Monday, November 25, 2013

A Poignant Moment

Six Million.  Have you ever actually seen 6,000,000 of anything?  Can you wrap your mind around that number?  It's not easy.   17 years ago, Bill Walter, a Pittsburgh teacher, was trying to help his young students to comprehend that number as he taught them about the horrific events of the holocaust.  He came up with the idea of having the students save the tabs from pop cans and collect six million of them.  It took 4.5 years to collect 6,000,000 tabs with the entire school working on the project.  

Today we rode out to Squirrel Hill to see the "Gary and Nancy Tuckfelt Keeping Tabs Holocaust Sculpture".  The 6,000,000 pop tabs (representing the 6,000,000 human beings that died in the holocaust) fill glass blocks arranged in a sculpture in the shape of the Star of David. 

Looking at this memorial was overwhelming.  The simplicity of the design helps to keep the focus on the immense number of people lost in that abomination.   Contemplating all that this sculpture represents was a poignant experience.  The cold afternoon had nothing to do with the chills I felt.

After visiting the memorial we decided to stop at 61C to warm up a bit.  I'm glad that we did.  The hot tea and good company helped to lift my mood.  By the time we were thawed out I was ready to enjoy the brisk ride back.  We rode down through Schenley Park and worked our way to the Jail Trail.  As we approached the Hot Metal Bridge we decided to detour onto it for a better view of the city at night.  It looked great.

We continued on the trail and confirmed that the recently installed reflective stickers were a tremendous help.  I noticed again how well the dark wood planter boxes blended with the shadows at night.  The stickers definitely got our attention.

Toward the end of our ride we stopped several times to appreciate the Christmas tree and decorations at the Point.

My friend is very tolerant of my photo obsessions and seems to have infinite patience while I try again and again to capture the night scenes with a pocket camera and no tripod. 

While it doesn't have the novelty or draw that The Duck had, it sure looks nice there.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Guerrilla Safety in The 'Burg

Independent Safety Advocates

A recent awareness campaign by Bike Pgh attempts to remind drivers that real people - mothers, doctors, local professional athletes, etc - are on those bikes.

We love those ads, but already they're coming down.  The one in the photo above is no longer there.  Yesterday we located a new attempt to humanize cyclists.  Instead of the standard sharrows that silhouette a riderless bicycle, some creative group or individual has put in place something different.  The guys were calling it an "anatomically correct" rider.

While the fact that it shows a ponytail and (dare I say?) breasts seemed to impress the other cyclists that I spoke to, what got my attention was that it showed a rider.  A human being and not just an inanimate object.  Wow.  In fact, if you really look at it you'll see that the bike is more of a suggestion and the image is more about the person. Why hasn't anyone thought of that before?  It's not CARS and BIKES that need to share the road - it's DRIVERS and CYCLISTS.  We should come up with more of these humanizing sharrows depicting the diverse cycling community and try them out.  Maybe someone could do a psychological study to see if they're more effective?

The new sharrows aren't the only guerrilla safety efforts here.  I read a recent message board post that someone had taken it upon himself to put some reflective markers along an unlit section of the Baldwin Borough Trail.  I haven't had a chance to see them yet, but it sounded like a good idea.  Along the same lines, I had mentioned to a friend that on one of our night rides last year I had nearly run into the wooden planters that protrude into the Jail Trail.  There was a bright light in front of me that disrupted my night vision and I almost didn't see the dark wood until I was very close.  This past week he went out and affixed reflective stickers on the corners of those planters.

I, for one, really appreciate that.  After that one close call I've been very aware of those planters, but I still like having them marked.  This trail gets a lot of use and with the short days right now, I'm betting a lot of commuters that use this trail will appreciate those markers.

Roller Skis

The other day on that same trail we came across something we hadn't seen here before.  As I said, this trail gets a lot of use.  Plenty of walkers, joggers, cyclists and the occasional rollerblader, but this was the first time I'd seen someone on Roller Skis.  We turned around and stopped to talk to the lady using them while she was taking a break.

Apparently they're more popular in areas where there are a lot of cross country skiers, as they work your legs in a similar manner and get you ready for ski season.  She pointed out that hers had the dual wheels in the back that increased their stability.  It looked like she was having fun.

Odd Ornamentation

We occasionally find some odd yard and building decorations.  There was the toy chicken in a community garden, or the sequined camel on the side of an art gallery, but recently I noticed that someone had a shark on the side of their house.

We've riden past this home dozens of times and never noticed it before.  You have to wonder about the story behind it.  Pretty sure it didn't come from the Allegheny.