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Chicago blogger rallies in support of a bikeable Pittsburgh

Despite the negativity coming from Pittsburgh cab drivers, blogger Matt Carmichael says Pittsburgh's efforts at bikeability give him hope. 

During a recent visit to Pittsburgh for the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place Conference, Carmichael noted the protected bike lanes installed outside the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and started asking around.

While Mayor Bill Peduto told conference attendees he wants his city to be among the most bike-friendly in the nation, Carmichael argued with the cabbies who see cyclists as a traffic nuisance.

In the end, Carmichael vouched his support for the placemaking movement represented by Pittsburgh’s latest protected bike lanes running along Penn Avenue from Sixth Street to 16th Street.

Read Carmichael’s full post here.

The 'Pittsburgh left' isn't working

Pittsburgh transplants won’t be surprised that Allstate Insurance Company ranked Steel City motorists among the worst in the country.

In fact, Pittsburgh residents are 51.3 percent more likely to be involved in a car accident than your average American.
Pittsburgh ranked 14th worst on the list of 200 cities and dead last in cities with a population of 250,000 to 499,000 residents.
From tunnel traffic to parking spaces reserved by folding chairs, Pittsburgh’s driving peccadilloes are the city’s most treacherous traits.

Enter the warp zone: Super Mario Bros. style map of the T.

Pittsburgh transportation recently gained the attention of Dorkly, a publication dedicated to fandoms, when designer Dave Delisle created a pixeleated, Mario themed Map of Pittsburgh’s light rail system.
Delisle maintains a website, Dave's Geeky Ideas, filled with nerd inspired designs, but he warns his followers that the products he dreams up do not exist yet.
He has also posted ideas like a Mario Kart themed pendulum clockSuper Mario furniture and a toy fire truck USB hub

Pittsburghers rank as second most courteous drivers

The Driver's Seat Road Rage Survey indicates that Pittsburgh drivers use their manners on the road.

The study conducted by AutoVantage, a roadside assistance company, ranked Pittsburgh behind only  Portland, OR in courteous driving.

According to Tech Times, the study included 2,500 consumers age 21 and above, who personally drove during rush hour (Mon. through Fri.) no fewer than three days per week.

Pittsburgh ranked among least dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently reported that Pittsburgh was rated one of the safest metropolitan areas in America for pedestrians.
The study, entitled “Dangerous by Design”, ranked Pittsburgh 50th out of 51 in the category of most dangerous places to walk.
According to the report, 47,025 people died and 676,000 people were injured while walking on streets between 2003 and 2012.
The study utilized Pedestrian Danger Indexes (PDI), which are the rate of pedestrian deaths relative to the number of people who commute to work on foot, to calculate the standings.
Oddly enough, the data indicates that cities ranked among the most dangerous like Orlando, FL and Jacksonville, FL have low rates of walking like 1.1 percent and 1.4 percent. Safer cities such as top ranked Boston and Pittsburgh coming in second have percentages of 5.3 and 3.6 respectively. 

Pittsburgh ranks third for walking workers

The Census Bureau recently reported that Pittsburgh ranked in the top three large cities in the United States for the percentage of people who walk to work. Coming in third place behind Boston and Washington D.C., 11.3 percent of Pittsburgh’s workforce commutes to work on foot.

The Pittsburgh Business Times reported that the Census Bureau found walking rates to be higher in both larger and smaller cities that are college towns.

Brian McKenzie, the Census Bureau sociologist who authored the report, pointed to community support as a reason for higher walking and biking rates.

"In recent years, many communities have taken steps to support more transportation options, such as bicycling and walking," McKenzie told the Pittsburgh Business Times.

The importance of BRT

In a piece about the boons and challenges of Bus Rapid Transit running into downtown areas across the country, Atlantic Cities writer Eric Jaffe points to both Pittsburgh and Cleveland as examples of where it's working and the challenges it faces.

"Take the case of the East Busway — a dedicated BRT highway in metro Pittsburgh," Jaffe writes. "The busway has done loads of good for the city: it's stimulated hundreds of millions of dollars in development and contributed to the 38 percent of city commuters who reach downtown by bus. [The Institute for Transportataion and Development Policy] recently gave it a bronze BRT rating."

However, he does point out that bus traffic gets terrible once you get downtown and that angsty businesses have led the Port Authority, with the backing of Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Mayor Peduto to consider creating a "bus free zone" downtown.

