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

Monday, December 29, 2014

Particle Falls: Two More Nights of Aeronomical Data Visualization

12.29.2014 25m
Started late in the afternoon at the Bastille in about 30F. Rode out to Sandcastle and reversed, being somewhat unmotivated to experience the Waterfront again.

Stopped at world-famous Big Dog Coffee for a cranberry-orange scone and Cafe-Au-Lait. I love Big Dog Coffee. Got back on the trail at American Eagle, and I really do miss having the legacy road-trail connection at the northwest end of the SouthSide complex. I guess this is what's being planned for:

Back into town, then rode out the Penn Ave Bike Lane. Got to see a truck with theatrical markings, shut down and parked cold, using the bike lane for convenient parking for Heinz Hall. Daily Double: parked on a Johnny Pump no less! The driver was sleeping, with their head atop a pillow on the steering wheel.

The only real problem with this is: riding outbound, when you attempt to ride around the truck you go head-on into opposite direction cars - which sucks.

Saw a probe-ey kind of techno-weather rig on the side of the street and stopped to investigate.

This is a great project, called Particle Falls and built by Andrea Polli, which is only in Pittsburgh for two more days (through 12/31).

Pittsburgh ranks in the worst 10% of US Cities for average annual particle pollution, and this project analyzes the air for particles every 15 seconds and then projects a data visualization on the wall of the Benedum Theater - which looks rather like a waterfall.

The project (wiki) focuses on tracking the smallest particle size, PM2.5, since use laser scattering to detect that small a particle is one of the most recent developments in aeronomy.

There is always such cool stuff to discover in Pittsburgh, especially if you look up and around. I'd have never seen this from a car.

Out to the end of the Penn Ave bikelane, then back inbound. Across the Ft. Duquesne bridge, passed the Science Center and used the brand-new lane routing.

Continued back to the Bastille in the dark. 25 miles.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

DNS, Two Videos: #Swerve


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Saturday Night Fever N'At

12.27.2014 40m #245
Started riding in the late afternoon at the Bastille. Crossed the Ft Duquesne and Ft Pitt bridges. Massive throng of people queueing for the Duquesne Incline.

Rode through Southside, past Sandcastle and the Pump House, intercepted Yale, Marko, and Chris near the Whittaker Bridge. Meeting Yale was amazing, because whenever we try the bike-to-bike intercept we always botch up the navigation; this is the first time we managed the intercept as planned.

Came back though the Waterfront, and after the Pump House - with light traffic and since we were a foursome - we used the right lane through the shopping complex. This is always at least a four-lane road.

Had a lovely ride. Suprisingly, two young men in a sport-compact kind of Honda pocket-rocket actually pulled up next to us, slowed down and proceeded to explain that we should either be on the sidewalk or on the nearby trail.

Fortunately, in a way, they engaged Yale in conversation because he is a social person who suffers fools easily. Hey, he rides with me. What's most amazing is they pulled up in the passing lane and slowed down to explain that we shouldn't be in the right lane because we were slowing cars down. Which is probably what the second lane is for: passing slow traffic.


I think we need signs like the prototype on the right to help drivers change their paradigm.

Crossed the Ft. Pitt bridge and there was an even bigger throng of people waiting for the Incline than earlier in the afternoon. The pedestrian overpass was filled with folks, and there was a long thick line on the sidewalk. It's Saturday Night Fever N'At.

Rode to the North Side, went out to the 31st Street Bridge, came inbound and used the Penn Ave Bike Lanes. Went through Market Square and yoi! : people everywhere. Downtown packed on a Saturday night, what's up with that?

Continued to PPG Plaza and double yoi Even more people! We must be having Renaissance 5 n'at.

Rode on the Jail Trail to the Hot Metal Bridge, in support of Yale building a few miles to possibly reach 13000 miles in 2014. Discussed how that's a milestone but shouldn't be a millstone.

Really a tremendous day, quite warm and clear. Very nice conditions for night riding. I got to give a set of lights to somebody who needed them, which was cool. 40 miles.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Boxing Day Recon with ORTC

12.26 30m
Was fortunate to spend Boxing Day with the Ohio River Trail folks as well as K and my neighbor Jack.

