Friday, December 14, 2007

Not Busted

Last week I reported seeing tire tracks in the snow on the Eliza Furnace Trail, indicating that vehicles were on what was supposed to be a trail exclusively for the use of pedestrians and cyclists. A contact at Friends of the Riverfront indicated that there are vehicles that are authorized to be on the trail but I was doubtful that two municipal vehicles would be on the trail between 5:30 at night an 6:00 in the morning. I had trouble understanding what it is they would be doing there after hours.

I set up a sport camera in hopes of capturing definitive proof of this activity, whether authorized or illegal. Since the camera also has a flash I placed a sign telling people not to be alarmed and why the camera was there. Typically, the camera will take 70 pictures or so in a 24 hour period. About 10% of the images capture what it was that set off the motion detector, usually pedestrians and occasionally cyclists moving away from the camera. Those walking towards the camera are typically past the lens by the time the camera warms up and actually takes the picture, though that depends on how quickly they are walking. It's possible that trucks going by on the Bates Street on-ramp also set off the camera, so the 60 or 70 pictures a day do not necessarily represent the normal traffic actually on the trail itself.

In two pictures there is the back end of a City of Pittsburgh police car on the trail. Both at 9:30 in the evening on consecutive nights.

There are, so far, no photographs of other vehicles. But given the limitations of the camera, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

It's good that law enforcement is out patrolling and the photographic evidence increases the possibility that the tracks that I saw were not made illegally but the facts remain that I have seen unauthorized vehicles on the trail in the past and the gates at either end of the trail, the only thing that could keep violators off the trail, are all busted up and need to be repaired.

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