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penn/main crash june 25

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salty

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Jul 7 2013 at 2:11pm #

I don’t remember seeing anything about this here but I saw this sign in Bloomfield today. It sounds like a hit and run at Penn and Main on June 25. Contact Seth Moritz with any info – the cyclist was apparently his father. (click the picture for better views of the sign including the number and email addr)


joanne

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Jul 7 2013 at 9:55pm #

So I assume there was a police report involved–why the F are these hit and runs not even making the news anymore??? Is it now THAT unremarkable that some piece of filth would run another human being down with a 3000 pound missile and then leave that human by the side of the road to potentially die???

Thanks for posting this, Salty. Sending good thoughts to the family, for whatever that’s worth.


Vannevar

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Jul 8 2013 at 7:29am #

Later today, possibly around 1530, there might (or might not) be something about Pittsburgh’s hit-and-run problem at http://pghcomet.blogspot.com/

That article may (or may not) broach the topic of civil disobedience. Spoiler for the veloscenti: “Montreal bike die-in protest”

I’d like to ask, if you have thoughts or comments on it, please make them over at the Comet – especially anything you can say about hit-and-run events over the last year.

I’d like to try to prompt discussion in a larger circle and in the political circle and any comments (for/against) that you guys would be kind enough to make would be awesome.

TIA, V.


Benzo

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Jul 8 2013 at 7:49am #

This is one of the worst intersections I’ve seen for red light running, especially left turns way after the light changes. It’s made worse by the fact that 44th is closed, routing more traffic to penn and main.


Elmo

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Jul 8 2013 at 11:33am #

Benzo wrote:This is one of the worst intersections I’ve seen for red light running, especially left turns way after the light changes. It’s made worse by the fact that 44th is closed, routing more traffic to penn and main.

On a semi-related note, why is the light at Penn and 44th still operating while the road is closed to both vehicle and ped traffic?


StuInMcCandless

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Jul 8 2013 at 3:39pm #

It’s up.

http://pghcomet.blogspot.com/2013/07/waiting-for-peduto-or-dying-for-change.html?m=1

Thanks, V.


Vannevar

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Jul 8 2013 at 9:24pm #

That post was withdrawn at the request of a cyclist, and I completely totally cheerfully support their position. Strictly my own bad. Peace out, V.


stefb

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Jul 9 2013 at 4:51am #

I read on fb that there is an unconfirmed report of a cyclist hit last night on Ellsworth. Any details?


ericf

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Jul 9 2013 at 7:12pm #

@Vannevar,

Thank you for the post, this problem has been nagging me for months but I couldn’t rationalize what I was feeling. I am sorry that it had to be removed. Not to be presumptuous, but I do not feel like creating an account to respond on the other blog, would you be willing to create a new thread here, with the details left out? Or FB?
This needs to be discussed in every forum.


joanne

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Jul 9 2013 at 7:36pm #

It’s been nagging at me as well. The fact that this is happening without even much acknowledgement by media and government is making me crazy.

I’ve been wrestling with the question of whether publicity helps or hurts–one one hand, the authorities will never act if there’s no recognition of the problem; on the other, more scare stories=fewer cyclists on the road, which is objectively more dangerous for the rest of us.


Swalfoort

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Jul 9 2013 at 8:01pm #

There is another element to consider. The City, County and State all own and operate roads that we all bike on every day. To make funding decisions, each of those parties will look at overall roadway condition as well as the safety record of the various roadways. A police report of an auto accident gets fed into a computer system that permits PennDOT to know where accidents are happening, and what kinds of accidents they are (rear ends, turns, etc). They may use that information to make funding decisions. The City and County are likely to do so as well.

Since bike accidents are not reported in the same way, even if a police report is taken at the scene, the data is never entered into the computer system in the same way as auto accidents, so there is no corollary “proof” that some locations are more dangerous than others.

What we have is the self reporting system on the Bike Pittsburgh website. (Click on the online bike map for the link) If an accident victim does not KNOW to report the incident there, or is unable to do so due to the nature of their injuries, there’s no institutional memory of the incident happening.

We DO NOT need all the details. Location, time of day, brief description of what happened (car turned out of driveway, dooring, etc), nature/extent of injuries. That information is VERY valuable, as it may influence design solutions (in a more perfect world).


Vannevar

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Jul 9 2013 at 8:14pm #

Swalfort, I think you and I were typing at the same time! Here’s my post, with the usual revisions because that’s how I write (gush, edit, gush, edit, edit, edit) and to talk about your post.

