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Job Opening: City of Pittsburgh Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator

Patchan is moving to Los Angeles. The Bike/Ped Coordinator position is now listed. This is an exciting opportunity to work for the city and lead their bicycling efforts. Forward far and wide. http://localhost/2014/06/11/job-opening-city-of-pittsburgh-bicycle-pedestrian-coordinator/
2014-06-11 09:49:50
Under General Application Requirements: " A current, valid Class C Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Operator's License at the time of filing application or prior to appointment, which must be maintained throughout employment. " Not that that overwhelming majority of people who walk and bike don't also have license to operate a motor vehicle, but there's a certain irony here. If someone didn't have a license, it would make everything they do that much more practical and less theoretical. Anyways... wishing someone (other than me) on these boards luck. Lots to be done, politics, limited funds... all that jazz.
2014-06-11 10:45:57
Does this position rotate a lot? Second time it's opened in the last few years no?
2014-06-11 16:28:23
Isnt everybody a pedestrian even if they drive?
2014-06-11 20:55:20
Yeah, that is ridiculous. I'd rather they had a requirement *not* to have a valid drivers' license. Pierce - I believe Steve Patchan is the only bike/ped coordinator the city has ever had, and he's been doing it for 5+ years. There may be some bureaucratic craziness involved like the position has to be "renewed" every 2 years or something.
2014-06-11 21:10:53
The position might sometimes involve taking routes unsafe for cyclists or pedestrians, in order to improve them. Or if he's hauling some big engineering drawings or scale models to some community meeting, in the snow, up a hill, then having the option of driving would make the job much easier. I agree there's some irony, and an ideal candidate would bike a lot of the time, but it's more important to get someone who's great at navigating bureaucracy, not potholes.
2014-06-11 23:41:51
Patchan was the first and only one, and has been at the job since 2008. He took a position in Los Angeles. So, he's been at it for about 6 years, hardly very high turn over.
2014-06-12 12:11:39
Gah, my mind is not so great. I might be thinking of postings from other cities, since I have some bike blogs from other areas in my RSS
2014-06-12 13:35:36
If you really want the Job, what is stopping you from going and getting your drivers licence? You can understand why you would be required to have one. You don't actually think the city would put up with waiting for you to cycle yourself from place to place throughout your workday.
2014-06-12 15:32:53
No, I don't understand. My employer certainly does not require me to have a drivers' license. No job should require you to have a drivers' license, unless driving a vehicle *is* the job. If there is something about the job of "Bike/Ped Coordinator" requires driving, the city should continue following the Bike/Ped Coordinator's recommendations until that is no longer the case. If this is some kind of general requirement for getting a job with the city, that is frankly deplorable.
2014-06-12 21:59:51
A to B in the city limits shouldn't be such a long ride. And if your job is to advance the agenda in so many ways to make it easier and safer to get from A to B without using cars, it seems logical that you should know what you're starting with. In as many cases as possible. And details matter. Even small details in key locations can easily make the difference between something basically usable and something that's not. You have to be going slow enough to see it. You have to know the "feel" coming into these locations for someone on foot or bike. You have to be able to stop off to the side and take a closer look, maybe even pictures. Driving gives you none of this. So while it may make for some shorter transit gaps from A to B and the ability to cram in more meetings, what does it leave you to say in those meetings if used overwhelmingly? What does it say about your level of belief and commitment to what you're doing? I don't trust those who won't drink their own kool-aide. And how much do these speculative cases really apply? With enough high vis gear, blinkies, trailers, and sheer doggedness, I'm not sure they do at all. It just feels like a copy/paste job requirement is all. One I dispute the essential nature of, frankly.
2014-06-12 22:19:24
Very well put. Any time I've ever had a conversation about bike/ped issues, it is immediately obvious whether the other person "gets it" or not - and that is almost completely dependent on what their primary mode of transportation is. I think the credibility issue is also important - I don't know Steve well, but when I do see him he is generally riding his bike. Same with the bike-pgh staff, I wouldn't have much faith in them if I saw them driving around all the time instead of riding.
2014-06-13 00:23:44
@Steven "The position might sometimes involve taking routes unsafe for cyclists or pedestrians, in order to improve them. Or if he’s hauling some big engineering drawings or scale models to some community meeting, in the snow, up a hill, then having the option of driving would make the job much easier. I agree there’s some irony, and an ideal candidate would bike a lot of the time, but it’s more important to get someone who’s great at navigating bureaucracy, not potholes." This sounds like a car-centric approach. Hopefully the incoming person will have a more cycle friendly attitude, and carry the models, drawings, etc. by bike. In any weather, on any road. They should view the world as a cyclist would, not a bureaucrat. Tom Murphy was the last person who really "got it". The new person should try to be always on a bike. No matter what the job requirements say.
