City Council District 3 Candidates respond to biking and walking issues
Since 2009, BikePGH has been educating our Members and facebook and twitter followers on how committed the candidates are to improving your experience and safety while walking and biking.
We’ve collected questionnaires from nearly every City Council candidate for the upcoming primary election in May. Locally, the primary election is often more important than the general election for determining who will represent Pittsburghers. If you are unsure what district you live in, please see the City’s website.
BikePGH is not allowed to endorse candidates. Answers have been lightly edited for formatting, otherwise these are their words.
Bike Walk Vote the Primary on Tuesday, May 21
What roles do you think City Council can play in making cities safe, accessible and friendly for residents to walk and bike?
Councilman Bruce Kraus
I believe City Council plays a significant role in developing walkable/bikeable neighborhoods because as more walkable/bikeable neighborhoods are developed we see that there are opportunities to realize benefits for the environment, an individual’s health, economic development, and real estate property values.
Walkable/bikeable communities foster a greater sense of safety and community. Walkable communities encourage fewer car trips and minimize air and noise pollution since residents can easily walk to anything they may need on a day-to-day basis.
The growth of walkable communities will continue as more young residents move into the real estate market, since the benefits of these communities are especially attractive to younger generations.
City Council pretty much dictates rule over the infrastructure governed, owned and operated by the city. Council in my opinion has presented a lot of great ideas and implemented some newer features to our city which makes it safer and more accessible, but I think the additions were far too expensive and not done as efficiently as they could have been.
We can lower the costs of these innovations and do a much better job engineering them. I believe we need to have a future-oriented approach to Pittsburgh’s progressiveness rather than being so abrupt and ineffective. That is the voice I wish to bring to the table.
The city can enact or fund some innovative approaches to mobility diversity. The topography of our city brings difficulties to many. In my district I had approached the Mayor about a proposal for a bike escalator to assist bikers to be able to get up the steep cliff face change in elevation between the Southside flats the the hilltop area. Like this one in Norway https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/trondheim-cyclocable . Crosswalks being painted in residential areas and using bump outs in some of our neighborhood business districts to keep pedestrians safer.
We’d like to hear your thoughts on the expanding bike lane network over the past decade. What’s working? Where can the City improve?
Councilman Bruce Kraus
We have done a great job of encouraging city residents to walk and bike. Access and expansion of our bike lane network is key to shifting mindset and culture. We will continue to work with residents and businesses to encourage alternate means of transportation and reducing traffic congestion and parking pressures.
The bike lanes were a great idea; however, they were not implemented effectively. The bike lanes should never have changed the faces of the already-congested roadways within the city. There are plenty of effective back-alley routes and sidewalks within the city and trails along the river fronts which already existed that would have been the optimal locations for the bike lanes.
The bike lanes themselves are not yet used to a very high capacity, but I think that can and will change as long as we make efforts to steer Pittsburgh green. The city can improve efforts to provide our residents with commodities such as bike lanes and greener infrastructure, but by doing so in less invasive ways.
There have been many positive strides in the expansion of the bike lane network with all the added miles of lane. To make biking as feasible as possible we need the infrastructure to serve and protect bikers this has been brought into sharp and sad focus with the deaths of cyclist in our city. A proposal for a neighborhood street on Wharton St seems to be a solution to make it safer to travel in South SIde, more of these should be developed. Better access for bike travel in park areas in the South to have better access from the Hilltop neighborhoods.
Unfortunately these efforts have been met with negative non-bikers in the city causing increase conflict in the already tense relationship on the road. I feel like the city could do better in negotiating and peacemaking between those seemingly disparate factions. I believe with greater options for mobility everyone wins but those that drive cars only see what is being “taken from” them and not understanding the gains.
There’s been some progress towards addressing the City’s public steps. What is still needed and what is not being addressed?
Councilman Bruce Kraus
Ensuring that city steps and roadways between the South Side and Hilltop neighborhoods are accessible for cyclists and walkers is a means of encouraging commercial and residential development in the Hilltop neighborhoods, as people find that these remarkable communities are only a short walk or ride from downtown and the South Side. Many of these stairways have become overgrown and fallen into disrepair, thus making them unsafe for use and limiting the ability of people to walk between the neighborhoods of the district. My staff and I have, and will, continue to work diligently with constituents to track the condition of city steps and address their repair and revitalization.
It depends which set of steps to which one is referring. Many of the city steps are fine cosmetically, but lack lighting or are in unsafe areas. Implementing safety features and lighting I think would be progressive, though there needs to be attention put on the sets of city steps that are crumbling and unsafe – especially in the winter when they get icy. We also would need to outline a comprehensive budget that is reasonable in order to address some of these concerns. If we are going to spend money doing so, we need to ensure that the money is going toward solving a significant problem and doing it correctly the first time.
District 3 has many, many, many city steps. I think the plan that the city is doing to prioritize steps is a good start, but we must dedicate ongoing funds to repair and replace the steps that need it. We should also look at the possibility of expanding uses of steps by adding bike lifts in conjunction with steps.
What’s a particularly dangerous problem or location in your district for walkers, bikers, or people with disabilities that you’d like to see addressed?
Councilman Bruce Kraus
I am excited that the PennDOT/City East Carson St. project to address unsafe conditions for pedestrians and bikers is underway, in large part because East Carson St. was found to be the sixth most dangerous stretch of road in the state for pedestrians, vehicles and bikers. Making such investments in our infrastructure will keep our streets safer for all and ultimately lead to healthy, vibrant and contributing business districts.
There are a lot of different answers to this question. I’ve mostly heard of burglaries and car thefts. All in all, my district is fairly safe and there are handfuls of criminals and dangerous people who we as a community need to become more vigilant of and responsive to. Working closely with police to increase response times for those who do present a significant danger to the public would be useful. I believe there are ways in which we can also improve public safety by investing in public security and surveillance systems including the implementation of smart technologies in order to help us detect and catch crime better. I, again, believe my knowledge of computer engineering can help me be this voice in council chambers.
Most of Arlington ave up to Allentown from Carson is hazardous especially at the intersection of PJ McCardle, my wife and I have advocated for a comprehensive plan between the SS Slopes, Mt Washington and allentown to address many issues on Arlington Ave. The section of Carson Street at station square near the T station, Bates and Blvd of the Allies
In conclusion, why do you think people who care about walking and bicycling issues should vote for you?
Councilman Bruce Kraus
I firmly believe that investments in cycling and walking as an alternative means of transportation are extremely important for the city on many levels – environmentally, economically, and as a matter of having a healthier population. These types of investments deserve the continued commitment of the city as they are crucial for the continued success of the city.
I want all of the same things that walkers and bikers want, but I believe the solutions are often much more complicated and require strenuous hours of time and effort in order to create. I am willing to be the one to invest my time and effort into these ventures for the safety and security of us all. Know that a vote for me is a vote for the well-being of the district because I will not stop working hard for you.
I will do everything to make our city great. I know that walkability and bikeability really make a city first class. The issue extends way past just bike lanes and good sidewalks and I will do everything in my power to bring creativity and innovation to Pittsburgh and do my best to be out in front of potential issues in the future.
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