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Trib Opinion Piece

This topic contains 26 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  RustyRed 10 mos, 3 weeks.

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RustyRed

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Oct 12 2013 at 9:04pm #

http://triblive.com/opinion/editorials/4827028-74/bicyclist-cars-cyclists#axzz2hYzIjTCy


Ahlir

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Oct 12 2013 at 10:07pm #

Colin McNickle seems to be making stuff up.
But maybe he wasn’t: In which case he could perhaps have paid more attention to the drivers talking on their phones and running red lights. But then his “op-ed” piece would have had to exceed the word limit.


scott

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Oct 12 2013 at 10:42pm #

Just write a letter I response listing every headline about car crashes for the past week.


RustyRed

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Oct 13 2013 at 2:13pm #

Done and sent.

In response to Editorial Page Editor Colin McNickle’s stereotypical expression of contempt for cyclists (“Cyclists Want Respect?”, October 12), I note recent observations as one that is a cyclist, pedestrian and motorist:
Day 1: 5 fellow motorists fail to use turn signals when merging into my lane;
Day 2: witnesses 3 drivers throw lit cigarettes out their windows;
Day 3: an SUV traveling at excessive speed rear-ends me and my husband’s vehicle at Beverly and Banksville Roads in Mount Lebanon when we chose to slow down let someone turn left in front of us into Atria’s Restaurant parking lot;
Day 4: witnessed countless drivers roll through stop signs, failing to make the required ‘complete stop’. Numerous drivers speed up at yellow lights rather than stopping;
Day 5: Lost count of the number of drivers I saw talking on a cell phone while their vehicle was in motion, and how about those that have their phones in one hand and a cigarette or beverage in the other?;
Day 6: a driver along Gilkeson Road in Mount Lebanon who dared to observe the 35 MPH speed limit was rewarded with a high-beaming and close pass by other drivers inconvenienced by such a “slow” pace;
Day 7: observed 4 pedestrians Downtown jaywalking and stepping out into moving traffic without bothering to look up from their phones and one cyclist who merely slowed before blowing through a red light.

All types of travelers sometimes act in an irresponsible and dangerous manner, yet Mr. McNickle condones singling out one to which his ire is targeted. Why? What does this accomplish other than placing someone in harm’s way and creating on our roads a cycle (pun intended) of contempt and disrespect for our fellow man and woman? Will Mr. McNickle apologize to the family of the next cyclist who has an object thrown at them from a moving vehicle or is run off the road by a 4000 pound SUV due in part to encouragement from someone of his stature?

By no means is every cyclist a responsible, sympathetic figure, but shenanigans and recklessness on our roads are hardly confined to those on two wheels, who must be vigilant in order to preserve their safety.


salty

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Oct 13 2013 at 10:21pm #

Yeah, if it took him 5 days to compile that shit, that sounds pretty good. I’d say that’s about 6 cars worth of violations.


Pierce

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Oct 14 2013 at 7:11am #

I could get five violations in about five minutes:

Minute 1: car speeding
Minute 2: car passed without legal four feet, car speeding
Minute 3: car speeding, using handheld device while driving
Minute 4: car speeding, fails to signal turn
Minute 5: car speeding


StuInMcCandless

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Oct 14 2013 at 7:15am #

I should stand at a single corner in the suburbs for a half hour and just take notes. One spot, one day. I just cannot be bothered taking that kind of time out of my life to restate the obvious for people who are oblivious.

OTOH, I don’t even need to leave my house to hear people screaming both up and down Perrymont at 45+. Posted 35, red light and T intersection at the top, dogleg blind curve at the bottom. Those who turn onto northbound Perry I can hear at 100% throttle for a half mile, also posted 35. Every hour for 22 years I hear this.


byogman

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Oct 14 2013 at 8:12am #

I’ve long fantasized about setting up a DIY speed camera by the front of my home on the western edge of Beacon Street in squirrel hill. If someone finds out a cheap enough setup, I’m game for it.

It’s a 25 that’s also a straight shot more than 1/4 mile on good pavement with wide lanes. The speed some people drive that first long block to Wightman is just absurd. It’s a good spot to catch someone going double the speed limit. It makes me hesitate to recommend the bike lane for my 8 year old, which is really galling (the bike lane was a selling point for me on the house).

