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Opinion piece at the Post Gazzette today - not very nice...

Opinion piece at the Post-Gazzette. There is only maybe a couple of points that I agree with with this guy, mainly related to minorities and the need for better transportation. But other than that, poo poo...
2014-09-14 09:06:14
2014-09-14 12:11:59
I agree that the minorities thing needs to be addressed in general in Pittsburgh however it is totally unrelated to this stupid piece. He could have picked anything: water quality, city schools, old corrupt mayor, police corruption, property assessments, etc that should maybe have a bigger priority over bike lanes. Fact is that there is stuff happening everyday and this guy singled out the bike stuff as "getting done" before more important stuff or whatever. You could literally make the argument about anything that the city does if there is a "bigger issue" that is going unresolved. Its dumb.
2014-09-14 12:53:49
Excellent response there Steevo.
2014-09-14 12:55:26
I sense a hipster smackdown coming between cyclists and cartoon readers. My money's on the cyclists.
2014-09-14 19:48:48
I thought it was pretty good
Wos' article is both (mostly) spot-on and (somewhat) off-target. Using BikePgh membership as a correlation of cyclist racial distribution is like using AAA for driver racial distribution; bad move. He missed plugging the Major Taylor Cycling Club (I'm a member, aren't you?) Otherwise, it's a sarcastic look at some real issues. For instance: (1) Compare the racial distribution of neighborhoods that will be served by our 2015 BikeShare program {white folks} (2) as noted in DC's bikeshare look at the disparate impact of credit card requirements for a BikeShare account (3) Most Pgh bike infra exists and supports specific places only (unequal distribution) and (4) most recent transit innovation reduces traditional service and introduces upscale boutique niche (white) service (Uber, Lyft). In summary, race is such a pervasive thread in the Pgh economy and transport infra that perhaps the only way to get to discuss it in the paper is sarcastically. While I'm an "avid cyclist", I also salute Wos' bigger truth.
2014-09-14 20:01:37
Just couldn't resist injecting your personal anti-Lyft/Uber vendetta into the discussion, eh V? He definitely raises some valid issues (while conveniently sparing his chosen mode of transportation from criticism) but I'm not going to lend any credibility to his ignorant drivel.
2014-09-14 20:37:29
The reason why bike lanes happen is because they're cheap. What's the total cost on all these lanes going in? Doubt it's more than one or two or three bus driver salaries and that's stretching it. Not "adding a route" money. Also, the city is paying for the lanes, not the county or PAT. The city doesn't fund bus lanes AFAIK To Steevo's point, the Cultural Trust or the DPW (who is installing the bike lanes) isn't going to solve racial/economic disparity. Second, pot calling the kettle fucking black here. A director of a CARTOON MUSEUM complaining about hipsterdom! Give me a fucking break! I own india ink, bristol board and nibs and I also ride a bike. His old guy/get off my lawn attitude is not representative of any cartoonist community I'm aware of. (Well maybe asswipe conservative editorial cartoonists, but I've heard that even they're pleasant in person even if they promote dumb stuff)
2014-09-14 21:59:30
This reader comment is amazing: "Carla29 minutes ago "Any pollution saving measures of bike lanes in Downtown Pittsburgh that avid cyclists herald as good for the environment is going up in smoke considering the stretch limousine vehicle I transport passengers in from after events at Heinz Hall now sits in Downtown at the intersection of 6th Steet at Penn Avenue with 25% more exhaust being emitted into the atmosphere because I must sit 25% longer at an even more gridlocked intersection because of the bike lane that now exists on Penn Avenue from 6th Steet to 16th Street." Ahahahaha! Your pollution will never work because of my stretch limo!
2014-09-15 08:58:00
Actually, Bill, I think it's not my anti-Uber as much as it's my pro-public-Transit. I love the bike lanes, I'm loving the something-other-than-car perspective and I think there's a fair point that bike lanes are not equal to public transit. Phase Two: are bike lanes a factor in gentrification? If so, is there a racial component to that? I didn't see it as condemnation of all the wonderful work that's being done, or of the Mayor (who has no sway over the County's bus system). It's (as I read it) more a statement that bike lanes are necessary yet insufficient from a total-community perspective.
