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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Open Season and A Tale of Two Cities: Bike-Haves and Bike-Have-Nots

Last Wednesday July 25, at 0530 a driver hit a bicyclist on the 7500 block of Penn Avenue and then fled the scene, leaving James Price to die alone on the curb. Monday afternoon 7/30 BikePgh led a memorial ride and placed a ghost bike along with Mr. Price's family.

Saturday 7/28 a successful Pittsburgh real estate developer and bicycle advocate was killed in a charity bike ride near Frederick MD. There were no cars or other bikes involved in the incident. Because he was highly regarded, a true friend of Pittsburgh bicycling and a money guy, influential people have made a big thing of this.

Tuesday night 7/31 at 1030pm the driver of an SUV ran over Anthony Green, a 47-year-old bicyclist from Wilkinsburg on the 7700 block of Penn Avenue, and then drove into a phone pole and came to a stop. Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Green died of his injuries from the second Penn collision.

Wednesday morning, 8/01 the mayor's office put out a communique urging people to be careful and saying that an alternate bike route would be developed to get bikes off Penn Avenue.

Wednesday at 11:45 a.m. at the intersection of Church Street and South Braddock Avenue in Swissvale, the driver of a truck hit a bicyclist and drove away from the scene.

Thursday at 6:30 pm, a police officer on a motor cycle was patrolling in the area in response to the accidents. He was hit by the driver of an SUV. Uniformed policemen, official vehicle, blinking lights; yes, he was wearing a helmet.

Friday 8/03 at 2:15 pm, Driver flees scene after striking 6-year-old child on a bicycle in the 200 block of Alter Street, East Carnegie.

Saturday 8/04 at 7pm, another cyclist hit by a driver in a hit-and-run, in the 2200 block of Perrysville Avenue in Perry North.

For those keeping score: Five drivers-hit-bicycles, one driver-hits-cop, two deaths, four hit-and-runs: No charges filed.

My first conclusion for your consideration is: It's open season on cyclists. There are no repercussions for a driver who hits a bicyclist with their car in Pittsburgh.

My second conclusion is that when it comes to bike safety, we've got two Pittsburghs: the Bike-Haves and the Bike-Have-Nots. One is Most Liveable and Bike Friendly-Bronze, and the other one is Most Likely to be Tragic. There is truly some wonderful bicycle stuff happening in Pittsburgh - but it's not in any way evenly distributed. (to paraphrase William Gibson).

As often happens, progress and benefits are distributed along existing lines of political, class, and economic structure, and so our bike infrastructure and our bike friendliness tend to mirror (through the invisible hand) the existing power structure.

First look at where the bike trails and bike lanes and sharrows are - and frankly, that's where I ride. I'm a bike-safety-Have.

Then look at where the Pittsburgh bike deaths are, look at who's dying, and look at the actual activity in response to it. (telling the bikes to move away from the speeding cars).

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