Yinz Ain’t Drivin’ Right


I saw this video thanks to Twitter this morning… I’m pretty sure it’s the one I’ve heard talked about as being a clip on GMA yesterday.  It sparked awe in me, and perhaps obviously this point, a rant.

I’m not even sure where to begin.  I mean, I’ve been amazed for years about the lack of caution during hazardous road conditions from my fellow southwestern PA motorists… but this is beyond amazement.  If I were in charge of public service announcements, my #1 topic/message would be that “AWD/4WD may help you go, but it doesn’t help you stop“… and to leave space between you & the vehicle in front of (or beside) you.  Too many people just drive like nothing’s going on out of the norm as far as road conditions during inclement weather.   Then again, you have the other end of the extreme… people driving like they’re afraid, and being so ‘cautious’ that they’re a danger to others.  But that’s all general.  I’d love to just point out the insanity in this video.

  1. The White SUV – Okay.  I live not too far from here.  It’s obviously quite a hilly area like most of southwestern Pennsylvania.  I would avoid hills like this if at all possible when I knew there were icy or even snowy road conditions…  To a certain extent in these neighborhoods all routes out involve some sort of hill, but there are less “extreme” grades around.  I wonder what sparked the camera man to start taping at this point?  What auto-acrobatics led up to a “wow, I should get this on video” moment?  Think all 3 cars there were damaged, or just the 1st 2?
  2. The Speedy Sedan – Seriously?  Did you just miss the twirling SUV… and the minivan that apparently decided to join the chaos only to make a futile attempt to clear a path for your louge-run?  It almost looked like someone stepped on the gas trying to go down that hill, Speed Racer.  I’d love to see the look on your insurance agent’s face when they see this pinball-machine like run, assuming you have insurance.  I hope you had a change of underwear in the car with you.  I feel bad for the poor guy who probably thought his car was safely parked in the front yard away from road hazards flanked by other vehicles… unless he ended up there just like this guy.  What flew to the left there that started out behind the parked black SUV?  A tree?
  3. The Concerned Citizen – Yeah, I get that you’re trying to help, but that may not be the best place to walk… in case, you know… someone else were dumb enough to slide down that hill.  He’ll re-appear later with a construction cone.
  4. Sedan #2 – Adds injury to insult while you’re distracted by Brian Boitano trying to cross the road.
  5. SUV #2 – Won’t be outdone… it’s a almost a sedanwich, but it turns into a nice little road block.  Maybe this will serve as a warning to other would-be travelers to turn around and go home?
  6. Sedan #3 – This driver likes a challenge, and decides to plow through the blockade just like in all those movies on Spike.  Another bright idea is to get small children out of the car and on to the icy road.

I’d love to read your thoughts.

(Video & News story also available here.)

Cake-Baking Hooligans


Testing out this Blackbird Pie Tweet-embedder that WordPress is talking about…

Apparently all I have to do it put the tweet’s url on a line all its own, and it imports the whole thing.  Pretty snazzy.

Really though… if I rode around in the back of my Subie or in the back of the wife’s Scion (assuming the seat was down), I’m pretty sure I’d get a ticket.  Even if I had the Ark of the Covenant that we had just rescued from the infamous  secret government warehouse… I’m pretty sure I’d still get a ticket.  Yet, these people on TV get a free pass.

Not that I’m a staunch seat-belt law supporter… but it is a law now, and I wear one as it has saved me from serious injury in the past.  Maybe I’m completely off base, as this does happen in other states where they might not have click-it-or-ticket laws.  I remember riding with my cousins in the back of my dad’s GMC pickup (with a cap) from here all the way to Myrtle Beach when I was a little kid.  Nobody died, and it was actually a fun trip.

I just think it’s funny that one can do something illegal on camera, broadcast it, and face no repercussions… yet I park on the street in from of my house 1 or 2 days a year on a non-holiday weekday between certain hours or on a street-sweeping day and I get a ticket.

