Another East Liberty assault.
20 years ago, on sunny summer weekend days, I might do a 20 mile loop around town, staying completely within the rivers. If I saw 2 other cyclists, it would be an exciting day.
Penn circle was something you would circumnavigate as quickly as possible to get to the far end of Highland Park, white people did not go into the interior.
Big picture, the city is much healthier now, people can safely go places now they wouldn’t have thought to before, but thusly there’s more friction. This doesn’t help the individual who is being chased with a cigarette bin, but you just have to get the city and police to deal with things and continue to make progress.
I don’t know that it is getting any worse, I do think that the improved communication just makes it clearer when there is an issue. And the fact that most of us, having had a bad experience (either directly or one of our friends) usually comes and posts about it. But when something positive happens, we almost never do. (So our data is highly biased.)
In fact, when I moved here in 1990 I was an avid cyclist…that summer I’d commuted 20 miles daily to work at an amusement park. [Near Syracuse, NY … comparatively flat, so like commuting 10 miles a day here. ]
By the end of my first semester of college, I’d more or less stopped riding due to one incident.
I was coming down Forbes towards Pitt, and as I crossed the bridge before Craig St a rusted out pickup started blaring its horn at me. I didn’t think much of it at first… as far as I could tell, I hadn’t done anything wrong. (No sudden swerves or outrageous behavior.)
When I stopped at the light at Forbes & Craig, I hear the guy screaming at me. MF’ing and “I’m gonna kill ya!” So instead of going straight (I HAD been going down to Jerry’s Records), I turned down Filmore… and he followed, staying less than a foot away, leaning out his window and screaming. So down Neville toward CMU… still following… back onto campus.
He eventually gave up after I lead him on a chase around the robotics institute.
For someone who had just moved to Pittsburgh from a village of 206 people (and 400 cows in the village limits), it was terrifying. After that I only rode my bike in PGH two or three times until I moved back in ’08.
Not nearly on the same level as what Noah experienced, but that’s not my point. My point is that I didn’t have anywhere to go to post/vent/warn others about this crazy rusted out gray truck that was harassing cyclists in Oakland.
I mean I did tell a few other students, but there was nothing that could spread the story like a posting here.
sorry for hijacking the thread a bit, but i’ve been thinking about this a bunch lately…the whole double edge sword of the board thing, and i gotta get this out.
so the idea of the board is for local cyclists to share local knowledge in the hopes of lowering the bar of entry for cycling, and making lives easier for existing cyclists. Real goal: get more people on more bikes more often.
it’s also become a place where people understandably post about terrible things that happen because they are frustrated, this is an outlet that will provide support, and they want to warn other people and keep them out of harm’s way.
with that, more people are using the board this year, and patterns began to emerge mainly in regards to teenagers attacking cyclists in East Lib (among others). so i wonder, if the messageboard (or something similar) didn’t exist, most of us, myself included, wouldn’t even be aware that there is a problem or pattern in East Liberty in regards to attacks on cyclists. the people who are aware of the patterns, the cops and media, aren’t telling us – we’re telling us.
and that’s the great thing of the messageboard, right? cyclists helping cyclists. but it makes me sad in a way, that the very thing that is supposed to help more people get on more bikes more often, is actually making people aware of problem(s) that are causing more people to ride less bikes less often.
I’m not suggesting that people don’t post this stuff when it happens. it’s crucial that we find out about it in order to act, stay safe, and make rational decisions on where/when/how to ride. remember that incredible public safety meeting in east liberty? i’m more just thinking out loud and how the world makes me really really sad sometimes.
and when it’s all said and done, i think the board has succeeded in getting more people on more bikes more often, sometimes there’s setbacks tho.
@erok, that’s a good point and I wonder if it doesn’t deserve a thread of its own?
Just a thought but would a couple of sticky threads help? I’m thinking: “Post Your Bad Experiences here” and “Post your Good Experiences Here”
That at least might 1) remind people to post when they have a good experience(*) and 2) centralize some of the less egregious bad experiences into one thread.
There would still probably be some threads about the most egregious bad stuff, which would (rightfully) separate out the stuff that we really need to know (like Noah’s) from the less serious (“some guy MF’d me today and I need to vent”).
I don’t know how much the forum is moderated, but I know on other bbpress forums I belong to (such as http://gallifreybase.com/forum/) the moderators will actively merge discussions if there is an already existing thread.
(*) I’m just starting really cycling again after recovering from a minor hip injury (that I made worse by ignoring) and I have to say that I’ve really been noticing a lot of nice drivers lately in the Regent Sq/Sq Hill/Greenfield areas… but I keep forgetting to post about them.
moderation: very low level. the keeping people in line bit is pretty self regulating. everyone on here pretty much won’t tolerate trolls. as far as merging threads? we don’t do it, mostly because of time.
