Local News Stories – 2015
I thought I’d start a new thread to link to bicycle stories and articals that are in the local newspaper/TV this year.
Stories from 2014 are here: http://bikepgh.org/mb/topic/letters-to-the-editor-2014-edition/
Athletes reap rewards in training together http://triblive.com/lifestyles/health/7564134-74/training-says-runners#axzz3Pf5B4Fue
Dan Y./BP mentioned in story
They are talking about us (nicely) in Anchorage
The biker in the pic for the Anchorage article is badass.
Comments are much like elsewhere. Like, that tax money I pay that goes to roads is somehow no good because a car user might pay a pittance more for cruising in his death machine.
Note: Excllent cameo in teh comments by one Bill Edmonds – complete with snowly profile pic to fit in with the natives.
here’s a little piece in the Point Park Globe
Also, there’s a good deal about bikes in this citypaper roundup of peduto’s first year.
PG: Study starting soon on second leg of Ohio River trail
Actual construction not likely to happen until 2018, but now’s the time to start making noise about what we want it to look like.
On a vaguely related theme, there’s a map that indicates what roads get some amount of federal support.
This is the view for the Pittsburgh area: https://api.tiles.mapbox.com/v4/enf.ee407c6a/page.html?access_token=pk.eyJ1IjoiZW5mIiwiYSI6IkNJek92bnMifQ.xn2_Uj9RkYTGRuCGg4DXZQ#12/40.4590/-79.9432
The roads in yellow are part of this system (if I understood it).
The blue roads are from
An article where I found this: https://www.mapbox.com/blog/hpms-openstreetmap/
Anyway, check out what’s funded. It’s not totally intuitive.
The traffic counts are eye-opening. Perry Highway near my house gets more than double the count of the Mon-Fayette Expressway in its busier, northern section (16,758 vs. 7,638). The less busy southern section gets only a bit more traffic than Perrymont Road (6,176 vs 4,675). Even Babcock and Siebert are in five digits. I-279 near the city is over 50K.
Thank you for finding this!
Interesting that vehicle count is slightly higher for Penn Ave through the Cultural District than it is for Liberty Ave along that same stretch. The latter road has always seemed busier to me, especially since Penn is pretty empty during non-rush hours and when there are no large events nearby.
I’m not sure I believe that Ellsworth gets much more traffic than Penn and Liberty downtown combined. I wonder how and when PA accumulated this data. It shows cars going down Forbes and right through Market Square, which suggests it may be pretty outdated. (The map data is supposed to be from 2012, but I don’t think Market Square has had through traffic since at least 2009.)
I agree that some of the volume data might be off, not to mention the dates (I guess you’d have to dig into the specifications for the map data).
But what I found interesting was the funding patterns.
Like why is Wilkins there, but just between 5th and Beechwood (with a snippet at Dallas)?
And Ellsworth between Neville and Highland?
And various other bits and pieces in residential areas.
Or maybe I’m just confused. The data are probably there to be able to click through to a project description (if someone put it together).
Or maybe we are witnessing the power of pork?
As I read the map, the entirety of Wilkins has a yellow line (though east of Beechwood it’s a thin yellow line because there’s supposedly so little traffic).
I agree that the map shows no federal aid for the part of Ellsworth east of where it goes under Highland. Perhaps it’s something simple, like certain blocks at one time got improved curb cuts or street lights that the feds helped to finance, and other blocks didn’t.
Yeah, @Steven, maybe I was just trolling. But this stuff doesn’t quite make sense, does it? How is it that some short bits of road get subsidies but others don’t? The bit at Dallas is particularly interesting. The eastern side of the intersection (subsidized) is in pretty good shape, but the western side (not) is a total mess; I can’t bike through it except very slowly. What is that about?
While we’re on the subject, what’s with 45th in Bloomfield/Larryville (or St. Francis, as I always thought it was)?
