Transit

Friday, May 13, 2016

PennDOT Bike/Ped coordinator visits Pittsburgh, vows to update and improve Pennsylvania’s bike and pedestrian policies

Posted By on Fri, May 13, 2016 at 1:35 PM

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Bike/Pedestrian Coordinator Roy Gothie knows the state’s bike and pedestrian policies need to change, and it starts with a change in culture.

At a meeting of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, Gothie told the forum of 25 representatives from planning departments, advocacy groups and community groups that there were a few obstacles to improving the bike and pedestrian infrastructure on state-owned roads, but one of the biggest is encouraging PennDOT employees to adopt a bike/ped-friendly mindset.

PennDOT Bike/Pedestrian Coordinator Roy Gothie - PHOTO COURTESY PENNDOT
  • Photo courtesy PennDOT
  • PennDOT Bike/Pedestrian Coordinator Roy Gothie
“PennDOT doesn’t think that way,” Gothie said when responding to a question about why it could take two years to implement bike/ped changes. “They were trained to focus on cars, we need to change the culture.”

He  said he plans to make sure that bike/ped projects are included in the start of the planning process for road design and fund seeking. Gothie said that bike lanes and sidewalks are normally attempted to be tacked on, after the process is already in full swing, which often leads them to be left out. “This is a need, this is not a nice extra,” said Gothie. A pilot-training program will begin next month to educate PennDOT staff at district offices across the state on the merits of bike/ped infrastructure.

He pointed out that the his office still receives very limited funding from the state but hopes to encourage legislators to carve out some additional bike/ped funding or update rules. PennDOT will also be starting a program that funds the maintenance of a limited number of priority bike lanes on state roads, something that was normally left up to municipalities.

Gothie also said the he and his team will be working to update the bike/ped policy in PennDOT’s master plan, which hasn't been updated since 2007. “We need to change our antiquated document into something a little more progressive.” Driver and cyclists education is also receiving added attention from Gothie. He says the Pa. driver’s test “maybe has two questions” related to bike/ped issues, and so he will be working with the state’s education and health departments to create a cooperative plan to improve education about bikes, cars and pedestrians on our roadways.

Scott Bricker of bike-advocacy group Bike Pittsburgh says the meeting was “enormously encouraging.”

“[Gothie] identified every hurdle that has been placed in front of people that causes them not to get bike lanes,” says Bricker.

Bricker agrees that the culture around bike lanes needs to change but points out a reason why PennDOT employees might not have priorities towards bike/ped infrastructure: most PennDOT district offices are located next to high-speed highways that rarely have bike lanes or even sidewalks.

Bricker is pleased with Gothie's plans because most of the main routes through Pittsburgh and around Allegheny County are owned and operated by the state. He says much of the best bike infrastructure in the city was done on routes operated by the city or county, like the Penn Avenue protected lane and the protected lanes on the Roberto Clemente Bridge.

Gothie said he hopes to have policy updates completed by the end of the year, but would not give any hard deadlines. He said once the drafts are released, the state will be looking to receive public input.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Allegheny County Port Authority launches new Spanish-language ad campaign

Posted By on Wed, May 4, 2016 at 4:39 PM

Pittsburgh's Latino population is growing, and that's a fact not lost on the leadership of the Port Authority of Allegheny County. Today PAT officially launched its Spanish-language ad campaign. Billboards and bus-shelter posters featuring the ads will soon pop-up in the areas with the highest concentration of Latinos: Oakland, Brookline and Beechview. Already, some Spanish-language ads have hit news stands, including an ad in last weeks print version of City Paper

"Port Authority serves a diverse group of riders, some who don't speak or read English," said PAT CEO Ellen McLean at last weeks PAT board meeting. "We want riding not only to be easy, but friendly and inviting for everyone."

In English the ad reads: "Your go-to, where ever you go." - IMAGE COURTESY OF PORT AUTHORITY
  • Image courtesy of Port Authority
  • In English the ad reads: "Your go-to, where ever you go."

The campaign will also involve handing out tote bags with the ads in English and Spanish at Las Palmas grocery stores in Oakland, Brookline and Beechview; and at Salud Para Ninos, a bilingual pediatric clinic in Oakland. PAT also just launched a Spanish-language website at portauthority.org/espanol, that offers explanations on how to use the PAT bus and light-rail system and how to translate the regular PAT homepage into Spanish.