2014-09-15 09:15:56
How much money will be spent on bike infrastructure over the next 10 years vs transit and road maintainance? I bet it's tiny. Our bikeways cost about 150k to build as an informed guess, after cutting out design costs due to people for bikes grants. Please correct me if you have a better figure. The county has already spent millions on peliminary engineering for a BRT system, that's without putting in any infrastructure yet. Estimated project cost is around $200 million. The city spent about $10 millon on just resurfacing this year, and that number needs to grow since we didn't get the 80 miles per year we need. That says something on how cycling is prioritized. Transit thing is hard to compare since that's county money, not city.
2014-09-15 10:18:11
Apparently the piece was partially intended to be tongue-in-cheek, but I hope this effing douchebag is a better cartoonist than he is a humorist. Maybe he'll go for some homeless people jokes or school shooting jokes in his next piece. Shitbag.
2014-09-15 10:58:23
I know the guy. As I said in a Facebook post, he's too bright to do something this stupid. Either this was intended as humor that didn't work, or sardonic that didn't work. It did spawn a couple of long conversations with others, some cyclists, some not. He does have a point, but the point was better when reiterated by others. In particular, these lanes do tend to attract a specific subset of the public (white, middle class heterosexuals), and does little for that same demographic anywhere else in the city (say, Brookline), or slightly different demographic (e.g., black, poor) who live much closer to the action. What we really need -- and though I don't think Wos's article articulates it well -- is some way of gaining more equity in the overall population, at least as affects transport policy, whether that be by bike, by bus, by car, by whatever. Lucia's thread Sue Kerr's thread, with comments by Ngani from Bike-Pgh.
2014-09-15 11:45:23
Tell me if I'm right or wrong. City of Pittsburgh streets, not state routes or interstates, are paid for buy city funds generated by the tax base (unless there is special state or federal grant money), which means that suburbanites complaining about "congestion" on city streets are the ones using city resources and not paying for them. As a corollary, someone biking on bike lanes in the city has a better than average likelihood of being a city resident based simply on range of travel. I want to be sure I'm 100% right on this because I'm going to start telling asshole suburbanites (of which, full disclosure, I am one) who complain about whatever on city streets to shut. The fuck. Up.
2014-09-15 12:01:12
Does anyone else find it odd that this is the same guy that stood up to the Cultural District with his Quack N'at t-shirt last summer?
2014-09-15 13:30:58
Is it really? I didn't make the connection. He had a booth on the closed Clemente bridge last year, so he must not have an issue with that. Come to think of it, I am not interested in baseball, and I am offended that the city often closes a bridge for a small special interest group of ball fans. Also that is sarcasm.
2014-09-15 13:54:29
Joe Wos recently stated that he's stepping down from his baby that he founded and ran for the past decade, the ToonSeum, in order to make some money so he can send his kids to college. So maybe he's just gone the rest of the way and completely sold out? (tongue in cheek... maybe)
2014-09-15 19:28:41
I'm told that James Love has posted at least 10 comments to Wos's article. Yes, that James Love, the same one who got Facebook to yank down Bike-Pgh's Facebook page about a year ago. Talk about a vendetta.
2014-09-16 05:03:06
Love's comments on the article now consist of slanderous lies about Bike Pittsburgh. His comments need to be reported as abuse, and demanded to be removed. I can't seem to be able to report it from my cell phone, but people need to do that. He is not mentally well and I'm not even being facetious. He needs to be on some kind psychiatric supervision. Oh, someone should get a screen shot first though, before having it removed.
