Police using junction hollow as a cut through just because
04/19/16 at 8:50 PM: gate closed, didn’t stop to check for ziptie
I now have a specific hypothesis to test.
[based on the event log, plus additional observation]
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Arrive at the gate by 3pm. Close it if open.
In ~10-15 mins take out your camera.
In the 30 mins following, take pictures.
Close gate between cars (if practical).
Even better if you ziplock it.
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A good vantage point might be on the Oakland side, where the road goes right; where the lake trail starts might also work. A “real” camera with a lens that lets you zoom in on a license plate would be ideal. (Smartphone zoom is fake; but if you have enough pixels it might work. Test beforehand). If you do video, even cooler! Post it to YouTube then send the url(s) to the cops and to the adjacent council people (Kraus, 3rd; O’Connor, 5th). Us busybody residents will follow up.
On both Thursday and Friday I have meetings during that interval. If you happen to be around and have some spare time, take a break and hang out. Reporting back on movement (if any) would be useful enough. After all, it’s just a hypothesis at this point; it could be wrong.
I will be able to do this myself on Monday (and I’ll bring a video camera), but not this week.
04/20 23:55: gate open. Closed it, did not look for tie to secure it (it was surprisingly cold down there…)
4/21 10:05am open
4/21 10:30am closed, ziptie
Incidentally, a road-rail pickup truck (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Road-rail_vehicle) was sitting on the tracks, stopped, 100 feet away, facing the trail crossing, when I crossed the tracks near Panther Hollow Lake and went up the Panther Hollow Trail. I wonder if they’re counting people using that crossing. Let’s keep using the crossing – show them that the trail crossing gets more use than the RR tracks!
4/22: 530am: found the gate open, zip tie cut off and on the ground. I was getting rained on, so I didn’t close the gate. I also didn’t close the gate when I went through around 230pm. It was raining again, and frankly, I am sick of closing it.
4/23: 4:00pm: Found the gate open, zip tie cut off on the ground. Similar to how @stefb found it yesterday. Closed the gate, observed no vehicles on the trail.
4/24: 9am, gate open. I closed it (no zip ties)
4/24: 2pm-ish, gate still closed
I am sure you folks that use that trail a lot are tired of closing the gate, but I do want to thank you folks. I only get through there once a week and I haven’t been feeling well, so haven’t been there for almost a month, but I really want to thank those of you that have taken so much time and effort to close that gate. I love the fact that the a-holes have to get out of their trucks and open it all the time. F them! Thanks again. I may get there next week. Not sure what is going on with me, but just not feeling well. Maybe I am just too old? Don’t know what is going on?
I commute through that section every day & have only seen a city maintenance vehicle cutting through twice(?).
The police go through all the time but they do that in so many park/paths. Just saw them driving around the fountain at the point.
Is their use an issue?
There is a AAA Battery truck often hanging in the parking lot so that’s one to watch.
Point State Park is patrolled appropriately.
As far as I know–and I’ve talked to them–the AAA people just hang out there….take a break, etc. I’ve never seen them on the trail…and even discussed it with them.
Others take breaks there as well: I’ve seen Verizon FIOS there often.; there was a guy in some kind of maintenance vehicle (maybe a backhoe) with his engine running taking a nap one day…kinda dangerous I thought…
Note: there are no signs prohibiting after hours parking there. I’ve suggested to some to park there for overnight trail touring…and it has been used as such.
ok, so I did show up today ~3pm hoping to catch people going through the North gate. My big idea was this would be around quitting time. I was wrong (at least for the time I chose). The gate was zipped.
On the other hand, I did see a car go through (and the driver rip open the zipped gate) at about 2:55pm. It was a small, old car; color was greenish. The driver was out of central casting: dude with dark wrap-around sunglasses and an on-backwards cap. He looked like he had done this before. I closed the gate again.
Unfortunately I was not ready to record anything, so there’s no evidence. Ah well. But at least we know something.
I would only suggest it if there were someone hanging around with a pair of snips in case of legitimate need for access, but stainless steel zip ties are a thing, and would certainly slow down a transgressor enough for picture taking.