I’ve have been noticing improved relationships with drivers. I think partially because I’ve become more accommodating.
I almost feel sorry for these suckers stuck in their cars, picking their noses up and down Butler, and they PAY for this.
I’ve also been noticing a new type of driver, one who respects and gives room to cyclists.
When I first find myself next to them, I think maybe it’s a blue hair because there giving me a lot of room and they seem afraid to pass, we get closer to each other and it’s some kid, smiling perhaps, Not on the phone, just giving me some space. They almost seem like they’re over doing it, like maybe they know people on this board, know people who ride. They probably ride themselves. So increased communication would seem to be having a positive effect on somebody.
I’m guessing the “Good Experiences” thread will be pretty meager. Where’s the motivation for me to come and post: “Went for a ride today, nothing happened. I had fun.”?
By comparison, the “Bad Experience” thread will be full to overflowing with posts. It would give the appearance that cycling in Pittsburgh is a minefield.
I think erok is right, and the “Bad Experiences” are the squeaky wheels. I wouldn’t know about any of the stuff from East Liberty except for this board. Even knowing it doesn’t stop me from riding through there – it just heightens my sense of awareness.
My guess is bad stuff happened to cyclists before all of these tools of communication became widespread. And they were all happening in isolation. Now, we all know, but he facts haven’t changed.
timito is on to something, and I think it is a secondary effect of more cyclists on the road. Most cyclists do drive from time to time, and when they do, they tend to be more cognizant of other cyclists.
Some time ago, I ran across a thread about Amsterdam’s bike culture, and aside from the obvious “everyone’s on a bike” part of it, the point was made that nearly everyone behind the wheel is a cyclist fairly often.
So, net effect, the more young’uns we keep on two wheels beyond their 14th birthdays, the more we’ll see tolerant drivers, blue hair or not.
I’m guessing the “Good Experiences” thread will be pretty meager. Where’s the motivation for me to come and post: “Went for a ride today, nothing happened. I had fun.”?
Isn’t that motivation enough? And isn’t that what gets most of us on a bike most days?
I’m fairly certain I could note something positive every time I’m on a bike, even if it’s as simple as something I observed because I was on a bike.
My interactions with car drivers have improved immensely in the last 15 years, to the point where it is a rare day I feel like I’m singled out as anything other than just another person going somewhere, my method of transport doesn’t seem to matter anymore. Once I realized just how much of the aggression could be abated by changing how I behaved things got better and continue to do so. More riders on the streets and the hard work of Bike-Pgh are no small part of this either.
I think this is getting to me because of the geographic location of my house and how few ways there are to leave my neighborhood. My wife stopped riding to class last year because of nightly harassment (verbal) while riding home. I’ve also got responsibilities past myself now, and a recreational ride seemed like pretty poor excuse to risk a beat down. Of course I ended up going for a motorcycle ride, something many people consider dangerous also, so maybe I’m just a giant hypocrite.
I know my previous posts sounded defeatist, but that isn’t the case. We’ll figure this out.
Also, communication in the cycling community existed before message boards and Bike-Pgh. It is certainly much better that it was, and faster, but “back in the day” word of mouth was pretty effective considering how few of us there was.
Man, I sound like a cranky old fart, don’t I?
My intereaction with drivers have also gotten better over the last decade or so.
On the other hand, 15 years ago, the pukes would never have thought of looking for a bicyclist. There were not enough bikers around. They wouldn’t have an idea of how to attack a cyclist.
Now it seems, at least around ELB, that anyone growing up now has a pretty good idea of how to roll a biker. If some jag in a pickup wants to go out and look for a guy on a bike to harass, he can be confident of finding one.
I wondered – if political pressure from bikers ever causes the City of Pittsburgh to enforce traffic laws for cars, there could be some kind of backlash. We’ve all seen how pissed a driver can get over being delayed 2 seconds by a bike. How angry will they be if Lolly, Erok, and Scott cause them a 1/2 second delay at every freaking stop sign?
This board, the map & the bike commuting booklet, plus the visible increase in cyclists, lanes & sharrows, racks & bike-friendly or bike-servicing businesses definitely helped me get “back in the saddle.” When I bought my bike ~8 yrs ago & commuted (infrequently) from Park Place/N Point Breeze to Garfield I was regularly cut off & yelled at by cars. I’m a pretty conservative/visible driver/cyclist: lights, signals, etc.
Although the reports here about attacks do scare me, I feel MUCH safer in Pittsburgh at all hours and in most neighborhoods, including East Liberty, than I did during 10 yrs on & around Capitol Hill & other neighborhoods in Seattle.
As I drive less and less, I also realize each time I get behind the wheel how freakin’ stressful driving & parking are in Pittsburgh.
