Things I’d Like to See Happen in Pittsburgh

I love our city. I do a lot of traveling and, while doing so, want to move away to some place that seems foreign and exotic, whether that place actually be a foreign country or just another area of the US. But after returning home, I fall in love with this city all over again. But that’s another tale for another time.

As Pittsburgh’s population begins to rebound and we seem to be getting younger, fitter, more liberal and hipper, I look around and try and think of what can be done to make this city even better.

What’s already being done:

  • Murals. These are everywhere, and largely thanks to the Sprout Fund, giant sides of buildings are covered in a wide range of different styles, colors and good looks.
  • Bicycle Advocacy. You can rent a bike for free Downtown, fix your bike for free, and of course, Bike Pittsburgh is constantly making this city a better place for peddlers.
  • Free Wifi. Crazy Mocha’s, a local chain of coffee shops all through the city, let you hook up to their WiFi no questions asked. The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership offers 2 free hours of WiFi to anyone stopping downtown. Bill Peduto, the Councilman for part of the East End, is pushing for a citywide WiFi program, with some degree of free service. Of course, these are only some of the ways to get online without paying.
  • FlexCar. You don’t need to own a car when you live in this city, it’s a fact. No one can possibly dispute this because I don’t own a car and I live in the city and, as evident due to this post, I’m alive. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to have a car, say you need to grab something from Ikea or visit the parents out in Johnstown. With FlexCar you can rent anything from a pickup truck to a hybrid Civic to a Mini Cooper by the hour or by the day, for around $10 / hour (that includes parking, gas and insurance.)

What can be done:

  • Revitalize the City Steps. City steps reach up and down through the hills of this city, which are numerous, steep and high. South Side, Beechview, Oakland and so many other neighborhoods sport these, typically cement stairs with green metal railings. Unfortunately, most of them are in pretty bad disrepair, with railings busted or rusted through, the steps themselves cracked or that they’re simply becoming overgrown with local foliage. These stairs promote walking in the city by connecting hillside neighborhoods and are a beautiful part of our city’s heritage. By restoring them and perhaps going a bit further, to put small parks (maybe just a gazebo with a few plants, a couple of benches and a water fountain) at their tops or bottoms, some place that provides gathering points here, we could revitalize many of our neighborhoods.
  • More Light Rail Transportation. The “T”, as our light rail train is called, runs up into the South Hills from downtown. I used to live in the South Hills, and the T is by far one of the greatest assets to those people. It’s a smooth ride, much more reliable than the buses, and presumably more efficient and better for the environment as well. Another T line is scheduled to go from Downtown into the North Shore, one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, since being separated from the greater North Side, having two new stadiums built and countless new bars and restaurants. This is fine, but perhaps not the best investment, as an entire population in Oakland, Shadyside, Bloomfield and Squirrel Hill could greatly benefit from a simple line of T’s to run up into our neighborhoods. The Hill, Oakland, and Squirrel Hill could be easily served with one single track. Perhaps another track could run up through the Strip, into Lawrenceville, Bloomfield, East Liberty and Shadyside as well. All areas of the city where people are looking to get downtown easily, and these could eliminate the need for many buses in those areas.
  • Better Recycling. Right now it is mandatory that every resident of the city recycle, but this is hardly enforced. And even at that, the recycling is too basically broken down: paper, plastic and garbage. The latter, unfortunately, ends up making up the majority of bins curbside on garbage night. Better information for the public is necessary, more areas to drop recycling off, and maybe a shiny new website to help coordinate all of this would do wonders to increase recycling here in our city.

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