Type 2 Diabetic. Cyclist Flâneur.   Coffeeneur.    Errandoneur
A bike / map geek with a gadget obsession and a high-viz fetish.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

South Shore Riverfront Park at Southside Works

3/29/11 #233
26.7 miles road 40F
Had a very nice ride, went out to a Starbucks, treated myself to a slice of pound cake and a hot chocolate, returned home at 8pm in the dark.

How cool is this? The day after I post about the very way cool new development at Southside works, bemoaning that I don't have a photo of it, the Post Gazette provides one.

You'll see the rear of HofbrauHaus and the American Eagle campus above the trail.

The accompanying article, Donation received for riverfront park at Southside Works by Diana Nelson Jones, says this:
Riverlife has received a $50,000 donation from American Eagle Outfitters toward completion of the South Shore Riverfront Park, an approximately 3.2 acre amenity that links to the trail network on two levels and includes a promenade, a plaza and a 2,000 seat amphitheater.

The hillside will be built with a series of switchback ramps and terraces that eventually will link to a public marina. A new bulkhead wall will provide tie-ups for large and small boats.

The upper portions of the project -- behind the Hoffbrau House in Southside Works -- will be open this spring, said Stephan Bontrager, spokesman for Riverlife. It is a collaboration between the city, the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the Southside Local Development Corp. and the Soffer Organization.

I am a bit amused at the revisionist naming - we used to have NorthSide and SouthSide, now we have NorthShore and South Shore, but if they're willing to build a trail on it they can call it the Monongahela Riviera.

This picture, by the PostGazette's Darrell Sapp, shows the new Riverside Trail surface above the rmains of the J&L Pumphouse:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Southside Works 2011 Bike Trail

3/28/11 #237
27.8 miles 34F

Had an excellent ride today. Started in South Oakland, road the Jail Trail to the Penitentiary Trail, out along the Riverside Trail to Millvale. At the end of the trail in Millvale I had planned on stopping for a snack at Pamela's Pancakes, because every great ride needs a great food stop. Unfortunately, I got there at 4.30 and Pamela's closes at 4pm, so that foodventure will have to wait for another day and another blog post.

Back along the Riverside Trail, out on Herr's Island, back to the Ft. Duquesne Bridge, Ft. Pitt bridge, and the Station Square and Southside Trails.

The transition from the Southside Trail to the Baldwin Borough Trail, and specifically the section between Southside Works and the Hot Metal Bridge, has always puzzled me. Here's a picture from Google Maps, with a few key landmarks - The HofbrauHaus, REI, and the American Eagle building marked for orientation.

The trail designers have done so well in so many ways, but the current "Tunnel Park" segment seems non-intuitive and somewhat neglected. From the ground-level perspective, even the name Tunnel Park hasn't made sense, at least until I learned there's a train tunnel under there. This picture shows the path of the train tracks at either end of Tunnel Park.

This picture depicts the bicycle trails as routed in 2010, which really do leave bicyclists to fend for themselves. I've commented before that I don't know how an itinerant bicyclist manages to find their way through there, and it doesn't surprise me that the folks at American Eagle's corporate campus are finding bicycles riding on their sidewalks.

Today's Discovery

Today on my ride, I happened to ride to the back of the HofbrauHaus plaza just to see what the river looked like from there. Below the HofbrauHaus is a busy construction scene, building what looks like a magnificent trail section. It's breathtaking, quite dramatic. It seems like this will be the trail route from the Hot Metal Bridge along the Monongahela, past American Eagle and HofbrauHaus. This picture shows the apparent route of the future trail:

I have thought that the new Millvale connector trail might be the most elegant trail design in the area, and I have looked forward to what promises to be a very sophisticated design on the Mon Wharf Trail, connecting the Smithfield Street Bridge to Point State Park. The trail design along the river at Southside Works beats them hands down, it's very impressive.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Michelin Protek Max Inner Tubes : Fewer Flats?

3/26/11 Week 12 // Miles this week: 57 Miles this quarter: 258 // miles this year: 258

Michelin introduced their new Protek Max inner tubes, which use a novel surface to supposedly be both puncture resistant and also to minimize air loss due to punctures - they say the tube material is under compression rather than tension. There's also some sealant built into the tube.

