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

Monday, November 30, 2015

Tour de War On Christmas

Nov.30 2015 15m
I thought I'd take a Tour de  War on Christmas , just to check the zeitgeist. Started with my wife Karen at the Bastille. Saw a utility boat manuevering to dock, stopped to check out the small flight deck by the bow; they had a large octo-prop drone on board. They said they were using it to inspect the nearby railroad bridge. The future keeps arriving.

It looked somewhat like this, except the one we saw was bigger and more heavy-duty.

Checked out Heinz Field and Point State Park.

Took a look at PPG Plaza, and Highmark (nee Hornes):

Steel Plaza and the City-County Building:

Rode out to BikePgh to buy a jersey at their Cyber Monday sale. Espresso a Mano for coffee goodness. 15 miles, nice day.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Bridges of the Montour Trail

Nov.27 2015. 28m
Rode today with my neighbor Jack. We drove out to the McDonald Trestle to begin our ride, with the plan of seeing the new bridges at Route50/ Venice and also at Valley Brook Road.

It was a very nice day, 60F. There were a few people out, not as many as I expected but perhaps: Black Friday n'at.

As we rode this stretch I realized I kept crossing bridges where once there was an ersatz path down to the street, and an at-grade crossing, followed by a scramble up a hill to rejoin the trail on the other side. Not anymore; so many bridges.

I've put a circle over each of the major bridges on this trail segment. Most of them have only been opened within the last two years. Major progress.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

More Art Bike Racks

11.25.2015 27m
A mild, pretty day for a bike ride. Started at the Bastille.

Rode around the Cultural District to photograph a few more new Art Bike Racks.

Rode Forbes out to Oakland, which is always kind of fun. Continued across into Squirrel Hill, where I met Yale and PaulH.

We rode out to Sandcastle and Costco, then took the SouthSide trail to Ft. Pitt Bridge and across to the Bastille. Finished at sunset. A very nice ride. Below is a photo from Paul Heckbert of the railroad bridge across the Ohio River, looking at Brunot Island:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Driver Arraigned in Hit-And-Run Killing of Cyclist


ALIQUIPPA -- A Brighton Township man accused of causing a 2014 crash that killed a bicyclist in Aliquippa told police he drank three shots of tequila and seven or eight beers at a bar before driving home.

William D. Edenfield, 60, was arraigned Tuesday morning before Magisterial District Judge James DiBenedetto. He is accused of striking and killing bicyclist Taylor Lee Banks, 23, of Braddock around 6:45 p.m. Oct. 31, 2014 in the northbound lane of Route 51 between Baker Street and the West Aliquippa Bridge. Banks was riding to his mother's house in Rochester at the time.

According to police, just prior to the location of the crash is a posted sign warning drivers of bicyclists.

The following was released in a police report:
Officers and medics were called to the scene of the crash, where Banks was immediately pronounced dead. Police collected several pieces of broken vehicle components, including a emblem from a Dodge truck.

Through early investigation, police learned the license plate number for truck that fled from the crash. Shortly after, the truck -- which had heavy front-end damage -- was seen parked in Monaca. Police approached the vehicle and met with Edenfield, the driver and only occupant. Edenfield said he was headed home from South Heights.

Officers noticed that Edenfield appeared to be intoxicated and took him to Heritage Valley Beaver hospital for a blood test. According to the police report, his blood alcohol level was 0.24 percent.

Edenfield agreed to speak with police after submitting to the test. He told officers he "did not mean to hurt anyone."

Edenfield said he got to D'Amico's Tavern at 115 Jordan Street between 3 and 4 p.m. drank three shots of tequila and seven or eight beers and left about 7 p.m. He took Route 51 toward Monaca on his way home.

While driving through Aliquippa, he said, he noticed a "twinkle" of something ahead but didn't know what it was. Edenfield said he occasionally glanced over his left shoulder at the old mill site where he used to work. At one point he noticed he hit something but couldn't tell what, according to police. Edenfield said he looked in his rear-view mirror and saw something on the side of the road. He pulled over when he got into Monaca, police said.

According to a reconstruction investigation into the crash, when Edenfield hit the bike, he trapped Banks between the guardrail and his truck. This caused Banks to hit several other objects, including wooden and metal guardrail supports while he was dragged by Edenfield's truck.

Banks' mother, Beth Ann, said Edenfield's arrest has given her family great relief. "My family has something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving," she said.

She expressed frustration over how long it took for charges to be filed in the case. "He's been out all this time, living his life day to day, and we can’t function," she said.

