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last Sunday's (mis)adventure

This topic contains 80 replies, has 26 voices, and was last updated by  Vannevar 8 mos, 3 weeks.

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Vannevar

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Feb 28 2013 at 12:28am #

On Sunday 2/24 at 0930 I was riding on Main Street in Sharpsburg. I was bumped from behind by a PAT bus. No injury, no damage to the bike.

If you’re interested, there’s an initial brief here:

http://type2-clydesdale.blogspot.com/2013/02/hit-by-pat-bus-on-my-bike.html

And there’s meatier details here:

http://type2-clydesdale.blogspot.com/2013/02/hit-by-pat-bus-on-my-bike.html


brybot

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Feb 28 2013 at 1:19am #

Glad you are ok!

Both of your links seem to be the same to me. Is that photo from the inside of the bus actual surveillance of the incident?


salty

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Feb 28 2013 at 1:22am #

I think you meant this for the second link: http://type2-clydesdale.blogspot.com/2013/02/roshomon-effect-bus-panopticon.html

Crazy to see those images. I agree there’s not conclusive proof of a collision contained in the images, but there is no doubt that the 4-foot law was violated.

Was this the PAT police? What exactly did they say about the 4 foot law? Maybe it’s worth pursuing it with local or even state police (is that a state road?).


Mikhail

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Feb 28 2013 at 7:39am #

Glad you are OK.

I think bus hit your panier and it’s the reason why there are no sccratches or other damages. Bus driver would not hear a thing.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe

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Feb 28 2013 at 9:11am #

@salty – I think Main Street in Sharpsburg is a state road (it is called Freeport Road through Aspinwall, and is a state road there.).

(However, when these types of things have happened in the past, don’t all other law enforcement agencies tend to refer the matter to the PAT Police?)


byogman

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Feb 28 2013 at 9:25am #

For those that doubt there was a collision faced with inconclusive pictorial evidence, I have to wonder, what could they possibly imagine as a motive for a false report?

It may well be that the driver couldn’t feel the collision. Relative weight and pannier theory, so I don’t think the punishment needs to be in the “leaving the scene of an accident” territory.

But it really, REALLY, sucks that there’s no apparent interest in requiring bus drivers clearly in violation of the 4ft rule (or 2 ft. rule for that matter), to take some time off the road (and off the payroll, I dare say) for some driver re-training.


rsprake

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Feb 28 2013 at 9:27am #

This is exactly why we have a 4 foot law and why this driver should be suspended without pay and given a warning that if something like this happens again they will be fired but that will never happen.

Glad you’re ok.


StuInMcCandless

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Feb 28 2013 at 9:34am #

I will join with the others in a collective sigh of relief.

Thank you for the blog posts, and the pictures PAT provided. If nothing else, they show the info that PAT can provide, should the need arise.


Nick D

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Feb 28 2013 at 10:16am #

I think the is the obvious problem with internal policing. Perhaps try reaching out to Steven Patchen?


Marko82

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Feb 28 2013 at 10:52am #

WTAE, KDKA, WPXI?

So so so glad you’re ok.


buffalo buffalo

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Feb 28 2013 at 11:27am #

I had no idea those cameras had that high resolution–especially the internal one.

If I’m not mistaken, Sharpsburg Main Street is old Route 28, and thus is probably still a state road. Would take more time than I have to check, though–can someone else confirm/refute?


Vannevar

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Mar 1 2013 at 9:52am #

Thanks to all. I definitely wanted to share the quality of the PAT bus recordings, although I’m told that different bus models have systems of varying qualities. “My” bus shoots 4 fps inside and 10 fps outside. I think it speaks well of PAT’s forensic response that they gave me copies of the videos from each camera. Cool playback stuff.

Yes, PAT police are supposed to handle all PAT bus issues. In my event, the 911 dispatcher didn’t notify PAT, and then PAT declined to pick up the ball since they weren’t there at TimeZero.

I have very mixed feelings about PAT policing themselves. For instance, in a time of PAT budgetary crisis, doesn’t the PAT PD have a disincentive to be transparent in issues of litigation and settlements? OTOH, you could argue all the various hamlets that the PAT busses run through are ill equipped to deal with them.

For me, at the end of the day, UPS doesn’t get its own police, and Fedex doesn’t get their own police, and USAirways doesn’t get its own police. I think there’s an obvious and inherent conflict of interest in the present arrangement, and it tends to diminish the public confidence in the justice system.

But I must say that I’m VERY IMPRESSED with the PAT Police people I met, they left me absolutely convinced, beyond any doubt, that if there was any evidence of a collision they’d be charging the driver. OTOH, nobody at PAT believes in the four-foot rule.

