Athletes on wheels

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As someone who grew up logging thousands of miles cycling in Frick Park and along Route 8, and as someone who has ridden many points on the globe (New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Bogota, Madrid, Lisbon, London, Caracas, San Jose and Seville and others), I'd like to offer my perspective, and a challenge, to my native Pittsburgh.

Whether it was on Penn Avenue (the site of recent unfortunate and untimely deaths of cyclists) or along Route 8, I cannot count the number of occasions epithets were shouted at me or the number of times I was almost run off the road, while complying with Pennsylvania road laws.

In contrast, on my training rides in the Andes mountains west of Bogota (rides would commence in smog-choked streets in the center of the city) never once was I given flak. Often it was the reverse with taxi cab drivers and other motorists cheering us on.

Unlike Bogota (Colombian rider Nairo Quintana placed second in this year's Tour de France), Pittsburgh does not have a rich cycling tradition. And said lack often colors motorists' perspectives when forced to share the road.

With the Steelers, Penguins and the resurrected Pirates, Pittsburgh is blessed with a rich sports tradition and unprecedented successes. And now is the time for Pittsburghers to give some latitude, metaphorically and literally, on the road (as we do on the field and ice) to commuters, and athletes, riding on two wheels.

ROBERT PENMAN
Brooklyn, N.Y.


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