5 days to back bike safety kick-starter

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .


BikePGH has five days to raise the last $20,000 on Indiegogo to broaden the reach of its Drive With Care campaign. 
The effort arose after some well publicized accidents between cars and cyclists to remind drivers that people on bicycles aren’t just people on bicycles but people they might know and even love. 
Rude bicyclists and those who do not obey traffic rules and etiquette have their own critics. It may be hard to love those guys who wear skin-tight gear and pedal past you on a trail as if they own it, and a bicyclist weaving around cars and riding in the wrong direction poses his own threat.
If the progress we expect and hope to see in Pittsburgh’s bicycle infrastructure is going to sustain itself, we will need more than this but it’s a step away from the antagonism that seems to keep perpetuating the problem.
The campaign has been underway on billboards and bus shelters showing real Pittsburghers riding their bikes and reminding others that their lives should be valued, considering they are Pittsburghers’ kids, parents and, of course, (at least one) Steeler, Antonio Brown.
BikePGH sponsored these public service announcements last year to positive feedback. The Indiegogo campaign “will allow the Drive With Care message to be broadcast on a much larger scale to make a broader impact,” BikePGH said. 
Becca Susman of BikePGH wrote in an email that this spring “marks two years since our colleague Dan Yablonsky nearly lost his life in a hit-and-run crash while he was riding his bike. His road to recovery has been long and has had a profound effect on those of us who know and care about him. There have also been several other serious collisions since then and people riding bikes contend with aggressive encounters with cars on a daily basis.”


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Best Neighborhoods nominations open

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

fountainPittsburghers, here’s your chance to get some recognition for your neighborhood.
Northwood Realty Services is holding a first-ever process for people to nominate their neighborhoods on points such as best view, best yard sale, architectural features, best holiday decorations, etc. The winners will be featured in regional editions of InCommunity Magazines and receive special recognition and bragging rights.
Residents of Allegheny, Butler, Westmoreland and Washington Counties can nominate their neighborhoods across a range of categories, which you can get more information about here.
The nomination deadline is April 30.
Here is the nomination form.
Winners will be notified and announced on June 15.
Here at Walkabout, we don’t value neighborhoods based on property values, although this contest’s “best all-around neighborhood” qualifications are based on these, the most prestigious of three being the legendary division, which has property values above $350,000.
I will refrain from nominating my neighborhood, but the Mexican War Streets would be a contender in the “best spirit” category, i.e., “most stoop parties,” i.e., “most empty wine bottles.”
Best view? Must we see the same Mount Washington hands? How about Fineview? Best yard sales? Anyone?
I have some categories that Northwood isn’t considering, with Walkabout winners already decided:
Best dried fish, Andean knitted goods and biscotti? The Strip.
Best metal awnings? Tie: Lawrenceville and Bloomfield.
Best bird watching? Duh. Hays.
Best pot holes? Squirrel Hill.
Best fountain? Downtown.
Most rentals? Shadyside.
Best kept secret? Brookline.
Most slender? Esplen.
Most quiet? Ridgemont.
Most potential: Homewood.


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Yinzerpedia: Squirrel Hill tunnel work, Pittsburgh litter, leaving Pittsburgh

Written by Ethan Magoc on .

Pittsblogh readers seemed to enjoy the first two editions of Yinzerpedia, so we’re bringing it back, albeit on a monthly basis.

And yes, we affectionately call this feature “Yinzerpedia,” because it takes the principle of the crowdsourcing site Wikipedia, but the "crowd" for our purposes is all of yinz.

On tap this week: tunnel repairs, littering and leaving Pittsburgh.

Question: When will the Squirrel Hill tunnel be done and what is their work schedule? (March 25)

Squirrel-Hill-Tunnels Darrell Sapp Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

(Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette)

This originally came to the Post-Gazette from Brian Horgan on Twitter, and we redirected to Jon Schmitz, our resident traffic expert and reporter.

In other words, hang in there, tunnel commuters.


Question: What is the deal with all this litter in Pittsburgh? (April 1)


Trash on Mount Washington Robin Rombach Pittsburgh Post Gazette



You need not rappel down the side of Mount Washington to help beautify the city, as Nick Romaniello of the Allegheny Mountain Rescue Group did at the end of March. (Robin Rombach/Post-Gazette)


A visiting Floridian and former Pittsburgh resident first raised the topic in a letter to the editor. He was shocked at the amount of litter in and around the city this time of year.

Many commenters in the thread pointed out that winter tends to shield some of the litter, and once the snow melts, everything from dog waste to beer cans seem pervasive.

Pittsburgh has a complicated history with trash clean-up efforts, as Mila Sanina wrote earlier this year on “The Digs.

We don’t recommend this approach from selltheburgh: “I've made it a habit of telling people that they dropped something when they litter. Once I tossed a woman's mcdonald's cup back into her window when I saw her drop it out. She went ballistic.”

But you can help solve the region’s trash issues in a more constructive way on April 12.

