tour of PA stage 5 (is this how you run a bike race?)


What, you may ask, is this?  This is 3 of the ~6 lost riders (and lost support cars) who came through my volunteer location at 3:41 PM, roughly 25 minutes after the broom wagon and the opening of the roads... and roughly 20 minutes after we and the police were told, "that's it, we're the last car."  And 5 minutes after another car again told us, "we're the last."

The police shutting down the roads were only told about it yesterday. They were mustered for instructions at 1:30 today.  They were told that the earliest possible time for the riders was 3:30.  

The police did not have route maps.  The local volunteers did not have route maps either.  The marshals had left by the time the stragglers came through.  (Volunteers were told to show up at either of two locations... and asked where they wanted to be placed--not the best way to assure coverage.)

Because of confusion between the Braddock Pike (route 30 as it enters and cuts through Pittsburgh) and the Washington Pike (route 30 through the rest of the state), as recently as yesterday, PennDOT signs were telling motorists that a well-paved major arterial, the Boulevard of the Allies, would be closed for the race.  No signs were ever placed along Penn Ave.

A year ago, neighborhood groups were notified that the race would pass through on Penn Ave, and then a little while later, they were told, "no, never mind, they'll be on the Washington Pike all the way."  

So: the route was not marked.  The neighbors / neighborhoods / neighborhood associations / neighborhood development groups were not notified that Penn actually WAS the route.  The bus system was not notified.  Volunteers were interposing themselves in front of moving traffic as the sounds of the police reached them...and the race leaders were catching up to the police, who were held up trying to clear traffic on roads plugged in both directions.

Despite all of this, a blazingly good race came through at unimaginable speeds, and the (few) people who happened to be out in the streets to see it were incredibly impressed. ( Break...peloton...more...more.) Several of the local kids and teens asked where they could see tomorrow's stage. 

Next time--assuming there IS a next time, and assuming that Pittsburgh is not entirely cut out for the magnitude of the f*ck-ups today--the mayor and county executive and the frigging RAD board and Allegheny Conference ought to make sure that the basic ground level planning is happening, instead of focusing on photo ops, ad campaigns, and back-slapping.  

I'm sure our boy mayor, Luke Skywalker (OK, Ravenstahl) and his police detail are partying with the athletes, and that Mr. Onorato will be taking credit for the economic benefits to the county. 

I know, this should be about the riders and the race.  Well, that's actually the point I'm trying to make.  HEY, RACE PLANNERS AND POLITICOS: if you host a bike race, look after your damn riders!  And while you are pimping PA to the rest of the country, how about doing some more effective PR at the neighborhood level, to turn out spectators?  It must suck to bust your ass for people who don't even know what's coming through until after you pass by.


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