This video is not in English, but there's some good footage of the new tube design and a demonstration of how the tube shape behaves inside the tire.

Interestingly, Pittsburgh bike blog Chicka-blog also posted about inner tubes today, with a slightly different perspective.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bicycle Speeding Ticket, Central Park NYC: A Double Injustice

3/24/11 #232
12 miles, 41F, clear/blue

In New York City, bicyclists and the Police Department (NYPD) have been having a contest of wills. The bicyclists are enjoying unprecedented success with bike lanes and bike parking. Jannette Sadik-Khan, the city's aggro Bicycle Commissioner is kicking ass. Bike advocates say it's all about their rights, but Sadik-Khan says it's all about safety - and she has the numbers to prove it.

The NYPD and the Big Apple bicycle community have not enjoyed a great relationship. New York's Finest regard the Critical Mass rides as intentional disturbances somewhere between civil disobedience and anarchy. The city's recent focus on statistical policing using software called CompStat generates numerical ticketing quotas goals for police officers, and ticketing cyclists is a relatively easy way to make their numbers.

There's been some public pushback against the new bike lanes. Cyclists demand that police enforce the bike lanes. People who park delivery trucks in the bike lanes are upset to get tickets from the police.

That's not all; there's the Hipster War. Hassidic Jews have had bike lanes removed because they contend female cyclists, dressed in shorts, skirts, and spandex, are inappropriate. Bicycle advocates came back in the middle of the night and repainted the bike lanes.

The police have probably had enough of bicyclists, and that frustration is expressed in a variety of ways, some clever and some ridiculous.

The city announced in October that it was increasing enforcement of bike laws, specifically running red lights, ignoring stop signs, speeding, and failing to use bike lanes.

Recently, an NYPD patrol car was parked over the bike lane, preventing anybody from using the bike lane. When bicyclists left the bike lane to get around the patrol car, officers ticketed the rider for leaving the bike lane. The $130 ticket was for "Reckless operation of bicycle."

In the last few weeks, police officers have been ticketing bicyclists for failure to stop at red lights inside Central Park. The kicker is that they're ticketing the cyclists during the hours that the park is closed to cars and all motor vehicles - there's only bikes on the road. The fine is $270.

Yesterday, bicyclists riding in Central Park (again, when the roads are closed to cars) had their speed measured with police radar guns and speeding tickets were written. The police were running a radar speed trap for bicyclists.

From the NY Times:
The speed at which David Regen, 49, had been traveling as he coasted down a hill on West Drive inside the park was not terribly fast — 25 miles per hour, according to the ticket. That is the same speed at which cars are permitted to travel when the roads are open to them. But parks department regulations dating from 1991 limit bike riders to 15 m.p.h.

Mr. David Regan was given a traffic ticket (see copy at right)for "exceeding speed limit". You'll see that where the form asks for a license plat number, the officer wrote in "bycicle" (sic).

This bicyclist is the luckiest guy in the world. I would love to have a ticket for speeding on my bicycle. I would frame it and hang it up on my wall, right between my pictures of the Pope and Elvis. That would be the coolest thing.

Murphy's Law persists, though, and it was inevitable that something would ruin Mr. Regan's wonderful story of The Man Trying To Keep Him Down.

Later that night, a NYPD officer came to Mr. Regan's home, apologized for the way he had been treated, and told him the ticket was bring withdrawn. They reminded him of the park's 15 mph speed limit for bicycles and went on their way.

First they give him an unjust ticket (the first crime). Then they take his badge of honor away (the second crime). Voiding the ticket and stealing his Ultimate Rule#5 Bike Story: that is such an injustice.

Monday, March 21, 2011

FracPure : Treating Frack Water And Marcellus Liquids on the Montour Trail

3/21/11 #229
First, my normal bicycling post:
Rode 20 miles on the Montour Trail today, Boggs to Route50 and return.

55F, a bit windy. First Montour Trail ride of the year, the trail was in great condition, just a little bit soft.

I was real pleased to see the business owner had placed a drinks machine outside the tanning salon at Route50. I wasn't too excited that it was a $2.00 drink machine, but I think they'll do well there, and there's a real dearth of available drinks along this section of the trail.

6 cyclists. 1 recumbent, 5 walkers. 1 dog-walker,
2 joggers 1 wild turkey several cardinals

And now, what I discovered today.