Dallas, Wilkins, and Beeler were once part of US-22/30, fwiw; ancient road signs still stand at Dallas & Penn and on Beeler at Forbes…
You may be reading too much into the situation at Wilkins and Dallas. The federal data neglects one side of the triangle there, but it could just be that they’re not focused on such small details (just like how they only try to map one direction of a divided highway). The federal version of the intersection just shows Wilkins and Dallas intersecting, and exactly how isn’t intended to be part of the representation. They seem to also neglect various ramps and connectors to highways that surely got federal bucks. (And the map seems to show that both eastern and western sides of the triangle got federal funds; it’s the southern side that didn’t.)
The map shows a high number of vehicles for 45th, but without more information on where these numbers all came from, I wouldn’t put much stock in it either.
Nonprofit to show off latest acquisition of trails in Montour Woods (this Saturday)
How cool is this?
The keynote speaker for 2015 Miami Valley Cycling Summit will be Mayor Bill Peduto of Pittsburgh
The Trib profiles Fiks Reflective:
Safety at heart of study for bike trail linking Beaver, Allegheny
“Pollution concentrations in river valleys, he said, should raise public concern about parks, bicycle trails and recreational facilities along the rivers, he said.”
The pollution mapping story is us — Albert was my first PhD student and returned to our faculty a few years ago. If anybody has questions about it I can probably answer them.
Short blog post on the iCycle blog on the Trib about the Wheel Mill:
Aero Tech Designs seeks to grow into a 100-staff operation in former Post-Gazette property
They are a good sponsor of BikePgh too.
@neilmd If anybody has questions about it I can probably answer them.
OK. Are there many times when it would be contrary to your health to excercise on the bike trails?
Of course, unpolluted exercise is eetter, but if, say you did 30 miles on the GAP out and back 3 X a week, how many times you would be healthier to just skip it?
The answer has to be “some”. Once when Clairton works tar-capturing technology on the ovens failed , I detoured about 15 miles to avoid DRIVING through the dense black cloud that drifted across the river.
So the question is how often it would happen.
I’m pretty sure that you would always be healthier doing 30 miles on the GAP than not.
For most healthy adults, the answer is probably that the cumulative effect on your lungs is fairly linear with the cumulative product of volume of air and pollution level (some aggregate of fine PM and ozone). Breathing really hard at VO2max next to a failed coke oven is in fact probably not the best idea — lung tissue does recover, but never completely (by the way for any smokers out there don’t worry about air pollution until you quit).
We had an event downtown in Dec organized by Power of 32 and local foundations addressing energy in the region, and both I and a keynote speaker, Aaron Bernstein from the Harvard School of Public Health addressed pollution and climate issues. He is an MD and also an avid cyclist, and has tracked his lung volume over time as he has biked in Boston and elsewhere, and reports that he can detect a loss in lung volume related to pollution exposure.
My advice is that yes it is good to plan routes to reduce exposure to pollution, but there are very few cases where it would be a net disbenefit to go out on a ride. The jail trail is an interesting one in that regard, where again it is surely good for your health to ride along it but it could be better. We should probably play pretty close attention to trees and other plantings that can shield the trail from the parkway.
Re the 2/11 air quality forum, here’s my comment on that Post-Gazette article.
At the forum on the 11th, I asked how the map (pictured here) was created, and Presto said that they used measurements from 70 sites around the county, collected at (I believe he said) various times of day and times of the year. It also appears that they modeled or simulated the pollution near the major freeways and roads (the web of red lines). So it sounds like the map is an approximate picture of pollution, since the values displayed at most points are interpolated from the 70 sites.
I was surprised that the pollution “clouds” around Dravosburg and Elizabeth are bigger than that around Clairton, on this map; I expected the opposite. I also expected to see the prevailing winds more visible in the data, e.g. the pollution from Clairton blows to the east. Hopefully the measurements will be more dense in coming years and we can get more accurate maps, and learn how the pollution changes day by day.