 

How to walk to your car in a parking lot: A public service announcement


There’s a problem I’ve noticed over the years since I first got my driver’s license.  It’s ridiculous, rampant, and totally uncalled for.  It doesn’t have as much to do with driving as it does walking, but I consider it a road-related  issue.

People don’t know how to walk in parking lots.  They have this “pedestrian has the right of way” mentality that has inexplicably warped into a strange sense of entitlement and devilish pleasure in making you the motorist yield to their ambling nonchalance.

Below, I have an illustration (thanks to Google Maps) of the new Market District parking lot in Robinson.  Please take a moment to study & understand before you move on to the next paragraph.

How to walk across a parking lot.
WALK IN A STRAIGHT LINE, NOT AT AN ANGLE.

I get worked up about this quite easily (obviously I guess), and my thoughts are all over the place…  so I’ll try to make my points concise with the aid of a bulleted list.  (I have blogged about this before too, if you find that you need further reading.) I really would like to start a discussion on this in the comments if you’re so inclined.

  • When there’s a cross-walk on the ground, use it. I understand that the crosswalk isn’t a magical safe-zone, and that jaywalking laws are rarely enforced in Southwestern PA… but it’s there for a reason;  So you can move across the road in an organized and quick fashion in a designated spot.   Yes, the parking lot is a potential mine-field of car vs. person vs. shopping cart accidents, but you can help minimize the danger by using cross-walks… and drivers will know exactly where and when to have a heightened awareness.
  • Walk in a 90° angle (or close to it if at all possible) when crossing the road. This may seem stupid, but if you look at my beautiful illustration above… you can see that a person walking a green path would move across the road much more quickly than the same person walking at the same speed using a red path.  Using the green path reduces wait time (and thus aggravation) for the driver trying to get into or out of the store.
  • Walk one one side or the other of each row. The beauty of this one is that you have a choice.  You can walk on the left or the right.  JUST. DON’T. WALK. DOWN. THE. MIDDLE. These are the  most annoying people.  There’s typically room for two cars to pass each other when moving in opposite directions, and a little extra walking room in most parking lots.  When you walk right down the middle of the aisle, you make all of this room disappear.

Focusing mostly on the middle-of-the-lane walkers, but also on the anglers, and the “too cool for the crosswalk”-ers, I’d just like to comment on the types of people that I believe they may be.

First, there are the truly oblivious.  I believe this to be the smallest sect of the parking lot meanderites.  I think some people are just really not all that aware of their surroundings, and have no comprehension of the havoc that they wreak around themselves.  (Arguably,  stopping time in a parking lot is not exactly “wreaking havoc”, but it sure bites my ass.) These people are just like Mr. Bean, and since Mr. Bean is somewhat of a lovable character, I can forgive these people.  If you know one of them, please tell them about parking lot urgency.  If you don’t know one of them… walk more quickly, in straight angles, in designated areas, and close to the cars in parking lots.  (Because you are one of them.)

Then we have category #2.  The entitled. They’re a pedestrian.  They always have the right of way, and that’s it.  In their minds, anyway.  I’d like these people to see what Pennsylvania law has to say

Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, contains the laws which govern the operation of vehicles on Pennsylvania roads.

Chapter 35: SPECIAL VEHICLES AND PEDESTRIANS
Subchapter C: Rights and Duties of Pedestrians

Section 3541. Obedience of pedestrians to traffic-control devices and regulations
(a) Traffic control devices.—A pedestrian shall obey the instructions of a police officer or other appropriately attired person authorized to direct, control or regulate traffic.

(b) Traffic and pedestrian-control signals.—Local authorities by ordinance may require pedestrians to obey traffic and pedestrian-control signals as provided in sections 3112 (relating to traffic-control signals) and 3113 (relating to pedestrian-control signals).

