Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Micro-Transit agency Ride ACTA growing and looking at expanding services

Posted By on Wed, Jan 20, 2016 at 2:19 PM

Lynn Manion with the ACTA shuttle outside IKEA this past summer. - CP FILE PHOTO
  • CP file photo
  • Lynn Manion with the ACTA shuttle outside IKEA this past summer.

Ride ACTA (Airport Corridor Transportation Association), a micro-public-transit agency that serves Allegheny County’s airport corridor, is still micro, but it’s growing at a significant rate. In 2015, the agency that provides shuttle rides around Robinson, Findlay and Moon, grew more than 45 percent since the prior year and served about 89,000 rides.

The shuttle service mostly transports low-income employees who work in and around the Robinson Town Centre, since bus routes and sidewalks are limited in the area. City Paper wrote about Ride ACTA and other micro-transit agencies and whether they should be held to the same standards as the Port Authority in a fall feature, seen here.

Yesterday, Ride ACTA received a commendation at the county council meeting. Councilmember Michael Finnerty, who represents Robinson, thanked Ride ACTA for their continued transportation services.

“You really move a lot of people around and get people to work and school,” said Finnerty at the meeting. “We thank you.”

Lynn Manion, director of Ride ACTA, said the increase in ridership was partly due to support from the state and the county. A “super stop” which opened at the Robinson IKEA in summer 2014, was a combined PennDOT and county project. Manion says this stop has helped ease connections between Port Authority buses and Ride ACTA shuttles.

And Manion says Ride ACTA has goals to expand service options at the super stop, too. Manion says she has reached out to ZipCar, a car-sharing service, and hopes to put a car or two near the super stop that people could rent on an hourly rate. She says this would give people more options to travel around the airport corridor, without owning their own car.

Manion also hopes ride-sharing company Uber might have interest in working with Ride ACTA.

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

New proposed Port Authority fare change will also benefit people with disabilities

Posted By on Thu, Jan 14, 2016 at 1:19 PM

  • Photo by Ryan Deto
This week, we reported on Port Authority’s proposal to eliminate zones and charge every rider a $2.50 cashless fare on bus and light-rail rides (riders currently catching buses in the outer suburbs, known as Zone 2, pay a $3.75 fare). According to PAT spokesperson Adam Brandolph, it was the first major fare-change proposal in 35 years that will actually lower fares instead of raising them.

The $3.75 Zone 2 fare is the among the highest public transportation fare in the country, and PAT chair Bob Hurley says this proposal would eliminate that notorious distinction.

Some other interesting tidbits emerged from this proposal at the PAT planning committee meeting on Jan. 13, including a boon for people living with disabilities in the region.

Now, riders with disabilities are eligible for half-fare weekly and monthly passes ($12.50 and $48.75 respectively). Before, people living with disabilities who qualified purchased a special ConnectCard that took off half fares when used, but could only be loaded with cash amounts, not weekly or monthly passes, like regular ConnectCards.

PAT board member John Tague, who is a wheelchair user, thanked the authority for including the half-fare passes as part of the proposal. Tague says that many riders with disabilities currently purchase regular ConnectCards and load them with monthly passes because they ride so often that it ends up being cheaper than loading money on their reduced-fare cards.

“It is a good thing that they are doing this,” says Tague. “This has been requested for years, and Port Authority continues to work well with the disability community.”

Another new addition to the proposal is the addition of a $7-day pass. The day pass will offer unlimited rides for the calendar day it is used (details like whether you can purchase ahead of time are still being ironed out, according to Brandolph.)

Hurley says the day pass is primarily targeted at visitors, and it simplifies travel for tourists who wish to use PAT buses and light-rail cars. Pittsburgh is currently one of the only large cities in U.S. that does not have a day pass for its public transportation system. 

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Friday, January 1, 2016

Pittsburgh's bike share offering discounted annual memberships for a limited time

Posted By on Fri, Jan 1, 2016 at 9:24 AM

Are your New Year’s resolutions ready? You might want to consider adding “riding a bike more” to that list, and Healthy Ride has a nice incentive for you.

Pittsburgh’s favorite (and only) bike share system is offering annual memberships for the first time. Subscribers can now pay a one-time fee and ride all year at a discounted rate. Continuing now until March 1, members can purchase an unlimited 30-minute ride pass for $120 and an unlimited 60-minute ride pass for $200 that are good for the entire year. (This works out to a 16 percent discount compared to buying monthly passes).