2014-09-16 07:03:53
rant mode engaged > Pittsburgh’s bike lanes, however, have taken two-direction roads and cut them down to one-way, one-lane streets! If he's referring to Penn, it was one way for a good portion of the lanes there now. Second, cutting down lanes and lane width doesn't automagically equal more traffic congestion. Buses were also rerouted and there are plans to make liberty better able to handle the additional traffic. > Throughout Lawrenceville, hipsters rejoiced when Pittsburgh added bike lanes heading into Downtown, enabling white men with bushy beards and black-rim plastic glasses a quicker way to get Downtown to play their banjos on street corners. ad hominem enough for you? > This completely ignores and denigrates our existing nonbiking culture and forces us to become “better people” by their standards. They neglect to mention a study in Helsinki showed bike paths to be more dangerous than sharing roads, and a study in Vancouver that reported a decrease in business along bike paths. Oh man, too bad he didn't give links to two studys that contradict most other studies on the subject. Perhaps the author is referring to this article (Kind of a summaryhere ) Maybe we should quote more of the sentence? "A recent study in Helsinki showed that it is safer to cycle on streets amongst cars than on two-way cycle paths along streets" So it's safer to cycle with cars, than in lanes that cross the car's lanes because the cars often have visibility problems when turning right, which is a well known issue and causes many car-related accidents? Maybe he means this study in Vancouver? "Grade-level businesses that responded to the survey said that on-street parking loss, reduced visibility, turning restrictions at specific intersections, reduced loading zone access and more difficult pedestrian access were reported to be negative effects of the implemented separated bike lanes, and reasons for negative economic impact." The author never mentions "In terms of vacancy rates on separated bike lanes streets, property owners and managers responded that they were either lower than or similar to vacancy rates on comparator streets." Also, there was a sales tax increase right around the time the bike lanes were installed that was reported to also show similar declines in sales. So it looks to me that a poor implementation (poor visibility and bad pedestrian access? I need to figure out how that happened) and a sales tax increase drove the drop in sales and not simply "bike lanes". > Drivers are not unwilling to share the road, The authors probably never driven a bike. There are drives who are pointlessly unwilling to share and drivers who are very accommodating. Most people fall in between. > Bicyclists have become religious zealots in the first church of the perpetual Schwinn. Again, I get that this is an opinion piece, but wow. > This kind of blind self-righteousness is overcompensation for a city that suffered through decades of low self-esteem. All this, thanks to a tiny percentage of Pittsburgh’s population — a whopping 1.4 percent of people in Pittsburgh ride bikes to work, according to the Census Bureau — illustrating the old adage, “the squeaky bicycle wheel gets the grease.” Looks like the author's never quite _looked at_ or _compared_ this to other cities. Allow me, from the [census](, page 4, fig 5. If we call Pittsburgh Small to Medium and either in the Northeast or Midwest, we're above the average quite a bit. > As a lifelong Pittsburgher, I recognize that bike-lane improvements are needed to make Pittsburgh safer, cleaner, more pretentious and white. Yes, making the second (after walking) most affordable mode of transportation more safe is definatly something that only benefits young yuppies. Yeah, OK. > According to Bike Pgh’s annual report, 1 percent of its members identify as African-American. This suggests that only a tiny, tiny percentage of African-Americans ride bikes to work in Pittsburgh Sampling Bias much? When I get home tonight I'll see if I can pull the ACS cycling data and figure out what's what. So, the author uses half-truths, bad data, and snark to make his rock-solid point that safe bicycling is bad for everyone. --------- Later on I did the the analysis and came up with this map based on the ACS 2012-5yr data: Bike Usage and Median Household Income by Census Block Group. (This was based on "means of transportation to work") Where it does seem that there is a trend away from lower-income neighborhoods using bikes. (Because I had the data, I also did Public Transit (also means to work). Since it's "means of transportation to work" it may not be representative of a lot of the cycling that may go on there. Also, I'm not 100% sure, but I believe it's the main means used, so if someone only bikes 20% of the time, say, it may not count. I'm looking up exactly how that is calculated, so don't quote me on that :) Perhaps this belongs in another thread, but is low usage in lower-income communities something BikePgh is attempting to address? (e.g. find out why and what could be done to help?)