Section 3542. Right-of-way of pedestrians in crosswalks.
(a) General rule.—When traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

(b) Exercise of care by pedestrian.—No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close as to constitute a hazard.

and…

Section 3543. Pedestrians crossing at other than crosswalks.
(a) General rule.—Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a crosswalk at an intersection or any marked crosswalk shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

(b) At pedestrian tunnel or overhead crossing.—Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

(c) Between controlled intersections in urban district.—Between adjacent intersections in urban districts at which traffic-control signals are in operation pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.

(d) Crossing intersection diagonally.—No pedestrian shall cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless authorized by official traffic-control devices or at the discretion of a police officer or other appropriately attired person authorized to direct, control or regulate traffic. When authorized to cross diagonally, pedestrians shall cross only in accordance with the signal pertaining to the crossing movements.

And the best part…

Section 3552. Penalty for violation of subchapter.
Any pedestrian violating any provision of this subchapter is guilty of a summary offense and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of $5.

Interesting, no?  I’m not sure if these apply any differently in a parking lot, as it’s probably private property… but I’d love to see an officer out there passing out $5 tickets for every butthole who steps boldly out in front of a moving car with the incorrect assumption that “pedestrians always have the right of way”.  Why not?  I mean, they’re cracking down on parking in the South Side after years of chaos.  Is this any less ridiculous?

The third and last group?  The spiteful. They know you’re anxious to get by, but they don’t care.  They derive pleasure in knowing that you’re most likely impatiently waiting to move forward at a speed that actually registers on your speedometer, but that they alone have the power to prevent that from happening.  Maybe they had a bad day and want to pass along the crappy karma.  Maybe they have a controlling spouse, boss, or family member, and this is how they lash out.  This is the group that turns to look at you, but continues to walk down the middle of a driving lane instead of moving to one side so you can get by.  This is the woman that stops mid-stride and mid-lane to dig through her purse for her car keys while you idle and boil.  This is the group of teenage boys that walks 4 wide and dresses “hard” like they from the streets thanks to mom’s credit card and Journey’s or Hot Topic.  This is the wide-angle walker who sees you approaching, but instead of walking straight across the lane quickly looks straight ahead in their “5 rows over from where they started” path.  They’re also the ones who let you follow them down the echelon of filled  of parking spaces during the holiday shopping season, and cut over to the next row or put bags in their car and proceed to walk right back where they came from without giving you the courtesy wave-off or  the universally understood over-exaggerated mouthing of “I’m not leaving” while shaking their head and pointing or waving their arms.  I suspect that they’re also the people who double-dip, don’t flush public toilets, and kick puppies.

That should just about cover it.  So please, pass this along so we can all get on the same page.

Parking …what?


Some people will do anything to save a parking space…

Move this!

The Parking Walker in Morningside


So, the parking walker has taken root in other neighborhoods. Perhaps this will one day replace that parking chair. I certainly would have an easier time moving a chair than a walker if it came down to it. This was sent to me by my friend Jason that lives over in Morningside, it was around the corner from his place.

By the way, I did see the parking chair pile as was threatened to happen by the Dormont police. We drove by too fast to snap a photo… but I’ll try to get back there before it’s gone. No word if any walkers made it into the pile.

Dormont cracks down on the parking chair


I don’t know why, but I find these stories highly amusing.

From: http://www.wpxi.com/news/22718732/detail.html

WPXI.com wrote:

Dormont Police Tagging, Seizing Parking Spot Holders

Posted: 3:31 pm EST March 2,2010Updated: 8:31 am EST March 3,2010

DORMONT, Pa. — Using chairs to save parking spots on streets might be a Pittsburgh-area tradition, but one municipality has had enough.

Dormont police will no longer tolerate chairs on streets.

The police department on Tuesday began tagging chairs residents left to save parking spaces. Chairs that remain on the streets will be removed Wednesday and taken to the Dumpster at Banksville Plaza, police said.

Because of the recent heavy snow, the borough had tolerated residents using chairs to save parking spots, police Chief Phil Ross said.

