Pittsburgh Rides in the Post Gazette

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Shawn
Participant
#

In the last year, I’ve noticed that the Post Gazette has developed a weekly article in their Weekend Magazine section dedicated to Motorcycles called “Pittsburgh Rides.”

Has Bike Pittsburgh or anyone else thought about expanding this or adding a section for bicycles?


edmonds59
Participant
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I think ejwme has a plan for that. In her spare time.

nudge, goad.


Lolly
Participant
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I didn’t know about it.

That sounds like a great idea. I’ll get in touch with her about that.


helen s
Participant
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I frequently read the motorcyle articles- I think there is some crossover between the 2 vehicles and what the articles are about.


alankhg
Participant
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Bicycle tourists & motorcycle tourists are generally out to do the same sort of thing. One’s just a lot louder.


dooftram
Participant
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“Bicycle tourists & motorcycle tourists are generally out to do the same sort of thing. One’s just a lot louder.”

Well, some are a lot louder than others….

I’m also guessing the writing will be a lot better in a potential Bike-Pgh P-G column. The Pittsburgh Rides thing is often embarrassing, depending on who writes it. In fact, it’s a running joke amongst motorcyclists I know. Especially when its about how cool it is to be able to smoke a cigarette and listen to the stereo sitting behind the big fairing of your Dresser or how buying a Harley helped you make lots of new friends. I’m not exaggerating. Reading that column makes me wonder if proximity to excessive amounts of chrome rapidly kills brain cells.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
Participant
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The column is pure charicature.


scott
Keymaster
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Yes we have thought about it, but who on our staff would have time to write this article? Currently no one.


dooftram
Participant
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“Yes we have thought about it, but who on our staff would have time to write this article? Currently no one.”

No need to do this entirely yourself, just act as the conduit. The motorcycling column originally referred to appears to rotate between a handful of semi-regulars and sporadic one-timers. It might help the P-G if you guys offered to edit it and/or solicit your members (us) to write columns, then maybe supply one by the staff occasionally. Ask them how the motorcycling column works and see if that model is possible to replicate for bicyclists.

I’m fairly certain there are at least as many bicyclists (and bike-curious) among potential and actual P-G readers as there are motorcyclists. I imagine the newspaper just needs a prod from someplace like Bike Pgh to get something going. It also gets us another opportunity to be visible to a broader, general audience. That seems like a useful opportunity for education, advocacy, etc even if it’s just indirect.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
Participant
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Farm it out to a good freelancer – there’s got to be a cycling freelance writer in this town – might even do it just for the by-line.


dwillen
Participant
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I went on a taco ride with a writing freelancer from the North Side. I don’t want to call him out here, but maybe he would care to contribute.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Y’know, this does sound interesting, and I daresay I can compose a paragraph or two of coherent English. Anyone care to throw a couple of story ideas and a suggested word count my way? Then again, I could probably come up with 75 articles just by looking back through the thread titles on this board.


scott
Keymaster
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Actually, this would be a great feature in the CP or POP City or even in another well-read local blog. Maybe BoringPGH or I <3 PGH as opposed to the PG. Let the old media have their motorcycle feature!


ejwme
Participant
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Ok, I am goaded. I’ve got the first few sections in draft form to share via google docs… if you’re kind, PM me with comments or save drafts, edit, and share them via PM (or publically here). Remember, they’re written basically from the POV of a lay person who drives AND bikes, for drivers AND bikers. I’m trying to get everyone to play nice. Reading in chronological order might help (bottom up). Night riding, passing and being passed, and statistical significance are planned sections I haven’t written yet (but will be added as I move forward). Probably something on “why?” and weather also, whatever else I think of or people suggest.

Clicky the Linky: https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B2G8N_qW7Ou5NjUwMmZmNmUtZWM3My00ODhlLTk3YjYtNGI0ODM3MDE2MDIx&hl=en

I figured I’d open with something like this:

“I ride a bike, and I drive a car (never at the same time, safety first!). I noticed that as cycling has become more popular in Allegheny county, motorists and cyclists alike are having trouble knowing how to play nicely with each other. This is my attempt at smoothing out the rumble strips between them, so to speak.”


Erica
Participant
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It looks like you mixed up left and right for which lane to ride in – in the right lane, with the flow of traffic.

Also, you could include that I got my handlebar-mounted mirror at thick for ~$6


Steven
Participant
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“Actually, this would be a great feature in the CP or POP City or even in another well-read local blog. Maybe BoringPGH or I <3 PGH as opposed to the PG. Let the old media have their motorcycle feature!”

If the goal is to educate car drivers on how to interact with cyclists, it would be better to target media read by the folks who most need that education, no?

Suburban drivers have less experience with cyclists than urban drivers, so they need that education more. I’d think older drivers who often haven’t been on a bike in a long time would need this more than the younger folks, who are more likely to at least remember biking in the city, even if they don’t bike any more.

So aim for the gray-haired newspaper-reading guy in the pickup truck who’s not sure how to set the clock on his VCR, not the 20-something vegan in the Prius who has his own podcast.

