Sewickley man's Pittsburgh traffic angst goes viral
By Bobby Cherry
Published: Tuesday, June 11, 2013, 1:00 p.m.
From tunnels and bridges to steep hills and construction, getting around Pittsburgh isn't always an easy ride.
Some drivers take out frustrations on their vehicle's horn or on others in traffic.
Ian Richards took to the Internet to help ease his pain caused by Pittsburgh traffic by creating a meme — a short phrase or series of words added to a photo that is shared across the Internet — about the Fort Pitt Bridge.
With an image from the problem spot as background, the meme reads, “Left lanes need to exit right. Right lanes need to exit left. Here's 300 feet. Make it happen.”
It has been shared more than 5,200 times on Facebook.
Of course, the Sewickley resident is referring to drivers from the Parkway East, Downtown and the North Shore Expressway merging on the bridge to continue on the Parkway West through the Fort Pitt Tunnel or toward routes 837 and 51.
Richards said he never imagined the meme would create quite this stir. But it has.
“Everybody I talk with thinks it's hilarious, and everybody knows it's true,” said Richards, 24.
Richards snapped the photo May 20 while in the passenger seat of a vehicle, added the text and within minutes shared it on his Facebook wall.
“I figured a few friends would laugh at it,” he said.
Memes gain popularity because they're “easy to share, easy to understand and have humor,” social media expert Holly Maust said.
“Memes are popular all over the Internet, so I'm not surprised that this one has spread viral so fast.”
Maust said she planned to share the meme, adding that she, too, is familiar with the frustrations drivers face there.
“I will go the ‘back way' to and from work to avoid the Fort Pitt Bridge,” said Maust, who lives in Beaver County. “It's as though people forget how to merge or follow directions.”
Since Richards posted the meme, his Facebook friend requests have spiked, he said.
“It's quite funny,” he said. “I just (created the meme) because it struck me at the moment,” Richards said.
Richards hypothesized that the region's unique topography and outdated infrastructure play a vital role in drivers' frustrations.
“People from New York tell me they dread driving in Pittsburgh, and that's saying something,” he said.
Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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