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Pittsburgh Traffic Might Not Be as Bad as it Seems

Is the ‘Burgh being unfairly treated by the latest study bemoaning the amount of time commuters spend sitting in traffic?

photo by dave dicello


In 2018, the traffic study organization INRIX ranked Pittsburgh the seventh most congested city in the U.S. and the 59th worldwide. Sounds pretty bad — but as the saying goes, the devil is in the details.

Streetsblog USA, a transit news website, took a look at how INRIX gathers its data and concludes that Pittsburgh, and other cities like it, aren’t getting a fair shake.

Using information gathered from cell phones, vehicle tracking and GPS systems, INRIX focuses on how fast rush hour traffic is moving.

Scott Bricker, director of Bike Pittsburgh, says that the INRIX study’s focus is misguided.

“Who cares what the difference is between speed limit and actual speed,” Bricker tweeted. “The only thing people care about is total time spent commuting. I'd for one much rather go slowly for only 15-20 minutes total than fast for 45 minutes.”

The study does include time spent in traffic but doesn’t compare that with distance traveled. That puts denser cities, where the commute isn’t as long but the average rush hour speed is slower, at a disadvantage.

Bottom line, yes Pittsburgh’s rush hours are slow and congested. But the average commute time is 23 minutes. If you think that’s bad, imagine spending an average of 34 minutes — like they do in Washington, D.C.

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