Council District 7 Candidate: Tony Ceoffe
1. Do you use a bicycle (or walk) in the city? If so, for what purposes (commuting, recreation, errands) and how often?
As a resident of Lawrenceville, I have the opportunity of calling an incredibly walkable district, home. My family lives a block off of the main business district in our neighborhood and appreciate being able to walk to all of the amenities in Lawrenceville. When visiting restaurants, shops, parks or community events and meetings, I try to walk as much as possible. As my three year old daughter prepares for biking (without training wheels), I look forward to using the biking trails with her and my wife for exercise and recreation.
2. What roles do you think city council can play in making cities safe, accessible and friendly for biking and walking?
City Council plays a crucial rule in ensuring that our city is safe and accessible for pedestrians and those biking in our neighborhoods. As an advocate and a legislator, our council members have a responsibility to ensure our streets are safe and are not an obstruction for those choosing to use more environmentally friendly means of transportation. If elected in November, I am committed to working with my colleagues on council, the administration, and BikePgh to advocate for increased bike lanes, signage and traffic calming measures. We must also work with our zone commanders and officers to ensure we are enforcing legislation that has been enacted to keep bicyclists safe, such as PA’s 4 foot buffer law.
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?
Many of the neighborhoods in council district 7 have experienced a renaissance over the past few years. With this transformation comes the opportunity for responsible development in our business districts that focuses on creating and maintaining bike and pedestrian friendly communities. As people visit our city or move from one neighborhood to another, transportation options, including safe access to bike lanes becomes an important part of the decision making process in many cases. When working with developers in district 7, I will encourage the implementation of traffic calming measures, pedestrian bump-outs and will incorporate bike safety concerns into projects happening in our neighborhoods.
Bloomfield, in district 7, received the first on-street bike infrastructure in our city in over twenty years, and was the first neighborhood to have green bike lanes implemented to help minimize confusion on heavily traveled thoroughfares and to keep pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists safe. It is imperative that we focus on creating connectivity between our neighborhoods and develop a safe means of travel for those who live, work and play throughout our city.
One of the most exciting projects currently being developed in district 7 is the Green Boulevard plan that will link several of our neighborhoods together and create much needed access to our riverfronts. One of the most advantageous aspects of this project is that it allows for the creation of connectivity from Downtown along the riverfront through the Strip District, Lawrenceville and Highland Park, and will allow for premium, responsible and safe bike and pedestrian infrastructure.
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 its 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?
I would proudly showcase the Green Boulevard project as it will successfully connect many of our city neighborhoods. This plan allows for safer trails for residents that use bicycles as their primary source of transportation when commuting to work downtown and when utilizing amenities in our district 7 neighborhoods. As a community advocate, I have a track record of maintaining a very hands-on approach when addressing issues in our neighborhoods. I will gladly attend the conference along with our staff in the District 7 Council Office.
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 have experienced first hand the issues facing pedestrians when aggressive drivers fail to yield in appropriate areas. Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield, Butler Street and Penn Avenue in Lawrenceville, Brereton Street in Polish Hill, and North Negley Ave and North Highland Avenue in Highland Park are heavily traveled thoroughfares that experience these very issues. I am committed to working with Commanders Holmes and O’Connor to create strategic public safety plans for each of our diverse neighborhoods in district 7 and to secure funding as a means to place more officers on our streets to ensure enforcement and a safer environment for our residents that bike and walk.
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.
The Allegheny River Green Boulevard plan will be an asset to the city and in particular to District 7 as it creates access to our riverfronts, connectivity between the neighborhoods, a safe travel option for residents and the opportunity for responsible development for the riverfront communities like Lawrenceville and The Strip District. As a resident, I have been a vocal supporter of this plan and look forward to fostering a strong relationship between our residents, developers, the URA and BikePgh to ensure that we maximize the potential this project has to offer. Increased bike and pedestrian traffic also provides the opportunity for economic growth for small business owners. As a community leader, I will fully support responsible initiatives that provide safety, access to our riverfront and greater economic opportunities for e stakeholders in our communities.
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 most pressing issue facing walkers and bicyclists in our neighborhoods is vehicle traffic and aggressive drivers. As a member of council, I will work with our police officers, resident driven organizations, and non-profits to identify areas of concern and ensure that education and enforcement are a priority when addressing transportation safety. As I stated before, we must also engage developers from the start of any new projects in our communities to create a partnership that focuses on a safer bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
8. What are your ideas for securing funding sources for biking and walking projects?
We must work alongside our elected officials at the state and federal level to advocate for additional funding sources. At the city level, we must take a proactive approach at identifying nonpublic funding sources for assistance and work together to create a sustainable long-term funding plan when crafting future budgets. To be competitive when seeking nonpublic and foundation funding, it is imperative that we work together with BikePgh, neighborhood community development corporations, and resident driven organizations to showcase the great work we have already accomplished when addressing bicycle safety at a local level and create aggressive proposals that set our city apart from others vying for funding.
9. In conclusion, why do you think people who care about bicycling and walking issues should vote for you?
Through my work with the many resident driven organizations in our neighborhoods, I have developed a keen understanding of the issues most important to our neighbors. I have a proven track record of commitment to tackling the quality of life issues that our residents face. To be an effective representative, you must understand how our neighborhoods work from the ground up. I am committed to making Council District 7 a leader in pedestrian and bike friendly approaches when addressing community development. I fully intend to use my position on City Council to advocate for the issue most important to the residents that I represent. Your concerns will be my concerns.