2014-06-13 06:47:07
I don't think that the bike-ped coordinator has to be bike exclusive. I agree on most points steven made. It also doesn't say they need a car, just a license. I can see travel as part of this role. Maybe attending conferences in other cities, maybe needing to get a rental car, a zip car, or maybe needing to travel to the suburbs or outlying city neighborhoods for meetings. Rain / Snow / Sub-zero temperatures are a reality here, and so is the need to conform to standards of professional dress and appearance when meeting with clients. I don't see requiring a drivers license as some radical thing for a job that may require a lot of travel. Understanding things from a motorists perspective in addition to a cyclist and pedestrian perspective is also essential to this job. I think that many decision makers and stakeholders would be turned off at taking advice about street design from someone who wouldn't be affected as a driver at all because they can't legally drive. Considering the mode share of bikes and peds is still extremely heavily skewed towards motor vehicles. Do you want to have a bike-ped coordinator that is dismissed by some people (however unfair that may be) based on that? I don't. Sure, the ideal candidate would bike frequently, but I'd rather they not be handicapped so that they have the freedom to use whatever transit mode they deem appropriate to get where the need to go, considering the reality of the weather, distance, time constraints, and expectations of professional appearance. So, Is requiring a drivers licence overreaching? I don't think so.
2014-06-13 09:16:14
If you're talking about street design, you would want someone with driving experience. That is certainly a reasonable statement. How can we expect drivers and cyclists to work together if the people in charge do not have both perspectives. It seems to me that some of you here take offense to the fact that people need to drive. If I was hiring someone to work in the city and I knew that they might have several appointments in one day, why in the world would I chose someone who can't drive? It certainly wouldn't be an efficient use of city (taxpayer) funds to wait around for people to cycle themselves around the city. It would definately cut into productivity. I'm not stating that our pro-cycle efforts are not good efforts, but simply trying to add a bit of common sense. It's not as if you need to have a four-year college degree to get a drivers licence.
2014-06-13 10:23:25
I'm with @Italianblend on this. Getting around from one part of town to another by car is occasionally a requirement, such as to drive some decision maker out to some spot to take a first-hand look at a problem, and discuss matters on the way there and back. More than that, though, I think it highly desirable that the leading candidates be both regular on-road cyclists and transit users. Every transit user is a pedestrian for a goodly bit of some neighborhood or piece of a commercial district on both ends of every journey. Not having that fresh, routine experience -- i.e., not "I rode a bus a whole lot when I was in college 15 years ago" -- is a liability. Not being on a bike several times a month -- in traffic, routinely navigating streets and merge points -- makes the person an outsider.
2014-06-13 11:23:06
"the city should continue following the Bike/Ped Coordinator’s recommendations until that is no longer the case." Bike ped dude (non gender specific dude) = "hey city... I have a a metting in xyzville that is 22 miles away but would take 6 hours each way on public transit... I cant attend the meeting until you fix things" city = "that involves PAT and federal dollars and funding at xxxxxx" Bike ped dude (non gender specific dude)="I guess Ill just ride there" This fake conversation would happen in February... when its -10 degrees out. The meeting is at 3pm, so the ride home will be on icy dark roads. It sucks, but sometimes you have to play by their rules. Nobody is forcing anybody without a license to apply for the job.
2014-06-13 11:31:25
If the job responsibilities including transporting other people then I can absolutely see the need for a motor vehicle license. You're not going to get too many decision makers to ride the bus out there or join you on a tandem. So far, that's the most plausible and least escape-able/ameliorate-able justification I've heard (people do bike in Minneapolis in winter, a surprising large number, actually). I'm not sure that the responsibilities do include transporting others mind you and I do think it's probably in there as a copy/paste requirement, but it's more than plausible enough for me now to relent. It was always more a matter for amusing/ironic speculation than something that deeply matters... getting a license isn't exactly hard, it's way too easy. Again, good luck to someone on the boards.
2014-06-13 14:15:20
What if the job seeker uses a wheelchair? Would this disqualify them because they dont ride their bike in traffic on a regular basis? No. We need a person with good communication and political skills that can fight to make our streets safer. How they decide to get around is not nearly as important as their ability to change minds and secure funding.
2014-06-13 18:04:27
Maybe the bike/ped coordinator will have to go to a conference in a far away city, so they should be required to have a pilot certificate just in case they need to fly there. I'm astounded at the sheer variety of job requirements being dreamed up here in order to justify this completely bullshit requirement to have a drivers' licence.