We started at the Bastille, and met the ride forming up at the Bicycle Heaven trailhead. Our first target was to ride out to Millvale so everybody could experience the new 40th Street Bridge bike lanes that PennDot built for us.

Our conclusion after riding the bike lanes: it is so wonderful that PennDot built this. It does seem that a little bit of end-user prototype testing could have made this even better. As it is today, it's a great bike lane that ends by leaving the bicyclist and the cars in an ambiguous and likely-to-conflict situation. Until it's improved, I can only recommend that cyclists avoid it and use the sidewalk instead.

Crossed the 40th Street Bridge, rode over to BikePgh to show everybody where it's at, demonstrated use of the Dero bike workstation. Back down to the river, joined the trail east of the National Robotics Center. Rode to the 40th Street Bridge Mural (Different Eyes), gave a quick briefing on what that's all about.

Rode around the trucking lot, through the neighborhood, stopped at Charlotte and 35th to see Jeremy Raymer's artwork. Rejoined the river trail at 26th Street, exited at the detour on 24th. Rode Penn Ave inbound to give the folks a sense of traffic and sharrows.

Used the Penn Ave Bike lane inbound to Sixth. Reversed, rode outbound to 10th Street, and used the Convention Center walkway to get down to the river. I think everybody liked that.

Rode to the Point. Took the obligatory group photo.

Departed Point State Park directly onto the Mon Whorf and explored. Rode up the ramp, over to the Smithfield St Bridge. Took the Pat Hassert Flyway to the Jail Trail, and continued down to the Hot Metal Bridge.

The only connections from the trail to Tunnel Park/Road is the Hot Metal/AEO junction or the Hyatt sidewalk, now that the northwest end of SouthSideWorks (SSWx) no longer supports the trail connection. This will take a bit of getting used to, I really enjoyed the way it was. (which is sort of a Pittsburgh mantra)

Stopped at REI. Saw that somebody took their tyke shopping on a mini-bike with training wheels. So awesome.

Rode south-east to the eagle's nest, and was rewarded with the sight of one of them landing in the nest and then hanging out for a while.

Departed via the Southside Trail, Smithfield St Bridge, Market Square, the Sixth Street Bridge, and around the stadia and the casino. 30 miles on a beautiful blue day.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Not a Creature Was Stirring

12.25.2014 11m 40F
Got out around 5pm for a short ride, a quick loop through town. 11 miles.

Rode from my house to the highway, through the small town, up the hill to the WalMart and multi-MallPlex. In almost an hour, I think I shared the road with 6 cars which was quite pleasant.

I really like night riding and I'm surprised I don't do it more in the summertime, when an equipment problem would be less of an event.

Happy Holidays to all.

Monday, December 22, 2014

27 Minute Bike Ride to 42 Floors

12.22.2014 17m
Started at the Bastille w/ R in 28F. Found this weathered art work at the Westhall St. Trailhead, near the Valspar Corporation.

Rode the Penn Ave bike lanes out to the Strip District. Saw this sign on 11th Street, which I think may be an artifact from Sept.2014's Pro Bike Pro Walk conference.

Cappuccino at La Prima Espresso. Ran a few errands. Rode via the Jail Trail and Hot Metal Bridge to Big Dog Coffee. More cappuccino, plus a scone.

Back on the bikes and it was noticeably warmer out. On the Jail Trail near the Second Avenue parking lots, it looks like the tent camp under the Parkway has grown considerably. It's a lot of fun being outside when it's discretionary; I don't think these people are having much fun.

I think we finished at 40F. A very nice day to be bicycling by choice.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Pittsburgh 5775 Chanukah Ride

12/21/2014 14m
Started riding with K at the Second Avenue parking lot. Rode the Jail Trail up to Oakland, and out Fifth to Squirrel Hill.

Our goal was to join the Chanukah Menorah Parade, which was originally a car-caravan event but for the third time, has included a bicycle contingent. We had a more cyclists than last year, this event grows every year.

The ride was excellent. There was Pgh Police support at the major intersections, and an officer on bicycle accompanied us which was awesome.