Just take a clothes hanger (double or triple it up) and twist it. Probably take someone a few minutes to figure out how to undo it. If you use pliers…that thing might be pretty hard to undo without snips.
There’s a difference between ensuring the gate is closed, and intentionally making it difficult for law enforcement to do their jobs. I would think that “interfering with police access” could turn into a criminal charge.
Reddan’s caveat about somebody standing by is wise; otherwise, it’s not a very smart thing to do.
I don’t think it’s smart for the Pittsburgh Police to be cutting through a pedestrian pathway because they’re too lazy to use Swinburne st. So every time a cop goes through there for expedience (for what, I don’t know) we’re willing to risk a pedestrian getting hit? One rainy night, a cop not paying close attention…
I would vote for continuing to narrow in on likely times and just hanging about until something happens. (I would be inclined assume that I happened to luck out today.)
Yes, it’s work. But sometimes you just have to put in the time. If someone ends up being prosecuted (and, ideally, it makes the papers) then I think the problem might abate. That would be worth it; especially as it communicates that our community is highly invested in the integrity of that trail.
Based on my experience, things happen fast. The time between “whoa, there’s a car” and it rolling past is actually very short. (Okay, at least for the klutzes amongst us.) So some preparation is warranted.
The vantage point I (eventually) settled on today is at the top of a footpath that shortcuts from the trail to the path accessing the (forbidden) railway crossing to the lake, maybe half-way up from the gate. You get a clear view of the gate, and can then swing around and get a license plate shot. It’s easier if the come from the south…
I will make a point to show up there if I have a lull in my day (I work nearby). But there’s no reason for others not to make some (random) time. It doesn’t have to be be much more than a pause; 10-15 mins spent communing with nature, observing others ride/run/walk by, or maybe reading a book. Today I just enjoyed looking at nature, waking up around me.
Have anyone gotten a response from the City regarding who is legally allowed to motorize on the trail and under what conditions; e.g. maintenance vehicles trail-maintaining, emergency vehicles emergency-responding, patrol cars trail-patrolling, … ? …as the sign clearly prohibits motorized vehicles.
[We have pics of cars and people going through and opening the gate–so we have that evidence already..]
And though this belongs on another thread: Whoever is hanging out watching for scofflaws on the paved trail, should they also be keeping an eye out for the scofflaws crossing the RR tracks? [To help and encourage them of course…]…Maybe we can get the AVRR guards to monitor the gate as well–if they return.
4/26 8:08am – City pickup w/ dump bed rolled off the trail onto Boundary street as I was approaching the gate. There were two men in the cab who looked bored & not in a hurry; they didn’t close the gate behind them (not sure of status just prior). I closed gate, no ties.
This happened real quick so I wasn’t able to get a picture or truck#. I assume they just drove through as a shortcut.
@Iguana: The goal is to document breaking and entering episode that shows a recognizable person engaged in opening the gate and driving through, with an image of their license plate.
Proof of unauthorized entry means you catch an individual opening the gate, who is not police or city (who arguably can assert the right). If you don’t, the driver can simply assert that the gate was open already and claim they “didn’t know”.
To identify the individual you need to get the license plate number. Unless the car had been already reported stolen, then the individual opening the gate is likely the owner, who can be traced.
I don’t think the point is to be vindictive, but it is the case that the authorities have effectively ignored reports up to now, citing the need for evidence. So if we want something done we have to give them what they want.
We might want to further complain about city vehicles whose drivers leave the gate open but that’s a separate issue (which, actually should also get documented as per above)
But I’m open to other suggestions.
Three more data points:
2016-04-25 @ 18:55 gate was open. Did not close.
2016-04-26 @ 17:55 gate was closed no zip tie.
2016-04-26 @ 20:30 gate was closed no zip tie.
5/4 1:32pm, gate found open, i closed it and added thin wire tie found on ground nearby. I hung out for about a half hour while waiting for a riding buddy, but no gate-bashers were observed.
2016-05-04 14:51 was closed. i didn’t wait to watch the cop car southbound on Boundary.
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