“We are proud in Allegheny County to be part of a larger effort to create a welcoming community so that we can maximizes opportunities for economic growth and position this region as a globally competitive, 21st century leader,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald in a press release. “We want everyone who calls our county home to be able to integrate into the social fabric here, and providing resources and services in their language, as well as in English, is just part of that effort.”

PAT spokesperson Adam Brandolph says this is the first time that the transit authority has launched a marketing campaign in a  language other than English, and that Spanish made sense as the place to start given the growing Latino population in the area.

"We obviously have seen the growth of the Latino community in the county," says Brandolph, "and thought it was a good opportunity to increase the awareness of [the PAT] to the Latino population."

Brandolph adds that the PAT also hopes to launch other non-English campaign ads soon, potentially creating ads for Indic languages, Chinese, Japanese, and languages spoken by the East African community.

Read more about Pittsburgh's growing Latino community in the May 11 issue of City Paper.

Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Pittsburgh planning department seeks volunteers for seasonal bike and pedestrian count

Posted By on Tue, May 3, 2016 at 2:04 PM

If you think counting sheep will put you to sleep, then Pittsburgh officials are hoping that counting cyclists and pedestrians will invigorate you.

The Department of City Planning is holding two-hour volunteer counting sessions at 36 intersections across the city for their second annual CountPGH event. For three separate sessions taking place next week, volunteers will be stationed at designated intersections to count the number of cyclists riding by and the number of pedestrians walking by. 
Roberto Clemente themed bike lane on the Roberto Clemente Bridge - PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Photo by Ryan Deto
  • Roberto Clemente themed bike lane on the Roberto Clemente Bridge
A post on Pittsburgh’s Bike and Pedestrian Facebook page highlights the need for these counting days: “This is incredibly important. These numbers help us plan new bike/ped investments and also help us show that our efforts to construct better biking and walking facilities are making a difference throughout the city.”

Last year, more than 70 volunteers participated in the count, and this year the city is anticipating more. Anyone new to CountPGH must attend a pre-count training session on May 9 at 6 p.m. at a to-be-announced location Downtown. Those interested can sign up at pghbikeandped.ivolunteer.com/countpgh2016. A similar count will also take place this fall.

Counting sessions are the following:
Tue., May 10, 7 a.m.-9 a.m.
Tue., May 10, 4 p.m.-6 p.m.
Sat., May 14, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

And even more counting has recently started. The bike counters on the Downtown Penn Avenue protected bike lane were reinstalled two weeks ago and have already recorded thousands of rides (more than 530 trips per day so far). The counters are maintained by public-private partnership organization Envision Downtown, and the data blog for the counters can be accessed here.

These numbers run contrary to some loud voices critical to bike growth in the city. At a recent meeting in the North Side where the city announced the installation of new bike lanes on a small section of Federal and East streets, some residents spoke in oppositions saying they didn’t believe enough people rode bikes to warrant a bike lane.

Many of the same residents also believed the city was funneling too much money into bike-infrastructure projects. However, the city’s Bike and Pedestrian coordinator Kristin Saunders informed residents at the meeting that while bike commuters make up 2 percent of the Pittsburgh’s population (and some surveys have that number higher), the city only dedicates 1.2 percent of the its capital budget to bike-infrastructure projects.

Laura Thomas, a North Side resident, spoke at the meeting and summed up Pittsburgh's growing bike culture: “The city is changing, and younger people don't want to drive cars. A new population is coming to Pittsburgh, and we have to figure into that new population.”

Tags: , , ,

Thursday, April 28, 2016

UPDATED: Port Authority of Allegheny County board to vote on fare changes tomorrow

Posted By on Thu, Apr 28, 2016 at 11:36 AM

This post has been updated  as of 4/29/17

Updated: Port Authority of Allegheny County board unanimously approved the new fare changes. PAT CEO Ellen McLean says the fare change "simplifies an overly complex fare system."

