Bike PGH! – Questions for Mayoral Candidates
*note: In no way does Bike PGH endorse any political candidate. These questions are meant to introduce Bike PGH to the candidates for Democratic Mayoral Nominee, get them thinking about bicycling issues in Pittsburgh, and provide our constituents with insights into the three major campaigns. The answers are listed in alphabetical order based on last name. The Democratic primary is Tuesday, May 17, 2005. If you are a registered Democrat make sure you get out and vote!
1. How do you envision the City of Pittsburgh adapting its infrastructure to make the streets & neighborhoods safer and more accommodating for all forms of transportation including bicycles?
Lamb: Traditionally, Pittsburgh has not been a bike-friendly city. Over the last 10 years, the city, many volunteers and non-profits have invested money and time developing a world-class system of trails. I will continue this investment, completing the Hot Metal Bridge pedestrian/bikeway and will work to complete the Pittsburgh section of the Great Allegheny Passage. I commend the Port Authority’s Rack’n Roll program, and encourage increased participation. Pittsburgh also has some bike lanes on city streets, but not enough. As mayor, I will work to increase bike lanes, and will stress to our drivers the need to safely share our roads.
O’Connor: Multi-modal transportation is vital to a thriving City. I will dedicate myself to working aggressively in Harrisburg for dedicated sources of transit funding. Existing bridge and road maintenance will be my first objective, followed closely by linking our economic centers of Oakland and Downtown. Getting people to and from work safely and efficiently is critical and transit is vital to that end. True Multi-modal transportation is an expansive undertaking. I will actively serve on the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC), where I will use my previous experience as Governor Rendell's SPC representative, to fight for funding necessary to create, maintain, and upgrade a multi-modal transportation system.
Peduto: There is a limited amount of money coming into the region for transportation, roughly $33 billion over the next 20 years. We as a City, and more importantly as a region, must prioritize these funds. First we must fix the current transit problem; we need to create a dedicated funding source for public transportation in the region. Second, we need to focus on a multi-modal transportation network. With proper prioritization of funds, there exists a great opportunity to connect Hazelwood, the Second Avenue Tech Corridor, Oakland, Baum-Centre, Bloomfield, Lawrenceville, the Strip District, and downtown, by a transit system using existing rail lines. I support funding transportation systems that solve today’s problems.
In terms of accommodating bicycles in the City, some areas have the potential for "European" sidewalks with painted areas for bikes. Additionally, there needs to be an effort to create bicycle only lanes in certain areas that tie into the existing biking infrastructure (i.e. trails) to create greater connectivity throughout the City. I have been the most dedicated local elected official in terms of supporting bicyclists in the City of Pittsburgh, and will continue to do so as Mayor.
In addition, smart urban growth is dependant on the support of pedestrian traffic, smart transportation, and connectivity. I would create more prominent pedestrian “way finding” signs to promote and ease pedestrian traffic throughout the downtown quadrangle.
2. As mayor, would you consider appointing a full-time bicycle planner to work on bike transportation issues?
Lamb: I will consider such an appointment. Pittsburgh will remain under Act 47 and the Oversight Committee for the next few years, and our Planning Department staffing has been sharply reduced. If our fiscal situation does not permit a full-time bicycle planner immediately, that function should be a shared one.
O’Connor: I know that any good organization begins and ends with quality people. My Administration will be comprised of professionals, not political hires. Effective, efficient and modern management will be applied to City Government and its personnel. Not all of these items will be achievable overnight; however, they must all be placed upon the table for discussion and will receive my full attention.
Peduto: Given the City’s current financial difficulties, we would not be able to hire a person solely responsible for bicycle planning. However, our City has excellent transportation planners and I would work with them to make sure that bicycle planning took a more prominent role in our general transportation plan.
3. What connections do you see between economic opportunity, urban revitalization, and incorporating the bicycle as a viable form of transportation?
Lamb: As Richard Florida notes in the “Rise of the Creative Class,” Pittsburgh must develop more opportunity for young, creative entrepreneurs, and this includes more recreational opportunity. Developing Pittsburgh as a great bike city is a great economic tool that we can use to market Pittsburgh.
O’Connor: People not only work in great cities, they also live there. Pittsburgh must once again be a destination where people not only want to work, but live. Residential development is critical to our long-term success. I will work tirelessly in our 88 neighborhoods to bring about a revolution in our housing stock. I will work to ensure we have a clean, safe and attractive community. The City must work with the Allegheny County Department of Development, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development to ensure that all our activities are coordinated and complimentary, especially regarding multi-modal transportation projects.
Peduto: Pittsburgh is fortunate to have breathtaking views and natural beauty. The City must take new steps to provide opportunities for outdoor recreation within downtown. We need to create easier access to downtown’s 8.5 miles of riverfront, to allow for greater opportunities along the water. Additionally, numerous opportunities exist for new outdoor activities including climbing walls on abandoned bridge piers. The City must partner with organizations like Venture Outdoors and Bike Pittsburgh to provide recreational programs on a daily basis. Additionally, the City must complete the extension of the Eliza Furnace Trail to Point State Park, and the extension of bike/walking paths from Point State Park up the Allegheny River. Pittsburgh must embrace all of its’ natural assets in the revitalization of downtown.