2014-09-16 08:31:26
There's a rapid increase in bike usage among minorities: see this study from the League of American Bicyclists. Most of what's going on here, I think, is the way new trends get adopted. They tend to work their way down from the rich to the poor. We're about halfway through that with urban utility biking.
2014-09-16 08:51:19
The maps are really interesting, thanks for sharing. The horseshoe from hill district and uptown is especially interesting. Very, very close into the city center, very poor, light to moderate bike usage. I think you could get much higher levels of usage with the bike lanes associated with BRT, uphill lanes on Center, and uphill lanes connecting the two. Super-mega bonus points for making a direct connect from the hill district down to the strip, furnicular and/or one of these:
2014-09-16 08:59:30
Holy cow, looked at the wrong map. Almost no reported bike usage! Makes me question the accuracy having gone through uptown at least quite a lot. Not a huge number but some, invariably riding sidewalk.
2014-09-16 09:02:11
@byogman Remember, this data is from 2012 (latest available here) and incorporates data from 2008-2012. Also, this is only means of transportation to work (I should remake them tonight and put that in the title). I don't know where to get general bike usage data, but would love to get my hands on it!
2014-09-16 09:07:13
btw when we are talking about 1.4% bike commuters - - is it 1.4% of total population (and city of Pittsburgh or suburbs in addition?) or about population that needs to commute? Because in former case those 1.4% represents a bigger part of population that needs to commute.
2014-09-16 09:22:58
Bikelash - interviews with attendees of Pgh. pro walk/pro bike conference
2014-09-16 09:34:46
Thanks, Jim; The data at its source is illustrative, not definitive, for several reasons: 1. The data pertains to City residents only. (You can delve for data from suburban locations, but City of Pittsburgh data refers to City residents only). 2. The actual survey question asks something like: "What was your primary mode of transportation TO WORK last week?" So, it did not include transportation to school, errands, social engagements or recreational riding. Some portion of the survey respondents work from home or telecommute, so used no transportation, unless they reported themselves as pedestrians. And, this was a mailed sample survey. You might have gotten your survey in the middle of winter. Or during a particularly wet spell. Or during a week where you needed to work at a remote site, or were even just a "couple day a week commuter" such as myself. The reference is to PRIMARY mode of travel TO WORK over the PAST WEEK. All those are limiters. As such, 1.4% strikes me as fairly healthy. Thanks for the maps and charts, Jim! Although I have seen something similar before, it is good to see them again.
2014-09-16 11:00:01
Reading those comments is a good way to get my cycnicism back on. Trolls live and are greatly exercised by the lanes that bring me joy. I have to say thanks to those of you who are wading in that particular cesspool. Someone has to say it. And say it. And say it. And say it. And say it. Thanks.
2014-09-16 11:00:19
@Swalfoort Yes, I should change the title to reflect that it's solely primary means for commuter trips, as I had this same discussion too many times with people (this is one of my first maps for public consumption, so I'm still learning how best to present the data to the general public). However, even if the week was wet or snowy, one would expect similar declines across the city, and the main purpose of the map was to show the lack of cycling in certain neighborhoods that predominately appear to be of lower-income. As you said, illustrative, not definitive. So the questions I'd like to raise from the ACS data are: (1) Is that data (still) accurate? (2) If so, can anything be done to help encourage bike usage in these neighborhoods? Additionally: What did Vancouver do to add bike lanes and reduce pedestrian access (so that we can avoid ever doing that)?
2014-09-16 11:17:50
@stu, @edmonds59, I posted screenshots of the latest mess in the fools-gladly thread.