I agree with those here who’ve noticed more drivers who are accommodating to cyclists. It’s gotten much better on many fronts.
Oddly, I’m going to take the optimist view regarding noobs reading the board, I think anyone considering biking thinks there are inherent dangers, but maybe reading threads can help clarify some of the threats, instead of just a vague “ooh, cycling is dangerous”. Also learn how to deal with threats, and how to be safe. I mean, sometimes you run, and sometimes you ball up and get in someones face, learn the difference. Most importantly don’t let the bastards stop you from riding.
the negative experience threads don’t put me off so much as the serious crash threads. I’m okay with riding aware, but riding thinking about being dead makes it not worth it.
the only time I actually stayed home was after my boss asked me to get paperwork in order that anyone could just pick up where I left off, you know in case something where to happen to me on my bicycle or something. that morbid thought running through my head kept me from bike commuting for a week.
@ Tabby: geez! And who will run the company when your boss wrecks his/her car while texting?
believe me, I was quite insensed. he claimed that he was just using that as an example and that he just believes it’s a good practice to have something easily accessable. I may have rolled my eyes at that point.
Ha! We have a half humorous/half serious policy in our office, that anything you do should be clear enough that anyone can pick it up if something should happen, and it doesn’t have anything to do with anyone biking. And we call it –
“the hit-by-the-bus” policy.
Yeah, “hit by a bus” is the standard figure of speech for this where I work.
we use “struck by a meteor”. It all depends on how much you like your coworkers and how “important” your job is.
Low likelyhood of occurance * High severity of outcome = High Risk.
yeah, I get the concept, but the thing was that it wasn’t a figure of speech. It was specific to how I get to work. I wouldn’t have had a problem with it had he said the standard “hit by a bus”. And I do already have all these things with the paperwork so I felt his point was excessive.
Imagining myself in Tabby’s position, I would feel very uncomfortable with the person who would say that. Using a standard figure of speech is one thing, but tailoring the example to the individual’s lifestyle is freaky. What’s next: “You look like you eat a lot. Hey, could you be sure to document your work in detail in case you drop dead from a heart attack tomorrow?” Yuck.
yeah, the general practice is good for everyone, regardless of how they commute – your boss’ words were ill chosen. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. 100% of my coworkers who know I bike for commute think I’m crazy, and often say things… I’m sure they don’t realize they shouldn’t. My boss doesn’t know, because I want to avoid a conversation like this. But y’all know how I feel about that situation.
Maybe your boss just REALLY values your work, more than everybody else?
The prep for being “hit by a bus” was the standard cliche in my office, but my boss has been discouraging that image lately. I think partly because she considered how I get to work.
A point that is made repeatedly in helmet law arguments is this: biking – even without a helmet- is such healthy exercise that it increases your life expectancy. If British stats are to be believed, there are about 300 people that die from inadequate exercise for each person that dies on a bike. Maybe Tabby should tell her bass she’s concerned he might die becaue he doesn’t get enough exercise.
I actually get right out in front of this one. For years I commuted by bus, so the old “hit by a bus” got rather old for everyone I worked with. Now I’m also on a bike quite a bit, and when someone says something about getting clobbered by a car, I just come straight out with “and it’s your job when driving not to hit me or any other cyclist”. That usually shuts them up. Whether it actually gets them to think about it when sailing along at 15 over the posted limit like everyone does, or not, I can’t be sure, but at least I know I planted one little seed in their brains.
(@bjanaszek: the “motivation” I was referring to was the motivation to make a post, not the motivation to ride a bike. I was simply trying to point out that aspect of human nature that causes us to complain about things more than make positive comments. Considering that 99% of my rides are positive, I don’t really think anyone would care to read or participate on a board where the posts read: “another great ride today,” over and over again.)
My idea for a positive thread was more along the lines of “Flat tire — some driver stopped and asked if I needed help” than “I had a nice ride today.”
Yeah, it would only get 1% as many posts as the negative thread… but it might be nice to have a place to hat tip some good samaritans.
The tag thread is so much fun. It would be cool if we could engage that community — the non-cyclists, the potential peers of the whateveryouwanttocallthems — in an equivalent game of some sort, that would draw them in to us. Change the peer pressure, so to speak, make it uncool to single out cyclists.
I’m grasping here, I don’t have the answers, but it just seems that boredom, us-against-themminess and maybe a racial tinge as well, all add up to them looking for an outlet, and we’re it.
@myddrin- check out the “good people” thread. that’s the kind of thing posted in there and it does seem to still be active even if it’s at a slower rate.
back to the main topic, Noah I’m really glad that you’re alright. I can’t believe they threw that thing at your bike and it didn’t cause you to wreck.
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