Hi Joanne and EricF, may I tell you what I’m thinking about it all? The issue is bigger than any single event. It’s the accumulation of hit and runs that’s the problem. This is a belief-based syllogism, so I may be way off base, but if you’d indulge me…

“I” believe there’s more events than are documented, and more events than are commonly understood to exist, so I believe there’s an Unspoken Truth about violence, bullying, cowardice, and abuse of relative power (cage vs bike)

“I” believe that most people DoNotReallySuck, and most people are not Pathological. Most people (my own self included) are busy, self-focused, complacent, distracted and comfortable but not Pathological or Evil.

if (IF) those two beliefs are both warranted true beliefs, then “my” answer is D/I/K (data, information, knowledge) and communication. And then “my” technique is documentation, accumulation, communication, and reframing.

I don’t think most Pittsburghers are thoughtfully vicious, I think they’re unconscious and uninformed. I think focused rhetoric can change that.

(I’m using the word “I” a lot, and i’m sorry, but I don’t want to project my stumbling mumblings onto anybody else)

I think we need to build a list of events.
Each event should have the usual attributes (that was just a tossin for my DataBase bro’s out there)
Not all events will be completely documented. Some will remain as single-source, unconfirmed anecdotes. (and that is acceptable)
Each event should have links to images/media etc

Run that for months and months and two years. Now you’ve got a credible infosource. Show the reporter, show the politician, results which MIGHT BE something like this: Hey there’s 175 hit-cyclist-runs in Pgh every year, 120 result in injury, only 43 are reported in the media. There are roughly four hit-cyclist-runs for every one you read about” (Note: not actual values, used to demonstrate benefit of the proposal) (edited to clarify that numbers are a demo)

Wow. I can begin to move the mountain once I’ve got that body of data.

(added in light of Swalfort’s great post):

And so, kicking out of Meta and back into Here, we consider the BikePgh database. Is that the tool we want to use? Are we happy with BikePgh owning the data? Is the answer as simple as, Use the Tool You’ve Got But Ignoring?

Here’s my ball-breaker question: Does anybody have specific evidence of this existing database being used to create actual change so far? Has it contributed actual-change-making value to this year’s crisis?

If it’s existed for three years and had no effect, if it’s existed for three years and it’s not being used as a tool in this terrible time– then it might be evidence that the approach is well-tried-and-flawed.

I want change on the street, anything else is onanistic catharsis. I don’t want to feel good and not change things; I’d rather change things and feel shitty.


ericf

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Jul 9 2013 at 8:30pm #

Vannevar wrote:Hey there’s 175 hit-cyclist-runs in Pgh every year, 120 result in injury, only 43 are reported in the media. “There are roughly four hit-cyclist-runs for every one you read about”

Are these real numbers?


Vannevar

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Jul 9 2013 at 8:46pm #

Hi Eric, My Bad. Those are not valid numbers, they’re a demo of a possible outcome, a suggestion of the benefit of the work. I’m sorry I was unclear, and I’ve revised the post to try to clearly communicate — these are WAG values.


Vannevar

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Jul 9 2013 at 8:53pm #

The people, politicians, and organizations that bring actual change on the street will earn my trust, allegiance, love and money; those that don’t, won’t, and they can make me a sandwich.

Right now, who is bringing us change on the street?
(oohh- new hashtag)


Swalfoort

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Jul 9 2013 at 9:00pm #

In responses to Vannevar’s question, yes, we are starting to use the bike crash data. Usually (so far) in small ways.

The format of the data created some problems for us at first, but Nathan was able to make the db/mapping feature a bit more useful for us. In the meantime, I keep a hard copy of everything recorded there.

But, since it is designed to be “victim self reports” it will under count fatalities. I have been adding those as I come across them, clearly noting that I am the source of the information and that the details are as reported in the media, etc. Where it has become obvious that a victim will not be reporting a known accident (as with the two doctors near highland park), I wait a few weeks and then add the publicly known data and noting myself as the author and the media as the source of data.

I don’t want to corrupt the BP accident reporting feature, but I see it as the best source of safety data that we have. So I try to ensure that it has a chance to function that way.

As for whether we “want” BP to own such data, why not? Someone has to own it. Why not the Bike Advocacy group for the City?


joanne

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Jul 9 2013 at 9:15pm #

I think in addition to the data, PR wise we should not forget about the emotional appeal here. If I get hit, I don’t think I will want to go on camera and show my injuries, and talk about them. But some are comfortable doing that–those who do will help put faces to this horror, and show the real toll on a human level.

