2021 Election Policy Platform Recommendations

Our Policy Agenda will Create Transportation Options that are Safe, Less Stressful, Affordable, and Enjoyable for Everyone

Every four years we ask the candidates for mayor and council questions about issues that are important to our organization in order to educate our supporters on where the candidates stand on our issues. We can’t endorse candidates due to our tax status, but we are permitted to educate. More recently we have also turned to educating the candidates by publishing a platform that we encourage to make their own. Here is our 2021 Policy Platform we shared with the candidates. Here are the mayoral candidates’ responses to our questionnaire.

BikePGH’s mission is transforming our streets to make biking and walking commonplace for all Pittsburghers in order to improve our quality of life and reduce the harmful effects of car dependence in our communities. We envision a Pittsburgh where people can thrive without needing to own a car. We believe that people need realistic options in order to change their transportation habits away from single occupancy car trips and toward biking, walking, and transit. It’s important to note that 23 percent of Pittsburgh households lack access to a car (2019 ACS) and 25 percent of all traffic fatalities in Pittsburgh are pedestrians (BikePGH Report on Ped/Bike Safety). The cost to people who are hit by cars due to lost work, hospital visits, and lifelong disabilities and trauma is immense. In Pennsylvania, these costs add up to $5.8B, or $461 per resident, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

Transportation is an indispensable part of everyone’s life. When it works as it should, it is seamless — even enjoyable. It looks like kids walking to school, or people biking to the grocery store, or a dad taking transit to drop off his kids at daycare, transferring and still getting to work on time. When it doesn’t work, it’s difficult to get to where you need to be in a reasonable amount of time. You might have limited access to housing options, or you might have to navigate unsafe streets, or be exposed to air pollution. 

Despite fewer miles driven, more people died on Pennsylvania roads in 2020, likely due to an increase in speeding on less congested streets. And, people riding public transportation experienced cutbacks to bus service, leading to longer waits sometimes on streets that lack sidewalks. Bikes flew off of shelves this past year, but even after 19 years as an organization committed to transforming our streets we were still told frequently, “But I wouldn’t ride on our streets because they’re too dangerous.” This policy agenda is about creating viable transportation options that are safe, less stressful, affordable, and enjoyable for everyone.

Safety, Health, and Environment

  • All Pittsburghers, young and old, will be safe while biking, walking or using a wheelchair on our streets that feature complete networks of bikeways and sidewalks. A particular emphasis on safety will be made in neighborhoods with low car ownership rates that have been historically underserved and suffer from disinvestment.
  • The City of Pittsburgh will commit to a goal of eliminating deaths and serious injuries related to traveling on our streets through a safe systems approach to street design and operations.
  • Pittsburgh will be on the cutting edge of roadway safety and design, looking to the innovative facilities and designs that many US cities have installed, and will purchase the necessary equipment to maintain these facilities.
  • The City will actively promote, encourage, and incentivize bicycling and walking while discouraging driving aggressively, too fast, and while under the influence.
  • Investing financially in safe streets for non-automobile mobility is a crucial step in combating the harmful effects of climate change and poor air quality, and Pittsburgh will take full advantage of funding at the local, state and federal levels to build out complete networks of biking and walking infrastructure.
  • Implementing smart parking meters that respond to demand for parking and raises or lowers pricing accordingly as well as extending metering hours would disincentivize driving in favor of alternative modes of transportation.
  • Lowering speed limits from 25 to 20 on residential streets and from 35 to 25 on arterials along with traffic calming tools will reduce crashes, save lives, use less fuel, and encourage more people to take other modes of transportation rather than simply default to driving.
  • Reducing on street car parking in favor of expanded sidewalks, bike lanes, and “streateries” will curb demand for driving, enhance business districts, and increase demand for walking and biking. 

Equity and Affordability

  • Our street designs will be thoughtful and self-enforcing so that Pittsburgh is not reliant on armed police enforcement of traffic laws. Traffic stops are the single most common form of armed police initiated contact with citizens, and local data shows that Black Pittsburghers are disproportionately pulled over compared to White Pittsburghers.
  • The City will prohibit racial profiling related to traffic stops.
  • Bicycling facilities, city-owned sidewalks and steps are important pieces of our transportation network and are properly managed and maintained in all seasons so that people who lack cars can get around safely.
  • Pittsburgh is a city where it’s easy and convenient to walk, bike, use a wheelchair or other mobility device, and take transit. The ability to combine modes will be simple, convenient and affordable.
  • In order to encourage more walkable, bikeable neighborhoods, as well as more affordability the City, should eliminate mandatory minimum parking requirements citywide, eliminate single family residential zoning, adopt a form based zoning code, adopt inclusionary zoning in neighborhoods where people are being priced out, and unbundle parking fees from rents – pricing them out separately.

Jobs and Economy

  • The City is committed to improving the health and quality of life of Pittsburghers by creating access to complete networks of safe bicycling and walking facilities, and by creating, supporting and promoting events and opportunities to bike and walk for all. Our neighborhood mainstreets will be great places to visit by foot and by bike.
  • Pittsburghers are able to live affordably partly because they do not need to own a car in order to access all the things they need from jobs to groceries to healthcare. And, because the overwhelming majority of the retail price of cars and gas leaves the local economy, people who live car free put more of their money into local businesses.
  • As the start/finish to the Great Allegheny Passage, a stop along the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route, and home to fantastic roads, trails, and parks for riding, Pittsburgh will be a major destination for bicycle tourism in the United States, an $83 billion dollar industry that generates $97 billion in retail spending and has created nearly 850,000 jobs.
  • Pittsburgh is ready and able to put people to work creating biking and walking infrastructure. For every $1 million spent, projects creating bike infrastructure produces 46% more jobs than creating car-only infrastructure.

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