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Memorial bike rack at Pittsburgh Montessori honors Andrew Fisher

bike safe
Tina Tuminella
May27/ 2016

The children of Pittsburgh Montessori School in Friendship commemorated a beloved parent and daily bike commuter with a masterpiece of a bike rack last month, while brushing up on bike safety — just in time for the start of bike season.

Art bloomed at the public magnet school in the form of a steel flower sculpture bike rack dedicated in honor of Andrew Fisher: a doctor, dedicated father and PTA member and a daily bicycle commuter. Andrew was struck and killed by a car in late 2013 while checking on others injured in a crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Andrew’s wife Elly Fisher and Pittsburgh Montessori students raised money to install the special sculpture during the dedication, which also included a BikePGH safety session. Mixed-media artist Amanda Synowiec and assistant Kelly Lowry custom-designed the welded sculpture, comprised of flowers painted with vibrant, primary colors spelling out PEACE.

Andy and Elly’s children park their bikes on the rack every day after their daily commute.

Elly explains that the colors and theme of the artsy project fit in perfectly with the creative culture of both Pittsburgh Montessori and the Friendship neighborhood.

“The art sculpture captures the spirit of the school’s own peace garden,” Elly says. “It showcases the school’s values; the artwork is organic and handmade and peace-inspiring.

Andrew’s death rocked the school community, Elly adds, and the installation is a small way of filling the void.

In memory of Andrew and in preparation for summer, BikePGH offers these essential biking tips:

Wear a helmet. That’s a no-brainer.

Take it slow! It’s summertime, so what’s the rush? Let kids refresh their bike-riding skills at their own pace.

Ride predictably and communicate. It’s your job to communicate to everyone around you– drivers, bikers, walkers– where you are and where you’re going. Use hand signals and eye contact. This goes for the little ones, too. Watch where they’re going and make sure they know a general route. BikePGH’s new Pittsburgh Bike Map can help you plan a safe route.

Be visible. High visibility is something to prioritize. Add personality to your bike that gets you noticed. Make sure to ride in bright colors and use lights at night. Reflectors, flags or streamers will help you stand out on the road. Also, consider exactly where you ride in relation to cars: If you’re riding on the road, take the lane, especially if you’re in a group. If you’re riding on the sidewalk, slow down and be super cautious. Drivers don’t expect bike-speed traffic on pedestrian-speed sidewalks. Driveways, crosswalks and blind corners are too-often conflict points.

Speak up for safer streets! Our streets are our front yards and should be safe for everyone. Whether you’re biking, walking, driving or taking a bus, everyone deserves pathways of safety. Write your local council person and let them know that you and your family ride bikes. This is an often overlooked ingredient to bicycle safety, but it’s crucial. You can also join a community of advocates by signing your family up for a BikePGH Family Membership.

Upcoming BikePGH events:

OpenStreetsPGH. During the last Sundays in May, June and July, BikePGH hosts over three miles of traffic-free streets from Downtown to Lawrenceville. Head to the year’s first event this Sunday, May 29th, for some great family riding.

PedalPGH. Sunday, Aug. 28th. With 3,000 riders and three different routes, it’s the perfect opportunity to ride with friends and family.

City Cycling classes throughout the summer teach riders of all ages and abilities how to ride.

Tina Tuminella

Tina Tuminella, a Pittsburgh native, is raising two kiddos under the age of 5 and taking far too many Facebook breaks while doing so. She works as a freelance writer, holds the title "awesome ambassador" for the nonprofit Awesome Pittsburgh, and was a member of the inaugural cast of Listen to Your Mother, a national storytelling project.