However, one Mt. Lebanon resident felt the policy change included a "hidden fare." Glenn Walsh said the fare change includes a clause that eliminates the free continuing transfer given to Monongahela and Duquesne incline riders. Currently, incline riders who wish to transfer to a bus or T line, can do so for free by requesting a paper continuing transfer slip after paying their $2.50 incline fare. But since PAT is eliminating all paper transfers, they are also eliminating the free continuing transfers for incline riders. (If they wish to transfer to the bus or T, incline riders will have to pay a $1 fee.) 

"For years Port Authority has understood that fares on Mt. Washington should be the same," said Walsh. "Why now discourage incline ridership?"

Molly Nichols of transit advocacy group Pittsburghers for Public Transit agrees that PAT should not be eliminating the free continuous transfer and goes even further on the transfer-related proposals.

"All transfers should be free," says Nichols "It's not cool to be taking the last free transfer away."

During the board meeting, PAT board chair Bob Hurley commended the PAT staff for managing a long a thorough public process. PAT has held two public hearings and read through 1,500 suggestions submitted by the public via mail and online in the last few months since announcing their intentions to change the fare system.

__

The history of fare changes at the Port Authority of Allegheny County have been pretty predictable throughout the authority’s history. Since 1975, there have been 12 fare increases, jumping from 40 cents in 1975 to the last fare increase to $2.50 in 2012.

PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Photo by Ryan Deto
But starting in 2017, the PAT is proposing instituting changes which will lower fares for some riders, after the eliminating the surcharge for zone 2. All fares will cost $2.50 when using a ConnectCard, the authority’s electronic-fare system (or $2.75 for cash fares). According to statistics from PAT, a fourth of its customers will save $1.75 per ride. 

“A lot of our poorer communities are far out on our system,” said PAT board chair Bob Hurley at a recent PAT board-committee meeting. “This brings a great deal of equity to our system.”

City Paper wrote about the proposed fare changes in January. Since then, PAT has held two public hearings and read through 1,500 suggestions submitted by the public via mail and online. The changes, most of which will take effect January 2017, are outlined here:

  • $2.50 fare throughout whole system if using ConnectCard
  • $2.75 cash fare
  • $1 transfers using the ConnectCard only (cash users will have to pay $2.75 again if transferring)
  • $1 fee to purchase new ConnectCards
  • Pay-as-you-enter on all routes
  • Exit through the back door(s) on all routes. (Riders unable to use the back door can exit through the front.)
  • Elimination of the Downtown free zone for bus rides. (Light-rail will still be free Downtown and to the North Shore.)
  • Half-fare passes for people with disabilities will be available on ConnectCards, as will reduced-fare child passes eventually
  • $7-day pass available for purchase
  • Suburban light-rail riders will operate on a honor system and will tap cards either in the car or on receptacles on stations, starting July 2017 

At a Planning and Stakeholder Relations Committee meeting last week, the board supported the proposed changes to the fare system. The full PAT board will vote on changes Fri., April 29, at the Port Authority offices Downtown.

Port Authority spokesperson Jim Ritchie says the authority plans to conduct a wide-ranging public information campaign on the fare changes, if the board approves.

To attend the meeting: 9:30 a.m. Fri., April 29. Port Authority Board Room, 345 Sixth Ave. (fifth floor), Downtown

Tags: , , ,

Friday, March 11, 2016

Pittsburgh remains one of the country's most walked cities, says report

Posted By on Fri, Mar 11, 2016 at 2:37 PM

PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Photo by Ryan Deto

In case you didn’t know, Pittsburgh has some of the highest numbers of walkers of any major U.S. city, and has for some time now.

According to the Alliance for Biking and Walking 2016 benchmark report, Pittsburgh remains one of the highest walking-commuter cities with 11 percent of residents walking to work. (Census data from as far back as 2000 show similar figures.) For large cities, only Boston and Washington, D.C., had a higher percentage of walking commuters, according to the 2016 report.

Another stat Pittsburghers can be proud of is that the Steel City is in the top 10 for combined percentage of walking, biking or taking public transportation to work, at about 30 percent. (And a less scientific survey conducted by the city shows that same number at about 40 percent.)