At Schenley Plaza, there was doughnuts and latkes and klezmer music. Last year, there was some difficulty lighting the lamps, but this year the lighting went off without a hitch.

The event was located immediately adjacent to Conflict Kitchen, which is serving Palestinian takeout right now. This led to this interesting photo by Stu-S:

Afterwards we rode back on the Jail Trail. It was a bit chilly, took a while to warm up after standing around at the event.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sewickley and Police Station Pizza

12/20/2014 27m
The sun came out this afternoon. It was really nice.

Started at the Rez, rode through Aliquippa and Crescent to Moon Township and the Sewickley Bridge. Stopped at Starbucks for coffee and rest room facilities. Glommed a few packs of honey while I was there.

Returned via Beaver Street through Leetsdale, and Merchant St through Ambridge. There's a tremendous pizza place at 1005 Merchant Street known widely as Police Station Pizza, even though that's not the name of the place.

Back in the day the white building adjacent to the Original Pizza House was, in fact, the Police Station. It's not located there anymore. But all the locals still refer to it as Police Station Pizza, in the grand Pittsburgh tradition of invoking "stuff that's gone". They make Sicilian-type pizza.

When I rode by, there was probably 25 or 30 people standing up, waiting for pizzas. People come from all over, and people from all strata -- there's Jaguars parked out front, and poor folks counting out nickels to pay for their pizza in all coins. It's a slice of life. (see what I did there?)

It's a show to sit there and watch. You walk in, the counter man looks at you and says, How Many Slices? and you tell him a number. Don't say anything about toppings yet. When the time is right, they look at you and say, What toppings? and you tell them what you want. When your pizzas come out, they look at you, they know this is your pizza, and they know exactly what to charge you.

The thing is: it's all mental, nothing is written down. Their counter staff would make excellent air traffic controllers, they just keep it all in their heads. Personally, I'm not wild about their pizza - I'm more of a thin-crust, Yolanda's pizza kind of guy - but the opportunity to watch the skills demonstration at the counter is worth buying a pizza. Lots of folks love their pizza.

Crossed the newly refurbed Ambridge Bridge, which perhaps should be am(bridge)^2. Rode north of 51 to Aliquippa, then Franklin Ave and Kennedy up to Brodhead, and thence back to the start.

All the drivers were very nice, as they usually are. I felt very comfortable in the 30F conditions; I've taken to wearing one layer less on my lower half and that seems a lot more comfortable. 27 miles.

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.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cyclisme sans Toilettes; 31 Days until Icycle Bicycle

11.30.2014 39m
Although the forecast wasn't calling for it, the day provided wonderful weather: 60F and overcast, which is pretty great for cycling.

Today there is a home Steelers game, and the streets and trails were preternaturally quiet and nearly post-apocalyptic.

Rode out to Kennywood and back on the Steel Valley Trail.

Very disappointed to see that the fountain in Point State Park is turned off. Even more disappointed that the bathrooms at the Pump House are locked closed, and the porta-potties under the Birmingham Bridge are removed. What, is the need different in the winter?

Manuevered back via the 16th Street Bridge, hoping to outmanuever tailgating rowdies but there weren't any.

Only 31 days until Icycle Bicycle.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Peddling Overweight Elf's

Stopped in Performance Bikes on Saturday to see their ELF, a solar-recharging electric-pedal vehicle in a plastic pod from North Carolina's Organic Transit. This is such an interesting thing to me.

With delivery fees, it's about a $6,000 base model and $9800 as shown. This would be such an awesome vehicle to use to scoot around town; a sheltered pedal-bike with electric assist and solar recharging. I could so see myself enjoying one of these.

When you ask, what are the rules? Is this street-legal? the answer is, "this is a bike. It's legal anywhere it's legal to ride a bike".

Is it really that simple? Or is this really is an electric car without any of the safety factors required for cars? And because it's a bike there's no passenger safety investments (crumple zones, seat belts, etc) of any kind (because those are car things, silly goose). So it's a $9K e-car that you can get killed in and nobody's responsible.

