Thursday, May 07, 2009

Green Cities report

Worth a look. Just out is a report from the Living Cities project on Green Cities which includes Pittsburgh in it's benchmarking. I see in the transportation section Pittsburgh looks to rank lowest in the percentage of income that working families spend on housing and transportation.


Blogger EdHeath said...

Local “working families” spent the lowest fraction of their income on housing of any of the cities looked, but the highest fraction of their income on transportation (according to the graph, although it adds the two numbers, 22% and 33%, incorrectly). I am not surprised by the low housing number, but a bit surprised by the high transportation number. I don’t see anything in that report that tells me when the study was done. There are a number of interesting questions that follow from what we don’t know. What is covered by the term “housing”, rent/mortgage or that plus property taxes, and utilities? How is the transportation cost figured out, the amount spent on gas and/or bus fares, or does that include vehicle costs in some fashion? What is the distribution of incomes across the 20,000 to 50,000 range for each city?

I wonder if the high number for Pittsburgh transportation was caused when PAT cut back on routes and schedules, eliminating some bus routes and cutting back on route frequency and even whole days (Saturdays and/or Sundays). For the 24/7/365 employees of the nursing homes scattered around the City and County, that could have forced them to buy an old clunker, to get them to work starting at midnight, or get them to work on Sundays. It would be easy to fall into the habit of just using the car after you had to pay for it, for the convenience. It is difficult to know whether those nursing home employees were a significant number of the working families with incomes between 20,000 and 50,000, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Skimming through the report, it is difficult to see what city governments can do to make their city’s greener. I mean, yeah, bio-diesel for the garbage and public works trucks, and for the school buses (not actually under Ravenstahl’s control). But one solar panel set up to heat water in one fire station? And the City is dragging its feet on an energy audit for the City County building. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t necessarily wait for the audit. The Mayor could talk to building maintenance and find out why the heat is on so high, and what needs to be done to fix it. Then he could order it done. The Mayor does not have to be helpless in this matter. Then at least the City would be setting an example for the citizens, and could start to pursue State and Federal grants for weatherization and insulation (or advocate for policy). The Mayor could ride a bike to work (his bodyguard could meet him at the office), following the lead of Bill Peduto.

Thursday, May 07, 2009 12:48:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

"...but the highest fraction of their income on transportation."

Probably because of Murphy's parking tax.

Thursday, May 07, 2009 1:05:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

Just fyi: Bike Pittsburgh has the answers from each of the candidates on whether they bike to work. See their blog post online here.

Thursday, May 07, 2009 3:29:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

"Robinson: Bike lanes on 5th and forbes, more Bike racks." (from the post linked above)

5th and Forbes are bad enough in Oakland. I don't see how you could get a bike lane out of either of them, let alone both.

Thursday, May 07, 2009 4:47:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I spent some time looking at the map that Bike Pittsburgh has. Among bike lanes that I've seen (basically Beechwood), they list Beacon, Bartlet, Wightman, Greenfield Ave. and Murray (from Hobart to Hazelwood) as having on-street bike lanes.

Either 1) that map is aspirational, 2) the city has declared bike lanes without bothering to mark them or 3) I'm extremely oblivious. I'm guessing it's number 2. Looking at that map, you'd think I had a clear shot from my house to my office.

Thursday, May 07, 2009 5:11:00 PM  
Blogger illyrias said...

MH -
Would losing some space on 5th and Forbes really make a difference? It's an awful traffic jam no matter what. There's a reason why many cities (including Pittsburgh) have carpool lanes. It's to encourage people to carpool. I'd be happy to add a carpool lane and a bike lane to 5th and Forbes. Something needs to really shake that area up and stop the dependence on the idea that everyone needs to drive their own car to work.

Thursday, May 07, 2009 6:49:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

First, I'm not sure what I did differently, but Michael is also me. Second, somebody has been out with a paint can, because Wightman now has bike lanes, but I'm guessing that was very recent. Third, yes, loosing a lane of 5th or Forbes will make a difference. For much of the past two years, construction has caused a lane or more to be shut and it was a huge pain.

If they want to shake-up dependence on cars in Oakland, they need to up the bus service. Physically, there isn't room to add more riders at rush hour. (At least, this is true on buses moving to the East.) Carpooling efforts have, at least those I'm aware of, usually proved ineffective.

Thursday, May 07, 2009 8:28:00 PM  
Blogger EdHeath said...

Pittsburgh is physically not too bad a place to ride. The hills aren't too bad in most places (just don't ride from Shadyside to Squirrel Hill). If your commute is five miles or less a bicycle is a reasonable alternative. But a lot of the drivers are pretty hostile, and rush hour can be dangerous. Personally I don’t see too many people picking up cycling any time soon.

Thursday, May 07, 2009 10:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bike lanes just appeared on Wightman and Beacon, including a prominently marked sliver between the bike lane and parking lane that I take is meant to indicate door-opening space. Nice improvement and good way to narrow these two wide streets.

Friday, May 08, 2009 10:47:00 AM  

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