Enjoy unlimited rides on these bikes all-year-round for a discounted rate thanks to Healthy Ride. - PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Photo by Ryan Deto
  • Enjoy unlimited rides on these bikes all-year-round for a discounted rate thanks to Healthy Ride.

“While we always offer a monthly option that can be used year-round, this limited-time and discounted annual membership is an excellent option for those who want to ride all year without making a monthly payment,” says Pittsburgh Bike Share director David White in a press release. “We hope Pittsburghers in all neighborhoods continue to incorporate biking into their daily commutes.”

Annual passes are good for 12 months after you purchase them (for more information, click here). So if you buy one on Feb. 16, 2016, it will be good until Feb. 16, 2017. After March 1 of 2016, annual passes will not be available until possibly closer to the beginning of 2017, so commit to that “bike more” resolution early.

Also, to see what new lanes you might be able to ride on Downtown come 2016 and beyond, check our coverage of the city's newly announced plans for bike infrastructure.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

City reveals preliminary plans for new bike infrastructure Downtown

Posted By on Wed, Dec 16, 2015 at 11:40 AM

Attention Downtown bikers: By summer next year, a more biker-friendly Golden Triangle takes another step toward completion.

City officials discussed new bike routes with community members Monday night. According to Pittsburgh Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Kristin Saunders, the city is currently gathering data and community input for the construction of bike infrastructure that would travel along either Boulevard of the Allies or Fort Pitt Boulevard and connect with the Eliza Furnace Trail (“Jail Trail”) at Grant Street.

Map of existing and proposed bike-infrastructure routes for Downtown. Lines in orange and red are planned and do not show the specific future alignments. - IMAGE COURTESY KRISTIN SAUNDERS
  • Image courtesy Kristin Saunders
  • Map of existing and proposed bike-infrastructure routes for Downtown. Lines in orange and red are planned and do not show the specific future alignments.
Construction is currently slated for August 2016 and the new infrastructure would also connect to the Penn Avenue bike lane, thus completing two sides of a biker’s "golden triangle" (see image). The third side of the triangle would place bike infrastructure somewhere in the vicinity of Smithfield Street, running north-south, and is slated for completion in 2017 or 2018.

Envision Downtown director Sean Luther has been working to compile data of bikers Downtown. While he notes that the success of the Penn Avenue lane (see maps showing popularity of Penn Avenue's bike-share rides here), he says additional data has shown demand from other areas too. Luther notes that counts taken at the Smithfield Street Bridge and Sixth Street Bridge both tally more than 100 cyclists per hour during rush hour.

And Saunders says these numbers could grow if the city creates even better bike infrastructure. She cites a survey from Portland, Ore., that says 60 percent of those surveyed said they are interested in riding bikes in the cities but are concerned about their safety.

“If you provide safer connections to bike infrastructure, more people will bike,” says Saunders.

And that is what the city hopes to do with their new Downtown bike infrastructure projects.

According to Saunders, initially the city was strongly considering bike lanes for Fort Pitt Boulevard, but after suggestions from key stakeholders, Boulevard of the Allies was thrown into the mix. 

At a Dec. 11 public meeting, cyclists and other attendees seemed to form a consensus that the Boulevard of the Allies route could be a better fit than the Fort Pitt route. Local organizations and businesses voiced disapproval of the Fort Pitt route due to parking challenges, and a few biking advocates who initially thought Fort Pitt was the stronger option said they were swayed toward Boulevard of the Allies by meeting’s end.

“It was interesting to hear that some people thought Fort Pitt was better, then say that they changed their mind during the meeting,” says Saunders. “That is rare, but that is why we [hold public meetings].”

Eric Boerer, of BikePGH, says he is also leaning toward supporting the Boulevard of the Allies route. He says the route benefits from being more of a straight shot, and it travels through a business district and past Point Park University.

However, he says the bicycle-advocacy group’s support depends on the final design of the bike infrastructure, which has a few options including a double-protected lane (like Penn Avenue) or two separate unprotected lanes.

Also on the docket for 2016, nonprofit Riverlife's Mon Wharf Switchback project will provide bike riders a car-free path from the Great Allegheny Passage entrance at the southern end of Grant Street to the Point that travels along the Mon River. A switchback allows cyclists to ride up a moderate slope that doubles back (see image below), so they can reach elevated areas (such as the Smithfield Street Bridge depicted here) in a relatively short length.

Rendering of Mon Wharf Switchback, which would connect Smithfield Street Bridge path with Mon Wharf trail to Point State Park. - IMAGE COURTESY OF WWW.RIVERLIFEPGH.ORG/
  • Image courtesy of
  • Rendering of Mon Wharf Switchback, which would connect Smithfield Street Bridge path with Mon Wharf trail to Point State Park.

