Pittsburgh Drivers Worst Among Smaller Cities

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Aug 26 2014 at 8:59am #



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Aug 26 2014 at 9:10am #

Yesterday I watched a guy drive in the oncoming traffic lane, make a left into the gas station, proceed through the gas station, and try to swing up around a corner into another parking lot (red) – where he was met by someone else coming down out of said parking lot (blue) and they crashed head-on.


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Aug 26 2014 at 9:27am #

There are only a couple of comments on that article so far, but they haven’t mentioned bicycles yet.


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Aug 26 2014 at 10:01am #

I think I read somewhere that the cars will start driving safely once the bicycles do. So……our move I guess?


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Aug 26 2014 at 10:02am #

Ancient infrastructure, windy hilly narrow roads, poor weather, and bizarre road design such as the Squirrel Hill exit before the tunnel have to help make our accident percentage higher. Oh, and those cyclists as well that don’t stop at stop signs.


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Aug 26 2014 at 10:37am #

Also, don’t forget that a lot of Pittsburghers were born here, grew up here, and really don’t feel comfortable travelling too far from their house, e.g., across one of the rivers. So they have developed their own rules for traffic (like the Pittsburgh left) and those aren’t necessarily the best rules to follow in order to avoid accidents. Also they possibly aren’t paying attention to “new” traffic controls (as in put in place in the past ten years or so).
Other regions have more people who moved there and are probably a little more aware of the need to pay attention to what’s going on around them.


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Aug 26 2014 at 11:23am #

Yes, jonawebb. You nailed it.

All us yinzers, driving SUVs and pickups (with truck nutz), living on the same block we grew up on, terrified of venturing beyond our township border, ignorant of these new-fangled “traffic signals” with their fancy lights and arrows and such. We all just do as we please, because after all we’ve always done it that way, and anyone who doesn’t like it can go back to wherever they came from.

And we ALL feel this way. Each. And every. One of us.

Maybe if we were ALL better people like you, we’d be better drivers.


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Aug 26 2014 at 12:05pm #

Chuckle that I got about the jackass maneuvering andyc’s witnessed I’m somewhat surprised by this outcome.

I always felt like Pittsburgh drivers, were, on average, not especially aggressive. Certainly I find that’s true as compared to where I lived just prior, Raleigh,NC.

Perhaps relates more to inattention than aggression, which come to think of it is probably even worse as far as cycling is concerned though maybe if the accidents are lower speed it comes out in the wash. One can hope.


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Aug 26 2014 at 12:49pm #

I think this is caused by a culture where it is socially acceptable to break all kinds of traffic laws. I see it all the time while commuting. People joke about it like they used to joke about drinking and driving.

People will drive on the wrong side of the road when traffic is backed up and they want to get to the left turn lane at the end of the block.

Almost nobody stops at stop signs.

People go 55 in 35 zones and 40 in 25 zones.

Almost nobody yields to pedestrians.

Nearly every red light cycle somebody runs the light as it changes from yellow to red.


Certainly there are far worse places in the world, like in some parts of India where people entirely ignore traffic lights. Those lights might as well not exist. But there are also places where it is socially unacceptable to do many of these things. There are assholes everywhere but it is the culture of acceptance that makes average people casually behave in a selfish and dangerous manner.

Ironically, Pittsburgh cyclists are just as bad. Or maybe it isn’t ironic. People ignore traffic laws regardless of what vehicle they’re using.


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Aug 26 2014 at 2:09pm #

Current drivers education in Pennsylvania needs a serious overhaul. We require a car inspection and registration every year, but never retest drivers, ever. I was not even required to parallel park for my drivers test because I took the test in a very rural area, then I moved to a city and had to do it every day with a manual transmission vehicle, on a hill, in the winter.

More lengthy written test, more thorough drivers test, compulsory retesting if you have a certain number of traffic citations or traffic incidents, when switching licenses from out of state, or every 5 to 10 years to re-certify your knowledge of new laws and regulations.

Tests should include an entire section with respect to bicycle safety, for both the sake of drivers knowing how to operate around bicycles, but also for drivers who become cyclists (since most people who bike also drive).

Enfrorcement is also nearly non-existent in the city, and very sporadic outside of the city. Automated and manual measures need to be used to enforce the rules, otherwise they will never be followed.