However, when officers recently went around and put the chairs on the sidewalks, residents promptly put the furniture back on the streets, he said.

From: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_669619.html?source=rss&feed=7

PittsburghLive.com wrote:

Dormont begins campaign against chairs for parking spaces

FOR THE PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dormont’s police department has declared war on chairs.

Dormont residents who are leaving chairs to ensure parking spaces are saved will find their chairs tagged today and picked up Wednesday, Police Chief Phil Ross said.

“I understand if you spent four hours digging yourself out you tend to get a little possessive,” said Ross, appearing at Monday’s council meeting. He said the department has been tolerant during the past three weeks due to the severe weather conditions. Recently, however, when officers put the chairs on the sidewalk, the residents later stuck the chairs back in the parking spaces.

“Maybe they thought kids were doing it,” Ross said. “The parking spaces belong to everybody and nobody.”

After the pick-up, the chairs will be left near the Dumpster by the salt pile at Banksville Plaza.

The parking chair saga continues, despite the guilt put forth by the parking walker.

The venerated Yinzer parking chair.


If you live or work in the ‘Burgh, I’m sure you’ve seen it; The lonely lawn chair sitting in the middle of a parking space.  I always thought this was a phenomenon used most heavily on the South Side… but as time goes on, I realize that it’s all over the city… Especially when we have ridiculously snowy weather.  I’m sure other cities have this phenomenon… but I’m just talking about Pittsburgh.

Looks like they even have a Wikipedia entry, and a Google search pulls up a lot of seemingly relevant links.

As you can see from andybotpgh on Twitter, the “parking chair” can be anything that takes up a space that you labored to liberate from piles of snow.  By the way, the #parkingchair hashtag is genius.

While the parking chair is certainly visible throughout the year, my focus will be in the winter months, and well, really during the last couple of days… during the Snowpocalypse 2010 storm.

Like most of you, my wife & I labored for many hours on Saturday & Sunday to clear our sidewalk, steps, and to dig out our cars from the mess that is on-street parking in Dormont.  We cleared the sidewalk, only to have a place to put the snow from on top of & around our cars, then to shovel the sidewalk again… lifting snow on to the now approximately six foot high pile of frozen white pain in the ass from above in our tiny front yard.

To appreciate the insanity that surrounded or cars…

Snowpocalypse 2010 Car Un-Burial

It was chaos.  If you’re interested, check out the more photos of the surrounding neighborhood & nearby park here.

To put the ensuing rant in perspective… I fully realize that this is not a life-threatening problem, and that I’m not the only one with storm related issues.  There were and are a bunch of people in Southwestern PA without power for extended amounts of time.  They have problems.  This is just a slightly more than mild annoyance.

It was about three hours of work shoveling the cars out on Sunday.  It was quite labor intensive… but if it wasn’t done, the cars were obviously not going anywhere.  Well, mine might have broken out thanks to the AWD… but I risked damaging those around me, so I decided to shovel.

Of course, work was to be attended on Monday.  I had stuff that needed to leave that day, so I needed to be there.  I drove Bethany to work, & then went on to my job.  After normal working hours, I drove to pick up Bethany who had made it to the nearby Giant Eagle to do some grocery shopping.  After we rounded out the last few items, checked out, and headed home… we arrived to find a white Toyota SUV parked in the spot that took about an hour and a half of hard manual labor to clear.

As you can imagine, I was angry.  I don’t get angry all that often.  I’m generally a pretty mellow guy.  I was quiet angry.  Quiet angry isn’t good… just ask my wife.

After circling the block, it was evident that there was nowhere else safe to park.  Of the spots that had been shoveled-out, they were all filled.  Some spots hadn’t been shoveled, but they were filled with about 3 feet of snow, in a pile about as big as a small car… or with the car still under the pile.  Apparently not everyone had to be somewhere yesterday.