What’s even more galling to me is the speed a non-trivial minority of motorists carry off the curve before you get to the houses. It’s a problem because I don’t feel like I can even cross the street safely directly in front of my house unless I carry BOTH the 2 year old and the 4 year old.

Did I mention that in addition to the many families with children (in the case of my neighbor 4 houses down, MANY chidren) we also have a blind folks living on our block?


edmonds59

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Oct 14 2013 at 9:39am #

byogman, that seems like an excellent place to get a neighborhood coalition going to pressure the city to enforce speed limits, and there should be no question of jurisdiction there, as there might be in other locations, no PA, Penndot, County, etc. The city should have full ability to enforce there.


byogman

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Oct 14 2013 at 10:02am #

I’ve put in 311s with no response, another recommended route?


rice rocket

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Oct 14 2013 at 10:05am #

Yeah, that stretch is really poorly designed. It’s already one lane in either direction, so it’s not like you can put it on a lane diet. Not sure why the city planners designed the two rows of houses so far apart, which is why the road is so wide. You could put a second row of houses down the middle of the row and still have enough room for streets on either side.


Mikhail

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Oct 14 2013 at 10:16am #

StuInMcCandless wrote:I just cannot be bothered taking that kind of time out of my life to restate the obvious for people who are oblivious.

Stu, some people solved that problem: :)

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=locust+and+mitchel,+15241&hl=en&ll=40.351221,-80.051365&spn=0.012166,0.025985&sll=40.303029,-80.079947&sspn=0.012175,0.025985&hnear=Locust+Ln+%26+Mitchell+Dr,+Upper+St+Clair,+Allegheny,+Pennsylvania+15241&t=m&z=16

http://triblive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_764995.html#axzz2hi3QWsqw

I believe I’ve read another article about another woman in USC that deployed computer CAM at stop sign and send videos to USC police.


Mikhail

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Oct 14 2013 at 10:29am #

byogman wrote:I’ve long fantasized about setting up a DIY speed camera by the front of my home on the western edge of Beacon Street in squirrel hill. If someone finds out a cheap enough setup, I’m game for it.

Ben, what you need is pretty cheap camcoder, preferably with HD and good optics (I was looking at less than $200 Panasonoc/JVC/Sony) and some neighbor cooperation since I need an unofficial measuring greed on opposite side of the street. So if record it at 60 fps then it easy to calculate speed just watching how many grid cells vehicle will cover between two frames. If it’s only one camera then you have to calculate it a little bit since you want to capture license plate also (and here good optics is an essential feature). If camcoder could be used as computer camera then you can easily setup software to react on movement only.


jonawebb

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Oct 14 2013 at 10:40am #

Mikhail wrote:some neighbor cooperation

Yeah, and you’ll also need cooperation because a private person setting up a video camera to monitor a public street is likely to creep some people out and raise concerns (legitimate or not) about the right to privacy. I’d be pretty surprised if you get folks in Squirrel Hill to agree with your doing this.


byogman

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Oct 14 2013 at 10:55am #

For starters I’d be happy enough just to put down some lines across the street to record crossings spaced to some reasonable interval and get speeds from too short time difference. Just to demonstrate how pervasive 40+ is. Presumably that’s cheap to do and not too scary to the neighbors. But I don’t know where to get that.


jonawebb

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Oct 14 2013 at 10:59am #

There’s a neighborhood coalition in Squirrel Hill. It might be good to make contact with them.


Mikhail

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Oct 14 2013 at 11:11am #

jonawebb wrote:
Yeah, and you’ll also need cooperation because a private person setting up a video camera to monitor a public street is likely to creep some people out and raise concerns (legitimate or not) about the right to privacy. I’d be pretty surprised if you get folks in Squirrel Hill to agree with your doing this.

I talked a little bit to a local police. They don’t see it differently than your own security cameras. No privacy in a public place.


reddan

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Oct 14 2013 at 11:14am #

@Byogman: there are apps available for various flavors of smartphone and tablet that claim to provide similar functionality; I’ve not used any, but searching for ‘speed gun app’ produces all kinds of hits.

Still requires manual effort of course, but if you merely wish to demonstrate that there are lots of people traveling well above the speed limit, using such an app for an hour during prime commuting time would likely be a good low-cost start.