Boerer adds that the these connections are important to the area’s bike tourism, too. The Great Allegheny Passage is part of a car-free trail that runs more than 335 miles from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C., and is a growing tourism draw. Boerer says finishing these projects is important to making the last section of the trail better for riders, which helps draw tourists who want to ride to the Point, and also helps boosts all bike projects in the city.

“It is so important to have all of these connections,” says Boerer. “If we want all of this to be successful, we need to continually expand upon it.” 

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Friday, December 11, 2015

Free unlimited bike-share rides tomorrow throughout Pittsburgh

Posted By on Fri, Dec 11, 2015 at 11:53 AM

If you haven't noticed the unseasonably warm temperatures this December, you are probably overworked or a general hater of the outdoors. But for those who are soaking in all the beautiful days of this normally chilly winter month, Pittsburgh's bike-share Healthy Ride wants to celebrate with you this Saturday.

Healthy Ride stations like these are offering free rides from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. - PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Photo by Ryan Deto
  • Healthy Ride stations like these are offering free rides from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow (Dec. 12), all stations are offering unlimited free rides. You still have to register with Healthy Ride, but for those already registered, simply rent a bike between those hours and it will be free of charge. A promotional code is not required, but to register a debit or credit card is required.

“While Healthy Ride members can ride all year long regardless of the weather conditions, this warm December weekend is a perfect time to encourage people to get out there and take a ride,” says Pittsburgh Bike Share director David White in a press release. “It’s supposed to be a beautiful weekend. I hope our members get out and enjoy it.” (Saturday's forecast calls for sunny skies and highs in the upper 60s).

There are currently around 50 stations scattered throughout the city, with large clusters congregated in Downtown, Oakland and Shadyside. For more info on where the most people ride and when, check out these cool maps City Paper wrote about here. (The stations in Strip District and near trails along the Allegheny River are some of the most popular, so you might want to get to those early.)

To register for Pittsburgh Bike Share, visit, download the mobile app “nextbike,” or call 412-535-5189.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

CMU student creates cool maps of Pittsburgh bike-share stats

Posted By on Wed, Dec 9, 2015 at 1:44 PM

Sure, the idea of riding bikes in December's sub-40 degree temperatures is not appealing for most. But maybe these maps and graphs will motivate you.

Mark Patterson, a Carnegie Mellon graduate student studying social and decision sciences, took one massive data file and turned it into maps and graphs that detail different aspects of Pittsburgh's bike-share system, Healthy Ride. In the bike-share’s opening three months, from June through August, Pittsburghers and tourists took about 40,000 rides combined, but Patterson wanted to see the intricacies.

“Ultimately it works great on both sides,” says Patterson. “We get a fun opportunity to explore, and they get a chance for more insight.”

Mapping the late-night rides of Pittsburgh - IMAGE COURTESY OF MARK PATTERSON
  • Image courtesy of Mark Patterson
  • Mapping the late-night rides of Pittsburgh
Patterson was intrigued by how far people rode (more than enough miles to circumnavigate the world), who rode late at night (see above), and how riders dealt with hills. For example, for every 26 riders who coasted downhill from Shadyside to Lawrenceville, only one rider braved the 200-foot-tall hill on the way back, according to Patterson.

“I live in Shadyside,” says Patterson, “and the bike ride down to Lawrenceville is great coasting, but the way back is not for the faint of heart.”

Patterson says that most of the data verifies what many already guessed — like how the majority of pick-ups are Downtown. But he notes there are some surprises.

When he first started to collect data on riders who pick up bikes from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m., he thought the South Side, with its bar scene, would have the highest percentage. However after compiling the data, the station at Maryland and Ellsworth avenues had 16 percent of its rides occur late at night. Patterson says Shadyside may have the best nightlife, at least among bikers.

And Patterson is not the only one. The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission also went crazy with the bike-share data. On the Healthy Ride website, the SPC posted a spider-web map of riders' routes, station by station. From this map we can see that the most popular routes are clustered along the Allegheny River and that Lawrenceville, already the headquarters of BikePGH and Healthy Ride, might have some additional proof that it is the city's unofficial biking capital.

