at the top of the hill, it puts the cyclist in the wrong place. Because when most cyclists get to the top of the hill, their destination is the downstream/west sidewalk which is flows across the path of the car on the right who's trying to yield/follow the cyclist.

Serendipitiously I got to see a cyclist use the uphill lane. She came out of the trailhead tunnels, activated the blinky LED crossing lights (cool!) and turned left and rode west on the uphill side. She transitioned into the bike lane (show below) and advanced to the head of the line of cars (as she should).

When the light turned green, she wisely kept her foot on the ground until the cars on her right went ahead, then crossed the lane while riding over to the downriver/west sidewalk. I wonder if there isn't a need for a "green box" there to mark the route and help people visualize the crossing flow.

But: new stuff! Or as my buddy LyleS might say, "shiny objects". It's all good.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Walked the High Line in Manhattan

Wednesday I was fortunate to get to walk the High Line in Manhattan with my daughter.

Completely fantastic. Unimaginable and yet it exists: a boardwalk through dune grass on the Lower West Side.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Flaneur on the Ides of December

12.15.2014 14m
Today is Ides of December, with only 3.5 months, just 105 days until April 1 and wonderful weather. And next week the daylight starts increasing.

I rode by bike to work in oggy conditions. The visibility was only about a mile, and it was lower close to the Ohio River. It was also quite warm, at least 40F. My inbound route was 5.05 miles.

Rode back in twilight, 45F. I was overdressed. This segment was 9 miles.

From Facebook I encountered this drawing by Pascal Campion (blog   Facebook   web) , which I would title "The Flaneur". This pretty much sums up the city riding experience for me:

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Bike Lane Trifecta; PA tag JPF4569; GoPro-freude

12/14/2014 23m
Started with K at the Bastille around 3:30. Met Master Cyclist and general bon-vivant Bill-E. at the trailhead and rode into town together.

Took the 6th Street Bridge to the Penn Ave bikelane, rode out and then reversed and rode back in, just because: it seems like I should. Coming back to the point, we encountered this individual:

Who was very friendly and took the time to inform us that in total numbers, global slavery is higher now than it ever has been. Later in the evening I did some research (meaning, I typed world slavery numbers into Google) and found http://www.globalslaveryindex.org/ which reports that 35.8 million people are in slavery in 2014.

Bill peeled off at Smithfield St, we continued to Grant St and the Jail Trail. Rode from the Swinburne St trailhead, around Second Ave to the Saline Street bike lane (2nd of the day!) Up the hill, up Joncaire to Schenley Plaza.

Stopped at Conflict Kitchen for a wonderful meal. Such good food. Enjoyed a mint tea with sage that was so pleasant on a cold, dreary, foggy day.

Rode over to Phipps Conservatory using the Schenley bike lanes (3rd of the day! Lane-Trifecta Unlocked!) Locked up outside, took our pannier and helmet inside where they have: LOCKERS. What a great thing.

Being able to secure our gear for 25cents: awesome. Pleased to see that a standard Ortlieb pannier fits into one of these lockers. (I also recently spied lockers at the Carnegie Science Center lobby, adjacent to their excellent rest rooms.)

The Phipps winter show was great. I haven't been to it before.

Came out into major darkness and a very light drizzle, 40F. It was a very pleasant dark ride.

At the end of the Jail Trail, riding from the PNC building out onto Grant Street an avid driver with PA license plate JPF4569 tried to kill me by driving right into me. The driver was approaching opposite direction, talking on their cellphone, and without signalling chose to turn left across my lane and right into me.

I would mention that I was running three front lights: a Cygolite 850 on steady/normal, a 90-lumen headlamp on my helmet on normal setting, and an Orp strobe/blinky. I was wearing a reflective vest over a YJA with reflective tape on the sleeves.

But this driver (who was well-dressed, as if for a party or a date) just kept yakking on the cell-phone, swerved slightly as I turned tight to get out of their way, and Just. Kept. Going. in demonstration of the avid driver's creed: None of my blood, no foul.

Idiot in a rush. Continued inbound on Blvd of the Allies. Stopped at a corner to text the license plate number to myself. As I sent the text I thought, gosh that would have made a great bike-cam video. I need a neologism for "the feeling of elation at surviving danger, followed by remorse at not having a video of the event"; until I come up with something better I'm going to roll with GoPro-freude. Maybe it's a techno-form of survivor-guilt.

Intercepted world-famous cyclist Yale-C, who is crossing somewhere around 12300 miles for 2014. Wow. Took PPG Plaza and Market Square to the Sixth St. Bridge, and rode around the baseball stadium to the Science Center, then the trail back to the Bastille.

Later I received a phone call from my son, who I'd inadvertently texted the license plate number to, wondering if it was like my dying last text. I really didn't mean to do that, and I assured him that if I do send a dying last text the message will reveal which one is the Fave Child.