There were some other factors that added to my anger.  If the Toyota who had parked in my space backed up about 3 feet (which there was plenty of room to do), we could have pulled Bethany’s car up, and had plenty of room to park my car.  In my house, we call this (excuse the language) “asshole-parking”.  Really, there is no more apt a description.  There are no lines on the road, so your only hope is to park relative to the other vehicles.  Some people ignore this, and park with a half a space in front of and behind their vehicle.  Perhaps this is because they’re not good at parallel parking, or perhaps it’s becuase they don’t want anyone bumping into their precious automobile.  Either way, they’re still an asshole.  A typical conversation would go like this… after I walk in the door visibly winded…

Bethany, “Wow, were you running?  Do you have to pee or something?”

Me: “No, they’re all asshole-parked out there.  I had to go to the bottom of the hill & park.”

The bottom of the hill?  What’s this, you ask?  Well, there’s a little parking lot on the cross street at the bottom of our block that belongs to the park.  People use it for overflow parking in the neighborhood… because there never seems to be enough space to park.

Why not just park there last night?  Well, for one, it wasn’t plowed out properly… and by “not … properly”, I mean not at all.  It wasn’t even attempted.  The people parked there are in their own separate snow bunkers, not near any of the other cars at all, and one winner even parked in the entrance lane to the parking lot… effectively stranding everyone in the second row of the normally 3-row lot.

I dropped Bethany & the groceries off at the house, then circled the block a few more times… fuming the entire time.  I finally settled into a space on the cross-street at the bottom of the hill that no one had bothered to shovel.  There was about a car-length of snow about a foot high, so I went for it.  The Subaru handled it without a problem, and I got a little rush from driving in the snow.

I didn’t like parking where I finally ended up, because I was the first object on the side of the road road after coming down a poorly plowed and salted hill.  I might as well have painted a bulls-eye on the back & side of the wagon.

But, my thoughts were focused on that damn white Toyota SUV that was asshole-parked in the spot in which I spent hours clearing.  I wanted to write a passive aggressive note.  Something to the effect of…  “I’m glad you were able to use the space that it took three hours of shoveling to clear”.  I even thought of typing it, and including a photo above.  Seriously.  These thoughts went through my head.  I thought of piling snow on the car, buckets of water… all the tricks.  Bethany posted her frustrations on Facebook, and it was instantly echoed by many sharing in our anger and frustration, suggesting what we ought to do to the offender… and even to the extent of  my friend Dave saying he’d come over and take care of the problem.

I noticed a bunch of parking chairs stools, and even a saw-horse on the next street over as I circled the block.  Why hadn’t I thought of that?  Again, Facebook being a great tool for the need at hand, I asked for some thoughts.

The problem is that we don’t own the street in front of the house (and neither does the landlord).  I understand this.  It’s public on-street parking, and even we need a permit to park there during certain hours, and we have a visitor’s parking pass.  This is the other problem… the Toyota had said pass for our zone, so technically, they had just as much right to that space as I do… even if it is directly in front of my residence, and we spent time maintaining it due to weather issues.

Still, on a karma level, it’s a bitch.  The general consensus is that it’s not a nice thing to do… but still, it happens.  Some people out there are only concerned with themselves.  They needed a spot, they took it… end of thought process.  Perhaps they didn’t consider that it was hand-shoveled and that I was coming home from a long day with a car full of groceries?  Perhaps they did, and still didn’t care.

Here’s where the “what about me” kicks in…  Why didn’t I put out a parking chair?  Other people do it.  It’s a known and oddly respected practice in neighborhoods all around the ‘Burgh, and apparently even on the next street over.  Or is it respected?  I don’t think I’d park in a chaired space… simply for fear of what may happen to my vehicle.  Surely though, if a situation escalated to the point where a chair was removed, the space occupied, and there was some sort of retaliation… the chair placing retaliator would surely be at fault.

Do you respect the chair?  Do you use one?  Do you move them and park in the space knowing the law is on your side?