To check out more bike-share maps, graphs and stats visit Patterson's twitter page and Healthy Ride's website

Pittsburgh's most popular Healthy Ride routes in dark blue. - IMAGE COURTESY HEALTHYRIDEPGH.COM
  • Image courtesy
  • Pittsburgh's most popular Healthy Ride routes in dark blue.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Eleven new public-art bike racks unveiled in Pittsburgh Cultural District

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2015 at 10:16 AM

Myra Falisz posing with her public-art bike rack, "Time-traveling Mike." - PHOTO COURTESY OF RYAN DETO
  • Photo courtesy of Ryan Deto
  • Myra Falisz posing with her public-art bike rack, "Time-traveling Mike."
A decade ago, there were no public bike racks in the city of Pittsburgh, according to Eric Boerer of BikePGH. In fact, Boerer says, it took two days of debate just to install twelve of the signature three rivers racks in the city.

Oh how far we have come.

On Nov. 24, Pittsburgh’s Cultural Trust unveiled eleven new bike racks in Downtown’s cultural district. And each rack is a unique public art installation created by a different artist.

“Even something as utilitarian as a bike rack, can function as public art,” says Cultural Trust President Kevin McMahon.

This is the second year the trust has sponsored a public-art bike rack program (last year’s created five bike racks, including one that looks like a miniature 16th Street Bridge). Now Downtown’s art and entertainment district is home to 15 public-art bike racks.

Boerer applauds the trust’s “creative approach” to a modern transportation issue and says the racks are a “perfect balance of form and function."

Wood Street Galleries curator Murray Horne says that four of the racks used stainless steel as their primary material and are maintenance free. The racks were funded thanks to $125,000 from the Colcom Foundation, an environmentally focused nonprofit.

This announcement comes on the heels of Allegheny County gutting the revenue of its public art law, which CP wrote about here.

Cultural Trust vice president Nick Gigante says he was glad to work with Colcom toward their goal of creating more beautification projects. He is also glad that the bike racks can be enjoyed and used every day of the year.

“Part of why we did this was to mark [the cultural district] as a preeminent entertainment and art destination,” says Gigante.

Myra Falisz created the bike rack titled “Time-Travelling Mike” said she was influenced from french author Jules Verne and the culture of the late 1800s. She adds that her art works perfectly as a bike rack because it was inspired by a time frame when bikes became a very popular mode of transportation.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Suburban residents fill Port Authority meeting to max capacity, demanding bus service additions

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 4:23 PM

After a short rally on a cold morning near the Wood Street T station, more than 30 workers spoke to the Port Authority board, expressing their desire for bus service extensions to the North Hills, Penn Hills and Garfield. This is the second consecutive meeting that saw a large number of residents requesting service directly to the seven board members present.

Protesters outside Wood Street T station demanding service additions to North Hills, Garfield, and Penn Hills. - PHOTO COURTESY OF RYAN DETO
  • Photo courtesy of Ryan Deto
  • Protesters outside Wood Street T station demanding service additions to North Hills, Garfield, and Penn Hills.
“We are out here to ensure that every community in our area gets the bus service that they deserve” said Molly Nichols of Pittsburghers for Public Transit, an advocacy group, during the rally.

Those communities requesting service are the North Hills, Garfield and Penn Hills.

David Barkovich, Dean of Academic Affairs at North Hills High School, spoke with two high school students, who said they need a bus to get to the Northland Public Library in McCandless and the CCAC North Campus, which a quarter of North Hills High students attend after graduating.

“I believe the heart of our community is education,” said Barkovich. “And right now there is a deficit to get people to the education resources at CCAC and Northland library.”

North HIlls High, Northland and CCAC all sit on Perry Highway, which has little to no sidewalks and no current bus route.

Garfield resident Kevin Martin said his community needs weekend service because the communities at the top of North Aiken Avenue are stranded on Saturdays and Sundays. (The 89 PAT bus route that services the hilly region of Garfield only runs on weekdays.)

“On the weekends, we cannot get off this hill,” says Martin. “We are trying to get to church or to the store, it is very difficult.”

According to a Pittsburghers for Public Transit press release, “Penn Hills residents are asking for midday service along the route of the P17, near Mt Carmel Road. The few trips during rush hour are not meeting the needs of the community.”

PAT spokesperson Jim Ritchie said that public comments submitted via email, telephone, or letter will be accepted through November and then the service suggestions will be evaluated by the board through an equity score process, which CP wrote about here. According to PAT staff, more than 600 request have been submitted as of last week. Barkovich hand delivered an additional 117 at the meeting.

Ritchie said that while there is a formula now in place to evaluate service requests, personal anecdotes by residents “certainly are a factor” because people speaking are “bringing to life the requests.” He also noted, that the more requests a certain route gets, the more weight it will have.