One other thought: is it better to focus on cyclist injuries? Broaden it to non-motorized road users/pedestrians? Or should hit and runs be the initial focus, with the thought that it’s much easier to identify obective fault (without getting into who caused the crash, etc.)?


Vannevar

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Jul 9 2013 at 9:30pm #

I am grateful that somebody started this and worked on this and is giving their time for the good. People were thinking in advance and working on it and I think that’s awesome.

The proof of any effort is in the results. What has it accomplished?

If we started tabula-rasa and built a new roster of anecdotes, and had two years of data, and there was a season of hit-and-runs and dead cyclists, we’d evaluate the effectiveness of the effort.

We’d ask questions like:
–Has this effort contributed statistics, or pattern identification, or been used to advance our media cause?
–Has this effort brought about change on the streets in this terrible year?

If the answer was No/No, then I’d say: It was a good idea and you had to build it and try it to find out, but that project isn’t really delivering anything about my needs.

What I’d like to respectfully ask is: Has this BikePgh project had any actual effect with the hit-and-run problem?


HiddenVariable

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Jul 9 2013 at 9:49pm #

Vannevar wrote:onanistic catharsis

just wanted to say that this is my new band name.


Vannevar

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Jul 9 2013 at 9:51pm #

@HiddenVariable: +1


byogman

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Jul 9 2013 at 10:31pm #

Vannevar wrote:is in the results. What has it accomplished?
If we started tabula-rasa and built a new roster of anecdotes, and had two years of data, and there was a season of hit-and-runs and dead cyclists, we’d evaluate the effectiveness of the effort.
We’d ask questions like:
–Has this effort contributed statistics, or pattern identification, or been used to advance our media cause?

Respectfully, I think data gathering is always a positive, never a negative, and not something that should be dismissed even if (and speculating if) it hasn’t been able to be used yet to advance the cause in a very concrete boots (or paint, or trail) on the ground sort of way.

There are a lot of links in the chain we don’t have much sway over (yet), a huge cultural battle to be won, and relative to that, this has been scarcely more than an eyeblink. Good luck Sarah and thanks for doing this.


erok

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Jul 10 2013 at 8:58am #

The proof of any effort is in the results. What has it accomplished?

I’ll tell you what it’s accomplished for me personally to deliver something “about my needs.”

I look at that map and see Baum Blvd and think to myself, “damn, there’s a shit ton of crashes on there. I think I’ll avoid that road.” Hopefully that contributes to a lesser amount of hit and runs. We also use this map to inform our contacts at city planning/dpw to try to get them to direct resources. sometimes it works.

As far as your question goes, it’s impossible to tell. the police reporting and access to their data is so bad and inaccessible, who knows. Even the PennDOT data i hard to get access to. My cynical side thinks this is by design because they don’t want you to know what roads are dangerous because it opens them up to liability, but that’s just my paranoid thoughts.

As far as the media goes…hit and runs aren’t new, nor unique to Pittsburgh. it’s a century old news story with the first one happening on probably the second day the first car hit the streets. We’ve raised the issue over and over again, getting a ton of media attention, as well as the attention of the DA’s office. The police aren’t going to bother following up unless there is serious bodily injury or death. I’m not making excuses, just saying it’s the reality

One thing you need to understand, Vannevar, is that we don’t have a magic wand or endless resources and staff. We’re just a few people trying our damnest to make things better.

We need all the tools we can. You can’t fix a bicycle with just a screwdriver, so does that mean the screwdriver is useless? Not everything has a direct cause and effect, but is it one more tool to help in the overall bettering of our streets, yes.


StuInMcCandless

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Jul 10 2013 at 9:58am #

Throw enough spaghetti at the wall and some will stick.

Not every bit of advocacy works, not every bit of activism works, not every bit of lobbying works, not every bit of protest works, not every bike rack on a bus will ever get used (think 45-foot buses), and not every conversation about cycling with a non-cycling neighbor works.

But some of each of these do. Just gotta keep trying.


buffalo buffalo

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Jul 10 2013 at 11:18am #

Related: Lawrenceville breaks up it’s blockwatch/neighborhood safety meetings by ward, and additionally there are three separate 9th Ward groups. The Children’s Hospital area (“42nd-46th above Butler”) meeting is next week, and the Lower 9th Hillside (“40th, Fisk, and Main”) meeting is cancelled outright this month.

But the 9th Ward Riverside meeting, covering “40th to 50th Streets below Butler”, including the area where another cyclist was hit last week, is tonight–and the second Wednesday of every month–at 7:00p at Lawrenceville United’s office, 4825 Butler Street.


