City Council District 7 Candidate response to biking and walking issues
Since 2009, BikePGH has been educating our members and facebook and twitter followers on how committed the candidates are to improving your experience and safety while biking and walking.
We’ve collected questionnaires from nearly every City Council candidate for the upcoming general election in November. If you are unsure what district you live in, please see the City’s website. You can also find your polling location here. You must be registered in order to vote.
BikePGH is not allowed to endorse candidates. Answers have been lightly edited for formatting, otherwise these are their words.
Bike Walk Vote the General Election on Tuesday, November 5.
District 7 Candidate
Councilwoman Deb Gross
Question 1: WHAT ROLES DO YOU THINK CITY COUNCIL CAN PLAY IN MAKING CITIES SAFE, ACCESSIBLE AND FRIENDLY FOR RESIDENTS TO WALK AND BIKE?
Councilwoman Deb Gross:The City of Pittsburgh owns its right of ways, and so we can budget and legislate to make mobility safe for people. That means allocating budget dollars to safety improvements, but also increasing the human capacity. When I was first elected there was only one traffic engineer in the City administration and every traffic calming request I made was turned down (dozens). Five years later, we have created an entirely new department that issue permits in the right of way, and we have seven traffic engineers and now our requests are being granted. Just a few months ago, I pulled 100 previously turned down constituent requests and re-issued them to new Director.
Question 2: WE’D LIKE TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE EXPANDING BIKE LANE NETWORK OVER THE PAST DECADE. WHAT’S WORKING? WHERE CAN THE CITY IMPROVE?
Councilwoman Deb Gross:My constituents ask for more connectivity between the bike lanes and also more infrastructure separating them. A policy that I know our state representatives are considering is to allow the City of Pittsburgh to implement “parking separated” bike lanes. This would make more riders feel safe in the bike lane.
Question 3: A MAJOR CAMPAIGN OF OURS, #EXTENDPENN, SEEKS TO SAFELY CONNECT THE PENN AVE BIKE LANE TO THE EASTERN NEIGHBORHOODS, USING ANY OF THE AVAILABLE STREETS OR RIGHTS OF WAY. DO YOU SUPPORT THIS INITIATIVE? HOW WILL YOU AS A COUNCILPERSON TAKE A LEADERSHIP ROLE?
Councilwoman Deb Gross:Yes, I have been a vocal supporter of #extendPenn and advocated for infrastructure changes to the Strip planning that would allow pieces of that lane to be connected. Moreover, I continue to advocate for a more extensive multi-modal connection between downtown and Lawrenceville and continuing up river.
Question 4: WHAT’S A PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS PROBLEM OR LOCATION IN YOUR DISTRICT FOR WALKERS, BIKERS, OR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES THAT YOU’D LIKE TO SEE ADDRESSED?
Councilwoman Deb Gross:So many of the “primary” streets have intersections that are engineered for car commuters without safe crossing times, safe sight lines, or safe infrastructure. I supported citizen advocacy around Penn and Main, for example, and have been seeking budget allocations for major intersections like Liberty and Main where I was successful in allocating $200,000 to change that intersection to be more friendly.
In addition, but unfortunately, way-finding apps have made even residential streets unsafe from speeders and aggressive drivers. I have enlisted the City engineers to visit neighborhood meetings and hear directly from residents about “network” problems, namely in Morningside and Polish Hill.
Question 5: IN CONCLUSION, WHY DO YOU THINK PEOPLE WHO CARE ABOUT WALKING AND BICYCLING ISSUES SHOULD VOTE FOR YOU?
Councilwoman Deb Gross:I have been effective at promoting non-car mobility and safety solutions at both the neighborhood level and at the city planning and budgeting level…helping to pass the Complete Streets legislation, helping to pass the Riverfront Zoning that mandates public easements on the river edges…and I vow to continue to push for creating streets (and steps and trails) that are for people.