Lastly, Infrastructure needs to be looked at from a behavioral and societal standpoint in addition to just an engineering challenge. What causes the pittsburgh left? Could it be no way to make a legal left turn at some intersections due to lack of signal for left turn only and gridlock that never leaves an opening? What causes cyclists to blow lights and pedestrians to jaywalk? They feel safer doing that than following lights and crosswalks are not designed with their use case in mind. What causes speeding? Lack of enforcement, roads engineered for speed in excess of the limit, and the feeling unsafe driving at the speed limit due to excessive speed differential with most traffic (who all speed). Some of these assertions may be a bit presumptuous, but they are just to point out how infrastructure plays a role in behavior.

This isn’t a Pittsburgh problem, it’s a state wide problem (probably a nation wide problem).


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Aug 26 2014 at 2:39pm #

In regards to enforcement is there any knowledge on how often citations are given out for passing to close or other violations effecting cyclists in the city of Pittsburgh? I doubt there are many if any. I know this probably has been discussed here sometime before, but I started reading this forum only about a year ago.

Not to hijack the thread, earlier this year I was going up Greenfield Ave. I noticed a SUV coming up fast in my mirror with no attempt to give me room or even slow down. I simply extended my arm out to signal, “Give me room asshole”. There was a cop behind that guy. The cop literally scolded me that I was trying to hit his car. I stated that I was signalling for room and he had to provide four feet, and my arm is clearly not four feet and maybe he should issue a ticket for not passing within the range the law required. He said that he gave enough room, so clearly the cop doesn’t understand body dimensions, math, and the laws. I guess it is a bad idea for a tax payer to tell a cop how to do his job as this really ticked him off. Glad I didn’t end up shot for using my 1st amendment rights…………………………… Point is, I never once see or hear of citations being given out.


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Aug 26 2014 at 2:52pm #

Also, Pittsburghers tend to be older. So that would affect their driving skills. And yes, by that I do mean that all Pittsburghers, every one, are old people who should be in nursing homes.


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Aug 26 2014 at 3:30pm #

In regards to enforcement is there any knowledge on how often citations are given out for passing to close or other violations effecting cyclists in the city of Pittsburgh?

City Paper’s recent report on the 4-foot passing law says there have been 42 citations for it, statewide, including 12 in Allegheny County. I don’t know how that compares to other states with similar laws.


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Aug 26 2014 at 4:58pm #

Honestly, the “Pittsburgh left” continues to make my jaw drop every time that I see it. I think the same drivers tend to be fond of the run-a-red-light-making-a-left-hand-turn as well.

I grew up in W. PA. I’ve spent most of the last two decades out of state. I don’t think that Pgh drivers are the worst as a general rule… but rather, I think that the bad drivers that are here tend to do more blatantly stupid things to cause accidents.

I’m not a big fan of “worst drivers” type of articles because there are a lot of different metrics that can be used. At a national level, I think it’s kind of useless. On a local level, I think it’s important to define what aspects of local driving are of most concern and strive to correct those specific things. That said, if Pgh leads in the rate of crashes, then I suppose that is a clear indication that no effort has been made to identify and correct the cause of said crashes… so, I suppose the national spotlight is a good thing.


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Aug 26 2014 at 5:59pm #

Enforcement of the four foot law is a monumental joke in Allegheny County, especially in the City of Pittsburgh. I had a driver on video, convicted at the Magistrate level of violating the four foot law. He appealed, and we went to Kangaroo Court with Judge Gallo. He is anti-bicycle, anti-police, and pro-defendant. And lazy, arrogant, and probably borderline senile. He got bored, and halfway through the case just found the driver guilty of a lesser charge. I’ve reached out to the police, to the Mayor’s office, and to the Bike/Ped Coordinator’s office, and gotten zilch in response.

The police don’t know the law. I had to provide a copy of it to the Pittsburgh City Police on another occasion to convince them to write a ticket. And the District Attorney’s office doesn’t know it either.

buffalo buffalo

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Aug 28 2014 at 10:56am #

I called the police once, about two years ago, to report a driver in the Strip who’d been verbally abusive and physically threatening. When the officer finally showed up, he was rude and dismissive. I’ve never bothered again.


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Aug 28 2014 at 12:56pm #

Last time I called the police regarding a motorist, it was on a crotch-rocket that thought it was a smart idea to pass to the right (on the shoulder) at about 80mph… that guy is an accident waiting to happen. FWIW, that was in PA.

Police weren’t rude or dismissive, but told me that 911 should be used to report. I wasn’t really calling to report the guy, so much as to ask what to do when witnessing that sort of thing.

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