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Here’s a follow up to my previous post “Jeri Ellsworth vs Talking buses #Trimet“. Jeri a well known engineer created a video showing an alternative way to make a noise-making device and strategy for TriMet’s new audible warning system for pedestrians. Jeri has also has made a low cost body scanner, transistors, how-to videos, many engineering projects and she’s one of the best engineers I know. Jeri lives in Portland, OR and the bus system there is trying out a warning system, like any good engineer, Jeri thought about other ways to do it (less expensive) and shared it, that’s when the trouble started…

After posting her video “peterbartek” posted the comment “I hate to tell you this but; you have set back the progress of women 100 years”… It seems odd to have such harsh words for a video like this, but Joseph Rose of The Oregonian found some clues:

Comments Peterbartek

[Click the user’s name] and it led web surfers to the YouTube channel of Peter Bartek, director of technology for ProTran1. ProTran1 manufactures the audible pedestrian warning devices currently being tested on 10 TriMet buses. But when Hard Drive called Bartek on his cell phone to ask him about the online exchange with Ellsworth, he said he didn’t post the comment or the ones that followed in an ensuing exchange. “I’ve been getting e-mails,” he said, “but I have no clue about what’s going on. I don’t know what to tell you. It’s not me.” When told that the comments were linked to his YouTube channel, Bartek reiterated, “I didn’t make those comments.” Minutes after the phone conversation, Bartek’s channel was “no longer available.” Gone. So, was his account hacked? Bartek said he didn’t know.

But wait, there’s more.

Of course, “peterbartek” tried to balance his initial comment by mentioning that the warning system was developed for TriMet “by a woman after careful research and development.”

… To that, “peterbartek” responded: “Perhaps you should do your homework on mitigating devices? and see the results from the studies on risk analysis. Look at the different vehicles offering different types of mitigating devices. They offer these devices to help save lives and bring down insurance awards. Perhaps you would have a different opinion with the right facts. I have no opinion regarding your personal life ‘kitchen and man.’ I don’t know you well enough. tx.

For an imposter, the person behind the posts is pretty knowledgeable about the product being discussed.

Any way, as expected and predicted – the system isn’t going to be used and the bus folks are out $46,000. “TriMet puts the brakes on audible warning system after tests show it works poorly”

Flop of the day: an audible warning system intended to alert pedestrians that a TriMet bus was turning.

The transit agency announced Friday that after three months of testing the system, at a cost of $46,000, the tests had come to the end of the line. Announcements broadcast over external speaker systems on 10 buses didn’t activate when they were supposed to and did activate at inappropriate times, such as when buses were changing lanes.

“It was determined,” a TriMet news release said, “that the technology has not advanced enough to make it an effective tool to help alert pedestrians and people riding bikes that a bus is turning.”

The system was made by ProTran1 of New Jersey, and because the agency bought the book-sized units, they can’t be returned.

Spokeswoman Mary Fetsch said she didn’t know what TriMet would do with the units, but “if there are other transit agencies that would like to try it, we’d be happy to help them out.”

I called and emailed ProTran1, they did not return my calls or emails regarding this back in March. I emailed them again today and will update this post if they have any comments.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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