But, according to Ritchie, just because they came in person, does not mean that they “jump to the front of the line” in terms of service requests. Ritchie admitted that the authority will have a tough decision to determine where to make service changes.

Before the flurry of statements by residents, PAT CEO Ellen McLean thanked the residents for speaking at the meeting, but said “any and all service changes are dependent on resources.”

Service change request for the next fiscal year will be taken through November. Any request submitted after that time, will be considered for the following fiscal year of 2017-2018, according to Ritchie.

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Bike PGH discusses 2016 focus areas and starts crowdfunding campaign

Posted By on Fri, Nov 13, 2015 at 10:48 AM

This week Bike PGH launched a crowdfunding campaign to help fund its organization for next year, with an emphasis on safer streets. This launch comes the same week that the bicycling and pedestrian advocacy organization is pushing greater driver accountability in car/bike crashes as a way to increase public safety in the region’s streets.

Morners attending the vigil of Susan Hicks, who died in October after being crushed in between two cars on Forbes Avenue in Oakland. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BIKE PGH
  • Photo courtesy of Bike PGH
  • Morners attending the vigil of Susan Hicks, who died in October after being crushed in between two cars on Forbes Avenue in Oakland.
Jane Kaminski of Bike PGH says that money donated will feed into all of the organization's programming, but there is a special emphasis on “getting people to feel more comfortable biking.”

She says that Bike PGH’s main focus areas for next year are as follow:
  • Finish the city’s Complete Streets Policy (Mayor Bill Peduto issued an executive order in April calling for streets to be designed with pedestrians, cyclists, public transit and cars in mind).
  • Connecting the Penn Avenue protected lane to Point State Park (it was recently extended a block to Stanwix Street, but still has one and half blocks before reaching the park).
  • Expanding the OpenStreets festival events to new neighborhoods.
  • Continuing work on increasing safety on Oakland streets.
  • Further developing our education program, including the City Cycling program for adults and the Positive Spin program for youths.
Bike PGH is crowdfunding through, which can be viewed here, and all donations $10 and over include incentives that show where the gathered funds can specifically go. For example, $25 will provide a student with a bicycle helmet and $100 dollars pays for an hour instruction session for an adult taking Bike PGH’s city cycling class.

And in addition to their crowdfunding initiative, Bike PGH will launch further donation campaigns and will feature stories of Pittsburghers who have been positively affected by their work starting Dec. 1. These campaigns are all part of the organization's yearly drive to raise general funds for the upcoming year.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Riverfront bike/ped trail to reopen to the Strip District

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 1:30 PM

Very soon, bikers and pedestrians will be able to enjoy a car-free ride or walk from the point all the way into the heart of the Strip District.

As announced by Bike Pittsburgh last week, the section of the riverfront trail from 11th Street to 21st Street will reopen some time before the end of October after being closed for more than two years.

Fence blocking the entrance to the trail along the Allegheny River at 11th Street. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BIKEPGH.ORG
  • Photo courtesy of
  • Fence blocking the entrance to the trail along the Allegheny River at 11th Street.
“The big deal is that it has been closed for over two years, and the completion date kept getting pushed back,” says Eric Boerer of Bike Pittsburgh. “This time it seems legit.”

There is currently a route for cars for riders to pedal from Downtown and all the way to the shops and restaurants in the Strip District: Riders can take the Penn Avenue protected bike lane to 16th street, but then have to dismount and walk on the sidewalk to reach all the action a few blocks down.

Because of the termination of the Penn Avenue bike lane at 16th Street, Boerer and several riders have told CP they turn down 15th Street before the protected lanes ends, and traverse down Smallman Street, which is full of cars backing out of parking spaces in the section from 16th street to 21st street.

“It gives them another option,” says Boerer of the trail reopening. “There are a lot of people who just want to stay along the riverfront and not ride with cars. This provides a better and safer connection for them.”

Boerer adds that this announcement also creates a bettter transition for those wishing to continue up the Allegheny River to Lawrenceville. Since trail ends at 21st Street and exits directly onto the Railroad Street, which has little action from automobiles, a more efficient corridor for bikers through the Strip is now available.

According to Boerer, concerned citizens started to light a fire under city officials after they grew frustrated with repeatedly being told that the trail would reopen month after month.

Numerous tweets were directed at Mayor Bill Peduto, Council Member Deb Gross and other city officials over the last few months asking when the trail will be reopened.

Spokesperson for the Mayor’s office Tim McNulty wrote in an email to CP that the Department of Public Works confirmed that the trail should be reopened by the end of October, if not sooner.

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