From Car Traffic to People Traffic: This Pittsburgh Street Receives a “Road Shift”

City of Pittsburgh takes innovative approach to repurposing roads

Pocusset St… in the past you may have known this small street as a winding road through Schenley Park, a short-cut between Greenfield and Squirrel Hill, or just another of our narrow Pittsburgh streets. Regardless of how you may have known it, those days are gone.

It’s time you meet the new Pocusset St, site of the city’s first “road shift” – a new approach to right-sizing roads.

pocu parksFor those who are not familiar, Pocusset street is a small, winding street through the south-eastern edge of Schenley park, connecting Squirrel Hill, Greenfield, and Oakland. Pocusset street was a regular cut-through for speeding vehicular traffic seeking a shortcut between these neighborhoods, but with blind curves, no sidewalks, and insufficient street lighting, it was a dangerous place to travel by foot or bike.

Pocusset streetIn 2012 Pocusset St. was deemed un-structurally sound for automobiles. After the road shift proposal received vocal community support at a number of public meetings, the City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Works decided to take the portion of Pocusset Street that passes through Schenley Park off-line for automobile traffic, and redesign it for bike and pedestrian use.

The city repaved the entire quarter mile Schenley Park portion of the street, repainted it with bi-directional bike-lanes, designated pedestrian walkways, included LED street lighting, and installed reflective bollards to block traffic from entering at either end. The new Pocusset St. is now open & maintained by the city as a pedestrian and bicycle-only roadway; shifting the road’s use from a dangerous shortcut to a community asset that will safely serve bikes and pedestrians for decades to come. Voilà, a road shift! Infrastructure investment at its best.

Why Pocusset Street is a milestone

Pocusset street bendThe Pittsburgh Department of Public Works’  initiative on Pocusset Street is an exciting, innovative approach to re-programming land use. To our knowledge, it is possibly the first example in the country of a city shutting a length of street down for cars, investing in new, safe, bicycle & pedestrian infrastructure, and re-opening/maintaining it for pedestrian/bicycle use only.

Pocusset-greenfield closurePocusset Street is also a step towards connecting and expanding the city’s bicycle and pedestrian network.  With this new road shift, people in Squirrel Hill and Greenfield are connected to each other and to Schenley Park in a way they’ve never been before. Pocusset Street also extends the city’s bike network by connecting to the Greenfield Road bike lane, and when the Greenfield Bridge reconstruction is finished in 2017, the bike and pedestrian network will expand even further.

Pocusset sq hill closureThe new Pocusset street does not solve all Pittsburgh’s bicyclist & pedestrian woes. However, it does show that our city is capable of applying innovative approaches to providing safe facilities for people to bike & walk. In the lead-up to Pittsburgh hosting the International Pro-Walk Pro-Bike Conference this September, the Pocusset St. road shift proves that Pittsburgh has the potential to be a progressive transportation leader.

hassett pocusset

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 11.14.28 AMBikePGH’s Better Bikeways Vision stresses that Pittsburgh’s bike routes must be interconnected, safe, attractive, and comfortable in order to appeal to people of all ages, especially those who are interested in riding a bike but concerned for their safety. Learn more about BikePGH’s Better Bikeways Vision.


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