Mayor Ravenstahl introduces new Bike/Ped Coordinator, Councilman Dowd announces “The Four E’s Initiative”

mayor ravenstahl and officials discuss a bike friendly pittsburgh

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Bike Pittsburgh Executive Director Scott Bricker, Port Authority CEO Steve Bland, and Councilman Patrick Dowd discuss a future bike-friendly Pittsburgh

During a Press Conference today at the jam packed Enrico’s Tazza D’Oro Coffee Shop in Highland Park, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl along with other officials announced their commitment to turn Pittsburgh into a “bike-friendly” and “world-class” city. Coffee shop owner Amy Enrico started the conference by talking about how bike-friendly communities can be a boon to small businesses as well as improving the quality of life of city residents.

She then passed the podium over to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who seemingly inspired by a recent trip to Amsterdam, gave a great speech about how bikeable and walkable communities are important components of a “world class city.” Noting that “we’re no Amsterdam,” he went on to talk about how the city will pursue a Complete Streets Legislation. It was also encouraging to hear the Mayor speak about how it should be easy for people to walk or bike to their local coffee shop, grocery store, or business district, and leave their cars at home. He stressed that considering the rising gas prices, this should be a high priority of the City, and will help out many of the city’s workers.

He then introduced the new Bike/Ped Coordinator, Stephen Patchan, to a rousing applause. With the help of Bike Pittsburgh, the Mellon Foundation, Patrick Hasset of Public Works, and Planning Director Noor Ismail, the City was able to hire this full time staffer to work on nothing but bicycle and pedestrian improvements. Every major city that is serious about making their streets safer and encouraging bicycling, has also made it a priority to have staff dedicated to this goal. Pittsburgh now has the distinction of being the first City in the state of Pennsylvania to hire a full time coordinator. Not bad for a city that also has the first drive-in gas station.

Up next was Councilman Patrick Dowd, who introduced his “Four E Initiative.” These four E’s, Education, Engineering, Enforcement, and Events, are what he says are to be used as a guide for how the City can encourage a bicycle friendly environment. During “events,” he mentioned how the city will explore ways to host national and international cycling events and explore closing down streets in the wildly popular ciclovia way to allow residents to see views of the city in ways they never had been able to before. He also went on to say that by 2009 or 2010, depending on how long it will take to get things done, “the City of Pittsburgh will officially apply for Bike Friendly status.”

patrick dowd interviewed

Councilman Patrick Dowd and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl being interviewed by the media

Up next was Port Authority CEO, Steve Bland. Mr Bland referred to this day and meeting as “an historic day for Pittsburgh.” He then went on to speak of the importance of encouraging multi-modal travel and integrating bicycling into the transit system. Noting that two-thirds of the buses have bike racks, he said “this is one-third too few,” and went on to discuss how 100 percent of the buses must have a bike rack in order for it to be a useful service.

The floor was then opened up to question and answer. Steve Bland was asked about bus driver education, and he replied that bicycling awareness is currently being added into the training and simulators. He also talked about how the T is now open to folding bikes during peak hours. Public Works Director, Guy Costa, mentioned at the meeting that East Liberty Blvd will soon be repaved, and re-engineered to accommodate bicyclists by removing a lane of automobile traffic to provide space for cycling and to slow cars down. He also talked about how the City will rehabilitate the sidewalk along Fifth Ave from the Birmingham Bridge to Craft Ave, a major connection for cyclists and pedestrians.

When the Mayor was asked if he’d start biking to work, he said that the hills scare him a bit, and he’s mostly into cycling as recreation, but we’ll see. Maybe with the new improvements, even he’ll start riding to work.

Below is some of the press that this announcement generated:

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