July 2014 Critical Mass
6 p.m. at the dinosaur, Friday, July 25. Tires on pavement 6:10.
Law-abiding ride! This is not every other city’s Critical Mass. This has a specific purpose, to reclaim the streets we have not already reclaimed. The streets where we are legally allowed to be but where bikes are an uncommon sight. We will stop at lights and signs, but we will also take the lane unless there’s a good reason not to.
This month we will head northwest, through Manchester, try out the new climbing ramp up from Beaver Avenue to California Avenue, cross the McKees Rocks Bridge, through McKees Rocks, to Windgap to Ingram, and into Crafton-Ingram Shopping Center. Return via Steuben Street. (Note: Large hill, both up and down.) To the West End Circle to the steps to West Carson, along the sidewalk to the Fort Pitt Bridge, into Point State Park, and back into downtown, where we will go our separate ways.
Bring lights and reflectors. It will likely be dim to dark by the end of the ride.
Second meet-up point: Point State Park, probably around 6:30.
Third meet-up point: California at Termon, probably around 7:00.
Planned route: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/470997120
For more information, please read my write-up on the June ride here.
Strangely there has been this event going around my FB feed of another group of folks trying to do a Critical Mass starting after 8pm tonight. They seem to be implying that this is the first Critical Mass in five years.
We’ve been in touch. I was going to post something here. They’re both legit.
It’s actually been four years. April 2010 was the last widely attended CM, and it was a fiasco. I’ll see if I can dig up the thread about it.
George Pompadou’s CM is at 8:15, mine’s at 6, we both start at Dippy. His is likely going to be the traditional, old-school (his term) CM ride. Mine is intended to be law-abiding, but tackling a difficult couple of streets, as described above.
C.M. ride #1 was wonderful. We started with six riders, picked up a seventh before we got out of Oakland, and an eighth at the Science Center. Most of the ride was seven riders, though, as one dropped off at about the same point.
Amazingly little trouble on Chateau. I dealt with three times as much traffic on my pre-ride on Monday.
Most riders did not know about the new ramp from Chateau/Beaver/Island up to California/Marshall. Easily bikeable, and I think you can even get a tandem or trailer up it. YMMV.
California up to Termon was very quiet. The street is wide, the grade not too difficult, traffic speeds moderate, traffic temper calm.
We took the lane on the McKees Rocks Bridge. We must have been going close to 30, but even at that, two cars screamed past at 50+.
We were tailed down Island Ave in McKees Rocks by a cement truck whose driver was very calm and patient with us. Chartiers was a bit more challenging, as we got split up into at least three groups, and there was noplace to be except right in line with moving cars.
Windgap had a recent paving job, so was velvety smooth. Very little traffic, pleasant speed. Definitely a nice part of town to ride a bike along.
Ingram wasn’t too difficult. A couple of lights and signs and turns, but easily navigable, and drivers stopped at the same four-way stop waved us along.
Only a couple of us were familiar with Crafton-Ingram Shopping Plaza. Lots of choices of everything: grocery stores, drug stores, dollar stores, restaurants, fast food. We opted to hang for a few minutes at Dunkin Donuts. Refilled the water bottles here.
Steuben St headed inbound from there has one ginormous hill that took the group most of 10 minutes to climb. Despite that, we had zero trouble with traffic. The reason? No parking. The inbound lane is 25 feet wide.
We grouped together as a tight cluster to go through the West End Circle and ride West Carson. Very little trouble, and again, I am sure it helped that we had about 20 blinkies among us.
More later; gotta catch a bus.
Six videos, unedited. Thanks to Marko for helping me zip-tie my helmet cam to my bike rack. Zip-ties (which he had) and duct tape (which I had) fasten anything to anything and keep it there!
Video 1, Dippy to edge of downtown: http://youtu.be/XNWvAkQHMeU
Video 2, Downtown to North Shore: http://youtu.be/i4nu7xjXYjo
Video 3, North Shore to Manchester: http://youtu.be/p_tYPOFgc1I
Video 4, Manchester to McKees Rocks Bridge approach: http://youtu.be/not1im4e-rg
Video 5, MRB to Windgap Ave: http://youtu.be/N76YcuRvJI8
Video 6 (brief): some of Windgap Ave: http://youtu.be/GGuRt4kX6r4
The “ginormous hill on Steuben Street” was on my daily commute in, my daily white whale. Welcome to the west.