I was surprised to see what appears to be a fracking (hydraulic fracturing) outpost along the trail, in North Fayette Township just south of the Boggs Trailhead and Route 22. The logo above the entrance says, "FracPure".

It looks so innocuous. If the door opened I wouldn't be surprised to see The Smoking Man coming out to see what's up. After returning home I Googled FracPure. Wow. According to their website,

FracPure : A "Cradle to Grave" Solution

Integrated Water Technologies was founded to create water remediation technologies to help develop natural gas as a clean and abundant green energy source for the future. We developed FracPure™ specifically for the natural gas industry, providing a proven solution to the industry’s largest obstacle: Hydraulic Fracturing or Frac Water Management.

The natural gas drilling process hydraulic fracturing or fraccing (sic: fracking) creates 2 major water management challenges.
  • Supplying 4-6 million gallons of fresh water for each well. This water is currently being drawn from local rivers, lakes and streams, negatively impacting water resources.
  • The disposal and handling of over 1 million gallons of produced contaminated water for each well, within the first two weeks of drilling.
Our patent pending process, FracPure™ is a revolutionary "cradle to grave" solution which environmentally and cost effectively solves both of these problems, while yielding beneficial salt products and distilled water. FracPure™ water distillate is safe to return to the environment and exceeds all EPA and State environmental regulatory agency drinking water standards.

FracPure™ also drastically reduces trucking costs for natural gas companies both on incoming freshwater supplies and outgoing disposal.

From Water & Waste Digest (who knew there was such a thing?):
Integrated Water Technologies Inc. opened its first Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)-approved FracPure Treatment and Recycling Facility in North Fayette Township in southwest Pennsylvania.

The facility currently provides phase one of the FracPure treatment process, using chemical treatment and filtration to recycle 250,000 gal per day, providing 100% reuse of flowback. According to the company, no water will be discharged into rivers and streams in the process, helping the natural gas industry ease statewide environmental water concerns. ...

According to the company, the full-scale FracPure brine treatment plant will remediate flowback brine into cleaned water that exceeds the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state drinking water standards of 500 parts per million of total dissolved solids, and Pennsylvania's Chapter 95 wastewater requirements, which makes it safe to return to the water table and into rivers and streams. The only other byproducts are 99.7% pure salts for water softening and liquid salt for erosion control and de-icing of roads.

Let's attempt to distill what this means.
Industry mixes up poisonous liquids for hydraulic fracturing.
They pump the mix into the ground, where it's contaminated.
Industry calls this contaminated / poisonous liquid "produced water".
Most of the contaminated water comes back to the surface.

They filter it and mix it with enough fresh water to meet the standards.
They return 80% of the new diluted poison/water mix back into the water table.
They cook the remaining 20% in evaporators, leaving salty solids that they sell.
It makes a lot of money for big business.

The FracPure Solution™ is owned and delivered by Integrated Water Technologies. Their website lists the economic and environmental benefits of their solution. Got a lovely picture of a family in a rowboat. I hope the kids don't drink any of the water, or eat any of the fish.

We have to hope that whoever wrote their tagline, A Cradle-to-Grave Solution, has a sense of irony. I think the diluted poison-water blend they're returning to the water table is going to be just that, a "cradle to grave solution".

There doesn't seem to be any discussion on the company website about the recent findings that the water and salts that come out of the fracking process are radioactive.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


3/20/11 #231
24.8 miles
Rode 24.8 miles in 59F, clear and blue, South Oakland to Millvale, Station Square to Glenwood, return to South Oakland.

First day of spring. Beautiful.

1 man on Segway, smoking a cigarette.
1 tandem
2 recumbents
5 hipsters, 3 riding fixed
a half-dozen bicyclists riding while talking on their cellphones
many rollerbladers
about 100 bicycles

Learned that Starbucks in Station Square is closed, ended up at Caribou at SouthSide Works. There were an awful lot of bikes parked outside REI, they must have had something going on.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cleveland Wants What Pittsburgh Has (Bike-wise)


From that city to the northwest: What Pittsburgh Has That Cleveland Wants.