My takeaways include these lessons, I thought I’d mention them FWIW.
1. Nobody at PAT or a local PD would interrupt a driver on his route because somebody accused them of a hit-and-run. nobody.
2. There is no way you’re ever going to get a PAT driver drug-tested, even though they’re subject to federal transport testing standards.
C. Local police do no want to even think about grappling with PAT.
IV. The most help I got was because I texted Scott @ BikePgh who suggested helpful paths.
five. Marc Reisman was willing to talk with me and was direct and effective. I would call him again. EdgarSnyder’s firm is a personal injury practice, and if you’re not hurt there’s no big money and they won’t talk with you.
6. The four-foot rule is a flaccid impotent charade. Nobody enforces it. It’s useful for public awareness campaigns but The Man has zero desire to enforce it.
7. It’s crazy that PAT is self-policing. And I was very impressed at the PAT police forensic team and I think they’re good people with integrity. (even if they’re not into the four-foot rule)
ate. Tapes don’t lie. But if they’re looking at the wrong camera, the results are misleading. Let teh viewer beware.
nein. If nothing else, a bicyclist should be a BikePgh member because nobody else gives a shit and/or gets it.
X. Written reports and statements will always be misinterpreted leading to an ineffective process and thwarting an appropriate conclusion. You have to meet them face to face.
11 The only thing that’s going to keep me alive out there is myself. Nobody else is looking out for a bicyclist.

I’ve written about this and disclosed the details just to contribute to the common knowledge. I think a lot of these things happen and it’s never reported or discussed.

I want to close specifically by praising and thanking Scott Bricker, Marc Reisman, and Jon Schultz of the Post-Gazette. They were my only allies and they know what they’re doing.


Vannevar

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Mar 1 2013 at 10:02am #

Nick D wrote:… Perhaps try reaching out to Steven Patchen?

Nick, in my own experience I have not found that he’s particularly effective. Nice guy, no results.


JaySherman5000

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Mar 1 2013 at 10:08am #

@Vannevar: Please don’t stop until the bus driver is charged. Regardless of the evidence of collision, there is clear evidence that the driver broke the law by passing within 4 feet of you. That law will continue to be a flaccid, impotent measure unless it is enforced. You have undisputable proof that the law was broken, please don’t give up the fight. Surely BikePGH and the local media can support your campaign for justice, too.


Vannevar

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Mar 1 2013 at 11:03am #

Hello Jay (and Happy Friday!) – you know, I started off with the same thoughts as you’ve described. It’s a perfect case for enforcing the four-foot rule because there’s video (from the offending vehicle, no less!)

Let me say something about myself. I am an angry ball-busting Hedgehog with a tendency to get (and remain) aroused about threats and injustice. There’s a reason my family left the Old Country. The spirit of Don Quixote is in me and I can nurture an ugly anger. I am not proud of it and I am struggling and working on becoming smarter than my base ugliness.

I can not get anybody to do anything about this. They are just not interesting in a four-foot rule violation. They don’t take it seriously and they don’t believe in it. I do not have a lever big enough to change their understanding of what their duties are.

They are not bad people, in fact I think they are good honest earnest public servants who just don’t believe in this thing.

I have pushed and cajoled and spent days on it. I’ve pushed real hard. I’ve gotten frustrated and I’m sure I’ve given several people a difficult time. In my own mind, if nowhere else, I think I’m usually pretty effective but I’ve had no progress on this.

I can not get them to do anything about this. I realize I have about as perfect a situation as could be obtained. It’s not happening.

That’s part of the story I want yinz to know about. The four foot rule – strike that, the four foot LAW – will not have any effect.

It’s somewhat analogous to this: We have a law saying that 1% of major construction projects must go to public art. (A lot of cities have such rules, and it leads to wonderful urban artwork) Pittsburgh does not enforce it, does not believe in it, and it’s not happening. It gets a yinzer-shoulder-shrug.


Vannevar

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Mar 1 2013 at 11:12am #

OK, snarky comment: The four-foot law is about as worthwhile as a Ravenstahl 2013 bumper sticker. And don’t call me Surely. (sorry; all the best to you.)


Marko82

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Mar 1 2013 at 11:34am #

Wow V, I can certainly appreciate the effort and the passion having tilted at a few windmills myself. At a certain point you have to ask yourself if all of the effort is going to be worth it. In this case, at the personal level, I’m guessing the answer is going to be “no”. That’s very unfortunate, but probably realistic. Even if the driver would be charged with violating the four foot rule, he would then have an opportunity to fight his ticket at the magistrate level where I’m sure they have no knowledge of the new law. Even if the ticket is confirmed, the driver would then have the opportunity to appeal – which I assume he would since this ticket would impact his commercial driving record. It’s a very big windmill indeed.