“my daily white whale. “
Thar she BLOWS.
Yeah, that hill was my most challenging so far.
My legs are really pissed off at me now.
@RustyRed had two cameras, and posted her videos on Saturday. She joined the ride at the Science Center, so hers overlap mine from there to Windgap, but also finish the ride, which mine do not. Both of hers also have audio, notably missing from mine. (My audio is on, but the camera is in a tight case, which excludes most sound other than rattles.)
Her front camera:
Start: Carnegie Science Center
End: California Ave at Dickson St
Start: California Ave at Dickson St
End: The approach to the McKees Rocks Bridge.
Start: The approach to the McKees Rocks Bridge.
End: Windgap Ave and Bellhurst St, about where my camera quit.
Start: Windgap at Bellhurst
End: Crafton-Ingram Shopping Center
Start: Leaving Crafton-Ingram Shopping Center
End: about to exit Station Square onto West Carson St
Start: Smithfield St and Blvd of the Allies, downtown
The first 2:30 of this, we discuss the ride. Then we disperse.
Her rear camera:
Start: California at Marshall
End: starting onto the McKees Rocks Bridge
Start: on the McKees Rocks Bridge
End: Wind Gap Ave at Belhurst St
Start: Wind Gap Ave at Belhurst St
End: Crafton-Ingram Shopping Center
Start: C-I S.C. (all in the plaza)
End: Dunkin Donuts in C-I S.C.
Start: leaving the donut shop
End: halfway up the big hill on Steuben Street
Start: climbing the hill out of Crafton on Steuben St
End: on the access road into Station Square
Start: on the access road into Station Square
End: to the end of the ride at Smithfield at Blvd of the Allies
If anyone else has video or a write-up, please post. I will also include this in a blog post I am writing.
I gathered up all the relevant posts above and organized them into this one blog post.
I’d still like to hear more about the other ride Friday night.
I had a simar experience on the mckees rocks bridge. I did not feel safe while taking the lane due to the excessive speed of traffic passing me. I was probably going about 25 – 30mph and being passed at likely 45 – 55mph speeds. I got a few beeps and generally didn’t feel safe at all.
Cars came in waves. The first car tended to give me ok clearance, but it seemed less and less for subsequent vehicles, who likely didn’t see me till after the first car started to move over the yellow line to pass me.
I’d feel much safer had the sidewalk been an option here, but it was blocked by construction signs and marked as closed. The sidewalk really sucks, but I’d rather do that.
The MRB sidewalk is open, both sides, end to end. PennDOT never removed the “sidewalk closed” signs after the 2009 rebuild, and they’ve been sitting in the weeds ever since.
If ever a spot needed speed cameras, the MRB, both directions, is it.
McKees Rocks Bridge is SR 3014. Call 1-800-Fix-road to reach PennDOT. When they tell you they don’t do sidewalks, even on their own roads, call 311…. Repeat ad nauseam, then start calling some relevant elected officials:
– Michael J. Finnerty (Council D4: McKees Rocks, et al, 412-350-6540
– Amanda Green Hawkins (Council D13: Brighton Heights, and most of northern Pittsburgh, 412-350-6585)
– Rich Fitzgerald, County Exec’s office: 412-350-6500
Senator Wayne Fontana (412-344-2551 or 717-787-5300), possibly the only one other than Fitzgerald who represents the bridge in its entirety…
Rep Dan Deasy (McKees Rocks, 412-928-9514 or 717-772-8187)
Rep Jake Wheatley Jr. (Woods Run and upper Chateau, 412-471-7760, 717-783-3783), and/or
Rep Adam Ravenstahl (Brighton Heights, 412-321-5523, 717-787-5470)
“Call 1-800-Fix-road to reach PennDOT.”
Alternatively, look for a random stray dog walking around. Explain to the dog the signs you would like to have removed, detailing their locations. Either course of action has an equal likelihood of the desired result. The dog will probably take your request more seriously.
The dog will take a leak on the signs, which is infinitely more attention than PennDOT has given them in the last five years.
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