As for bike commuting, the numbers only slightly rose from 2014 to about 2 percent, but it should be noted that survey data for the benchmark report was taken from the years before the installation of the Penn Avenue protected bike lane and many other bike-infrastructure projects. (Also the city survey showed bike commuting at 8 percent for respondents living within Pittsburgh.)

But not all the news is good news. The 2016 benchmark report shows Pittsburgh has a large disparity of low-income commuters who walk. While 17 percent of all commuters are low-income residents, about 29 percent of them walk. This 12-point disparity is far higher than in other high-walking cities like Boston and D.C., signifying the city’s walking figures could be high because many residents walk out of necessity.

However, those same walking figures could also be influenced by access. Pittsburgh has one of the highest percentages of sidewalks per square mile of any city — 36.8 miles of sidewalk for every square mile. (That’s 2,040 total sidewalk miles.)

And Mayor Bill Peduto's administration has installed new bike lanes; continued to increase the bike/ped budget; and committed to “complete streets” infrastructure (roads, sidewalks and bike lanes on all routes). The city is even a finalist to receive resources to address and boost more than 700 of city-owned steps.

But not every community in the area is jumping on board the pro-pedestrian train.

Mount Lebanon officials recently passed an ordinance that requires pedestrians to cross at marked crosswalks, or face fine up to $300. This despite the fact that  there hasn’t been a pedestrian fatality in four years and pedestrian crashes have stayed level in the borough over the years. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mount Lebanon Police Chief Aaron Lauth said in defense of the new law: “Walkers have a responsibility ... for [their] own safety. I think it’s a regional problem. We have a lot of pedestrian entitlement here.”

The bike-and-pedestrian-advocacy group Bike Pittsburgh feels differently. The group’s advocacy director Eric Boerer says that by increasing enforcement on pedestrians, Mount Lebanon officials are ceding even more ownership of the road to cars. On a blog on Bike Pittsburgh’s website Boerer writes: “This car-centric way of thinking treats pedestrians as a menace to cars, instead of the other way around. Fining pedestrians will never get to the root of the issue: Signals and crosswalks in their current locations aren’t serving people.”

Boerer says in an interview with City Paper that the ordinance seems like an “easy way out” for city officials. “This doesn't seem to go to the root of the problem,” says Boerer. “Like cars speeding throughout their neighborhoods.”

And the benchmark numbers seem to go against Chief Lauth’s claim that walkers in the region have become less responsible. According to the benchmark reports, the average number of bike and pedestrian fatalities in Pittsburgh have decreased since 2014, even as the amount of bikers and walkers has remained the same.

Tags: , , , ,

Friday, February 26, 2016

Pittsburgh officials and newly formed pedestrian-advocacy group looking to provide boost to city steps

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 1:10 PM

Pittsburgh has more than 700 publicly owned steps and if you have been paying attention to them, you know many are in bad shape. But city officials are trying to change that, and it appears they are on their way to receiving some help.

Pittsburgh is a finalist in the third round of the City Accelerator contest run by the foundation coalitions Living Cities and the Citi Foundation. Once the winners are announced, the accelerator will work with three cities over an 18-month period “to advance innovative efforts that improve the lives of low-income people and help cities run more effectively.”

The Louisa Street steps in Oakland has a 'runnel' that allows for cyclists to easily move their bike up and down. - PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Photo by Ryan Deto
  • The Louisa Street steps in Oakland has a 'runnel' that allows for cyclists to easily move their bike up and down.
“The steps are vital assets [and] they're one of Pittsburgh's most unique features,” wrote Alex Pazuchanics, a policy advisor for Mayor Bill Peduto in an email to City Paper. “Steps are essential to creating walkable communities in terrain like ours. They're true intergenerational assets.”

Pazuchanics says the mayor’s office discovered the contest through chief of staff Kevin Acklin’s previous involvement with Living Cities, which brings together chiefs of staff from cities across the country to collaborate. He adds that when the mayor first took office, there was not even a list of all the city-owned assets, like steps.

“We are getting much better about understanding the challenge and identifying and prioritizing the needs,” says Pazuchanics. “Now we need to explore the best option for how to pay for it.”

Winners receive a limited amount of capital for their projects, but gain valuable techniques and training from some of the world’s largest public-private partnerships on how to develop funding mechanisms, according to Pazuchanics.