The important thing is that neither you nor srpit was injured, and we are truly thankful for that. I’m also sure that that bus driver will think twice before making an unsafe pass since I’m sure he now knows how the cameras work, and he knows he got away with one this time. It would be nice to tackle this as a larger group and as a larger issue, and I guess that’s what BikePgh is all about.

“For neither good nor evil can last for ever; and so it follows that as evil has lasted a long time, good must now be close at hand.”
? Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote


Boazo

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Mar 1 2013 at 11:37am #

I’d recommend that you get a mirror and then you can use stuff like that unoccupied parking just ahead of you in the first bus picture when possible. I would have seen the bus in my mirror and slipped over into the parking area and let the bus pass. i’ve even had busses give little honks of appreciation when I do stuff like this. It makes riding much more pleasant. As far as lanes go (and most other things) – its better to give than take. Not to say that the bus driver isn’t at fault at all, but thats just the way I’ve found to get along. fwiw -My commute is really long, I ride more than 2 hours every day and basically never have any problem.


byogman

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Mar 1 2013 at 11:47am #


I can not get them to do anything about this. I realize I have about as perfect a situation as could be obtained. It’s not happening.

That’s part of the story I want yinz to know about. The four foot rule – strike that, the four foot LAW – will not have any effect.

Paging Scott Bricker, Steve Patchan, I don’t want to know about this, I want this fixed.

When a lone cyclist fights the system (hit by PAT and alarmingly close pass by Police vehicle have both been over the boards late), he looses, we know this. At a certain point, as an individual, you run out of steam for talking to people who aren’t listening and legal action isn’t a cheap hobby. You two are the ones, outside and inside the system respectively, who should make SURE he is not alone.

And most of your work is necessarily in conversation form and invisible to us, especially Steve. I know you care about this. And maybe you are at work on this. But we have incontrovertible evidence here of the law being broken. This one CAN’T end in shrugs. As an aside, it would be rather nice to hear something along the way about this, too.

The severity of punishment for the driver doesn’t matter much. But that there is a punishment, retraining, and first inroads into a culture change about this within PAT (close passes by buses aren’t infrequent) is absolutely essential. Public transit and biking are complementary as long as the road is shared safely. This is an essential part of our city’s future. Get to it, and good luck!


Mick

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Mar 1 2013 at 11:49am #

I’d donate a little cash for a civil suit over this.


JaySherman5000

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Mar 1 2013 at 12:30pm #

@Boazo: blame the victim much, Captain Hindsight?

@byogman: +infinity

@Mick: I got five on it


StuInMcCandless

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Mar 1 2013 at 12:32pm #

Not mentioned yet except in passing is that there was a second bus going in the opposite direction. That would have made it impossible for this driver to give V the required four feet.

What the bus driver was then expected to do — what EVERY driver is expected to do — is slow down, stop if necessary.

THAT is what the four-foot law is supposed to be about. If you cannot safely get by, then stop. That is the critical difference that, AFAICT, nobody is talking about. Not at PAT, not in police departments, not in the media, not even in the bike community, much.


Vannevar

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Mar 1 2013 at 12:32pm #

byogman wrote:
…. Paging Scott Bricker, Steve Patchan,

I must say that Scott is excellent, he was the only person that offered help on DayOne, and he’s been following up about PAT in the moving forward vector.

It takes a policeman and a prosecutor and those aren’t Scott’s jobs. As a BikePgh member I was (and am) extremely grateful to Scott. There’s no deficiency there. Scott did everything possible.

Also, Jon Schmitz of the P-G was extremely helpful in the back channel.

I’ve already commented on the Bike Coordinator’s effectiveness. That’s a liaison position, an advocacy position, a political appointment with no authority.

It’s okay.


Vannevar

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Mar 1 2013 at 12:40pm #

Boazo wrote:
I’d recommend that you ___________.
I would have _________________.
…..
Not to say that the bus driver isn’t at fault at all, BUT _________
I ride more than 2 hours every day and basically never have any problem.


Boazo

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Mar 1 2013 at 12:42pm #

Captain Hindsight +++

My comments are just meant to show how I have such a wonderfull time riding , you can ride however you want.


Vannevar

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Mar 1 2013 at 12:49pm #

StuInMcCandless wrote:Not mentioned yet except in passing is that there was a second bus going in the opposite direction. That would have made it impossible for this driver to give V the required four feet.

Stu, the opposite direction bus had moved well beyond us when “my” driver passed-and-bumped me. There was nothing in the other lane. That doesn’t come across in my screenshots, I’m sorry.

But your point is quite right (as always). Four feet is not optional. If they can’t pass, they should slow the f*ck down.


Mick

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Mar 1 2013 at 1:48pm #

My comments are just meant to show how I have such a wonderfull time riding , you can ride however you want.