Vannevar

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Jul 10 2013 at 1:07pm #

erok wrote:One thing you need to understand, Vannevar, is that we don’t have a magic wand or endless resources and staff. We’re just a few people trying our damnest to make things better.

I do get that. I think very highly of the BikePgh staff and board, I think highly of anybody working in advocacy, and I think (to paraphrase) the world has only ever been changed by small groups suffering and working over a long time.

I’d also like to recognize the terrible limitations of any body or any Org working in advocacy. There’s no advocacy group that owns bulldozers, police departments, or construction groups. No advocacy group can install better intersections or bike trails or change speed limits. The advocacy group doesn’t have executive authority, they can only communicate, persuade, lobby, suggest, lead, seek funding – in fact, all the things BikePgh does.

I would find it terribly frustrating to see the problems and the damage, know what some of the solutions are, and to have the results dependent on other orgs and other people with other agendas, who probably aren’t doing everything they’re supposed to do in the first place. I don’t think I could do the hard work that the BikePgh folks are doing.

Nothing bad that’s happening to Pittsburgh bicyclists is BikePgh’s fault. Most of the good things happening to Pittsburgh bicyclists are because of BikePgh.

There’s “efforts” and there’s “results”. I get that advocacy groups can’t just go out and take action, so they can’t make “results” themselves. Advocates can only work the issue. And yet, we engage advocates because we need results.

Let me go further: most results are the result of long-term advocacy, and yet at the press conference or ground-breaking, the people who get credit are the ones that were convinced to finally do something by the advocates.

I have no doubt that if BikePgh could press a button and fix this, it would be fixed, and I have no doubt that the BikePgh folks know more about this than I do. I do think that saying, “this happens in other cities too” and “been this way for 100 years” is not a solution.

I respectfully suggest that it’s not wrong to ask, What is my advocacy group doing about this? And (just my opinion) it is not wrong to ask, Where are the results? – knowing that BikePgh doesn’t have their own bulldozers and can’t change speed limits.

Questions are ok, right?


Vannevar

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Jul 10 2013 at 1:14pm #

erok wrote:the police reporting and access to their data is so bad and inaccessible, who knows. Even the PennDOT data i hard to get access to. My cynical side thinks this is by design because they don’t want you to know what roads are dangerous because it opens them up to liability, but that’s just my paranoid thoughts.

I like the way you think.


jonawebb

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Jul 10 2013 at 1:49pm #

I haven’t been following this too much, but I do know about data, and exposing any organization’s data to the outside world involves a lot of work, especially if that data is not too well organized to begin with. So it’s not hard to imagine PennDOT or the police department asking themselves, how much time do we want to spend organizing and making accessible this accident crash data so outside groups can make use of it, and deciding the answer is zero. It’s not exactly that they want to make it difficult for outsiders, or to hide crashes (though they probably aren’t bothered by these side-effects), it’s just that they have no incentive to accomplish this moderately difficult task, other than requests from outsiders. No one in a position of authority to them is telling them to devote resources to addressing the problem, so they spend no time on it.
Edit: As Schiller said, “against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain.” Also, laziness.


buffalo buffalo

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Jul 10 2013 at 3:44pm #

buffalo buffalo wrote:9th Ward Riverside [public safety] meeting, covering “40th to 50th Streets below Butler”, including the area where another cyclist was hit last week, is tonight–and the second Wednesday of every month–at 7:00p at Lawrenceville United’s office, 4825 Butler Street.

Meeting has been postponed until next week due to the storms. Same time, Wednesday, 7/17, 7pm.


HiddenVariable

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Jul 10 2013 at 10:26pm #

Vannevar wrote:And (just my opinion) it is not wrong to ask, Where are the results?

it is of course not wrong to ask. it may, however, be wrong to suggest that a potentially promising program that someone somewhere probably worked hard on for at least some period of time be scrapped because it hasn’t yet produced results. i understand and to quite a significant extent agree with the various principles you have espoused. still, i think it premature to proclaim that the methods need reworked because they haven’t yet produced results. what immediate results, after all, did brahe produce with his data collection? what good is being correct, and having data to back it up, if no one will listen?


Vannevar

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Jul 11 2013 at 12:26am #

@HiddenVariable : yes you’re right, it might definitely be premature to declare the method/effort futile because there’s no results yet.