The little voice in my mind wonders if the Elf isn't another Uber-Lyft-AirBnB, an attempt to avoid safety, regulation, liability, and insurance through concise miswording?

The Elf spec sheet includes these parameters: (note the weight of 150 pounds, please)

The ELF website FAQ says, our bikes meet federal e-bike standards and you should check your own state's requirements. Funny thing there. The PA ebike requirements (see legislation) include:

On October 22, 2014 PA house bill 573 passed into law, which is Act 154, which changes the definition of "pedalcycle" (bicycle) in the PA state vehicle code. "Pedalcycle" is now defined as a vehicle propelled solely by human-powered pedals or a "pedalcycle" (bicycle) with electric assist(a vehicle weighing not more than 100 pounds with two or three wheels more than 11 inches in diameter, manufactured or assembled with an electric motor rated no more than 750 watts and equipped with operational pedals and travels at speeds less than 20 mph). This bill allows the usage of pedal assisted bicycles in PA that follow the adopted state guidelines.
and it would seem that the ELF's weight of 150 pounds exceeds the PA pedalcycles-with-electric-assist definition of 100 pounds. So the manufacturer and sales team say: "it's a bike and weighs 150 pounds" and the state law says an electric-assist bike has to weigh 100 pounds or less. awkward!

I want to like this vehicle. I'm not sure that Performance Bike selling these gizmos in Pennsylvania is completely honorable, since they don't meet the PA definition of a bike or an e-bike, and the manufacturer asserts that it's not a car, it's a bike. It needs a placard: NOT STREET LEGAL IN PENNSYLVANIA.

It would be great to have these in Pittsburgh. They'd probably increase pressure to reduce speed limits to 25 (which I'm good with). But I don't see how they're selling them as bikes without identifying the Pennsylvania definition of a legal bike or addressing that they're outside the range.

If I had yielded to my impulse and dropped $9500 on a Elf because the staff assured me it was legal anywhere a bike could go, and then found out it didn't fit the categories of bikes (normal or e-bike) or cars - so that when a police officer stopped me and asked me what I was thinking, I'd be in a jam - I'd be kind of mild-to-middling flustered.

For me the ELF name conjures the audiotape of David Sedaris when he tells about working as a Macy's store elf at Christmastime. One of the Santa's who is seriously into the role play would say, Oh little elf, little elf, sing a Christmas song for little (child's name) here. David Sedaris would resist, and the Santa would continue: oh little elf, little elf, of course you know the words... sing for the child" and then David Sedaris delivers the best version of "Away In A Manger" ever. Just brilliant.

Happy Birthday Major Taylor

11.29 15m

Got to ride with my wife Karen and my neighbor Jack and we joined the PMTCC ride celebrating Major Taylor's birthday. The PMTCC season usually ends in October, plus the Nov. birthday ride.

This was a great ride. All the PMTCC rides start on time, follow the briefed route, very safe and well-organized, drama free, and end as scheduled. PMTCC ride leaders really have their act together.

From Performance Bikes in East Liberty we rode across Squirrel Hill into Greenfield, down to the Jail Trail, across Grant Street, the Penn Ave bike lane and then the Strip District, out Penn Avenue, Bloomfield and Baum Ave back to East Liberty. 15 miles of excellent riding.

While we were on the Jail Trail, I was pleased we encountered Mary Shaw and Roy Weil on their tandem recumbent. I congratulated Mary on recently receiving the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Obama for "For pioneering leadership in the development of innovative curricula in Computer Science." - how cool is that?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Riding in the Buff, Lean Pictures

Fri 11.28.2014 15m
I didn't ride on Thanksgiving so I had to get out on Friday. I planned to ride with my neighbor first thing in the morning, but there was snow and ice and roadways were being closed, so it seem prudent to defer.

Later in the day I was to meet a friend for coffee, so - opportunity! I rode over to the Beaver Starbucks. Afterwards, coming out of Beaver I noticed my chain was noisy so I pulled into the park in Bridgewater for a chain lube session and bike-lean photo:

It was about 32F for my rides. I am fortunate to have great, warm, dry shoes and gloves and I am so beholden to my wool buff. I love riding in the buff.