4. Have you supported any initiatives or bills that address bicycle and pedestrian issues in the City? If so can you tell us a bit about them?
Lamb: The Office of the Prothonotary does not lend itself to introducing legislation. As mayor I will be an advocate for bikes, public transit and pedestrians.
O’Connor: As council president, I supported putting more beat cops on the street, worked to improve pedestrian crosswalks with help from PennDot, and fought to enact the Clean Streets Program. I will continue efforts already underway to build new housing units in our 88 neighborhoods to bring about a revolution in our housing stock. Blighted properties and slum landlords must be confronted aggressively and resolved expediently. I will work to ensure we have clean, safe, and attractive communities. Good transportation is vital to the city's present and future greatness. Without clean, safe streets our residential development opportunities are limited.
Peduto: Since taking office, I have been a vocal advocate for the installation of bike racks throughout the City, and I have supported the continuation of the Eliza Furnace trail, and bike/walking paths along the riverfronts. Furthermore, I supported “Bike to Work Week”, and sponsored both “Venture Outdoors Week” and Pedal Pittsburgh.
5. How would you characterize the overall health of Pittsburghers and our environment? As mayor, what would you do to help improve the health of the people and our environment?
Lamb: Pittsburgh has come a long way from the smoky days of the 1950’s but still has a way to go to gain full attainment of national air quality standards. I will work with environmental organizations and our corporate community to tackle our air quality. Pittsburgh’s water and green space are great assets, and we must vigilantly protect them.
O’Connor: Health care organizations in Pittsburgh are among the best in the world. The best medicine is preventive so we must educate our citizens about the quality of life issues associated with a healthy lifestyle. The health issue that Pittsburgh faces is that of our financial health. Pittsburgh faces no greater challenge than solving our fiscal crisis. Years of City mismanagement have created this fiscal crisis. We need the city, the Act 47 team, and the Oversight Committee to work cooperatively together. The financial health of Pittsburgh is similar to health of an individual; reduce fat with a better-managed operation and increase activity in the workforce.
Peduto: I believe that Pittsburghers should become more active in outdoor recreational activity. Enjoying Pittsburgh’s great natural assets and spending time outdoors has a positive impact on a person’s physical and mental health. I previously outlined several steps I would take as Mayor, to promote recreational activity as part of downtown’s redevelopment. In addition to those steps, I would create more prominent pedestrian “way finding” signs to promote and ease pedestrian traffic throughout the downtown quadrangle. Smart urban growth is dependant on the support of pedestrian traffic and connectivity.
6. Do you support Bike PGH's initiative of installing pedestrian-friendly bike racks along sidewalks in business districts around the city? The process to install these racks is very lengthy with much red tape to cut through. As mayor, would you pledge to review the bike rack installation process and work with Bike PGH, City Council and the Department of Public Works to streamline it?
Lamb: I fully support Bike PGH’s bike racks. They are a great asset to Pittsburgh, both functionally and esthetically. These efforts should be encouraged, and as mayor, I will work to streamline installation.
O’Connor: Yes, I support the installation of bike racks throughout the business district and pledge to work with Bike PGH, Council, and the city departments to streamline the installation process. As mayor, I will work aggressively to streamline the many agencies so they can and will work collectively and in concert.
Peduto: I have been involved with this project from the start and will continue to be an ardent supporter of the bike rack program. I believe that these racks are a positive addition to downtown and all neighborhood business districts. As Mayor, I would work with Bike Pittsburgh, City Council, and Public Works to improve the current approval process.
7. If you are elected, do you pledge to work with bicycle advocates in order to make Pittsburgh continuously safer, more accessible and friendly to bicycle transportation?
Lamb: Absolutely. Pittsburgh will be a bike-friendly city under my administration.
O’Connor: I will work with bicycle advocates and discuss any transportation issues put on the table. Pittsburgh needs more transportation options, multi-modal transportation including bicycles, pedestrian, wheelchairs, and other forms of wheeled vehicles. The Mayor must be a relationship builder and work cooperatively and successfully with others to turn this City around. Pittsburgh needs a Mayor who can pull this City together -- business, labor, non-profits; and work cooperatively with the County and Region. We must not be divided. Everyone has a role to play. I have the necessary experience and a viable working plan to put Pittsburgh on the right track. I have spent nearly 20 years successfully managing a $20 million company with over 1,000 employees. With foresight and hard work, we grew our business and with it we created jobs. That's what we must do in the City of Pittsburgh. We must grow our economy, create jobs and make the City a destination for people to live and work. That's the greatest challenge the next Mayor will face.
Peduto: During my term on City Council I have been an advocate for creating a safe, accessible, and friendly environment for bicyclists in Pittsburgh. As Mayor, I will continue to work with Bike Pittsburgh and other transportation advocacy groups to continue to promote that vision.