For time lapse video of Pittsburgh pollution, see http://breatheproject.org/learn/breathe-cam/
@neilmd: Do you know how that map was created, and how accurate it is? Thanks.
I’m also wondering about that 70 sensor thing. The grid on the map is way finer than that suggests. And I don’t see how interpolation would give you that. Were the sensors moved around over the course of the study? Are other data incorporated? Inquiring minds…
What’s the citation? Now that I’m wondering about it.
Dense measurements would be wonderful! They would also be really, really expensive. There are interesting tradeoffs between lots of cheap (aka crappy) sensors and a few good (aka expensive) suites of instruments, but the way these data were obtained was with an instrumented van that parked at those 70 sites a few times over the course of about a year. There are other measurements going on out of Pitt that involve a bunch of instruments mounted on light poles (30 or so) that don’t move (much). Those data are not part of this study.
The maps are produced via a technique known as “land use regression” (LUR), which makes use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) databases for those enquiring minds that tend toward speaking geek. It is not so much as a model as an informed extrapolation. The postulate here is that the pollution (mostly black carbon, aka “soot”, which is part of fine particulate matter) comes from two major sources: industry and transportation, and also may tend to be trapped in river valleys and thus is likely to correlate with elevation around the county. GIS is then used to generate “buffers” that relate any of the 70 sets of measurements to (1) how close to a major roadway (or the integral of traffic volume or other similar measures of proximity to vehicles) (2) how close to a known industrial site with registered emissions and (3) whether the site is above or below a cutoff that pretty well says “river valley”. The model then does a best fit job of explaining the observations based on this fairly crude set of criteria. It is standard practice to “train” the model on a subset (typically the majority) of the data but to hold a set out for “validation” — you want to make sure that the model extrapolates well to points where you actually do know what was observed.
LUR is used fairly frequently in epidemiology to try to do better than relating health outcomes to a few datapoint from central site monitors (i.e. the health department in Lawrenceville).
The bottom line is that big industry is certainly a contributor, but vehicles are probably equally an issue — almost certainly if we start looking at population weighted exposure — and also smaller business and industrial activity is a non-trivial contributor.
Got my layers on, gotta slog home in the relatively balmy evening…
The map was produced using a detailed model of how geographic factors (elevation, vegetation) plus data on human activity (traffic, factory emissions) and maybe weather patterns (prevailing wind) affect pollutant distribution.
The model is then anchored to observations collected by the mobile sensors (where sampling points were presumably chosen to maximally constraint its parameters). It also sounds like you used deleted interpolation to validate the model.
So, I dunno… sounds good enough for me.
But the implication is that all our river trails may not be so good for our health. Put another way: climb often, climb high.
I would never argue with “climb often, climb high”.
Still, for everyone who is otherwise healthy, the health benefits of riding even through the reddest parts of that map outweigh the negatives by a lot.
If you want to plan, however, consider the meteorology a bit. The river trails are going to have the highest pollution levels when there is little wind and the air is stable; that’s when you get inversions that cap air in the valleys. In practice that means a still morning before sunrise (when there is usually enough heating to stir air up out of the valleys) and especially during the morning rush. Sounds like Stef at 5am to me…
In that case, the benefits of a good hedge are not to be sneezed at; it might be interesting to think about plantings along the jail trail — who wants to see the cars anyway?
It would be quite cool to figure out how to assimilate tiered data with lots and lots of low quality data (think the GASP bike monitors, etc), a fair bit of medium quality data (like these mobile van data) and a little (continuous) high quality data (takes about $1M worth of kit in a permanent station). We are actually working on that, though maybe in Beijing before Pittsburgh.
So long as plantings along the trails don’t grow in to the trails frequently. I’ve called 311about the overgrowth on panther hollow and connecting trail to saline st bike lane.
Dumbest installation of hedges ever is by kelly’s bar and lounge on center ave. They put hedges right next to parking spaces where people exit their vehicles, with zero setback. This is especially annoying when the hedges become snow covered.
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