Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Cracking down on pedestrians and underassessed homes UPDATED 3x

Tonight, John Bendel introduced Ordinance (Bill No. 2-16) amending the Code regarding pedestrians. The Ordinance would amend the current regulations by identifying when a pedestrian may cross at all locations in the municipality where official traffic-control signals or pedestrian-controlled signals are established, and establishing penalties for violation of such regulations.

Another pedestrian was hit on Washington Road on January 13th, while crossing in a crosswalk. We’re paying tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money to White Buffalo to kill deer but we’re spending nothing to prevent pedestrian/vehicle accidents.


Pedestrians and deer are always at fault. I'm surprised the ordinance didn't mention smoking in a crosswalk. That will be in the next amendment.

The other big news from tonight's meeting is that the vote was 3-2 to hire Diversified Municipal Services again. Diversified will charge a flat fee of $175 for each appeal attended. John Bendel and Steve McLean were the two who voted no. Kelly talked about fairness and paying our share. I happened to look at the Allegheny County website and see that Kelly's house is assessed at $188,800. She bought her house in 2009 for $190,400. It is on the market for $330,000. Steve Silverman bought his house in 2005 for $660,000. It is assessed for $591,100. His new neighbor bought the Kang house for $1,050,000 in October 2015. It is assessed at $674,400.
Update February 9, 2016 11:46 PM Mt. Lebanon crafting law to thwart jaywalkers 

Update February 10, 2016 12:35 PM Don't complain to the commission. You may get a response like this one.

From: xxxxxxxx
To: kfraasch@mtlebanon.org
CC: commission@mtlebanon.orgkmcgill@mtlebanon.org
Subject: RE: pedestrian ordinance 2-16
Date: Wed, 10 Feb 2016 16:19:57 +0000

Ms. Fraasch,
  Perhaps you can share with me Mr. Bendel's intent with this new law, that goes beyond existing State laws already on the books.
If Mr. Bendel did not draft it, perhaps you can inform me who did.
Before you accuse me of insulting someone, maybe you can provide me with the information I need.
The information the municipality provided me clearly shows Mr. Bendel introduced the bill.
How is Mr. McGill involved with writing municipal laws? Is he qualified?
We need better enforcement of 4,000 Lbs. automobile operators that threaten pedestrian lives daily.
If you don't like my tone of voice, feel free to step down and allow someone else less sensitive to take your seat.

Subject: Re: pedestrian ordinance 2-16
From: kfraasch@mtlebanon.org
Date: Wed, 10 Feb 2016 11:03:28 -0500
CC: commission@mtlebanon.orgkmcgill@mtlebanon.org


First, I want to make clear because John Bendel introduces an ordinance doesn't mean he drafted it.  More importantly, your reference to John is entirely inappropriate.

Let's start over, you have concerns about the ordinance.  I hear your concerns and you have a point with your example that I will review with Mr McGill.  

Regarding concerns about pedestrians being the potential focus of blame.  We have received over the years information showing that some of our pedestrian/car interactions have been the pedestrians fault.  We need to equally educate drivers/walkers/joggers/bicyclists to respect each other on the roads in order to have a successful walking community.

Thank you for your input and please understand we appreciate your feedback.  However the insults are not necessary or appropriate.


Sent from Kelly's iPhone, please excuse typos or auto-corrections.  

On Feb 10, 2016, at 10:08 AM, xxxxxxxxxx wrote:
Hello Commission,
  Here just one example of where the ordinance can go wrong.
Suppose the resident who lives at 754 Scott Rd wishes to take a stroll through
the cemetery on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Scott Rd. has pedestrian signals at Washington Ave and Sunset Drive.
According to §702 as proposed, that resident would have to walk a half-mile
to either Washington Rd. or Sunset Dr., cross at the pedestrian-controlled crosswalk,
then walk a half-mile back to the cemetery.
This turns an illegal 50 foot crossing into a 5000+ foot legal trek, a 100-fold increase in distance!
With cameras watching our every move, it is not a stretch for the municipality to abuse
its power and start mailing citations of up to $300 as quoted in this p-g article:

This undue hardship on pedestrians is not acceptable in our walking municipality.
Please reconsider this ridiculous ordinance 2-16

From: xxxxxxxxxxxxx
To: commission@mtlebanon.org
Subject: pedestrian ordinance 2-16
Date: Wed, 10 Feb 2016 13:49:31 +0000

  There are major defects with Bendel's ordinance, but the main thing is,
Bendel doesn't care about pedestrian safety, and people we care about will be killed or seriously injured due to this ordinance and the attitude behind it.
This culture of blaming the victim needs to stop right now.


