Editorial: South Side walker and biker trail project insufficient


Knox Coulter | Assistant Visual Editor

Pittsburgh announced it will start construction of a trail system from Oakland through the South Side.

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

East Carson Street isn’t the most pedestrian-friendly road in Pittsburgh. The sidewalk on the main drag of the South Side Flats is tight and the bars are often packed, leaving little room for pedestrians to roam. Last April, two people were hospitalized after a pedestrian accident on this road.

In order to curb incidents like this, Pittsburgh announced it will start construction of a trail system from Oakland through the South Side tomorrow. This improvement will both lighten traffic and better protect residents who travel by bike or on foot by keeping them off of East Carson Street, according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

While these safety measures are an improvement, they shouldn’t be limited to people who only travel through Oakland and the South Side. They’re needed in many other areas of Pittsburgh.

A woman was badly injured last week after being hit in a heavily residential area of Point Breeze. In August, someone was hit on the Westinghouse Bridge, on the border of East Pittsburgh and North Versailles. The same day, CBS reported that a woman in the Manchester neighborhood was hit by a car after getting off a Port Authority bus. Six students were struck by a car in the Hill District on their walk home from school last October. A month prior, a pedestrian was hit by the Morewood Avenue and Fifth Avenue intersection in Shadyside. The list goes on.

In general, people tend to walk and bike to areas that they have difficulty accessing by way of public transportation. But the South Side can be easily accessed from Oakland, and Oakland can easily be accessed from the South Side simply by riding the 54, 75, 82 or 83 bus line. Each of these buses runs seven days a week.

Accessing an area like Lawrenceville from Oakland is much more difficult. The only direct route to most parts of that neighborhood requires riding the 93 bus, and that line does not run on the weekends. In order to access Lawrenceville on the weekend, someone traveling from Oakland might have to bike via Liberty Avenue — a main road that extends from Bloomfield through Lawrenceville and the Strip District all the way to Downtown.

Liberty Avenue has seen its fair share of pedestrian-related accidents just like East Carson Street, but currently, there don’t seem to be any official plans to build a safer route for bikers and walkers on that road.

A Pittsburgh law firm partnered with San Diego data firm to analyze Pittsburgh pedestrian accidents from 2013-2017. They subsequently compiled a running list of the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians. East Carson Street did not make the list, and Oakland only appeared once, with the intersection between McKee Place and Forbes Avenue. The North Side neighborhood appeared on this list as well as the Murray Avenue and Forbes Avenue intersection in Squirrel Hill. Two of the most dangerous intersections were downtown, and two were located in the East End neighborhood.

Pedestrian casualties and injuries are prevalent all over the City. These safety improvements are a step forward, but they shouldn’t be limited to only Oakland and the South Side.