Pittsburgh Bike Score: 39.714 out of 100
My personal thoughts: The Burgh map mashup is kind of interesting when you click the tabs along the bottom (Lanes, Hills, Destinations, Commuters). Lanes and Hills are quasi-objective, destinations is very subjective. Doesn’t even show, for instance, the nation’s longest rail trail from Pgh to DC.
IMO it’s quite a lot of qualitative wags masked in digital quantitative presentation. I mean, 39, that’s pretty specific, much better than a 37, right?
But it’s a snazzy-wow press release, timed to make the local Sunday papers over the (hopefully) news-starved holidays with a local hook for their national agenda which is drive less live more and so I like these guys, but I can’t get too wrapped up in the 39 vs. Cincinnatti’s 37.
Anonymous 12/18/2012 at 6:17pm #
My home address (in Western Squirrel Hill) shows up as a 56, woohoo!
Looks like a nice, slick version of a grad student’s GIS project, minus a lot of truly useful datasets.
It would have helped their cause to have a tab with links to more local data. For example, this.
Its being restricted to strict city limits is woefully inadequate. Why stop at the 40th St Bridge? Is Millvale a pointless destination?
I got a 67! (even higher for walking).
 good points about the data…I live close to the two cyclist fatalities on Penn Ave.
plus, they seem to mark flatness as a high point, which I know bores a lot of riders, so….
Pretty much all the red in the bike score map matches the red in the terrain map. So it just reflects we’ve got some hills. Yeah, and balls too. Live with it.
My house in the Slopes has a walk score of 77 and a bike score of 29.
More bike ramps on city steps, maybe?
I suspect the authors have never heard of named staircase streets by the hundreds.
Cincinnati has a bunch of those, too, right?
Or know anything about Pittsburgh. Penn Ave, where two cyclists died this year, is yellow, while many suburban but hilly areas like Squirrel Hill North, Greenfield, and Morningside are red. Not to mention downtown being almost green.
note that pittsburgh was the number 3 most-voted-for city. pretty impressive on that front.
They’re pretty transparent about the data they used and how they used it. Certainly there’s (plenty of) room for improvement but it’s certainly not obvious how staircases (?) or anomalous events like fatalities would be properly factored in to any score. Also SF has plenty of hills and their map isn’t all red.
PS: Sq. Hill hasn’t been “suburban” since 1868.
The Pittsburgh Board of Trade called the East End “the world’s most beautiful suburb” in 1907:
The PDF of the book is pretty great, and full of mustachio’d hipster-capitalists:
As much of this country has been built out into a hellish sprawlscape, what we call suburbs has changed.
And, more importantly, this would make a great logo for someone’s new hipster bar, Up-Town (it’s in the public domain now!):
“The East End District may be defined specifically as that portion of the business and residence section bounded by Craig street, Point Breeze. Highland Park and Squirrel Hill, and comprises a population of over 200,000.”
Sq. Hill was annexed by the city in 1868… I’m not sure if it was still referred to as “sub-urban” afterwards, but I certainly agree that it (as well as Greenfield and Morningside) bears almost no resemblance to Cranberry, Robinson, etc.
“Suburban” is a relative, as opposed to absolute, term. In the New York area, merely having detached housing, even near a subway station, will get your city neighborhood described as suburban. I think that’s closer to the historical meaning of the term, before the “suburb” as a separate municipality that didn’t want to pay city taxes became common. On the other hand, in many cities, there’s plenty of suburban sprawl within the core city limits, especially in the sunbelt, like Houston or San Diego.
@alankhg – thanks for posting the link to that pdf — I just skimmed it for the pictures, and what a treasure trove of info (not to mention display of wealth). There are even some images of the Luna Park amusement complex that used to be in the area where Pittsburgh Filmmakers now is.
My point was that if it is just a map of where it’s flat, which is what it seems to be, they should have been able to do better. It’s not very insightful to say Pittsburgh is hard to bike in because it’s hilly.
Anonymous 12/19/2012 at 4:43am #
Keeping an eye on where it’s flat and flat-ish is useful in the sense that it’s a heuristic for where, with separated infrastructure, you can most easily get people who might not have thought of biking to give it a try.
I think most people who aren’t young and/or fit need to get hooked before they’ll even consider taking a real hill on bike.
Not that we needed this map for that. But anyways.
Hills aren’t everything. Minneapolis and Tucson both scored high on this. Sure, they’re dead level, but it takes some know-how to deal with -30 winters and 110 summers. The people there can’t just stay home four months out of the year.
And what about San Francisco, which is hilly? And Seattle, which I understand is the same way?
I don’t know — maybe they have better data there. All I can say is, I was biking around in Mt. Washington Sunday, which is red on the map, and thought it was pretty nice — once you get up there. I deliberately avoid Penn Ave., where two cyclists were killed this year, and is yellow on the map. And I never like riding downtown, which is almost green on the map. But when I compare the hilliness of those areas to their rating on the map, there’s a perfect match.
San Francisco is not as hilly as Pittsburgh. They have a wall but everything else is flat. Pittsburgh is almost never flat. That said, the score is not just based on hills. The score also does not take into account local knowledge but requiring local knowledge probably means your city is not as bike accessible as you see it.
This “BikeScore” thingy made the “highlight” lineup in an online publication called “Builder Pulse”, that is targeted to the construction industry, those generally more interested in $/sq.ft., retail demographics, and pickup trucks. So, notable.
To be fair, the publication does throw a pretty wide net on issues, but being fair isn’t as much fun as snarky.
It’s harder to algorithmically account for the nice biking experience on narrow neighborhood backstreets, which great to bike on with no bike lane, compared to riding in 4 feet striped off with paint on a 55mph arterial like the “bike lanes” in much of the country. If a dataset of narrow low-speed neighborhood streets with low traffic volumes and speeds were integrated into their scores, it’d be very helpful to older Midwestern cities that haven’t put in explicit bike infrastructure, but still have traditional interconnected street grids so you don’t need to ride on gigantic arterials to get between neighborhoods.
I’d say many of the areas marked off in red on the BikeScore map aren’t all that good for utility biking, either. But most folks on Bike Pittsburgh don’t live in the red areas. They might also be averaging “bike score” by unit of area, as opposed to where people actually live, and Pittsburgh’s population is a lot more patchy than a lot of cities, between the unbuildable hillsides and semi-abandoned neighborhoods like Hazelwood, Lincoln-Lemington, and parts of the North Side.
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