I don’t know jack about real-time image processing, or I’d be very interested in whipping up an Android app to provide automatic VASCAR-ish functionality without user intervention.
Ideally, you could set the phone or tablet in a stand on your porch or in your window, punch in a couple of numbers to calibrate distance from street and relative location and such, then let it run. The app would need to track movement from one side to the other in the viewable area (or maybe between a couple of user-defined points like trees or signposts), and plug that into a simple average speed calculation. Sure, you wouldn’t get license plates or any other vehicle-identifiable information, but you could establish speed trends for any given location very easily.


jonawebb

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Oct 14 2013 at 11:16am #

Mikhail wrote:No privacy in a public place.

Yeah, so you can do it, but can you get your neighbors to agree with your doing it? Different question.
It would be pretty easy to do, though. Just pace off some landmarks visible from your house, set up your video camera, upload the video, and determine car speed by counting frames. It is much harder to do it automatically, but you could easily do it manually.


scott

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Oct 14 2013 at 1:30pm #

@byogman, you can borrow our handheld radar detector if you want to stand outside and clock cars. have someone else take video or take video with a smartphone (if you have one) with your other hand. That way you can go back and forth between the car and the speed shown on the display. I’m not sure about the law, but if you make it public you may have to blur out the license plate numbers. You can give the raw video, however, to elected officials and law enforcement as evidence that your street needs traffic calming measures implements as well as enforcement.


Mikhail

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Oct 14 2013 at 2:00pm #

jonawebb wrote:
Yeah, so you can do it, but can you get your neighbors to agree with your doing it? Different question.
It would be pretty easy to do, though. Just pace off some landmarks visible from your house, set up your video camera, upload the video, and determine car speed by counting frames. It is much harder to do it automatically, but you could easily do it manually.

Grid provides a little bit more precision. It’s the same two points that vehicle should go between. It is just more convenient to have a lot of points and see how many of them have been traveled by a vehicle between two frames. And if set camera far enough and perpendicular to the grid then you can make calculation with pretty high accuracy without touching cos/sin/tg. As a matter of fact, in this case you can install grid on your lawn grid looking to your camcoder.


byogman

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Oct 14 2013 at 2:07pm #

scott wrote:ay. I’m not sure about the law, but if you make it public you may have to blur out the license plate numbers. You can give the raw video, however, to elected officials and law enforcement as evidence that your street needs traffic calming measures implements as well as enforcement.

That’s awesome Scott, didn’t know we had that resource. I’ll be contacting you about that shortly.


Mikhail

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Oct 14 2013 at 3:49pm #

byogman wrote:

That’s awesome Scott, didn’t know we had that resource. I’ll be contacting you about that shortly.

Hm, I did not know that it was that cheap… http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=339215&Q=&is=REG&A=details


StuInMcCandless

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Oct 14 2013 at 4:45pm #

In 2007, a couple transit friends and I were going to scope out the Ross Park Mall ring road for speeding, since the bus stop got pushed to the far side of the road. What we figured out then is that there was a $15 child’s toy with the electronics necessary to support a speed gun. I could dig back through my MySpace conversations to find the deets, but it might be easier to do what’s been suggested above. I guess my point in mentioning it is that if it was that cheap and simple six years ago, it should be all the cheaper and simpler now.

And I wouldn’t give a damn what the neighbors thought. If anything, I’d bet more than half of them would come out and help man the thing when you needed a break. Even better, get another neighbor 200 yards away or more to set up their own monitor so you can see how much different it is between the two points, i.e., are they increasing speed farther down the street?


UnrealMachine

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Oct 14 2013 at 8:25pm #

I like where this conversation is going. I’m friends with a city police officer at my gym. I’ll ask him about the best way to set something like this up. I doubt it will come to a surprise to anyone when 100% of the cars are recorded exceeding the speed limit. More curious about which pct. is +10 PSL? I can help with setting up the experiment and analyzing the data (statistically) if needed.


jonawebb

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Oct 25 2013 at 10:02am #

New pro-cycling letters in today’s Tribune-Review by Colleen Spiegler, Timothy S. Bedard:

http://triblive.com/opinion/letters/4881659-74/drivers-mcnickle-roads#axzz2iZnAofUy

http://triblive.com/opinion/letters/4900687-74/cyclist-car-driver#axzz2iZnAofUy

Good work!


RustyRed

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Oct 25 2013 at 1:06pm #

Wow, it had been so long, I was beginning to think they weren’t going to run opposing letters.

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