Coming through Monaca I saw these new golden dragons outside of a former bank which is about to open as a restaurant in a week. We just don't see too many new things in Monaca, so I had to break the one-lean-photo per ride guideline.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Comparatively Wonderful

11/26/2014 14m

A bit of yesterday's news, mentioned in more detail elsewhere: On Monday the Twitter brought the thought, a cyclist is just one driver away from becoming a Hashtag and getting a Ghost Bike. On Tuesday, my friend Stu was attacked by a driver while commuting to work in the morning.

Details, video, audio here. I'm going to have to bite the bullet and invest in front-and-rear cameras. I've been waiting for the useful battery life and storage capability to increase, but I think it's time to begin.

The behavior of aggressive drivers (when they stay in the car, and use the vehicle for aggression) is vehicular bullying. If the preceding vehicle were a street-sweeper, or a police officer on a scooter, or a bulldozer or farm equipment: they'd wait until they could safely pass, and then pass - or they'd wait.

When they don't give a vulnerable, unprotected individual the same treatment as they give big, powerful or authoritative people, it's bullying. It's the behavior of cowards.

Wednesday for me was a commute to work. Inbound in clear and cold, home in drizzle and dark. It was an excellent ride. Everybody was very courteous. I managed to dress pretty appropriately for the 32F; just warm enough on the torso, a little bit almost-cold on the legs.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Warm and Rainbows

11.24.2014 14m 60F
This was a glorious day to have a bicycle. I rode to work via my most direct route, 5 miles in 60F totally blissful.

While I was at work, there was some major windstorm going on and also a rainbow:

Got out of work around 6.45 pm and rode home. I don't take the short route home, I think night riding is an extra risk factor and I pick a much more vanilla route. There was debris and branches on the shoulder but not a huge factor. Two intersections had inoperative traffic lights but everybody was sharing nicely.

I really enjoy night riding when it goes well. (When it doesn't go well, it's not pretty.) 14 miles.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Leetsdale Snowflake Mystery and Tracer Chain Links

11.23.2014 29m 63F
Today was so mild and warm, 63F; it was a wonderful day for a ride.

Rode from Center to Route 51 South. Saw another bicyclist ahead, and another opposite direction. In Beaver County that's really unusual. I managed to pull up to the same-direction cyclist, Joe from Hopewell, and we had a very nice chat about local roadways and n'at.

Took the Sewickley Bridge across the Ohio River. Stopped in Sewickley Starbucks for respite and a few honey packets. Departed via Beaver St to Ambridge, which is a fave road segment of mine.

Riding through Leetsdale, which really should have at least one Leet roadsign (Welcome to 733lsdale), there are snowflakes painted on the ground. They've existed for quite a while and I've decided: I can't live with the uncertainty.

This is an unpainted Leetsdale road snowflake. Could it be that AlQueda oops ISIS oops Khorasan is using steganography to convey messages?

This is an undated and more recent Leetsdale road snowflake:

In Leetsdale cyclist John caught up to me and asked about my Design Shine tail light (it was dark by that time). We discussed my route home via Route51 and he suggested there's a little-used road from Crescent Township, looks like Cherry Alley in South Heights (just north of 151) then via Woodlawn until at least Franklin Ave. John said there's a way to poke further north to West Aliquippa.

All the drivers were very nice and extremely courteous. I would mention red Cadillac land-yacht with PA tags HTY5630 who gave me a 3-foot pass rather than use the empty lane to their left as somebody who might need an awareness upgrade. It was certainly a safe and non-threatening pass, it just seemed stingy compared to all the other good souls.

Riding home in the way dark, I look down occasionally to see if my chain is really in the rings and cogs I think it's in - generally before a major shift moment. In the dark it's problematic, although the helmet-mounted head lamp is a big help. I think I want "tracer links", like every x-th link needs to be reflective or glow-in-the-dark, so I can look down and see my chainline without having to puzzle out the various dark bits while I'm not looking at the road.

I was way too warm today, I dressed for 40F and encountered 63F and my kit wasn't compatible with delayering. Great problem to have.