2014-09-16 13:10:38
Thanks for doing that, Drew. One regret I have is not taking screenshots of the four-month argument from mid-May to mid-September 2013, before Fb finally yanked his account. I later got my side of it, but not all his screaming just prior to going ballistic against Bike-Pgh. I might be in the same room with him tomorrow night. We'll see how it goes. (The public is welcome. 5:30 p.m., Wed 9/17, Port Authority board room, 5th floor, 345 Sixth Ave.; the meeting should be over by 7:30.)
2014-09-16 15:08:45
There was no reason to start taking screenshots, prior to the shenanigans in which he got the bikepgh fb page taken down. Until then, there was no need for evidence.
2014-09-16 15:45:34
I went to one of those public hearing meetings where dude went on some rambling monologue about transit and parts of his personal history and story and and he hasn't been employed and he comes in from Blawnox and yadayada, and the 20 county, city, and federal representatives sat and politely listened for 10+ minutes. My key thought was, do these people actually think this person is representative of the general public who are interested in this issue??? It was mortifying.
2014-09-16 17:25:06
@edmonds, that's how I feel about the officials speaking most of the time.
2014-09-16 17:32:04
That thread started in May 2013 with an argument with a bus driver over the new green bike lane on Liberty. Jim Love got on my nerves about a related subject a few days later. The argument continued on and off all summer, but heated up during BikeFest when he saw lots more bikes around. The essence of it is that he totally rejects the idea of taking the lane, and thinks all cyclists are lawbreakers and a threat to motorists and bus drivers. He got so frustrated about that that he -- singlehandedly -- forced Facebook to take down Bike-Pgh's Facebook page on Sept 7 2013 -- almost perfectly coinciding with Scott Bricker's honeymoon. It took a week to figure out how to get through to Facebook that Bike-Pgh, a legitimate 501(c)(3) organization with 7,000 likes on its page, should be reinstated. In the meantime, Mr. Love called the BP office something like 10 times a day to harass them, to the point where the staff called the cops on him. A cop showed up and took the next phone call. This was followed by the cop talking face to face with him the next day, and threatening him with arrest if he called the office again. He even refers to that in one of his rant comments above, a full year later. I know the guy well. I know a lot of his back story, and how he ticks, and why. He's a real piece of work, lemme tell you. The main thing here is, if all of us who have our sh*t together would be as perceptive to the workings of government and related things (like PennDOT hearings, ACTC, etc.) and acted in our best interests, like he does, we would be a lot better off. He never misses a public hearing, never misses a chance to speak, never misses a chance to call in to a talk show, and never has anything constructive or useful to say.
2014-09-17 09:26:21
He clearly either suffers from mental illness and/or is not very intelligent (and I don't mean that as a character attack, it's my impression having read his posts). He can't even distinguish between the people that actually work for Bike-Pgh at an organization level verses us... people chatting on a message board that live and ride bikes in Pgh. In his mind, it all just sort of gets lumped together. What's odd is that he claims to be a well traveled cyclist that has used the roads for distance cycling. Yet his position seems to be that bicycles belong on dedicated leisure trails and not on roads. He seems to be opposed to the very idea of commuting and developing infrastructure that encourages commuting. He's also ignorant of the laws and gets quite testy with Stu who was following the laws to the letter (and expecting the same from automobiles). @Stu, if you listen to any of the local radio call-in shows like "the fan" you'll notice that it's the same people that call in day in and day out... some people just have too much time on their hands and/or assume that listeners actually care what they have to say. It's a mix of attention-grabbing and self-righteousness. It's just the way some people are cut and unfortunately, they are the loudest voices in the room. I just hope that representatives at community and transit meetings recognize the type of person that James is, which is basically a Monday morning quarterback only in relation to transit decisions instead of sports teams; he's the equivalent of someone calling in during a show about the Pirates and offering advice on how to fix Pedro Alvarez because "I played 3rd base when I was 14 years old."
2014-09-17 09:44:31
"..and/or is not very intelligent". I've met him, and I'll say it without the least hesitation, regardless of whatever other problems he may suffer, he's a fucking idiot.