2014-06-13 21:18:45
Well then, here's one more for you to scoff at. :-) We want infrastructure that will encourage novices to cycle (because more cyclists means more safety for all). Someone with only moderate cycling skills and experience will be better able to see what's keeping non-experts from biking. By contrast, someone who has always biked everywhere exclusively will have a harder time getting into the heads of novices and figuring out infrastructure that makes them ride more. An aspiring or part-time bike commuter would be a better fit, someone making the same "Should I ride today?" decisions as the riders we want to encourage. And here's a bonus reason: The bike/ped coordinator needs to be familiar with traffic regulations that govern how bikes, cars, and pedestrians are to interact. And getting a driver's license indicates ones' mastery of this subject.* * Or that you could find the room where they give the test. I forget which.
2014-06-14 00:27:36
I was just going to post that... Transit rider too, I like the guy already. Steven - I can pretty much guarantee I know the vehicle laws better than the vast majority of the people who drive full time, and it has nothing to do with some cursory license test I took 25 years ago. I will begrudgingly admit that having some driving experience might make a bike/ped coordinator more effective at their job, but it is still not enough of a factor to make it a requirement. What about Marco's comment? I think someone who uses a wheelchair would make a great candidate, and they may not be able to drive (or ride a bike, but I'm much more comfortable with a full time pedestrian in the role than a regular driver). What about a blind candidate? It is a pointless requirement, and one that is often used in a discriminatory fashion, which is a big reason I find it so offensive. I think it should be illegal, unless there is some clear need to drive while performing the job... by which I mean "bus driver" or similar, not "well, they might have to do some thing where they might want to drive". Aside from the experience behind the wheel angle, no one has produced a single scenario where driving is required to do this job.
2014-06-14 10:44:18
@salty, In light of the above article; how about we start a drive to require "must own and ride a bicycle" as a job requirement to all city leadership positions instead of fighting to get "must have a divers license" removed from the bike/ped coordinators job requirements. It would make just as much sense - but with a better outcome.
2014-06-14 11:26:57
I say that a company or in this case, a city, has every right to put whatever requirements they want on a job. It's not discrimination. A drivers licence is available for every citizen to have if they want it. The description even allows for people to apply for one and have one at the time of employment. If you want the job, then get a licence. It's not like they are going to require you to use it in your free time. Any employee for the state including teachers have to submit a load of documents such as criminal checks, etc. it comes with any job. This is no different and is quite relevant to the job.
2014-06-14 11:39:10
Marco - that is a false dichotomy. Getting the requirement removed makes plenty of sense. What better example of auto-dependence can you give than requiring a driver's license for a bike/ped position? In the larger social context, I find the whole thing offensive. You're allowed to deny someone a job just because they ride the bus or a bike, and plenty of employers appear to do it. So, the city should set a better example, especially for a position like this. Combine the pathetically low minimum wage and the high cost of car ownership and someone is expected to spend half their income getting to work? The fact that a bunch of cyclists are even arguing this point depresses the hell out of me.
2014-06-14 11:47:15
I agree that a wheelchair user would bring some great experience to the job, and that good communication and political skills are more important than specific experience in each of the modes. But if we have a selection of candidates, all with comparable skills in the actual job requirements, personal experience with multiple means of transport would be a nice bonus. I think you're right that a driver's license shouldn't be an automatic requirement, assuming the candidate can do whatever the job requires without one. But a candidate who's spent time on a bike and on foot and behind the wheel and maybe even in a wheelchair would bring some useful perspective to a job that, I imagine, frequently requires balancing different needs. For instance, if the candidate is arguing with some folks that Penn Avenue should get a bike path, I'd like him or her talking confidently about what's it's like to bike there now, or to drive there now, or to catch a bus there. high cost of car ownership The city doesn't require that you own a car, though. Just that you prove you know how to use one.
2014-06-14 12:13:23
Is this an indication that BIG OIL is in control ?
