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The Wall Street Journal takes on Pittsburgh's public steps debate

The Wall Street Journal took notice this week of the public stair debate taking place in Pittsburgh.

In 2004, Bob Regan, a retired geophysics professor, counted and reported that Pittsburgh houses 45,454 public steps in his book entitled “The Steps of Pittsburgh”


Residents stand divided on the issue of repairing or removing staircases that have fallen into disrepair. Some argue the steps create a haven for suspicious activities such as drug deals, but others view the steps as part of their everyday lives. 

"The steps fit right into the hills," Brian Oswald, president of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association, tells the Wall Street Journal. The South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association has raised money in the past to illuminate a staircase that leads down to the bars and restaurants of the South Side. 

A woman who wished to remain anonymous instead pointed to the dangers of the stairs. 

"People are doing drugs, making out, it's like an orgy out there," she says.

"Suspended animation human trials to begin for wounded patients"

According to PBS, patients at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital will be the first to undergo trials for suspended animation as a treatment for knife and gunshot wounds. 

The process, referred to as emergency preservation and resuscitation, involves replacing patients’ blood with a cold saline solution to cause hypothermia. This reduces cellular activity and gives surgeons more time to repair wounds. 

Peter Rhee, a surgeon that contributed to developing the process, said that emergency preservation and resuscitation cannot bring a deceased patient back to life. 

“But if they’re dying and you suspend them, you have a chance to bring them back after their structural problems have been fixed,” he told New Scientist.

Read our story about this futuristic procedure here.

 

"Rebuilding the steel city"

Al jazeera America recently reported on Pittsburgh’s thirty year revitalization since the collapse of the steel industry, referring to the new and improved steel city as center for financial service companies, medical centers and high tech industries. 

The piece points to developments such as the Waterfront along with local and foreign investments as steps in the transformation. The efforts to improve Pittsburgh are compared to the steps taken in Detroit, Mich.

“You can bomb a city, you can burn a city, you can flood a city, or you can tear the economic heart of a city out. As long as you invest back into the people who believe in that city, the city will come back,” Mayor Bill Peduto comments.

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.

"When movies film in Pittsburgh, experiences vary"

Communication is the key to successful movie filming in Pittsburgh, according to a recent article.

Movies like “Fathers and Daughters” and “The Fault in Our Stars” were filmed in Pittsburgh recently and have affected businesses in Pittsburgh in a variety of ways. The Toonseum on Liberty Ave. has witnessed several film shoots close to its building. 

"We love having these films in Pittsburgh. We love that they bring something to not only the economy, but to the personality of the city," Joe Wos, the executive director of The ToonSeum, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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. 

NoWait raises $10 Million to advance business

Pittsburgh startup NoWait raised $10 million in venture funding which it plans to use for hiring and the creation of new tools.
 
The application allows iOS and Android users to track their wait times at restaurants and add their names to wait lists before they have arrived at the restaurant. The app also enables restaurant employees to collect phone numbers and send text messages to alert diners that their tables are ready.
 
According to the Wall Street Journal, more than 1,000 restaurants in the United States and Canada such as Buffalo Wild Wings and Texas Roadhouse are already using NoWait to organize their waiting lists.
 
Ware Sykes, Chief Executive of NoWait, says that the company plans to develop technology that allows restaurants to view analytics like how frequently their customers visit them and how much they spend. 

US District Court Judge rules Pennsylvania same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional

District Court Judge John E. Jones, III in the case of Whitewood v. Wolf, declared the Pennsylvania Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional yesterday.

In the ruling, Judge Jones wrote, We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.”

The ACLU of Pennsylvania, on behalf of 21 Pennsylvanians seeking the right to marry or have their out-of-state marriages, recognized filed the case

Pittsburgh area officials are celebrating the news.

“I am overjoyed by the judge’s decision today, and can’t wait to throw open the doors of the Mayor’s Office to honor marriages of all couples,” Mayor Bill Peduto said in a statement released yesterday. “I would be thrilled to make the marriage of an LGBT couple the first one I officiate as Mayor.”

