Summer 2013 #3 – Jumbo-Chute-atron

Chute JumboTron Viewing

Now that the Jumbotrons have become a mainstay of the races every year there’s been concern about the location in the Chute.  With it facing the road, people on the outside, have made it a habit to stand in the road to watch until the buggies come through. This hasn’t been an issue for a year or two, but we’re reaching a point where there are so many people in the road that clearing it before the buggies come through has gotten tough. This is an issue that will soon need a solution.

There have been some races where the road hasn’t been completely clear until the buggy passes the chute flag. If this trend continues, we’re not far away from a buggy-spectator collision and anyone familiar with this sport knows that this kind of incident is extremely dangerous for the driver, spectator, AND buggy. No one wants this kind of thing to happen, so before that does happen, maybe we can figure out a better way of clearing the road.

A few solutions have been mentioned here and there, so these are just a collection of what I’ve heard and not an exhaustive list:

  1. Add Course Marshals to the chute – This is something that is plausible and could get people to listen. No one likes being yelled at by other spectators, but if that person is wearing a reflective vest, then they clearly have a reason to be yelling at you to get off the road. Then again, this is just more people that have to be supplied by teams or volunteers who would have to be given minimal training, but overall taking people away from their team and giving the sweepstakes committee more things to keep track of.
  2.  Post signs to warn people – I don’t remember when or where I heard this, but signs are easy to make and put up, and equally easy to miss, forget, or ignore.
  3. Nothing – Nothing needs to change, it’s just paranoia and concern where there shouldn’t be.
  4. Move the Jumbotron – We went through this when we originally got the screens, trying to find a good spot; for better or worse we settled on where it is now (probably with some logistics guiding it too). There have been a few new possibilities proposed.
    • On the opposite side of the chute, inside the hill 3 corner, facing the flaggers.
    • On the same side of the chute, closer to the camera scaffolding, facing hill 4 (45 degree diagonal to the chute).
    • Somewhere else?

So, lets get some feedback, especially if you are an alum that spends time in that area, what do you think should happen?

8 thoughts on “Summer 2013 #3 – Jumbo-Chute-atron”

  • I used to work the amateur radio safety network around the course, and I agree that people being in the chute is extremely dangerous.

    Make specific announcements before each race. You may have to make examples of some people by issuing campus police jay-walking or trespassing citations, or something. Crossings need to be controlled at specific locations, but NEVER in the chute.

    Nobody except race officials should be in the chute during a race, ever.

    I’d vote for Jumbotron option 4 – move the jumbotron to the center of the Schenley park hill. I’ve seen power runs there for concerts, so it should be possible to support the Jumbotron being hundreds of feet away from the course.

  • I was in the chute this past carnival and there was a specific person yelling at those in the chute when the buggies were getting near, yet it had no effect. When you have someone college-age trying to tell someone who has been involved with buggy or known about buggy for longer than that kid has been alive in some instances, the response will likely just be: “I know what the hell I’m doing, I’ll get out of the way when I need to get out of the way.” Options 1 and 2 absolutely would not work.

    I don’t recall any instances where people were in the chute past the last flagger, but of course there are a lot of rolls. If the jumbotron can’t be moved, at least posting signs saying: “please vacate the chute before the first buggy hits the last flagger” is a compromise people might actually listen to/agree with.

    What about across the chute in front of Phipps? Have it facing both the hill and both sides of the chute. The main issue with that location would be finding a spot where it can be left for the weekend and doesn’t have to be moved immediately after races.

    But in general, if you put the jumbotron in the chute where one side of the chute can’t see it, you’ll always have people in the chute trying to watch the up-and-over. Simple.

  • Great thoughts so far, though I’d like to hear from more people. For now though, there are a couple things I want to speak to.

    Alex, I think you made a great point about only one side being able to see the screen, something we have learned over these last couple years.