2014-06-16 05:31:04
@ italianblend " It seems to me that some of you here take offense to the fact that people need to drive." I tend to find the phrase "need to drive" a red flag. The vast majority of people who use it do not, in fact, need to drive. The facts are they are shortening their lives with lack of exercise. They wrecking their finances by paying for an unnecessary, fithy dangerous toy. They are wrecking the environment and (IMO) promulgating oil wars. Their "need" for a car is a harmful delusion. @ italianblend " If I was hiring someone to work in the city and I knew that they might have several appointments in one day, why in the world would I chose someone who can’t drive? It certainly wouldn’t be an efficient use of city (taxpayer) funds to wait around for people to cycle themselves around the city. It would definately cut into productivity. " Uh? "certainly"? Dude, you are incorrect here. There is nothing certain about that. I work at Mercy Hospital - whenever we've had meetings on the Northside or Oakland, I'm always the first one back in the office - because I ride a bike instead of wasting time and money messing around with a car. And my fame for being a very slow bicycle rider is justified, too. The bike-pedestrian coordinator would mostly downtown, yes? The place where they pay good money for bike messengers who are faster than the cars. Hell, I'm faster than cars downtown during business hours. Almost any cyclist is. Why would you allow them to slow themselves down carrying all that metal around with them? It's possible, due to the pathetic shape of public transportation and the bicycle infrastructure, that there would be meetings somewhere outside the city that having a car might save some amount of time- but would be enough to make up for being stuck in traffic and parking, etc? Doubtful. While it is justified for a city to have requirements for a job, it the right - and even a duty - for the citizenry to protest if those requirements were formulated by a jackass, which seems to be the case here.
2014-06-16 13:19:56
What if the bike coordinator needed to use a city vehicle to haul things for an event? Yes, he could take a trailer and such. I drive a car and ride a bike (both very regularly) and I don't seem to hate myself as much as I should I guess. There are bigger fish to fry in this town when it comes to car drivers and bicycle riders. Let's focus our attention on those problems.
2014-06-16 15:48:47
I'm just not buying that a bike from mercy hospital to the north side would be quicker than a car hopping on the boulevard of the allies, exiting 579 at grant street, and over the 16th street bridge. I think that most even here would agree with me. It's simply a 5 minute drive. Lets at least agree on that. Perhaps if this position was only downtown, I might say you would have some advantages on a bike. But you couldn't haul anything from site to site. I am imagining this position taking trails into account too. You might have to get from waterfront to point state park or millvale. I'm not making a political argument here. There's no need to call cars toys and tell all drivers they are unhealthy. I'm simply debating based on logistics and the right for a employer to require certain things from their employees.
2014-06-16 19:15:12
I’m just not buying that a bike from mercy hospital to the north side would be quicker than a car hopping on the boulevard of the allies, exiting 579 at grant street, and over the 16th street bridge. I think that most even here would agree with me. It’s simply a 5 minute drive. Lets at least agree on that.
I rode a lot of times Grant. If I follow the rules then I am on par with cars. If I filter then I usually bit them. If I am go sidewalks on red, use pedestrian X-ng then I can bit cars up to 4 lights without problems. If there is a traffic then it could be even more. PS Technology Drive to Tazza D'Oro on Tuesdays -- if I start at 5:45 pm than I am riding with Team Decaf at 18:15 without problems (signed in, instructed, talked to other participants). I usually start at 5:55-6:00 pm and join the ride near Highland and Station. If I want to go by car then I need around 45-50 minutes.
2014-06-16 19:47:10
@ Italian blend " It’s simply a 5 minute drive. Lets at least agree on that. " Yes, yes. Like almost every "5 minute " drive, it takes over 20 minutes. 5 minutes in non-delusional driver mode is about what it takes to get out of the multi-story garage.
2014-06-16 21:32:12
What about going to an meeting in mckees rocks about the east carson st viaduct? What about going to a meeting in brookline to meet with safe streets south hills? Riding out to homestead to attend a meeting of the steel valley trail council? What about going to perry hilltop in north side to meet with the north side bike ped committee? Oh, and this is winter, approaching darkness and there are 2 inches of snow on the ground, a glaze of ice over most of the roads and it's 5 degrees Fahrenheit. I'm not saying it's not doable, but not easy. What about in the summer, when there are some intense thunderstorms, which happen to start 10 minutes before you need to leave to be at a meeting 10 miles away? I don't think it's absurd that the bike/ped coordinator be required to have a drivers license so they would have the option to pick up a zip car downtown, drive their own car, or a city vehicle and attend one of these meetings in situations of more inclement weather. Especially important now that lyft and uber are threatend with a potential cease and desist from the PUC, who doesn't seem interested in negotiations.
2014-06-17 08:45:46
Transporting others was, and really still is the only case I can see where operating a motor vehicle comes across as strictly necessary, but actually, and thank you for the reminder, really only because there's no functioning taxi system in this town. Which not coincidentally is something I want a bike/ped coordinator very, very interested in speaking up about! I happily revert to my former fanaticism.