The mayor has been an active advocate for marriage equality since the aughts when he helped create Pittsburgh’s Domestic Partner Law, which was designed to allow same-sex couples share health benefits.

"As a long time supporter of marriage equality, I am thrilled to finally be able to celebrate this victory with supporters across the state," said Councilman Dan Gilman. "But more importantly, the decision to declare the ban on marriage equality unconstitutional in Pennsylvania contributes to our city's shared vision for a better and brighter—a Pittsburgh that embraces love, equality, and diversity."

Those who are interested can register for a marriage license in Allegheny County here. There is a three-day waiting period, which is the standard waiting period in Pennsylvania. For more information, you can read about the process here.

“For these couples, the judge’s decision will open the door to all of the rights and obligations of marriage that different-sex couples take for granted, from filing joint tax returns to transferring property from one spouse to another tax free to the ability to inherit without a will,” says Anthony Infanti, senior associate dean for academic affairs and professor of law at University of Pittsburgh School of Law

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.

PPG transforms television technology

PPG Industries is manufacturing organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs, that have the ability to make big screen televisions more energy efficient and eventually more affordable for consumers. 

PPG sends the manufactured crystals to Universal Display where companies like Samsung and LG electronics buy the technology that is currently used in cellphones and mobile devices like Samsung’s Galaxy S5

According to Consumer Reports, Organic LED displays would combine the best attributes of plasma and LCD screens with none of their shortcomings. Applying OLED technology to televisions would improve the quality of colors on screen and make units thinner and lighter.
 

'Pittsburgh basks in refurbished image'

Bill Flanagan, executive vice president of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, told the Associated Press that Pittsburgh is the 'overnight sensation' that was 30 years in the making.

The Associated Press article chronicles the transformation of Pittsburgh beginning in the 1980’s and points to Pittsburgh’s leaders and cultural development as contributing factors to the city’s success. The Steel City has witnessed the diversification of its economy into technology, energy, healthcare, education and finance.

The piece lists the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, the Consol Energy Center and Rivers Casino among sites of Pittsburgh’s transformation.

"I don't know of anything on this scale, in any other American city, where we've gone from parking lots and forgotten roadways to beautiful riverfronts and significant stadiums, significant new buildings and a significant, world-class riverfront,” Grant Oliphant, president and CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation, told AP.

Bacteria found in ice at UPMC Presbyterian

News travelled as far as the Kansas City Star last week when Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s Disease, was found in ice machines at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Presbyterian Hospital.

According the piece reported by the Associated Press, officials at UPMC Presbyterian were stumped when the hospital’s water system tested negative for Legionella though one patient died and two were sickened with the disease last year. The bacteria usually develops in warmer water.

UPMC spokeswoman Wendy Zellner said refrigeration compressors gave off heat raising the temperature in the water reservoirs of the affected ice machines and warmed the water enough for Legionella to develop.
 

Steel City Movie Tours

Starting on May 31, Pittsburgh natives and tourists alike can venture through the city on a tour entitled “Lights! Camera! Pittsburgh!” that showcases the history of movies in Pittsburgh.

The Steel City has made its way onto the big screen with classics like Flashdance and Night of the Living Dead. More recently, Pittsburgh has been the backdrop for movies such as The Dark Knight Rises and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

"People still want to know where the restaurant was in 'Flashdance,” the director of Pittsburgh’s film office, Dawn Keezer, told the Tribune Review.

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."

Breath easy yinz- we've got 42 percent tree cover

In honor of Arbor Day, National Geographic rounded up nine cities that love their trees. Pittsburgh had the largest percentage of tree cover of any city mentioned at 42 percent.

Efforts of organizations such as Tree Pittsburgh and South Side Pittsburgh Tree Project among others have helped to plant 20,000 trees in recent years, contributing to a largely reforested metropolis.

According to the Nat Geo piece, our urban forest removes 532 tons of air pollution every year. Breath happy yinz!
 
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