    Ralph, while people being on the course is dangerous to some extent, the amount of work and manpower it would take to make designated and controlled crossing areas is something that might be beyond our capabilities right now, even for the chute. people are smart and have so far been good at being out of the way of buggies. This kind of control would also make the whole even a bit less open, which is sort of the opposite of what we want (Right?)

    Both of you guys suggested moving the screen, which I am all on board with, so it’s worth talking about some of the difficulties that exist (not limitations).

    The main difficulty is going across the road, particularly for Flagstaff hill, even if we got power from the stage or a generator, we would still likely have to run video cables. This can be solved with an arch similar to the finishline, which is more stuff that has to be set up and watched, but not unmanageable.

    Going across sheneley means we would have to work with Phipps, and I don’t know how they would feel about us leaving a jumbotron on their lawn. We might be able to work something out, but it would take a lot of talking.

    Keeping it in the same area on that side of the chute is clearly the easiest logistics-wise (we’ve already run everything to it a few times), but the only way to move it (keeping it on the same side and area) would be closer to Scaife. If we tried to move it toward schenley, we run into a hunch of bushes and a cliff…

    Bottom line, the goal we should shoot for is incentivize staying off the road, which means that we’d have to allow both sides of the street see the screen at the same time. And doing that without needing extra bodies and signs and officers to hold people back.

  • By putting the jumbotron on the other side of the chute far enough away from the road the people across the way could see the screen and everyone on the hill would just have to turn around to see the screen. Doing that would require an arch way, but this could be used potentially as either another camera point or a laser point for the end of the free roll. It could have it’s own clock that would count down the free roll times and give us an official read on the free roll times. There would have to be another arch set up at the top of the hill too, but I think this could add a lot to the race. It would be really cool to see splits to the first place time like they do in bobsled or formula one but that is a bit more tricky to set up

  • The have been years the police have been more involved, and that just makes for annoyed spectators. Everyone watching the jumbotron from the road is 100% focused on the race, so IMO, the hazard is someone tripping over a haybale, or spilling their beverage when the time comes to get out of the way. More concerning to me are the kids hanging out on the haybales not paying attention to the live race, or people leaning way out over the haybales, just waiting to be bumped by the crowd behind them. Since the majority of the crowd is on the Flagstaff side, those haybales are more crowded than in the pre-jumbotron days with the crowd split on both sides.

    The Jumbotron is jumbo, but I wonder if 2-3 smaller screens scattered around wouldn’t be a better viewing experience – the side of the chute camera tower or the gazebo would be great places for a big-screen TV. The camera tower even has wiring running to it already. An arch at window 0 would be perfect for getting “official” split times, though I think we’d need another full finish line camera – photocells can’t tell the hill 3 pusher apart from the buggy.

    The camera tower eats up space that spectators and pedestrians trying to get around the road closure could use. Putting the jumbotron next to it is only going to make the obstruction worse. Is the camera tower in the ideal spot for TV coverage now, or is it a compromise? There are things like wheeled scaffolding, personnel lifts and camera booms available that could allow for putting the chute camera above the unused portions of the road.

    • I hadn’t thought about multiple screens, if we can hang one on the tower and have another either on or in front of the gazebo, that could work quite well.

      Good point on the space thing, I always forget how big that tower is, and how little space we have already.

      I think this is a great start and I imagine this’ll be coming back again as we get closer to Raceday and start planning.

  • One easy improvement to the camera tower would be to get “walk-through” scaffolding for the bottom layer. As the name implies, pedestrians could then walk under the camera rather than around it. I would expect CMUtv’s rental place to have it, since it is commonly used anytime there’s construction above a sidewalk.

  • I chute barricaded both days this year, and the pedestrians in the road at the chute was definitely becoming an issue, as more rolls progressed, people were taking longer and longer to get out of the road, even with the police and chute marshals all yelling at them.

    Not sure how it could be resolved, but something definitely needs to be done there, in the interests of safety, to prevent what I’d say is a problem that was worse this year than last, for sure.

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