According to police, accident reconstruction can often take several months.

Beaver County District Attorney Anthony Berosh previously told The Times that accident reconstruction, unlike other investigations, requires a certified specialist to analyze information from the crash before the district attorney's office decides if -- and what -- charges should be filed.

Edenfield was charged by Aliquippa police with homicide by vehicle, causing an accident involving death, DUI, careless driving and failing to stop and give information. According to online court records, he posted a $25,000 bond and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Dec. 4.

Also, WPXI video.

Monday, November 23, 2015

buff day, Cutural District bike racks

Mon 11.23.2015 17m
Started riding at the Bastille, in 35F which made today the first day of the season wearing my buff, which is a thin woolen tube worn around the neck.

I was surprised to see a Postal Service truck on the trail, and even more surprised when I watched them deliver mail to a mailbox at the Dockmaster's house by the koi pond. Neither rain nor snow nor bike trail.. I guess.

Today's mission, besides enjoying the glorious cold sunshine, was to take pictures of new bike racks in the Cultural District for my work-in-progress Page of Bike Rack Sculptures. I really liked this one:

Down by 10th, I was happy to see this rig curbside. This is not your old-school Pittsburgh bike; it makes me think Times Are Changing.

This sign on the Penn Ave bike lane had me flummoxed; there was no evident reason for the bike lane to be closed. Turns out, they meant to say Cars Do Not Enter. I can't quibble too much with an effort to keep me from getting killed.

After the ride I went Southside for coffee at BigDog. The 20% coupon at REI expires today so I stopped by to cruise the multi-tool horn-of-plenty, replacing the one I lost in my big bike snafu last week.

I did notice a few new tents along the SouthSide trail set up as homeless camps. It's a cold time to be sleeping rough.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Two ways to Reduce Cyclist Deaths: Enforce Speed Limits or Send White Folks to Prison

Sat 11.22
On Halloween 2014, Taylor Lee Banks, 21, was killed bicycling from his job in Aliquippa's NewSheffield neighborhood to the apartment he shared with his mother in Rochester PA. It was a hit-and-run crash, and the driver left him to die in the street.

In Beaver County (and Western PA) there's one way you can kill somebody with impunity: use a car to kill them while they're riding a bicycle; be sober, and stop at the scene. You won't have any criminal problems.

A little over a year after the tragedy, a Beaver man has been charged with the crime. He is innocent until proven guilty, and there is no schadenfreude in his predicament; it won't bring Taylor back but it will serve some function in telling he community: there are repercussions for killing cyclists who are using the roads appropriately.

Man charged in death of Aliquippa bicyclist
By Kirstin Kennedy kkennedy@timesonline.com

ALIQUIPPA -- A Beaver man has been charged for causing a 2014 accident that killed a bicyclist on Route 51 on Halloween night, according to online court records.

William D. Edenfield, 60, no listed address, was charged Friday by Aliquippa police with homicide by vehicle, causing an accident involving death, DUI, careless driving and failing to stop and give information.

According to police, Taylor Lee Banks, 23, of Braddock was riding his bike around 6:45 p.m. Oct. 31, 2014, in the northbound lane of Route 51 when he was struck by a car and killed. Police said he was headed to his mother's home in Rochester.

Police consulted with accident reconstruction specialists to determine how the accident occurred. The process of reconstruction often takes several months, officials said.

A suspect was initially taken into custody on the night of the accident, but was later released, police said. It is unclear if Edenfield was the initial suspect.

As of Friday night, Edenfield was not in police custody, according to online court records. No further information was available.

Which brings me to something I said to a City Paper reporter last week: This won't change until we start putting white people in prison for killing cyclists. Because in America, if you want something illegal to stop, you've got to put white people into prison and then you'll get their attention.

Of course, there are intermediate levels that could be taken; outcomes less than prison, for events less than fatal. Generally we accept that the best course is the middle, between excess and deficiency.

An example of an intermediate engagement would be: enforcing speed limits. That would work, too, but our elected officials are unwilling to tell the police to enforce speed limits, so it seems like we can only focus on the egregious transactions and talk about prison for people who kill with cars.

This is, of course, the lesson of Heinrich's Triangle - that for every 1 fatality, there are 30 serious events (wrecks), and 300 warning-events (fender benders), and thousands of bad behaviors (speeding, distraction). We can choose to engage the bottom of the triangle (which involves a lot of work and conflict), or we can choose to criminalize the few acts at the top of the triangle (which reduces scope, expense, and effectiveness).

