Friday, July 27, 2012

Everyone: Be Safe. Pay Attention. Be Respectful.

On Wednesday morning, on a stretch of Penn in Point Breeze that I often travel by bike during football season to watch Steelers games at my friend's place in Regent Square, a cyclist was hit and killed. The crash occurred around 5 a.m. The driver took off after and has not been identified as of my writing this.

The death of James Price, 46-years-old, father of an 11-year-old daughter, was completely and utterly senseless. He lived in Homewood and started biking as a way to improve his health and diabetes. At 5 a.m. there is not enough traffic on Penn Ave on that stretch to make it impossible for cars and bikes to share the road. The speed limit there is 35 MPH, and I doubt the driver was adhering to that limit, as most drivers (MOST, not all) similarly do not. Mr. Price was wearing a helmet, and he had lights on his bike. It's hard to believe that he was not visible at the time of the crash.

I understand that I exist as a minority in Pittsburgh. Though I see more and more cyclists on the road every day, biking is still not the first (car) or second (public transportation) choice for most Pittsburghers. Some comments from the Post-Gazette story are hard to swallow. There is definitely animosity in this city when it comes to cyclists and motorists. Look: I don't want to be in your way, cars. But, without bike lanes on all major roads (I'm thinking Penn, Forbes, Fifth, etc.) the only thing I can do is try to bike as close to the curb as possible. When there is street parking, I try to bike as close to the parked cars as possible, but one day that is going to get me doored.

I hope that one day those bike lanes do exist. I hope that helps ease the frustration felt by both cyclists and motorists. I hope that those bike lanes encourage more people to ditch their cars because biking immediately becomes much safer. I hope that nothing like this happens in Pittsburgh again.

BikePGH is a tremendous organization, and they are doing everything in their power to make cycling in Pittsburgh a more common thing. Here is their post on the story.

Cyclists: Wear a helmet. Use lights. Be cautious. Be aware.

Motorists: OBEY THE SPEED LIMIT. Stop texting (please, seriously, stop texting). If you pass, leave plenty of room on our left (the law requires you give us four feet). Be patient.

Everyone: Be safe. Pay Attention. Be Respectful.

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