2014-06-17 09:51:59
Has anyone verified whether this is a real requirement *for the job* (seems unlikely), a requirement based on general hiring practices for a given city job category (seems quite plausible) , or merely a copy-paste blunder? My first job in tech(level 2 support) had the same requirement; it was so that I could rent a car if I was traveling to a customer site. If the position (or just the general pay grade) includes an expectation of travel, that would explain why a driver's license is expected. It's good to remember, stoopid policies and requirements are sometimes just the result of being pro-bureaucracy, not necessarily being anti-bike. Also, @marko's suggestion rocks:
how about we start a drive to require “must own and ride a bicycle” as a job requirement to all city leadership positions instead of fighting to get “must have a divers license” removed from the bike/ped coordinators job requirements.
2014-06-17 10:13:04
So, I was wrong about it being a bureacracy-as-usual thing. I called the application line, and spoke to some very nice folks. The license requirement is not a copy-paste or a mistake; the position is expected to include travel to various places to work with engineers, inspect facilities and infrastructure, go to conferences, etc.; so, the city requirements for such jobs include a drivers license, with the caveat (per the job posting)that special exemptions under ADA may be applied for.
2014-06-17 10:27:46
Travel to outside sane biking range, inside of driving range, that has to be solo, AND with the expectation that someone be back to Pittsburgh without an overnight in-between? Pretty specific requirement, that. Maybe really there, maybe not. Otherwise, nothing wrong going with a compatriot, and there are busses you know. Granted you might not enjoy your fellow travelers... Fanaticism is a fun hobby. As for the application requirement within the city that someone ride a bicycle, I think the ADA might have something to say about that. But while we're in la la land, I'd say I'd settle for that as an exemption but the requirement be there for a few roles in the city closely associated with traffic planning. Also for roles at (cough) Penndot (cough).
2014-06-17 11:32:20
Like almost every “5 minute ” drive, it takes over 20 minutes. 5 minutes in non-delusional driver mode is about what it takes to get out of the multi-story garage.
This is pretty accurate estimate. :) When I go home it takes 5 minutes to get to my car (from my desk) and drive out of our garage. It takes another 6-8 minutes to get Fort Pitt Bridge (depends on traffic lights). It's one minute shorter than to get freeway entrance on Grant. This is from Technology Drive. Reverse route back in addition and it would be roughly equivalent to ride from Mercy to north side. Around 20-22 minutes. Grant has at least 5 lights.
2014-06-17 12:33:58
"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject" - Somebody who probably isn't Winston Churchill, but is generally attributed to him, at least on the Wikipedia page for fanaticism.
2014-06-17 12:55:52
Can we put that in as a job requirement?
2014-06-17 14:05:48
OK, spanned a page break. Was referring to Benzo's quote “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject”
2014-06-17 14:26:24
It does not surprise me that the job description for a professional planning position in the City includes a requirement not only for a valid drivers license, but a valid PA drivers license. For one thing, it enables use of City vehicles, and is a probable requirement for insuring the driver in that City vehicle. While it may not be absolutely essential for the completion of the ped/bike job responsibilities, I can see real benefit to the organization as a whole....oh, a meeting with DPW? Can you bring xyz (person or thing) with you? And have you seen the meeting stacking that can happen? Be in council meeting at 10, another meeting at noon, somewhere else that afternoon...all with potential need for 'stuff' including city property that needs to be protected through the day's events. More importantly, it would relieve the supervisor of the next Steve from any coordination hassles....that could be time and energy intensive. I suspect any city employee required to participate in meetings and events outside the office is required....for convenience, insurance and uniformity of policy. I don't have a problem with the requirement.
2014-06-18 11:08:20
I (as other people in this thread have noted) imagine any higher-level city planning/governmental type of job will likely require frequent cross-state travel (to Philly, Harrisburg, other major cities, etc) for the purposes of legislating and the such. In fact, most job descriptions I've come across that contain a 'driver's license requirement' are not weeding out plebs who don't own or operate vehicles, but rather are indicating the position requires significant further-than-intracity travel.
2014-06-18 16:04:27
I give up. Hooray for cars! No wonder our society is so wonderful.
2014-06-18 20:10:46
Is the language really necessary? Many people rely on cars to get to work. And what do you expect the elderly to do? Certainly you don't expect 70 year olds to bike themselves all over the city in sub zero weather. It's great to have a noble cause and all that, but a dose of reality wouldn't hurt either.
2014-06-18 20:56:34
No, the language was exactly as necessary as cars are.
2014-06-18 21:30:30
You've already proven how out of touch you are with reality, no need to keep repeating yourself.
2014-06-19 01:18:52
I've spent plenty of time living the "reality" of car-dependence. I do truly appreciate the condescension, though.
2014-06-19 03:00:08
I will bet you anything that's just standard footer language that is cut and pasted into just about every single job the City posts. I wouldn't look too much into it.
2014-06-19 07:04:38
This thread is a good reminder about why I rarely post here any more.
2014-06-20 12:50:07