23 miles and a great ride in a drizzly, dark, 40F conditions.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Fredmaste Unlocked

12/12/2014 16m 30F
I saw this yesterday in the LAMBLAS facebook group - a bike (Surly Ogre) rigged to tow another bike (Surly ECR, which I'm kind of interested in) :

This evokes an iconic StarWars visualization of Rule 34.

Ken Barker explained his photo:

The ECR is a fresh build for a now 4-bike Surly owner who doesn’t drive, rode the Ogre to pick up the new bike… the tow is a simple quick release bolted to the rear rack, had to move the wheel off the ECR to the Wald front rack on the Ogre as the extra weight back there makes its misbehave. The mounting is only for bike transport, you really need a lower attachment point for this to work properly as it tracks fine on straightaways but gets funky when turning. Had to throw the pic up on here due to the unique nature of this particular lean. -Peace

Fredmaste (which expresses, the bike geek in me recognizes the bike geek in you) Unlocked!

I immediately went to Google to find the mounting hardware. I foung a Delta Cycle Lockable Bike Hitch at REI on clearance for $13. SOLD. Looking forward to enhancing my Surly LHT with tow-bike capability.

Friday I went out and met RC at the east end of the Panhandle Trail in Walker's Mill. We rode west to the McDonald Trestle, and then reversed. The trail surface was a bit softer than I expected. Also, it was a tiny bit colder than forecast.

Saw this bike in a birdhouse garden on the Panhandle Trail. I'm much happier to see this than a Ghost Bike.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Santa, Big as a House

12/7/2014 21m

On Termon Ave in Brighton Heights, the best Pittsburgh House Santa ever:

Today's ride was from the Western Penitentiary, over to the South Side to observe a homeless camp that was the focus of a Twitter discussion, 21st Street under the Mission Bridge. It's in a completely out-of-the-way place and smaller than I expected.

Stopped at a meeting of Pittsburgh Bloggers at SouthSideSteak House at East Carson and 20th. Really cool to get to hear people passionate about Pittsburgh talk about their view of what's up.

At Point State Park, around 7pm:

Friday, December 5, 2014

Who is Pat Hassett?

12.4.2014 7 + 20=27m
A back-dated entry: Tuesday I drove to a garage, dropped off a car and biked to work in the morning, reversed in the evening: 7 miles.

Thursday I got into town around 4pm. Rode down to Sandcastle and back. Stopped at PPG Plaza to see what's up.

Rode to Penn Ave and went outbound on the Penn Ave Bikeway, which seems like a civic obligation. Continued into the Strip District looking for coffee, but 21st Street had closed just a few minutes before I arrived. Continued out to Klavon's, which has coffee from Commonplace. Most excellent.

Inbound I was fortunate to encounter Marko. We rode the Penn Ave bike lane back and forth, then I took this picture at Stanwix Street:

We rode together over to the Carnegie Science Center for a North Shore Bike & Ped confab. It was a very well run event, it seemed like most of the attendees got there via two-wheels. Except for Stu on the unicycle. The topic was "NorthShore and the Riverfront: History and Vision".

Pictured are Mayor Tom Murphy, Addy Smith-Reiman of Riverlife, Scott Bricker from BikePgh, our host from Carnegie Science Center, Kristen Saunders the City Bike-Ped coordinator, and Tom Baxter from Friends of the Riverfront.

It was very cool to hear Tom Murphy talk about the backstory and what's been accomplished, and to hear him identify things that weren't accomplished that seem like practical, possible next steps. I noticed that several people mentioned Pat Hassett as an effective builder of bike infra, and Addy S-R said that the ramp between Grant St and the Smithfield Street Bridge is considered The Pat Hassett Flyway by Hashtag-ThoseInTheKnow. Seemed like everybody there had a "Pat Hassett told me, and he was right!" story.

Mayor Murphy talked about how Back in The Day, corporations didn't want trails near their buildings because they'd be highways for drugs and crime. Now, Carnegie Science Center is building ramps to connect the trail all the way up to their cafe and plaza. A complete reversal.

The other speakers talked about what they're doing in 2015, the notions of building-new and maintaining-present, and the city-county-state layers of coordination and persuasion. It was a very interesting group of people who have the right things in mind.

Some details that weren't mentioned in hushed tones included: three OpenStreets / Cyclovia's in Pittsburgh in 2015, bike share rollout, Smithfield Street switchback ramp.

Mayor Murphy encouraged the "next gen" to consider the West End Bridge as a gateway to the North Side trail system - instead of sidewalks on both sides, why not one sidewalk and one bikelane, with ramps on both sides leading down to the river instead of stairs?

The vocabulary was interesting; the second time I heard the word "riparian" I was glad I looked it up the first time it was used. (littorally). Also heard "charrette" and "plinth", but I'd heard those before. I wonder if Pliny has a Plinth?

It was also very cool to be at a meeting after which pretty much everybody got on bikes and rode away.