Pittsburgh and its mayor of less than a year are making major waves in the cycling community for all the right reasons.
Though the city had fallen behind on creating infrastructure for safe city cycling, since Mayor Bill Peduto took over there have been three protected bike lanes installed in just six months. He plans to have the first five miles of protected lanes finished within two years.
“The United States has fallen behind Europe in those types of initiatives. Pittsburgh had fallen behind other cities. My job is to have us leapfrog cities,” said Peduto. “So we’re not going to settle at just being able to play catchup, we want to catchup and then go ahead.”
Screenshot from Vimeo.com
His ambitious plans include a bike share program that will have 500 bikes and 50 stations and a “bike highway.” He plans to connect all city bike lanes to create that highway system and then include bike trails in the area too. These improvements will help cyclists reach any neighborhood safely and efficiently. Peduto realizes not everyone has a car or wants to use a car; he’s taken on the job of making Pittsburgh just as friendly for cyclists, pedestrians and those who use public transit.
Certain times people will throw things out there like, ‘those cyclists should pay for their own roads.’ Well they do—it’s called taxes, right, we know that. It’s not about car versus bike, it’s about how to create the best transportation system.
The early improvements seem to have turned the tide for Pittsburgh. The city once steadily losing residents will see an influx in population to the tune of 20,000 people in the next ten years, said Peduto. For further proof look to the League of American Bicyclists’ latest rankings—Pittsburgh jumped from number 22 on the bike-friendly cities list last year to number 11.
“We’ve seen more progress in the last 9 months than we’ve seen in the previous four or five years,” said the Executive Director of Bike Pittsburgh Scott Bricker.
Take a look at this video from STREETFILMS, made by Clarence Eckerson Jr. for more on what’s going on in Pittsburgh.
“Cities change, that’s part of the DNA of cities,” said Peduto. “The transformation is now in effect, it’s really happening and my job is to let the city government catch up to all the other great things that’s already happening in Pittsburgh.”