This is the soundtrack for my exploration stroll the other day around my neighborhood. Unless you loathe R.E.M., it is a good accompaniment to reading this post.
Several times in the past I have celebrated my neighborhood and home on the North Side of Pittsburgh. But I have to tell you that I exaggerated a little and omitted much.
There are many beautiful areas of the North Side and much of it is quaint, wonderful, and convenient. But I have to confess: I live on the OTHER North Side, the part that was cut in half by a neighborhood dividing highway.
The parts that contain all the amenities like the National Aviary, the Andy Warhol Museum, coffee shops, grocery stores, and parks are all on the other side of this highway:
That is the scene I have to ride or walk across when heading to other, more lovelier parts of the North Side.
And if I want to go downtown or shopping in the Strip District, I find myself facing signs like this:
Riding bikes is not much of a problem as you’re on the road, but if you are trying to get around by foot, as are children and many elderly who do not own cars, it is a death-trap. A place filled with crumbling gravelly sidewalks that are dangerous for nearly everyone except the most fit.
Getting to the bus stop is quite perilous and I waited through three lights at one intersection waiting for a pedestrian signal. Over 50 cars drove by in three light switches and not one stopped to let me cross, so I finally had to just make a run for it.
To cross to this intersection:
Then the friendly pedestrian must run across another faded crosswalk, but this time there is a light for the walker!
Seems like that should be hazardous enough, right? But if I want to get my groceries from the Strip, I still have to get to the 16th Street Bridge and walk past the highway exit where this sizable vehicle powered up to the sidewalk where I was standing:
And though I wasn’t trying to walk onto the highway, seeing this sign just reinforced how my walk felt:
By this point I’d walked less than half a mile but it took me nearly 20 minutes with all the waiting and trying not to die.
I’m fairly young and in shape, I ride a bike and move around all the time and this area is really difficult for me to navigate. Imagine how dangerous these streets are for people who are older, maybe less fit and less able to make a run for it across the street.
This area is incredibly unfriendly to pedestrians and many people do not have the luxury of investing a substantial amount of their income on a vehicle.
We need, very soon:
- Crosswalks to be repainted
- Pedestrian crossing signals at all intersections
Can you think of any other easy-to-implement solutions that could make this area safer for everyone?