Council District 7 Candidate: Deb Gross
1. Do you use a bicycle (or walk) in the city? If so, for what purposes (commuting, recreation, errands) and how often?
Although I do not own a bike, my husband and I have been members of BikePGH several years. With two small children I have been navigating with a stroller or on foot nearly every day for the last seven (7) years.
2. What roles do you think city council can play in making cities safe, accessible and friendly for biking and walking?
People-oriented development of our walkways and bike lanes is key to making the city accessible for everyone. These neighborhoods were originally built for pedestrians. I strongly support infrastructure improvements to our roads and sidewalks to make walking and biking more accessible and safer.
3. In what ways can enhanced bicycling and walking facilities and opportunities benefit your district and the city as a whole? Are there any specific projects that you’d like to see accomplished?
District 7 is diverse, with thriving business districts, a lot of pedestrian activity, and cyclists. I would like to see more painted bike lanes, better bike lane management and maintenance, and improvement on the existing infrastructure within the District to increase the safety of our pedestrians and bikers. I would like to see the completion of the Allegheny River Boulevard, the East End Bikeway, and the River to River Bikeway.
Each project would allow East Enders to commute and conduct everyday activities in a safer, more efficient way. Additionally, completion of these projects would encourage more biking in our City and better access to our rivers.
4. Pittsburgh was chosen to host the 2014 Pro Walk/Pro Bike Conference, which is expected to draw 1,000 biking and walking planners, engineers, government officials, and advocates from around the country, the largest gathering of it’s kind. Their focus is on biking and walking as means of getting around, with less focus on recreation. If you could put one project in place to “show off” your district, what would it be? Will you direct your staff to attend the conference to further their professional development?
If elected, I will attend the conference. I have anticipated attendance of the conference for the last year because my husband is on the planning committee for the conference. My husband is an avid biker, who commutes to work by bicycle every day. I will definitely direct my staff to attend the conference to further their professional development, as well. If completed, I would like to showcase the Allegheny River Boulevard at the conference, particularly the currently undeveloped sections of the passage along the riverfront.
5. In just about every neighborhood throughout the city, one of the top concerns is drivers driving too fast, aggressively, and not yielding to pedestrians. What ideas do you have to calm traffic and make our neighborhoods safer and more comfortable in which to walk and bike? Feel free to talk about particular problem spots in your district.
I strongly support traffic-calming improvements in the City and especially in District 7. That is, I support adjusting our existing sidewalk, bike lane, and driving-lane infrastructure to improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. Liberty Avenue right off of the Bloomfield Bridge is just one of the many major problem areas for cyclists and pedestrian safety. I believe adding a painted bike lane in that area is just the first step to actually calming the massive amount of traffic that uses that intersection day-in and day-out. As a member of City Council I will be an advocate for funding streams to improve infrastructure for our pedestrian walkways and cyclist lanes (or lack thereof!).
6. Do you support the Allegheny River Green Boulevard? Briefly explain why or why not and what a councilperson’s role is in the project.
Yes, I support the Allegheny River Green Boulevard because I believe the project is a step toward institutionalizing green projects in the City. As a Councilperson, I believe it will be my responsibility to ensure that the project has an open dialogue with City residents as the project evolves and develops.
7. What do you think is the number one risk to walkers and bicyclists both in your district and the city as a whole? What will you do as an elected official to remedy it?
The biggest risk is safety, which is a combination of infrastructure, driving culture, and awareness about our cyclists. Infrastructure includes a gamut of safety concerns from potholes to separated bike lanes and poorly planned traffic patterns that are not safe for cyclists or pedestrians. The streets are particularly narrow in this City and although some maintenance and safety measures have been implemented—we must do more to improve the quality and condition of our roads to completely change the culture of driving in our City and raise awareness about the cyclists and pedestrian commuters on our streets. On Council, I pledge to create objective criteria for City-Services, like road paving and snow removal, to ensure that our infrastructure maintenance is as efficient and effective as possible.
8. What are your ideas for securing funding sources for biking and walking projects?
I will not be afraid to seek out funding from creative sources at the State and federal level. I have an experienced track record of fundraising and I know how to bring resources to projects through creative outreach, communications, and strategic fundraising efforts. In the past, I’ve raised over $3 million for Pittsburgh community projects, including a $2.5 million revolving loan fund for small manufacturing firms. I will bring this experience and skill set to City Council in November to secure funding for the completion of outstanding bicycle and pedestrian projects, as well as, the implementation of new projects.
9. In conclusion, why do you think people who care about bicycling and walking issues should vote for you?
My life’s work has been to create long-lasting improvements to the quality of life for the residents of our neighborhoods. I believe bicycling and walking issues are directly related to the livelihood of our neighborhoods. I am committed to ensuring and improving the safety of our cyclists and pedestrians and I will seek out creative funding streams for improvements to our City infrastructure, positively adjusting our driving culture, and raising awareness of cyclist and pedestrian issues.