Transportation
5:05 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Organizations Gather to Discuss Promoting Bike/Pedestrian Infrastructure

Pittsburgh's Bicycle/Pedestrian coordinator has the goal of doubling the number of bike racks in neighborhood business districts from the current 300 and making similar strides in growing the number of miles of on-street bike lanes from the current 20 miles. Those goals were set out this morning when more than 40 people representing a slew of different organizations gathered on the 31st floor of the Regional Enterprise Tower to discuss ways to promote, fund, and implement the construction of better bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in the urban center of Pittsburgh and the surrounding region.

Hosted by Advocacy Advance, the workshop brought together minds representing both policymakers and advocates to discuss how Pittsburgh can do better to increase alternative modes of transportation.

Eric Boerer, an advocacy director for Bike Pittsburgh was on hand to learn about how other metro-areas compare to Pittsburgh.

"We really like to look to other places to see how that happens and how they're able to get the political will to make that happen," Boerer said. "I think it's refreshing for a lot of organizations and agencies here to see that this isn't such a crazy idea."

Darren Flusche of the League of American Bicyclists put on a presentation discussing the unique ways communities can seek federal funding for bike/ped projects as state funding becomes harder and harder to find. He explained Pittsburgh is eligible for money from the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) to promote non-motorized commuting in areas with poor air quality.

Mavis Rainey from the Oakland Transportation Management Association was drawn to the workshop because she has seen a rise in interest from the Universities and businesses in Oakland that are in a constant battle for parking space.

She said it's time to take transportation focus off of cars only.

"For years and years the region, as well as the state of Pennsylvania, has been focusing on the automobile as the primary mode of transportation," Rainey said. "So when you start to see a lot of funding that will require biking amenities, that's a really positive step for the region."

Rainey feels the momentum growing for these types of projects but said the city still has a few challenges to face in funding and providing bicycle and pedestrian alternatives.

"I think one of the biggest barriers is the infrastructure — the topography that we have here in a lot of cases really creates a challenge — and then we have a lot of commuters here that travel from great distances, so biking still may not be a really viable option for folks," Rainey said.