“I think steps play a huge role in livability for our neighborhoods,” wrote Pazuchanics. “We're experiencing growth in our walkable communities because the world is coming around to a concept many Pittsburghers already knew — it is desirable to live in a dense, walkable neighborhood with transit and vibrant community assets.”

The newly formed group PGH Walks couldn’t agree more. The pedestrian-advocacy group formed last fall in response to the deaths of cyclists Susan Hicks, and pedestrians Henry Walker and his wife, Carol Christine Williamson. All were struck by vehicles, and both incidents occurred within one week in October 2015. (Read City Paper’s coverage about the deaths and Pa.’s lack of enforcement for cyclists and pedestrian fatally struck by vehicles, here.)

Adrienne Jouver of PGH Walks says the group wants to raise awareness of pedestrian issues and pedestrian rights. PGH Walks has given the City Accelerator project five stars, and Jouver says the plan is fantastic.

“Just how the city is built, it is so hilly, the steps are really necessary, and I think that is an awesome project to address that issue,” says Jouver.

Pittsburgh City Accelerator project has garnered the most positive comments of any finalist so far, and Pazuchanics says the decision on who moves on should be made sometime this week. If you want to weigh in on the city’s steps project, click here.

And if you want to take part in PGH Walks, the group is holding a winter walk tomorrow, Sat., Feb.  27. The group will meet at Caffe d’Amore, in Lawrenceville, at 10 a.m. Jouver says people are welcome to join the walk along the way, which will proceed down Butler Street, stop at the Kickback Pinball Cafe and finally end at Espresso a Mano.

Editor's note: a previous version of this blog attributed information from city officials to spokesperson Tim McNulty. The post has been updated to attribute that information to Alex Pazuchanics, a policy advisor for the city.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Allegheny County Councilor Ranalli-Russell urges Port Authority to reinstate weekend bus service in Garfield

Posted By on Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 2:06 PM

The walk from Penn Avenue in Garfield to the top of hill and Garfield Commons Apartments is a doozy. For every 10 feet you walk, you gain a foot of elevation. That's one-and-a-half times as steep at the Bates Street hill from Second Avenue to Boulevard of the Allies in South Oakland, and twice as steep as the Penn Avenue hill from Doughboy Square in Lawrenceville to Bloomfield. And on the weekends, Garfield residents without cars have no choice but to walk it.

Transit-advocacy group Pittsburghers for Public Transit (PPT) has been requesting Port Authority for months to reinstate weekend bus service for route 89, the route that serves the hills of Garfield. Recently it got help from some public officials.
Denise Ranalli-Russell (second from left) with transit advocates - PHOTO COURTESY OF WESLEY DAVIS
  • Photo courtesy of Wesley Davis
  • Denise Ranalli-Russell (second from left) with transit advocates

Newly elected Allegheny County Councilor Denise Ranalli-Russell, of Brighton Heights, sponsored a motion urging PAT to reinstate weekend service for the 89 bus route. Garfield is in her council district.

“You can see why this area definitely needs a means of transportation,” said Ranalli-Russell during the meeting. “To restore this bus service would make life a little easier for Garfield residents.”

The top of Garfield hill is home to two Pittsburgh Housing Authority complexes for low-income residents, including one specifically for senior citizens. Ranalli-Russell said she wanted to advocate for Garfield residents because she did not have someone advocating for her while raising her children as a single mother.

The motion was unanimously supported by the 15 members of council, especially Councilor James Ellenbogen, of Banksville, a Garfield native who walked up and down the hill during his four years attending Peabody High School (now Obama Academy) in East Liberty.

Molly Nichols of PPT says that about 400 people have submitted requests for weekend service on the 89, and she thanks Ranalli-Russell for sponsoring the motion.

“Residents in Garfield have been tirelessly advocating for this service to be reinstated,” wrote Nichols in an email to City Paper, “and they appreciate getting this show of support from their elected officials. The support gets us closer to ensuring that all communities get the transit service they need.”