This is not bicycle-lobby agitprop; this is research by the WHO and AAA. Slowing down cars increases survival rates; the most expedient way to slow down cars in American cities is to enforce speed limits.

It comes down to budgets, and whether the deaths (and death reduction) are on the budget or externalities. Mayors have to have a budget to start/increase speed limit enforcement; when we bury dead people, the family and maybe the other driver pay for it. We're getting the government, leadership, and outcomes we're willing to pay for.

My good friend read this post and asked: what's with the   white people    aspect of my title? He was wondering if that was a superfluous Freudian addition, but it's not. It goes like this:
  • Driving without regard to road users, and knowing there's no penalty if using your cellphone results in somebody else dying, is an example of: entitlement. I'm going to make a generalization here, and Kind Readers may disagree: most black drivers are more careful than most white drivers; they are motivated to bring their A-game and avoid police interactions.
  • In my own experience, the drivers that hassle me are white people. I've had one black driver shout at me from his car; he shouted, "don't get killed doing that".
  • America puts black people in jail left-and-right, for a broad variety of things - but not white folks. It has a bigger effect in the white community when a white person is put in jail for something they did with their car.
  • Which leads me to: I wonder if drivers-killing-cyclists isn't largely an example of pernicious white-on-white violence?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Gravel and Grind; Friday DC coffee club

Wed 11.18.2015 2m
Thur 11.19.2015 4m
Fri 11.20.2015 3m
Thursday I drove down to Frederick MD with RC to look around at a bikeshop/ coffeeshop mashup that we've heard great things about: Gravel and Grind.

This is a coffee shop and a bike shop. There's some students sitting at a table socializing and working their social media, a few people at a counter surfing the WiFi, a touring cycling looking at options in Rivendell bags and a bikecamper checking out new gear - all in the same place.

This is what every bike shop should look like:

This is what every coffee shop should look like:

This is RC and I drinking really excellent pour-over coffees and sharing a Middle-Eastern pastry called Ma'amoul.

Frederick, which is a town I've driven through fifty times but never stopped in, has an awesome historic downtown, a vibrant walkable business district, and a canal-way that reminds me of RiverWalk in San Antonio. I could go back there and spend a few days.

Friday we drove into DC. We wanted to join the C&O at Fletcher's Cove but the rush hour inbound turns the access rode into one-way going the wrong way, and we couldn't get there. We ended up parking in downtown.

Our goal was to join the Friday morning Bike Commuter Coffee klatch, having run Friday mornings from 0730 to 0900 for over four years. This was really cool; a running gathering of bike commuters, some stopping for just a few minutes and others enjoying a longer visit. The size of the group varied from a dozen to probably 25 cyclists. Excellent coffee by Swing's Coffee, open-air seating with a roof overhead, plenty of open space for bikes and kibitzing.

Most folks seem to know each other, but they were very welcoming to newcomers. Got to meet MaryG and Ed-F, @MrTinDC, and the blogger behind Tales From the Sharrows, which is DC's 37th most popular commuter bicyclist blog.

Rode around town, and down the length of the Mall. Got to see the Korean War Memorial which I have not seen before. Really tremendous, with glossy marble in the ground representing water in rice paddies.

This one soldier's statue seems to vary from the others and to me, invokes a classic Roman warrior aesthetic.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Ghost Bike Ride: Brandon Ortmann

Nov.14, 2015
4 miles
Recently cyclist Brandon Ortmann was killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding his bike from work to his girlfriend's place.

The police are hoping somebody in the public will report the vehicle/driver, so we had a Ghost Bike ride to bring a bit of media focus on the search. The North Fayette police were great and provided escorts, front and rear.

The Ghost Bike was placed on Stuebenville Pike at McKee Road.

Self-directed stupidity struck me once again. I put my bike back on the van's bike rack, and apparently did not have the toolbag strapped onto the rack. A photo showed it on my front rack when returning from the Ghost Ride, but it did not make it home. Stupid annoyance and an precious gathering of geegaws - my flat kit, inflator, tools, things like a Park tire boot, a magic-spoke, a small AM-FM radio, a first-aid kit, a bag of snacks. Argghhh.

Serendipitously discovered Transitsaurus, quite a find. It's a PAT street car, with drivers and passengers.

click to embiggen in a new window

Later in the day, Karen and I drove into town and took video of Chris and Beth's final Coffeeneuring ride using unicycles, on roads at night. We rode from Thick Bikes to Big Dog Coffee roundtrip. I'm amazed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Montour Trail Ribbon Cutting at 50-980 Flyover

11.11.2015 28m
Ribbon-cutting day on the Montour Trail at the 50-980 Flyover.

