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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why Did the Worker Cross The Road?

12/12/12 241# 38M
Yesterday in Pittsburgh a 53-year old woman was killed while crossing the street, using the crosswalk from her parking lot to her workplace. Hit by one car, then a truck, then another car like a pinball. It's a known dangerous street with lots of accidents, and a local employer hires off-duty police to stand in the intersection during peak hours because they've lost so many employees due to accidents that it affects their business. Tragically, this woman crossed outside of peak hours.



Biker, blogger, and transportation guru Stu often asks a seminal question in these situations which I used to dismiss as being pedantic and wonkish (sorry, Stu) but I've come to realize is an essential question. Stu tends to ask, Why was he/she driving there? Often it illuminates fundamental issues or choices in transportation policy that drove the accident.


As I rode around today I wondered, Why did the lady cross the street? Which evolved into, Why did the lady cross that street every day, until it killed her? Which became, Why do they all cross that dangerous street every day, even though it kills some of them?


I think the answer is, because we've designed and tolerated a situation where they have no choice. Jobs are over here, parking is over there, home is way over yonder, no way to get from Home to Work but a Car, and as a City and a culture we're good with that. And furthermore, the people using those parking lots aren't city residents, they're Outlanders who come in and use city services without paying for them, harumph, and city residents should pay police overtime - I don't think so!


Although the investigation will apportion Blame to Individuals, it's really a Design Fail, it's a Systemic Failure, and it's in a lot of people's interest to ignore the systemic and policy issues.






Started at the Bastille. The temps seemed too brisk to start riding right away so I procrastinated by doing some work on the bike. I used to be the guy who bought auto parts and then worked on his car in the Pep Boys parking lot, now I'm the guy who works on his bike at the trailhead.


I needed to replace the wiring harness for my Cateye Astrale bike computer, which I love and I have one of these on each of my three bikes. The existing harness was giving inaccurate rear sensor readings, and - even worse - it was giving low rear sensor readings, and that's just not tolerable. The cadence sensor was just fine. Still, I had the device on the bike for five years, that's pretty good.


Instead of replacing just the wiring harness I bought a whole new computer and harness at Performance Bike, and today I started my time with the bike by removing the old harness which was an ugly rainbow of multi-color zip ties and installing the new harness. Put the old computer into the new harness, spun the pedals, shazam! good cadence numbers and good speed/distance numbers. Tightened up the zip ties, tested it again, still good numbers. Went to trim the excess zip ties and I cut the wire for the cadence sensor, and then it didn't work so good no more.


Argghhhhh. This is why, of course, people buy wireless bike computers. Tried to splice the wire, the magic wasn't happening, no luck. Packed up and went for a ride, my first destination now chosen for me: Performance Bike, to get yet another harness.


Rode along the North Side to the 40th Street Bridge, then Penn Avenue. Saw this mural at 5313 Butler Street which is still a work in progress. On Oct.19 2012 (my first sighting) it struck me as Conway's Game of Life:



But now it's looking a lot like Winter Urban Digital Camo:



Continued along Butler Street to Washington Blvd, the street where people drowned and now we have gates to keep people off the street during floods we consider that progress. Up Washington Blvd, which is a climb I enjoy to Bakery Square, where I was surprised to see the Bakery Square Bike System.


  • Wow! Bike Share! In Pittsburgh, before New York!
  • Ugh. Right now, first wave, only for people affiliated with CMU or Google.
  • Yay! Eventually, it will cover downtown, east end, north side, south side.

Went to Performance Bike, purchased a wiring harness. As I came out, I saw a flash of color off to my right where I didn't expect to see a mural. Rode over to investigate and found an MLK mural where S and I had searched for one a few weeks ago. We were within 50 feet of it, but we'd never looked behind this building; it's a Busway mural, visible only to people taking the bus. Ha!, take that, you first-wave CMU bike riders. No murals for you!

Rode to the Whole Foods Starbucks, which probably sees itself as just Starbucks. Surfed their Wifi and warmed up. Considered the Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte, calculated that it would be about $.01/calorie, decided not to. Back to Penn Avenue, Beechwood Blvd, Forbes, S. Braddock, W. Hutchison, Frick Park.

At one point teh Interweb said that Nine Mile Run was closed for construction and I thought I'd check it out. It was open and in very nice condition, it was a nice ride through there. At the river I took the Duck Hollow Trail to Second Avenue, the Jail Trail to the Hot Metal Bridge, then rode south to Keystone Metals.

Back north along the SouthSide Trail to the Fort Pitt Bridge, Ft Duquesne Bridge, and back to the Bastille. A very nice day, a found mural, 38 miles.

1 comment:

  1. Your second paragraph inspired me to write my own post. At this point, it is unfinished, as I still need to track down some numbers, but the basic idea is sound.

    http://bus15237.blogspot.com/2012/12/unfinished-post-cause-of-cause-of-death.html

    ReplyDelete