Nichols, who spoke at the council meeting, asked the council to also use the occasion to consider new funds that could bolster the Port Authority budget, including requesting funds from corporations. Currently the county contributes a 15 percent match of state funds toward Port Authority’s budget, but public-transit entities are allowed to receive funds from organizations, corporations and municipalities under the transportation bill, Act 89, passed in 2013. (A micro-transit agency in Robinson receives funds from businesses and nearby towns.)

PAT spokesperson Jim Ritchie said in November 2015 that service suggestions will be evaluated by the PAT board through an equity-score process, which CP wrote about here. The board will release its annual service report in May, according to Ritchie.

In other PAT news, a major rail-replacement project for the light-rail line in Beechview has been altered to accommodate more residential parking on Broadway Avenue and limit the burden on local businesses, according to a PAT press release. The change occurred thanks to broad community input and recommendations from public officials, including Pittsburgh City Councilor Natalia Rudiak and county Councilor Ellenbogen.

“We heard loud and clear from the community and its elected leaders about the desire to address these key concerns in our work plan,” said PAT CEO Ellen McLean in a press release. “This change ensures there will be more on-street parking options for residents and less impact on businesses.”

Originally, construction was set to occur along the entire stretch of Broadway Avenue, but work will now be broken up into smaller areas; only sections that are being worked on will lose parking. Also, construction in the business area is expected to be “consolidated” and completed within three months. Work is scheduled to start on March 27 and will continue for six months, with crews working Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. 

Tags: , , , , ,

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Valentine's Day 2-for-1 deal for Pittsburgh's Bike Share coming up

Posted By on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Sure the Valentine's Day forecast is for a brisk 21 degrees, but Healthy Ride, Pittsburgh's bike share platform, is offering some incentive to brave the chills and take a ride with someone special.

Healthy Ride station on Penn Avenue, Downtown - PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Photo by Ryan Deto
  • Healthy Ride station on Penn Avenue, Downtown
On Feb. 14, all rides will be half-off, or $1 for every 30 minutes on the bikes. No promotional code or reservations are required. Just rent a bike at one of the city's 50 stations, from Larimer to the South Side to the North Side, and be on your romantic way.

“We hope this encourages people to get out and ride with the ones they love this Valentine’s Day,” says Pittsburgh Bike Share director David White in a press release. “Whether that means people take a scenic ride around town on Sunday afternoon or they commute to a special night out, we want people to enjoy a bike ride this year.”

And while snow this week might cause some hesitation that routes will not be clear,  remember that after the last storm on Jan. 22, many city trails were plowed and safe to ride on, even if some of the protected bike lanes were not.

For more information visit the Healthy Ride website at www.healthyridepgh.com

 


Tags: , , ,

Monday, January 25, 2016

Opinion: Transit advocate Chris Sandvig on the new Downtown bus 'super stop'

Posted By on Mon, Jan 25, 2016 at 5:21 PM

PHOTO BY AARON WARNICK
  • Photo by Aaron Warnick

Editor's Note: This letter was sent to
City Paper Friday afternoon from Chris Sandvig, a transit advocate and nonprofit Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group staffer. The letter is concerning the new Downtown bus "super stop" at Smithfield Street and Sixth Avenue that was completed by Envision Downtown, a public-private partnership established by Mayor Bill Peduto.

If you spend any time near Downtown Pittsburgh’s Sixth Avenue and Smithfield Street corner, you’ve probably noticed the sidewalk extension installed earlier this year. What that’s all about was revealed this week, as Envision Downtown — with support from the Colcom Foundation — transformed it from a narrow sidewalk stop to a wider, sheltered stop. We couldn’t be happier.

Why? For over 6,000 reasons, plus a couple more. And all of them are huge.

Every weekday, 6,500 people access Downtown via this corner. Like everyone else, they’re going to work, to school, to shop, to appointments. In other words, living their lives, spending money and making Downtown more vibrant. They’re spending their money wisely by leaving their cars at home, or not even owning a car, and they deserve something better than a sign on a stick.

Improving transit’s visibility also improves Downtown's quality of life — and, thereby business viability. The new "super stop" could help improve pedestrian access through the area and to nearby businesses. The design itself is also not only an accessibility improvement — it’s an image improvement. Investing in transit increases ridership and its attractiveness; unsnarls Pittsburgh streets; and improves the health and wealth of everyone — even if you don’t use it.