Sometime downstream, in any effort, results matter and performance should be judged. As with Tycho Brahe, sometimes the worthy results are postmortem. If this change takes ten years or twenty years, it will be a win when it arrives. But the timeframe is not irrelevant (and nobody has said it is)

I have a friend BillC who tells me disagreements often occur between people of similar persuasions, fellow travellers who simply have different definitions of the timeframe. Reasonable people and good friends who hold the same desires can disagree on timeframes.

(On theology BillC is brilliant at asking me, are we obsessing about your timeframes or G^d’s? Kind of tightens jaws. He smiles at me. )

In the sixties, I was the guy chanting,
What do we want? Change
When do we want it? Now
or something like that.

I imagine (because it’s not my field) that in advocacy, there’s discerning wisdom in not burning bridges when you can’t get results on the ThingRightNow, because you want that relationship later. Those are very subtle and difficult decisions to have to make. Tyranny of the urgent n’at.

I’m reluctant to quote a war criminal but Kissinger said, Diplomacy is the art of the possible, and I suppose advocacy is too. There’s no payoff in Pyrrhic non-victories .

I know everybody here looks forward to results on hit-bike-run, and nobody more so than the BikePgh folks (who are the informed professionals, as opposed to people like me who are the irrational uninformed suburbanites).


Vannevar

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Jul 11 2013 at 12:29am #

“Pyrrhic Non-Victories” will be the name of my other band.


erok

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Jul 11 2013 at 8:52am #

i don’t even understand where you got the notion that the crash map was designed to specifically deal with hit and runs either. it’s there because no one was tracking bike crashes and incidents. we thought it would be useful to have people do that so that we can get a better understanding of where the problem areas lie, both to inform our city contacts, as well as for our own safety. If it helps with the hit and run problem, then that’s great.

If those that should be tracking this stuff aren’t doing it, we’ll do it ourselves using the resources that we have. it’s been pretty much our mantra since day one.


erok

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Jul 11 2013 at 8:53am #

questions and questioning is great, just be aware of how you ask


ericf

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Jul 11 2013 at 9:37am #

To me, the issue at hand is bigger than whatever data Bike PGH might have. If it is all self reported, at best it will only contain a chunk of the info.
I can not make heads or tails of the Pittsburgh Police Blotter,
( http://www.citizenobserver.com/cov6/app/post.html?id=59 )
but it seems like a logical place to start. Does Bike PGH, or anyone else for that matter, have any ideas on where to access this kind of information?


Marko82

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Jul 11 2013 at 10:05am #

^the police blotter info is useless. I have seen several large police actions (12 or more police cars, shots fired, etc.) the past few years that do not show up on the blotter at all, or show up as something minor like simple possession.


Vannevar

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Jul 11 2013 at 10:08am #

erok wrote:i don’t even understand where you got the notion that the crash map was designed to specifically deal with hit and runs either.

I don’t have that notion. I believe somebody else brought up the crash map as a resource and the conversation moved to it.

erok wrote: If those that should be tracking this stuff aren’t doing it, we’ll do it ourselves using the resources that we have. it’s been pretty much our mantra since day one.

I love that.

The question I started with, or at least I meant to start with and I botched, is how can we gather data to support advocacy regarding hit-bike-run? How do we move from one-off anecdotes to media narrative? And can I help?

And I’m thinking, an online resource that collects everything, including partial anecdotes, media links, etc, generates a Google-map, generates timelines and statistics, that lets us credibly make objective statements about the prevalence of hit-bike-run,
and lets us move into using evidence to make the big-picture case.

(I can build and host that if there’s support for it, but it doesn’t have to be me and there’s folks with mad skillz here)

I think the BikePgh community knows about most of the events, and maybe we can connect to the bikeshops and ask for their help. (Since people in hit-and-runs often end up needing parts)

Probably most people ask questions and volunteer to help more smoothly.


Pierce

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Jul 11 2013 at 6:02pm #

I’m not exactly sure what this data is even going to do for us in the larger scheme of things

We already know accidents are happening and they’ve been happening to motorists for a century. Look at the leading causes of death in our county:

Leading causes are cardiovascular diseases, heart disease, cancer, coronary heart disease

http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=596553&mode=2

If only there was some kind of diet that’s been shown to have really low incidences of those diseases… Gah, if only

Likewise, I’m pretty sure it’s already known what reduces accidents. The problem is getting the government/population to endorse/support changes. Not sure if keeping track of a couple of extra people getting hit is going to do that

I mean hell, we had a kid get run over by a driver. Just another casualty/freak accident in everybody’s mind. Move along to the next soundbite.

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