As the Post-Gazette recognized all those years ago, the most livable cities -- the ones that populate the League of American Cyclist's honor roll -- are the very same ones that are attracting the much-coveted young entrepreneurs. Cities like Denver, Portland, Seattle, Columbus, and as much we may hate to admit it, Pittsburgh.

It's a great article about Pittsburgh bicycling, it catches the sense of what's happened in Pittsburgh bicycling over the last ten years. The article correctly credits two main players for the bike renaissance:

I really think we should rename the Hot Metal Bike Bridge as The Tom Murphy Bike Bridge.

Week 11 // Miles this week: 27 Miles this quarter: 201 // miles this year: 201

Friday, March 18, 2011

Shouting FAG at bicyclists is so gay

3/18/11 #232
65F. Beautiful day. Rode 26.8 miles in 2h25m.
Stopped at Starbux, caffeine and cake.
Sightings: 6 people riding bicycles sighted.

Curiousity of the day: Today (for the first time) I wore my pink Deutsch Telecom jersey, which I'd bought off ebay. It meet all of my Ebay criteria: Cyldesdale size, highly visible, less than $20.

At the beginning of the ride I wore running tights, my jersey, a yellow jacket and a helmet cover. After mile 2-ish I was very warm, so I removed my helmet cover and my jacket. It was much more comfortable without them.

Curious thing was that three times, people in cars (aka cagers) saw fit to yell "Fag!" at me as they drove past. That's a clear deviation from the norm. Where I ride it's very unusual to have a cager yell anything negative; the frequency is less than once a year.

There is, to be sure, an excellent bike blog called "Bike Fag", (great recent post about Graeme Obree) but I don't think they were confusing me with the blogger or confusing me with Graeme Obree. In fact, take a look at Graeme Obree with his bike, and check out the size of the chainring. That's the bike of a world record holder.

In each case today, it was a younger male, 18-25, in what could be called a macho vehicle - a pickup truck or a muscle car. Nobody in a Volvo or a Subaru ever yells at a bike.

Drawing from the recent news about politicians and preachers, which reveals that those who are the most virulent homophobes are often conflicted themselves, I had to chuckle at these idiots.

Bottom line: no fast, fabulous gay bicyclist would ever been seen wearing blue running tights with orange stripes, topped off with a fuschia jersey. It just isn't done.

What, what, what were they thinking?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sighting: Kids On Bikes

3/12/11 #232
28.4 miles

52F blue skies Rode 28.4 miles 2h51m, home- M.Starbucks (16miles, 1+30), Starbucks-Home (12.4miles, 1+21min). Met K. enroute. Had a chai tea latte and a piece of lemon pound cake. home as darkness fell.

Saw three young boys riding bikes in their neighborhood, I've been wondering when I'd see another cyclist.

Week 10 // Miles this week: 28 Miles this quarter: 174 // miles this year: 174

Friday, March 4, 2011

Diabetes Life Expectancy: Six Years Less

3/4/11 #229

From Endocrine Today:

Diabetes is associated with an increased risk for premature death from not only vascular diseases but also several cancers, infectious diseases, degenerative disorders and intentional self harm, researchers found.

“Our results suggest that, on average, a 50-year-old with diabetes but no history of vascular disease is about 6 years younger at the time of death than a counterpart without diabetes; for comparison, the reduction in life expectancy from long-term cigarette smoking is about 10 years.

“These findings highlight the need to better understand and prevent the multisystem consequences of diabetes,” the committee wrote.

From The Washington Post:
A 50-year-old with diabetes dies six years sooner than someone without the disease, and not just from a heart attack or a stroke, new research suggests.

Putting the six years lost in context, he said, long-term smoking shortens life by 10 years.

Exactly how diabetes raises those risks isn't clear, but in the case of infections, it could be that diabetes weakens the immune system, the researchers said. Diabetes can cause vision problems and loss of feeling in the legs, which may be the reason for falls, they said.

Danesh said one intriguing finding was a higher risk of suicide in those with diabetes. Other research has linked diabetes with depression, he noted.

The results are "another reason to try to normalize blood glucose in people who have diabetes," through diet, exercise and medication, said Dr. Alvin Powers, a diabetes specialist at Vanderbilt University. "There have been smaller studies that hinted at this but nothing where a study of this size looked at so many different outcomes."

Week 9 // Miles this week: 18 Miles this quarter: 156 // miles this year: 156