Question: How would you spend your last day in Pittsburgh? (April 8)

Pittsburgh Point State Park at night photo by Rebecca Droke Pittsburgh Post Gazette

(Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette)

It’s an interesting thought experiment (not new to Reddit), and many former Pittsburghers had to live it during the 20th century steel industry exodus. The responses highlight residents’ favorite things to do here.

Here’s a list:

  • Kennywood
  • Boating around the rivers and Point State Park
  • Rain-free Three Rivers Arts Festival
  • Visit friends
  • National Aviary
  • Pierogies at Church Brew Works
  • Penguins game
  • Pirates game with walkoff home run and fireworks
  • Primanti’s and Yuengling
  • Drive through the Fort Pitt Tunnel at night
  • Walk the Allegheny River trail east from the stadiums
  • Ultimate frisbee in Highmark Stadium
  • Eating at the Strip District
  • Packing

And, bringing this edition of Yinzerpedia full circle:

  • “...leaving Pittsburgh with like 4 dollars to myname... that way i can run out of gas on my way to the turnpike in the Squirrel Hill tunnels so that one day i can be the CAUSE of all the traffic on the parkway East, not just wondering why its there for no reason in the first place”

Previous Yinzerpedias:

Yinzerpedia: Park'n Eat, Mount Washington and virtual library cards (March 21)
Swimming holes, recycling schedule and Pittsburgh (March 14)

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Churches, bishops respond to school stabbings

Written by Peter Smith on .


Churches responded to this morning's stabbing spree at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville in several ways, opening their sanctuaries to those needing a place to regroup, scheduling numerous prayer services for Wednesday evening and hosting counselors for anyone traumatized.
Police have a student in custody who they say injured 20, four critically, with butcher knives at the start of the school day.
Religious leaders are also issuing statements about the attacks.
"It is unfortunate that in our world today more and more people find themselves dealing with circumstances like this," said Bishop Thomas Bickerton of the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church. "At these times, people of faith are called to seek God’s presence and pray for God to bring healing and wholeness to all those involved."
Bishop Lawrence Brandt said his and the Catholic Diocese of Greensburg's prayers are with "the victims of this morning’s senseless act of violence" and all those affected by it.
"We all suffer when violence shatters lives," he said. "We pray for peace in our homes, our schools, our workplaces and our world. In this penitential season of Lent, we also ask for God’s mercy on the person responsible for this act."




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Few can walk 5 minutes for fresh food

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .


market produce
The small neighborhood market has been much on my mind of late, specifically the one I am supporting but more generally because of how important an asset it is in a neighborhood, and how uncommon it is.
Giant Eagle, Foodland, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, IGA and all the larger retailers are necessary, and the plethora of options in the Strip make that a regular must-do. But if everyone had the option of a short walk to get some essential groceries, then every neighborhood would have a little store with enough variety to be more than the emergency milk and bread stop. 
Sarah Goodyear writes in The Atlantic Cities about a recent analysis of cities that looked at walking distance to fresh food sources. In her article, “In the U.S., a Quick Walk to the Store is a Rare Thing Indeed,” she sets up a scenario familiar to many of us: We are into a recipe when we realize we need a crucial ingredient.
The last time that happened to me, I thought I had an egg or two left in the carton. Lucky for me, my neighbor raises hens so I popped next door and got an egg.
In the article, Ms. Goodyear poses the question: How long would it take you to walk to get a fresh ingredient? An analysis by Walk Score of 50 of the largest American cities shows a yawning gap between the nine cities that have five-minute access for more than 40 percent of its population and those that don't even serve 30 percent.
Pittsburgh's snapshot is reproduced below. The green blobs represent where people have a fresh food source within a five-minute walk:
The five-minute standard set by Walk Score is based on a goal that Washington, D.C. has set in its 20-year master plan.
I am very lucky to have neighbors who can supply any number of emergency items, but the whole neighborhood is lucky that the Allegheny City Market is about a five minute walk. In the former Doug’s Market, owner Rob Collins has upgraded the inventory enough that his market is my first-option grocery, providing 75 percent of the items on my list.
There are too few markets like this in Pittsburgh and throughout the cities studied.
The article states:
“For 72 percent of New Yorkers, the answer is less than five minutes. But in Indianapolis – or Oklahoma City or Wichita – only 5 percent of residents have a store selling fresh produce within that distance.
“Using data from its extensive database, Walk Score ranked the 50 largest U.S. cities to see how they did on access to decent food, using stores that sell fresh produce as a benchmark.
“The numbers paint a picture of a dramatically divided nation.”
The article reports that Washington, D.C.'s goal is to have 75 percent of its population living within a quarter mile of a healthy food source within 20 years. 
Washington is one of the nine cities with top access now but barely cracks 40 percent. New York is #1, of course, with 72 percent of people who have five-minute pedestrian access to fresh food. San Francisco and Philadelphia are the only others in which more than 50 percent of people can walk to buy that crucial egg, or lime or endive, in five minutes.
A city's planning goal for greater access comes down to land use and requirements for development, topics that present choppy waters for politicians. It would be interesting to see how Pittsburgh might decide to address this issue, given the sweeping amount of land vacancy in its most food-challenged neighborhoods.
Top photo taken at the Allegheny City Market


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