Anonymous said...

"Kelly talked about fairness and paying our share."

When did Bernie Sanders come to town?

Nick M.

Anonymous said...

When are Kelly and Steve going to start paying their fair share? They are all a bunch of hypocrites.

Lena Horne said...

Jaywalking? This is a joke, right?

Anonymous said...

I love that the new pedestrian ordinance is under the header of "The Rights and Duties of Pedestrians", when there are actually NO RIGHTS for pedestrians in Mt Lebanon.

While I agree wholeheartedly with using crosswalks, the municipality is addressing perhaps its greatest danger to residents by creating a new penalty instead of actually providing improved protection. If this is how they plan to address pedestrian safety, I'd say their methodology is incredibly shortsighted, misleading and neglectful.

Lena Horne said...

Just like their methodology to eradicate Mt. Lebanon's deer population, 11:18.

Anonymous said...

The traffic engineer that drafted the ordinance is Mike Haberman and he works for Gateway Engineers. The muni paid him for his services and the first draft was written about 1.5 years ago (my estimate).

There is already PA Code regarding pedestrians. From what I understand, Mt Lebanon's ordinance is pretty much a duplicate. However, the municipality does not benefit financially from citing the PA Code. This new ordinance will allow them to make some money.

Anonymous said...

2:33, The penalty for violation §704 is $25. The post-gazette has different numbers. According to §3113(c), the municipal fine does not apply, and one questions if §3113(b) applies for the same reason. This is because, without a municipal penalty in effect, how can a municipal ordinance be enforced? Mt. Lebanon's ordinance is not a duplicate, very different from the state ordinance. But does it apply at all, given what I mentioned above?

Anonymous said...

3:34 I am not knowledgable enough on the topic to respond. But seriously, how is this possibly the way they are initiating an effort to promote pedestrian safety. It really seems quite negative and punitive. It's like they are haters.

E. T. Gillen said...

Love your comment on Fake Lebo, Jason.

Jason Margolis "First, they went after those pesky Newcomers. Then, those annoying grass field lovers. After that, they finaly got to those terrorist deer. And now, at last, those darn pedestrians! I can't wait til they get those--hey wait, where did everybody go?"
Here is the link on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/fakelebo/?fref=nf

E. T. Gillen said...

All pedestrians must have a chip surgically implanted by the Pedestrian Safety Task Force. Law enforcement officers will survey locations detecting jaywalkers with state-of-the-art scanners and cite them thru their debit cards.

Members of the Pedestrian Safety Task Force include the chief of police, the public information officer, and the municipal manager.

Lena Horne said...

Elaine at 7:27---
Your comment is the funniest thing I've ever read. Perfect.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Elaine - the pedestrians need to be more robotic to avoid penalty.

It looks like the police are starting to document where pedestrians were crossing when they were hit. Here are two pedestrians hit on Cochran Road, THE SAME DAY, two different spots. Sigh. Could they put up their electronic sign with a message like: HEY DRIVERS: You already took out one pedestrian today on this street. Take it easy, OK?


Anonymous said...

I am not a fan of the MtL Commission, but if this ordinance will make pedestrians think twice before darting out between parked cars mid block on Washington Rd instead of walking a few more yards and crossing at a marked crosswalk then I'm all for it. If pedestrians know they could be cited and have to pay a fine for jaywalking we might see less of this dangerous behavior the same way we see less speeding if drivers know the police are actively enforcing speed limits and giving out tickets with hefty fines to drivers who are breaking the law. The key here is consistent enforcement of existing laws to promote safe behavior.

Barbara S. said...

Actually, 1:47, the idea of the electronic sign is a good one, but I think the message should be more like: "HEY DRIVERS--we've had 3 pedestrians hit on this street this month. Please drive recklessly on another of our streets: this one is over its quota!"

...strange that they have no difficulty determining what an "acceptable" number of deer/vehicle collisions is acceptable but have yet to make public what they believe to be an "acceptable goal" when it comes to pedestrian/vehicle rates! For that matter, come to think of it, I don't believe they have released their five year goal for bicycle/vehicle accident goal, nor have they even hinted at what they believe the "acceptable" number should be.

What was Jason's comment months ago about people who choose not to see or was it to understand?

Anonymous said...

