Did You Know There’s a Plan to Make Getting Around Downtown Easier?
The Downtown Mobility Plan aims to make waiting at the bus stop and walking down the street more convenient and enjoyable.
Get ready for an easier and more efficient Downtown commute.
Earlier this month, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP) released the Downtown Mobility Plan, a framework to guide decisions about transportation and designing public spaces in the Golden Triangle. The planning process, which began in fall 2019, culminated with nine initiatives that will influence the types of projects implemented in the area for next 10 years.
Chris Watts, vice president of mobility for the PDP, says the plan looks to maintain Downtown’s status and character while understanding the kinds of projects that will benefit its commuters, property owners and visitors down the line.
“The purpose of the Downtown Mobility Plan is to establish a vision, and more importantly, a decision-making framework to help the city, the stakeholders and decision makers understand what types of projects are best suited to improve the quality of life in downtown Pittsburgh,” Watts says.
The PDP collaborated with the City of Pittsburgh’s Departments of Mobility and Infrastructure and City Planning, the Port Authority of Allegheny County, and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission.
The Downtown Mobility Plan also took into account more than 1,800 survey responses from the public as well as feedback from more than 90 organizations represented on the Downtown Advisory Group and Equity Working Group. Watts says these groups were formed with the intention of making sure diverse voices from organizations and institutions across the region were heard.
“A big part of the early stages of the plan [was] to understand the lay of the land, and then be a little bit more proactive and intentional as we go through the process to understand gaps and where there might be more work to get some feedback from certain groups,” Watts says.
These are the five guiding principles and goals listed in the Downtown Mobility Plan:
- Welcoming & vibrant – ensure a high quality of urban life and embrace the racial, cultural, linguistic and economic diversity of the region
- People first & transit prioritized – strengthen the accessibility and connectivity for people walking, biking and rolling, as well as provide high-quality transit service and amenities to enhance the bus rider experience
- Intuitive & responsive – provide a user-friendly experience for all modes while responding to competing street and curb needs
- Equitable & affordable – advance accessibility, equity and affordability, for all, regardless of one’s ethnicity, race, age, class, language or ability
- Sustainable & healthy – advance infrastructure investments and policies that enhance the public’s health and support the dynamic needs of Downtown
The guiding principles and goals set the groundwork to develop the plan’s culminating nine initiatives, which outline the short and long-term projects implemented:
- Streets that work 24/7 aims to make streets adaptable to changing restaurant, business and residential demands while providing sustainable transportation. This will involve evaluating the impact of one-way streets, improving how alleys are used for deliveries and waste collection, and using “mobility ambassadors” to reduce the number of moving and curb violations.
- Better bus experience aims to make bussing more efficient and manageable. A few proposed projects include equipping bus stops with better shelters and real-time bus information as well as installing bus ticket vending machines.
- A river city that flows aims to connect the Allegheny and Monongahela river waterfronts by creating a passageway for businesses and pedestrians running along 6th Street and Market Street. Associated projects include increasing outdoor dining, public art and pedestrian lighting on 6th Street as well as redeveloping Allegheny Riverfront Park along Ft. Duquesne Boulevard.
- (Re)Connecting Downtown aims to strengthen Downtown’s relationship with the Hill District, the Strip District and Uptown by promoting inclusiveness and making transitions to these areas more welcoming. This will include installing pedestrian lighting, public art with historical storytelling, and more greenery.
- Biking made easy aims to promote biking Downtown by improving safety and accessibility on roads. Bike lane barriers will be enhanced to better protect riders from vehicles and more bike racks will be implemented. The plan also proposes a Downtown bike loop that would completely separate bikers from shared traffic lanes.
- Sidewalks for all aims to make walking Downtown more accessible and pleasant by installing more greenery and pedestrian lighting. The plan proposes more public art and bike parking, as well as maintaining smooth and walkable sidewalks.
- Power to the bus rider aims to make Downtown bus routes more accessible and affordable to everyone. Key features of the plan include restructuring fares, developing a low-income fare program and offering free transfers.
- Smithfield reimagined aims to make Smithfield Street more efficient for pedestrians and transit while improving access to the street’s ground-floor businesses. Proposed projects include larger sidewalks with more lighting, plants and outdoor dining. It will also create shorter and safer crosswalks and specific zones dedicated for pick-ups and drop-offs.
- Navigating with ease aims to make it easier to walk, bike and ride buses Downtown by improving signs and maps, as well as increasing access to transit information. This will include updating Port Authority bus and light rail maps, linking bike share services to bus stops, and providing real-time transit information in buildings and bus stops.
Upon announcing the Downtown Mobility Plan, the PDP also released a survey to gather public feedback on which initiatives that should be implemented first or improved. Watts says the PDP will be promoting the survey throughout the next month and will use the results later in the summer to help make decisions. “We’ll be [circling back to the survey] with stakeholders to outline … the action agenda for the next few years based on what’s most practical, where our resources are available, and really what the public and stakeholders want to see,” Watts says.While some aspects of the Downtown Mobility Plan may change over time, Watts says the PDP feels confident the initiatives will remain useful for the next decade.
To access the full plan or to complete the public feedback survey, visit the Downtown Mobility Plan’s website.