The article contends that many cities have made the critical error of relegating BRT to curbside lanes with mixed traffic, rather than dedicated lanes along the medians of roads. This mistake makes BRT inefficient and has therefore given the form of transit a bad rap. But BRT done right can be extremely effective. However, sometimes it's a lack of political will to address the PR problems that come along with BRT that is the problem.

"But the fight is worth it," Annie Weinstock, a U.S. regional director for Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, told The Atlantic, "because building sub-par BRT — or, worse, calling something BRT when it's not — reinforces negative public perception of the entire mode. Over time, that preconception makes city residents resistant to the idea from the start."

Local startup Astrobotic earns mention in the New Yorker

Pittsburgh-based startup, Astrobotic got a big mention on NewYorker.com this week for their work on creating a lander for what will be the first lunar commercial delivery.

The lander, called Griffin, will hold the time capsule bearing Pocari Sweat, a Japanese beverage. Griffin is the same technology that Astrobotic is hoping will win them the Google Lunar X prize.

Astrobotics’ focus is on developing technology for commercial deliveries to the moon. Right now their prices exceed half a million a pound.

Pittsburgh is home to the second steepest public road in the world

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Pittsburgh is home to the second steepest public road—and that’s just because of a measuring mistake.The first steepest was thought to be in New Zealand.

Urban Velo ran an infographic featuring the 10 steepest climbs in the US that was created by fixr. Canton Avenue, with its 37 percent grade is second on the list after Waipio Rd. in Honokaa, Hawaii, a road on which only four-wheel-drive vehicles are permitted.

Pittsburgh Airport’s Executive Director on recovery after the death of the Hub

The Cranky Flier continues an interview with Brad Penrod, exectuive director of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, on the future of Pittsburgh air transportation years--from how Pittsburgh has led to the way to change after losing its hub, to what is on the wish list now.

Read Part 2 of the interview here.

New electric car conversion kit will charge your car (and wallet)

Carnegie Mellon students create an all-included electric car conversion kit as part of their ChargeCar project. This DIY alternative can convert your old, gas guzzling Honda Civic into a zero-emission battery operated car.

Read the full story here.

Carnegie Mellons seeks solutions to transit cuts

With the possible demise of the 28x, the bus that loops from Oakland to the airport, and other important bus routes that face the knife, Carnegie Mellon is already organizing meetings to seek solutions to how to get students to get around.

See the full story here from their campus newspaper.

Pittsburgh has what Cleveland wants

Pop City's sister publication Fresh Water says the cycle scene here in Pittsburgh is turning them green with envy. That, along with Pittsburgh being named Most Livable City.  Cleveland is wishing they had a little more black and yellow in their blood. It's okay, we're always willing to share.

Click here to read the entire article.

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Moving Pittsburgh's people and returning prime riverfront property to city residents

Next American City, a national magazine about "the future of urban life" covers Perkins Eastman's Allegheny Riverfront Vision plan, which Pop City reported on last week. Laura Walsh, who "lives, loves, writes and rides in Pittsburgh," reports that the plan will heavily emphasize transit-oriented development; restoring the ecological balance of the river; increasing the tree canopy; making the riverfront property accessible; providing alternatives to car usage; and providing greater connectivity to other neighborhoods.

The plan includes a trolley/streetcar system, which would reduce dependence on automobiles and "inspire walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods and spur tremendous economic activity."

"Pursuing a policy of regenerative development will allow the city and people of Pittsburgh to continue thriving economically while creating green jobs that improve the region," writes Walsh, "Though still a bit bruised from the steel town days, Pittsburgh is improving rapidly and being recognized widely for it: the city was chosen as the U.S. host for the U.N. World Environment Day and was once again named 'Most Livable City.'"

Read the complete Next American City article.

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You've come a long way, baby: Pittsburgh goes from worst U.S. bicycling city to 28th best

Pittsburgh snagged the No. 28 spot in Bicycling Magazine's rankings of the best U.S. bicycling cities. The magazine once named Pittsburgh the worst city in the country to ride a bike, according to BikePGH, but is now praising Steel City for our citywide bicycle master plan, bike-pedestrian coordinator and Dirt Rag mountain bike magazine.

Read the complete Bicycling Magazine article.

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