2:16, Maybe the new law will allow the municipality to run jaywalkers out of our town so they won't be a problem anymore.
I am all for consistent enforcement of existing laws. Look at these:
§3112(a) Vehicles shall yield right of way to pedestrians at signals
§3113 All vehicles shall yield right of way to pedestrians regardless of walk signal
§3542 Vehicles shall yield right of way to pedestrians regardless if no signal
§3744 Duty to give information and render aid
§3345(a) Failure to stop for school bus
§3732 Homicide by vehicle
§3735 Homicide by vehicle while driving under influence

Enforcement of these vehicle laws is dangerous if police act as pedestrian decoys,
and it is far easier to blame the pedestrian if they are killed by a vehicle.
It can be difficult to track down offenders if the victim is dead with no witnesses.

Anonymous said...

I was just starting to peruse the 111 comments KDKA got on their posting about this issue on Facebook. I didn't make it through them all. It reminds me of the fighting that ensued when the municipality decided to start killing deer and has continued. I've read that sometimes the strategy of (corrupt) governments/organizations is just to making people fight -- instead of actually taking care of their own, authentic responsibilities. It's a featured tactic in a guide on how to be a saboteur.

Like this pedestrian thing: it is only going to put more blame on pedestrians when they are hurt and may also derail the entire pedestrian safety undertaking.

Some posit that pedestrian ordinances (and the criminalization of walking) can be taken up in court and distort responsibility away from drivers entirely. Ultimately, it discourages walking. Sort of like sharpshooting in parks discourages park-use AND walking.

I do believe people need to be more aware of how to cross, laws, etc. but I don't think Mt Lebanon is taking the right approach. There are other methods they could use to foster safer walking behavior AND safe driving.


Anonymous said...

I am familiar with those laws, 3:10 and I agree they should be enforced. There will always be people who jaywalk and people who speed, we just need less of both. I have taught my children to cross the street at marked crosswalks when the walk signal is flashing. I do the same. I feel it is much safer than crossing in the middle of the block when drivers are not expecting someone to be crossing there. Accidents happen even when the driver is paying attention and not speeding or driving recklessly.

E. T. Gillen said...

Here is the hyperlink in 9:02 PM's comment. The Criminalization of Walking

Lena Horne said...

Excellent analysis, 9:02. Thank you for the link, Elaine.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen this pedestrian report that looks undated and without an author listed? What is the path to finding this on the mtlebanon.org website?


Of note, they state: "Since 2010, there have been a total of 82 pedestrian-bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles inside the municipality".

E. T. Gillen said...

OK, I found it. It is from the 7/27/15 presentation. John Stinner read this at the meeting. Stinner was the part time analyst. I have no idea who hired this intern or if he is still employed by MTL. Stinner presentation 7/27/15

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Elaine at 1:17 pm. I tried finding it under "Public Documents" but couldn't. The muni hasn't referenced the report or the numbers publicly but they do seem to be following up on the "jaywalking" aspect of things.

I still can't believe they are starting with walkers instead of drivers. For example, the same day last spring that two people were hit by cars, one of which occurred on Washington Road, I saw a driver do continuous U-turns the same evening by the mid-block crosswalk on the same street -- during rush hour -- in advance of a evening school performance. #mayhem

Anonymous said...

I remember the past 10 years ago that the ML police were pulling more people over for excessive speeding. Now, it seems that they are not doing that as much. In fact I don't see anymore speed traps. And I don't see anyone pulled over by the police. It appears that the hunting debacle has replaced keeping our streets safe. What a skewed value system the commissioners have in place now. Very sad.

Anonymous said...

I must admit it. I knew that Mt. Lebanon was NOT a walking community before I moved here. In fact, I spoke with the former chief way back then. (The cop who went to CMU after he left Mt. Lebanon.) I also spoke with Coleman about it and he hated that residents did it here. What is it? Parking on sidewalks. It is common in the city of Pittsburgh (the capital of Appalachia) and it has increased tremendously in Mt. Lebanon. It is an illegal practice that ruins the streetscape and causes vehicle accidents. I could go on and on. I won't. You get the picture.

Anonymous said...

I love the clip, Elaine! Thanks. I just discovered the coolest resource for Pittsburgh public bus transit EVER. I believe this was made by a citizen -- not the Port Authority -- although the data comes for the Port Authority bus gps systems. I am adding it to this blog entry because if you look at the map you might noticed that NONE of the buses seem to be spending time in Mt Lebo. If we had MORE buses, we'd have fewer cars, more walkers, safer deer,... and oh I could go on. Check it out!