Type 2 Diabetic. Bike tour guide. #NextBurgh Flâneur.   Coffeeneur.    Errandoneur
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Friday, September 25, 2015

Homeless Colorforms and an Errant Autopod: What Belongs, What Doesn't; Who Decides

9.25.2015 44m
Started off in Pgh, met R. under the Birmingham Bridge. Although the mission was to ride out on the GAP and intercept MA, we had time for coffee and stopped at Big Dog. Wonderful / excellent as always.

Rode out through SouthSide and the Waterfront when R's phone rang and he needed to get home. Continued solo.

Reached Boston PA by the green boxcar, our designated muster point. Got to chill for a bit while MA rode inbound. I've been having a creaking noise in the general vicinity of my bottom bracket, so to eliminate some causes I lubed the chain and then the pedals, but the creaking persisted.

MA arrived and we stopped for more coffee at the Boston Shoppes Tea Room.

Rode into Pittsburgh. Had an essential Pittsburgh experience: my friend Bryan saw/heard me coming by and caught up to say, wow what's your bottom bracket doing? I love that.

Rode to the Point. Saw two young, apparently middle-class white folks, maybe college students or Uber drivers, taking a nap in the park. It was a beautiful afternoon. A lovely scene.

This is (sorry) my recurring mind-irritant: how much would you have to change to make them objectionable homeless people, whom the authorities would tell to move along? Imagine if we had Public Space Colorforms™ we could use to modify the situation and then be able to calculate the exact tipping point between "acceptable Privilege taking a nap" and "unacceptable HomelessPerson who needs to be sent away"?

I'm afraid the easiest marginal change for the tipping point would be to make their skin a bit darker, make their clothing a bit frayed, and remove the trappings of class and economic status. Arghhh.

Out along the south bank of the Allegheny to the Convention Center (where the waterfalls and rainbow were working!) Inbound along the Penn Ave bike lane, where we encountered this:

These Autopods aren't supposed to be in the bike lanes. This one had a mechanical failure and was sitting in the bike lanes. Argghhhhh. They're not bikes. They don't meet the PA definition of an ebike. They don't meet the definition of a pedicab. Somehow, the local company that makes and sells them tells people they're street legal and I think that's completely false. (They probably do meet the Fed standard for ebikes, but they weigh too much for the PA ebike definition).

I don't care about one Autopod. But I don't want gas-powered Vespas, or very light motorcycles, or golfcarts in the bike trails. Don't want a bike-framed hot dog stand slowly riding along the bike lane and stopping when somebody wants a Hebrew National (my fave). Don't want the Beer Peddler in the bike lane. If we/they don't enforce standards, it's a slippery slope!

And so here I am, stuck twice on: what belongs and what doesn't? And I have to admit my own preferences are showing.

At the end of the Penn Ave bike lane, we transitioned across Market Square, PPG Place, and the Smithfield Street bridge. Out the Southside trail to the marina, then went over to OTB for lunch. I was amazed that MA hadn't had anything to eat outside of a muffin when he was sixty miles back.

Great ride. It was a treat to get to show off Pgh. And like all cyclists, I was left at the end of the day wondering about the clicking sound in my bottom bracket.

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