Pittsburgh is changing how it thinks about mobility and transportation for its 1,300 miles of street network, making it safer to travel using multiple modes. Complete Streets encourage more than one way of travel, taking into account pedestrians, bicycles, transit, and private vehicles – an approach that is referred to as “multi-modal transportation". Using a multi-modal approach when designing our streets will make our transportation network safer for more people and improve quality of life in the city. By creating streets that are great public spaces as well as safe, connected, and convenient transportation networks, the City's first ever Complete Streets Policy (and subsequent planning efforts and code changes) aim to enhance safety, mobility, and access for all Pittsburghers, regardless of how they travel.
What are complete streets?
Pittsburgh’s Complete Streets approach aims to improve the quality of life for all Pittsburghers by creating streets that are safe and comfortable for all people, activated public spaces, and connected transportation networks for everyone. This initiative will consider all modes of travel in making mobility recommendations – walking, biking, taking transit, and driving – and create a more livable public realm that encourages active lifestyles.
Pittsburgh residents are highly multi-modal and comprise one of the largest non-auto-commuting workforces in the country. It is a goal of the Complete Streets policy to continue to reduce the number of commuting trips taken by driving alone, in partnership with the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative. Planning and building a robust and well-connected transit, pedestrian and bicycle system will enhance the mobility, equity and overall quality of life in the City’s neighborhoods. Complete Streets also provide the infrastructure for people to easily integrate physical activity and active transportation into their daily commute, making for a healthier, more active city as outlined in the Active Allegheny Plan.
Additionally, our streets do much more than transport people and goods from one place to another; they are important channels for storm water flowing to the rivers, as well as conduits for utilities such as electric, gas and drinking water. While improving mobility in Pittsburgh, The City will also look for targeted ways to improve water, environmental health and utility systems through a Complete Streets approach. Better incorporating street trees and other streetscape improvements can not only enhance air quality, and beautify our streets, but also slow traffic. Expanding travel options for all modes also helps the City combat climate change and work towards reducing emissions from transportation.
In addition to incorporating green infrastructure, innovation in mobility can also include infrastructure elements which encourage efficient use of our streets, such as sensors that allow for inter-vehicle communication, transit signal priority and bicycle/pedestrian detection.
Why Pittsburgh? Why Now?
Transportation in Pittsburgh has so much potential to be multi-modal. Our street network is narrow; cars, bikes, buses and pedestrians are used to sharing space. Our city is dense; therefore most trips are short and easily navigable by many modes. As Pittsburgh’s population grows, so will the amount of people using our streets. Policies and initiatives like this one will ensure that it grows in a safe and sustainable way, giving mobility options for everyone regardless of how they choose to move.
What has been done so far?
In April 2015, Mayor Peduto signed an executive order calling for a city-wide policy on Complete Streets and an eventual adoption of design guidelines. After an internal policy workshop and public meeting in December attended by over 200 members of the community, the City is now working to draft a policy which will help us redesign our streets to better meet the needs of all users. This policy is anticipated work in tandem with other ongoing comprehensive planning efforts of the Department of City Planning, including the Mobility Plan. We expect that that the adoption of this policy will lead to drafting design guidelines and putting in motion a process to evaluate complete street projects.
What and where will you see changes after the policy is adopted?
The Complete Streets policy will require all new projects in our Right of Way to take a complete streets approach and consider improvements to make the street more accommodating to all road users or ecology. These improvements may include, but are not limited to, adding bike lanes, bump outs, planters, curb ramps, signage, transit amenities, street furniture, green infrastructure, high visibility crosswalks, shorter crossing distances, audible signals, road diets and/or safe routes to school. Complete Streets design criteria would apply to:
- New Public Streets
- New Development (Both Public and Private)
- The City's Paving/Resurfacing Program
- Major On-Street Utility Work
Complete Streets Kickoff Meeting -- 12/1/15
Complete Streets Policy Meeting -- 7/7/16
What happens now?
Following the adoption of the Complete Streets Policy, the Department of City Planning is working in conjunction with the Department of Public Works to create Complete Streets Design Guidelines for the City of Pittsburgh.
Check out the PowerPoint presentation from the Complete Streets Policy Update Public Meeting!