But first, published elsewhere: A modest proposal to fix Oakland car traffic

Parked my car at the McDonald trestle (Montour MP17) and rode out to Route 50(MP21) for the bridge opening ceremony. I was very pleased to see a new (to me, at least) tool and work-station at the Galati Road trailhead at MP20

The ribbon cutting was cool and had a nice turnout.

As often happens, the first riders across after the ribbon cutting were the youngest present, I think that's pretty cool:

Possible spoilers: the banner listed the 2016 project list for the Montour Trail, cool stuff.

Afterwards my friend R suggested we ride out to SouthPointe for coffee. It was a nice ride and a good workout.
out to SouthPointe for coffee. I thought, "southpoint" that's not a warning-name like SteepSlope or CrestedHeartbreak, but when we got up there I saw the name of their newest development phase: Zenith Ridge. That's a warning-name if I've ever heard one.

Rode back, which seemed much easier. At MP23.5, Ridgewood Drive, there's also a new tool station:

Met a gentleman named Tim who's a blog reader, that was very cool.

This is the ride across the new bridges as sunset approached. You may recognize Roy and Mary on the bridge deck.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Coffeeneuring 2015 by State (Hint: Pennsylvania!)

I know that on weekends, people tend to focus on sportings and rivalries. I would like to point out that to date, Pennsylvania is winning the state-by-state comparison for Coffeeneuring:

Thursday, November 5, 2015

New Sign, Same as it Ever Was

Nov 5, 2015 20m
Today was a gorgeous day, warm and sunny. I met my friend R down the hill from his house.

We checked out the Route 50/980 bridgework, which is All But Done. It's wonderful.

I was particularly intrigued by the sign, Bikes may use full lane, on a PennDot construction project. I take this to mean that this sign is in the inventory, and there's a criteria for using it. That's a great thing.

We rode out to where Farmhouse Coffee used to be. The new bridges on Valleybrook Road are so smooth. We stopped for coffees. Then we reversed and rode back to R's neighborhood.

We talked about a lot of things and it was a great time. I got home later in the afternoon and learned that another cyclist had been killed by a car in the Greater Metro area. Argghhh.

The media have already assumed it was the cyclists fault (it may be that he shifted into the rear wheels of the truck" and the local police have stated the driver did all that anybody could expect - he couldn't give the cyclist any more room because of oncoming traffic. Because we certainly can't expect drivers to wait until it's safe to pass.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Ghost Bike Recon Run

Wed Nov.4 2015 7 miles
I got to ride in a new area today and meet a new-to-me cyclist, Lance L.

I needed to do a recon ride for an upcoming Memorial Ride. I was fortunate that an experienced local cyclist took me out and showed me around. My pre-conceived notion for the ride would not have worked; major hills would have split the pack up too much.

This is the route for the memorial ride for Brandon Ortmann, who was killed while riding home from work at 7pm on a Friday evening. He had a bike light on, and was riding contraflow. It seems like he might have crossed to the wrong-side of the street to get into position for an approaching left turn, but that's speculation.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Day of the Dead Ride 2015 Pittsburgh

Sun 11.01.2015 13m
I'm involved in a bike activism group called 412Flock! which was sort of resurrected out of the dying remnants of a previous group called Flock.

When we decided to invest the time to keep 'Flock' running for a year, and continuing to offer welcome, safe, slow, silly rides in streets with traffic we emphasized making new outreaches to communities not traditionally embraced by mainstream advocacy.

Back in January I said, Day of the Dead ride! We had a few 'new-to-us' rides: Cinco de Mayo, Gay Pride, a Cosplay Ride, stuff like that. And in December there's a Chanukah Ride.

As Nov.1 approached, a Pittsburgh cyclist named Susan Hicks was gruesomely smashed between two cars and killed. She was waiting in the lane, behind a stopped car, for the light to change. There was another car behind her. A third car rammed into the trailing car, sending it smashing into Susan and the car in front of her.

What a tragedy. It's a six-lane road and we can't find enough space to make cyclists safe. There was some thought of: how do we do a Day of the Dead ride so soon after a killing? But we decided to open the ride with a DOTD altar in memory of Susan Hicks.

Folks got dressed up and really got into the spirit of the event:

We ended up at New Amsterdam, because: mural!

Tremendous soundtrack from Spotify. Another thing I love about the folks who come out on these rides: nobody talked about the Steelers or the day's game. Nobody said if they won, or lost, not anything. I love that.