Monday, February 6, 2012

MovePGH: "Community Driven, Technically Sound"

Last Thursday after work, I rode from downtown to CMU for the public kick-off meeting for MovePGH, a part of PlanPGH - or - a comprehensive city gameplan for growth over the next 25 years.

One of the reasons I needed to move back to Pittsburgh when I did was because I was crazy jealous of everyone living there and what was starting to happen around them. I remember coming back for visits and hearing about new places and going to new places and it all seemed fresh. Fun. A little hopeful. I wanted to witness it, experience it, and maybe even take part in it. I'm really excited to be here and see what unfolds over the next three, four, five... however many years. Which is why I wanted to go to this meeting tonight.

I found out about the MovePGH meeting from the BikePGH blog, and during the MovePGH meeting I found out about PlanPGH. Which, I'm willing to bet, a lot of people might not have heard about either. Maybe not everyone would be as excited by it as me, but I'm a Pittsburgh dork and like to be hopeful about what this place can become.

The icons above represent the different components of PlanPGH. From left to right:
OpenSpace, Preserve, Move, Art, Design, Facilities, Power, Work, Live, Services, Learn, Land Use

Tonight's kick-off was well attended, and the presenters were engaging and used very important slides of Ottawa and a dinosaur back to back. (Hey, I'm an easy girl to please.) The beginning of their presentation was a brief overview of city planning and city history. Some the notes/thoughts/things I wrote down:
  • Cities were built to minimize travel.
  • The average household spends 1/5 of their income on transportation.
  • (Then I wrote OTTAWA and circled it and right next to that DINO and underlined it. Told you, easy to please.)
  • Pittsburgh's transportation "bones" were based on the 1960 footprint. Meaning, they're kind of out of date and need to be revitalized. (Not just for cars, but for transit, pedestrians, cyclists, etc.)
  • There is no state in the United States where less than 15-19% of the diseases are related to obesity. (Colorado was the last hold-out, but even they are chubbs-ing it up now.)
  • Detroit: the city that gave itself over to the car. Now a decaying city. A very important cautionary tale.
  • Four advantages of walkable neighborhoods: 1. People drive less. 2. More trips are taken by walking, biking, or via transit. 3. The air is cleaner. 4. The obesity rate is much lower.
Next they moved onto the question "What Can We Do?" to improve Pittsburgh's current transportation bones: Grow Differently / Move Differently / Design Differently.

Some good facts from "Move Differently":
  • 2000-2010: Nationwide, biking was up 50%.
  • Only 1% of PGH commuters go by bike. (I am the 1%!)
  • 12% of PGH commuters walk. (I was kind of surprised by this, higher than I expected!)
And then they covered the timeline, and how they need participation by city residents to come up with the comprehensive goals and plans. In a month there will be another meeting - the Vision and Goals Meeting. It'll be an opportunity to put some concrete objectives on paper.

It's very optimistic, to think that major and swooping changes could take place in the next few years. But, it's with that optimism in mind that I'm going to closely follow what happens with PlanPGH and MovePGH.

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