I ride much the way you describe. Still I run into the occasional asshat. Evidently, this time the asshat ran into Vannevar.


byogman

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Mar 1 2013 at 3:37pm #

Boaza, I think the problem isn’t the suggestion, pulling over when you have something in the rear view and can do it easily is a nice thing. I do it too.

Vannevar may too for all you know, it’s not an uncommon thing. What you don’t see is how many vehicles might be behind the bus. I don’t pull over when I can’t pull back and I suspect you don’t either. Or whether there’s a red light ahead, or whether the overall speed on the road is just low. I also don’t pull over when it doesn’t really buy the cars anything and suspect you don’t either.

So there’s a lot you don’t know, and I don’t either. Vannevar is about as conscientious and thoughtful in his own posts about this as I could possibly imagine anyone being. More than I would be. Why would you assume he’s not a conscientious rider?

And… this is even all assuming someone doesn’t have more responsibility to react to what’s ahead of them than adapt to what’s behind, which of course is pure nonsense.

So I guess you could say, this is me strongly second guessing your second guessing. I’m glad your experience has been so positive so far, but sample size of one != evidence.


rgrasmus

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Jan 16 2014 at 3:04pm #

FYI: recent related post on Talent-City website http://talent-city.com/BusCameras


byogman

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Jan 17 2014 at 9:54am #

Yeah, this one sat REALLY poorly with me. I don’t really know whether this Talent-City forum is looked at with any seriousness but I figured it couldn’t hurt to vent about this again. Things that are stupid, dangerous, and frankly, easily fixed.


rgrasmus

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Jan 17 2014 at 9:58am #

I added my 2¢ on the talent-city forum, along with some more stories


Ahlir

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Jan 17 2014 at 11:15am #

fyi/ot

My wife informed me about a bus-bike incident on Bellefield yesterday. She was on the bus and actually was not aware of anything happening (must be that relative mass thing again). Anyway the bus stopped, the driver jumped out, was with the rider (at the back of the bus), etc. Rider was upright and apparently ok.

It would be nice if more information (say incident reports) were available someplace. As a community (riders, drivers) we still can lean a lot from what goes wrong, and develop practical knowledge on how to do things right.


buffalo buffalo

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Jan 17 2014 at 11:32am #

Bellefield is seriously overdue for a redesign, as are all the roads around Pitt’s campus. They repaved it last year, and now all the drivers who were slowed by the potholes treat it like a speedway, desperate to get from Forbes to Fifth as quickly as possible–the speed limit is 25, but most of the busses seem to do 35 (no stops, you see…), a number of smaller cars go even faster, and almost nobody stops for the crosswalk at Fillmore—and even if one does, the other lane frequently continues to pass. Frankly, I’m surprised it took this long for someone to get hit.

As an aside, I put in a 311 a couple years ago, asking for a pedestrian-activated stop signal like Liberty & 17th (another T where the side street is one-way away from the intersection), or at least a pedestrian crossing light like Braddock @ the tennis courts, but it was rejected. Might try again once the new administration gets some new managers into DPW. Hopefully it doesn’t have to wait until someone gets killed.


Marko82

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Jan 17 2014 at 12:37pm #

^I thing a raised crosswalk (speed table) would be a perfect solution to both problems.


jonawebb

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Jan 17 2014 at 12:44pm #

Or just a crosswalk sting. Which could be implemented tomorrow, would pay for itself, and would teach drivers to stop at other crosswalks, too.


Ahlir

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Jan 17 2014 at 2:59pm #

Speed Table. City already put them in on Gold Way so the concept and an administrative precedent are already in place.

Enforcement is satisfying but the speed table sticks around 24/7.


Steven

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Jan 17 2014 at 3:33pm #

When Bellefield was torn up and in terrible shape, most bus drivers went through at full speed anyway. They have seats with springs and padding, and most of them don’t seem to be bothered if their passengers happen to get emulsified. I suspect a speed table on Bellefield wouldn’t slow them down either.

They do slow down for stop signs though. A stop sign before the crosswalk could help.


Ahlir

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Jan 17 2014 at 7:22pm #

Speed table plus stop sign. I’d be Ok with that.


Marko82

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Jan 17 2014 at 8:38pm #

Ok, speed table plus stop sign plus police enforcement. That should do it.


gg

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Jan 17 2014 at 9:32pm #

Marko82 wrote:Ok, speed table plus stop sign plus police enforcement. That should do it.

Police enforcement? Lets see, we are talking about the police that make bars hire off duty officers to protect? You know, when that last shooting outside the Original when the “O” wasn’t hiring off duty police and now they started having to pay for it again after that young guy died. Now you want them to set up at a stop sign? Who is going to pay for it? Maybe we can start a fund going to pay them on the side to enforce laws for cyclists? That may work. It works for bars and nightclubs. Just hire off duty officers to do the work for us.

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