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Publisher's Statement

By Jeff Guerrero

Just because Urban Velo doesn’t have a “letters” section doesn’t mean we don’t get our fair share of correspondence. In fact, because we’re equal parts print magazine and online publication, we’re pretty much bombarded with things to read—email, Facebook and MySpace messages, phone calls, text messages, message boards, blog comments, postcards and even bona-fide USPS delivered letters. Yet as much as we may be inundated with communications, we still take the time to read them all. And many of them have a profound impact on us. I thought I would share a couple of them with you.

I should have seen this first one coming, though I never imagined I would…

Dear Sir,
Enjoyed reading your magazine, heartening to see the development of the bike culture. When I was a young, bike riding punk there was no bike subculture, just me riding a bike, Anyways I picked up a couple copies of Urban Velo at the Free Store on Penn Avenue, near Kraynick’s. Imagine my surprise and delight when reading the publisher’s statement in issue #14. I’m that guy that you ran into at Home Depot. I did get a bike. Bought an old Nishiki for $30 and put $50 into it, I’ve been to Kraynick’s—you’re not the only one who recommended that crazy ole fuck. [I] also visited Eric of North Cargo Trikes who has the workspace and makes bikes behind Kraynick’s. Lots of nutty folks in Pittsburgh, so I fit right in.
Keep up the good work. I’m definitely a fan of the ‘zine now.

I couldn’t be happier for Tim, who’s definitely found himself in good company on Penn Avenue. I’m glad I helped play a small roll in inspiring him to get on two wheels (or three if he winds up riding one of Eric’s trikes).
The second letter is one that kind of hit me like a brick. It was hand delivered to my mailbox…

Dear neighbors,
My bicycle was taken from the back basement area of my home. I rely on this to get to work and am asking for your help in keeping your eyes open for it. It is a bronze-colored Fuji women’s “step through” and had a black basket on the front.
I ride my bicycle to work, so really need it back.
Thanks for any help you can give.

While I was appalled at the notion of bike theft on my quiet little street, I was pleasantly surprised to learn there was another bike commuter living two doors down. I called Lois the next day and arranged for her to borrow one of my bikes. Coincidentally, she’s a nurse at the psychiatric hospital where one of my cycling friends was being cared for. It’s not that riding the bus was all that inconvenient for Lois, but there’s something about the independence of cycling that appealed to her and I was glad to have an opportunity to help a neighbor.

The third and final correspondence I’ll share was a Facebook message. A cyclist was struck and killed near the University of Pittsburgh, and numerous people reposted the news, concerned the victim was our friend Nick. Thankfully it wasn’t. Rather than just thanking his lucky stars, Nick organized a memorial the next day.

At dusk, Wednesday, August 5, 2009 we will be locking up a ghost bike to memorialize Ruihui Lin who was killed earlier this week by a currently unknown driver who fled the scene. We will meet at the intersection where the accident happened, and lock up the ghost bike, light candles and lay flowers for our fellow cyclist.
Come to memorialize Ruihui Lin, and show your support for safer roads for ALL users in Pittsburgh.

Dozens of people showed up to pay tribute to a cyclist none of us ever knew, along with numerous reporters, photographers and TV news cameramen. The ceremony was somber, and we were all reminded of how fragile human life is. On the bright side it reminded us that we aren’t just part of a bike scene, we’re a community.



Urban Velo issue #15, Sept 2009. Dead tree print run: 5000 copies. Issue #14 online readership: 45,000+


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