2014-09-17 11:42:21
They say Joe Wos is on KADA radi right now talking about bike lanes. I'm at work, so I can't join in this cluster F.
2014-09-17 12:09:03
@Mick I just threw it on and they were talking about the proposed law allowing teachers to carry guns. I learned something: I'll never listen to KDKA radio agin.
2014-09-17 12:44:44
Apparently he is writing a retraction op-ed article @WosisMe: After a lot of conversations, I need to write a piece on why I was wrong about bike paths @BikePGH
2014-09-24 17:10:35
Correct!! Joe is writing a retraction piece of why he was wrong :) Education at its finest!
2014-09-24 23:41:52
Grist response had this gem in it which made me laugh aloud. That only slighlty surprized my co-workers. ... then he gets to be white again when he reaches his destination.
2014-09-25 14:12:05
I think there's another thing happening in Wos's piece, which is millennial bashing, which also negates the fact that not only millenials cycle
2014-09-25 14:32:00
Grist article was good. I browsed other stories, some of which also mentioned Pittsburgh. It got me digging for the About page. They're based in Seattle. Could it be that we really are the best-place-to-live, not to mention the new-hipster-capital of the US? Seems somehow dubious. The only thing I'm pretty certain of is that people from elsewhere are in awe of Steeler fans, maybe even a little afraid.
2014-09-25 18:08:16
http://localhost/2014/10/02/joe-wos-i-was-wrong/?utm_source=BikePGH+Master+List&utm_campaign=f6a40e3133-Sept+2014+Messenger&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e0915fd13f-f6a40e3133-327375001 Thanks for giving Joe another soap box to spout garbage BikePGH! "3./ How would you characterize your feeling towards bikes in Pittsburgh and people who ride them at the time when you wrote the op-ed? At that time I viewed bicyclist as militant vegans who were going to force you to listen to their poems about trees while shoving tofu into your face. I associated bicyclist with elitist. Again a few experiences can completely cloud your opinions if you don’t seek out other opportunities." Well that's fucking great. I'm glad he learned his lesson about cyclists and how they're not a stupid group of stereotypes. Vegans... now there's an elitist group we can all hate The whole thing reads like a conservative asswipe trying to save face and business in a town where being an old curmudgeon isn't going to get you anywhere. It takes real tact to insult one group while apologizing for insulting another
2014-10-02 15:49:39
oh, @Pierce, you sound upset... go hug a tree and let all that negative juju drain out. Stop and grab a latte while you're at it. But seriously, you should go have a talk with him. He did say "militant vegan" though, so careful with your approach unless you just want to validate his own self-righteousness. I agree with you, his writing is garbage. Imagine, a cartoonist that thrives on controversy.
2014-10-02 18:07:26
Man I'm afraid to read the thing.
2014-10-02 18:47:47
Do read it. This is a person who keeps thinking and is willing to change their mind, and share that fact. More people should be this way. I think the key takeaway is Wos's observation that what made the difference was to start thinking of bikers as people and not as abstractions ("bikes"). Doing the latter, if you think about it, accounts for much of the evil that happens in the world. Having said that, I would really like to know if that incident he described (some a-hole hopping on the sidewalk, yelling "on your left" then burning through a red light) really happened. I can almost imagine it did. Almost.
2014-10-02 19:36:09
@ Pierce. Wos's self-description is that he is readily influenced by politeness, sincerity, and good argument. I have no idea how true that is. But, given what happened with his turnaround, if you write to him and talk all sweet and nice, he has almost an obligation to listen.
2014-10-02 20:11:48
FWIW, James Love and I are back on speaking terms. I plan to send him a link to this second Wos article.
2014-10-02 20:15:03
Perhaps Mr. Wos' forte is drawing pictures and not writing letters. I'm impressed when people change their minds and fess up to faux-pas. He hasn't hurt anybody and perhaps brought about some civic discourse. Not bad.
2014-10-02 21:57:58
Militants are annoying.
2014-10-03 16:12:20
2014-10-20 21:57:46