Therefore, I’d say the Trib or the P-G would be great targets, if they’re interested.

But as far as the effectiveness of such outreach, I’m guessing the total number of readers is even more important than their composition. Do any local blogs have readership numbers competitive with the local papers?


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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And to that end, the Trib might be read by more guys in pickups while the P-G has more readers in Pria.

Note also, El’s Google Docs list may come up in alphabetical rather than chronological order. Click on “Mod Date” to change this.


scott
Keymaster
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I admit, I never read the motorcycle article in the PG. Is it meant to educate drivers or is it sort of a For Us, By Us article?

Although I tend to agree that we need to go mainstream, I just wonder if this will really be read by the people we really need to reach (aka the suburban drivers who need to be educated most).

Instead I see an article like this just welcoming dozens of angry letters to the editor about how bicyclists don’t follow the rules blah blah blah.

If it were in a fairly well-read local blog or CP, or POP City it can remain positive and focus on growing the community. The P-G or Trib article, just doesn’t seem like it would be all that fun or interesting. Maybe I’m wrong.


bikeygirl
Participant
#

I’m with the idea of going into PG or Trib too, and sure maybe some CP as well….. the numbers & surveys are in, and Pittsburgh has grown exponentially when it comes to cycling! Let’s keep growing by trying to reach and educate both the usual hip-media and the established media as well of how to share the road & grow-become one of us! The age & background of readers differs a bunch between papers, and I’m sure there are older-mature drivers who perhaps wished they knew what the ‘proper’ protocols are for sharing the road with cyclist or becoming a daily commuter…. if they just knew or had the ‘cojones’ to ask someone….

Heck! I can even try to contribute in writing an article-cycling guideline “En EspaƱol” for the local monthly-Spanish paper!! :)


Steven
Participant
#

Angry letters mean the articles are reaching the motorists who most need education. And many of those typical letters could be topics for future columns: “cyclists don’t pay taxes” (explain how we really do), “cyclists run red lights” (explain why it’s OK sometimes, about Idaho stops, and talk about when cyclists should and shouldn’t), “bikes should be registered”, etc.

On the other hand, it’s possible the mainstream papers wouldn’t be interested in a column that seeks to educate motorists and cyclists, like the columns Eleanor has written, but would buy a column about how much fun biking is (perhaps with occasional education in the mix). There’s some sense in picking a column format that will get the biggest readership, even if that means any educational component gets reduced to an occasional parenthetical comment. But there’s also value in a column that seeks primarily to educate (even if it’s mostly preaching to the choir on some blog read largely by carless 20-somethings).


edmonds59
Participant
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Very good, E, I like it.

Get the left/right sides straightened out in the 3rd one.

I like your opening statement.

Since you’ve opened this for comment, I would say take any comments with a grain of salt, keep it yours, people won’t want to read something that feels like it comes from a committee. From what I know you are the perfect person to be doing this.

And I agree, angry letters = success, be ready for it, but I think you can handle that.

Go for it.


ejwme
Participant
#

yeah, wrote the last one in Japan, left and right here are messing with my head, since the taxis we’ve been taking have traveled… well, I think taxi driving style is universal.

the idea of putting it in the PG is not just that angry letters get sent. But my grandmother reads the PG, she forwards articles to me, my mom, her friends. They often read it too. People who have nothing to do with cycling or the PG might bump in to the information simply because somebody they know read it and found it interesting/infuriating/helpful and forwarded it on.

In my head, the second reason is that people will believe better what they read in a formal traditional newspaper like the PG rather than what that freak at the office with the helmet blathers on about. It’s an accepted authority. It may not be universal, but I know that there’s a portion of the population that would argue with me and tell me I don’t know what Im’ talking about and that I’m wrong if I stand in front of them and say word for word the same thing that an article said. They’ll disagree with the article, they’ll say the article is stupid, but they’re less likely to think the article is simply lying and dismiss it outright.

I’ve got lousy internets access over here (they’re at least letting me sleep every night, but I have yet to eat outside the hotel convenience store or the factory cafeteria, that’s the level of spare time here), but I’ll continue typing things up. If you’ve PM’d me and I don’t get back to you, please forgive the tardiness. I’m back on Terra Yinza next week.


Lolly
Participant
#

I think we should target every source of media we can, particularly those read by people who are not yet on our side.

And I’d also like to plug that we have a Barter Membership program and writing is one of the ways that you can earn your membership. Writing articles such as these is a great way to do that, and to have the biking community involved in promotion, education, and outreach and not just relying on staff.

Additionally, if there are a bunch of angry anti-bike letters, it would be very useful to have people who are ready to write smart, measured responses.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Put me in the “smart, measured responses” pool. I live in the same general vicinity as those who would write angry anti-bike letters, and (kinda) understand their, um, reasoning.


ieverhart
Participant
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A position I like regarding honking is this: “There’If you’re honking, it means you can see me. I’m not worried about the drivers who see me, but rather the ones who do not see me.” Usually there’s no benefit from honking.

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