Most importantly for our neighborhoods, this sets in motion a change in thinking that we’ve been pushing for some time: improving transit’s viability and accessibility is not just the Port Authority’s responsibility. We all own it, and we all must step up. The streets, sidewalks, intersections and traffic signals influence transit’s attractiveness at least as much as how Port Authority puts buses on those streets. Mayor Peduto showed strong leadership by owning that responsibility and doing something about perhaps the most overlooked part of the trip —  waiting for the bus. Pittsburghers for Public Transit, agree, saying, “[We] are thrilled about this new and improved bus stop. We commend Mayor Peduto, Envision Downtown, and everyone who helped to implement this 'super stop.' We look forward to more opportunities to improve the transit riding experience.”

If Pittsburgh is to continue to attract new talent; realize its carbon-reduction and community-revitalization goals; and keep itself affordable for its most vulnerable residents, more "super stop"-like projects are needed Downtown and in our neighborhoods. This new way of thinking must become institutionalized. Our neighborhoods were transit-oriented before it was chic, and their rebirths are as linked to making transit, walking and biking safer and more appealing as any bricks-and-mortar redevelopment strategy. PCRG and its members are doing our part, advancing projects with similar transit-accessibility-improvement philosophies. We are also advocating for policy changes so that such future infrastructure projects simply become how we do business. We thank Mayor Peduto for his leadership and look forward to working with his administration, and all stakeholders, to make the Smithfield "super stop" the first of many transit street projects and a new way of thinking.

Tags: , , , ,

Friday, January 22, 2016

Commuter survey shows higher percentage of bikers among city participants

Posted By on Fri, Jan 22, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Bike share station Downtown on Penn Avenue - PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Photo by Ryan Deto
  • Bike share station Downtown on Penn Avenue
Last week, the city released the results of the "Make My Trip Count" commuter survey and they were what many expected they would be. Trips to Downtown and Oakland made up the vast majority of participants' commutes; the largest percentage of commuters drove alone to work; and about one third of participants used public transportation to get to their job.

(It should be noted that this survey was voluntary and primarily taken online. It also was not conducted by a neutral third party. It should also be noted that the survey counted individual trips, not what people said was their primary mode of transport.)

For bike lovers, the survey showed some promising numbers, including that 4.2 percent of trips to work were by bike. Eric Boerer of advocacy group BikePGH says that this number could be due to the nature of the survey, which allowed respondents to input multiple methods of how they commute. The American Community Survey, by contrast, asks for one primary mode of transportation. (And according to 2014 ACS figures, bike commuters in Allegheny County made up less than 1 percent of commuters, and Pittsburgh had 1.8 percent bike commuters.)

The riders over at BikePGH went even further with the survey data. The city sent them the survey broken down with information from the more then 9,000 responses from people with city ZIP codes, as well as some other results not initially released to the public. 

For Pittsburgh commuters, the survey shows that 8.6 percent of trips were done by bike. The city ZIP code respondents also showed higher percentages of walking to work (9.3 percent) and  taking public transportation (around 40 percent).

Boerer says he was impressed by the percentage of bike trips by city residents. "Pittsburgh is showing a pretty good breakdown in active transportation," says Boerer. "About two-thirds of people living in the city are getting to their jobs without driving. We still have a lot of work today to increase those numbers, but we are well on the way to making that happen."

And some of the survey data may speak to the potential increase of bike commuters too. Boerer says survey data shows 15 percent of respondents said they are interested in bike commuting but have yet to take to leap onto two-wheels. And 25 percent said that more trails and protected bike lanes would increase the likelihood they would bike to work. (City Paper reported about more bike infrastructure and trails that are coming to Downtown in the next couple of years, see here.)

In the end, however, Boerer is happy that more data is out there. "There is so little data in general out there, so it is great to have the [city partners] push for that and get more data out there," says Boerer.

Tags: , , , ,

Listings

Submit an event

DAILY RUNDOWN

Sign up for Daily Rundown and get the freshest content sent right to your inbox.

Subscribe

Read Past Issues

© 2016 Pittsburgh City Paper

Website powered by Foundation

National Advertising by VMG Advertising