Pittsburgh Turns a Traffic Shortcut Into a Scenic, Car-Free Park Road

A park road just for walking and biking — that’s no longer a fantasy in Pittsburgh.

Until recently, the portion of Pocusset Street in Schenley Park was a cars-only speedway for cut-through traffic. Now the cars are gone, and people walking and biking have free rein.

Pocusset Street in Pittsburgh is for bikes and pedestrians only in Schenley Park. Image: Bike PGH
Pocusset Street in Pittsburgh is for pedestrians and cyclists only in Schenley Park. Image: Bike PGH

Network blog Bike Pittsburgh explains how this awesome intervention came about:

Pocusset street is a small, winding street through the south-eastern edge of Schenley Park, connecting Squirrel Hill, Greenfield, and Oakland. Pocusset Street was a regular cut-through for speeding vehicular traffic seeking a shortcut between these neighborhoods, but with blind curves, no sidewalks, and insufficient street lighting, it was a dangerous place to travel by foot or bike.

In 2012 Pocusset Street was deemed structurally unsound for automobiles. After the road shift proposal received vocal community support at a number of public meetings, the City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Works decided to take the portion of Pocusset Street that passes through Schenley Park off-line for automobile traffic, and redesign it for bike and pedestrian use.

The city repaved the entire quarter mile Schenley Park portion of the street, repainted it with bi-directional bike-lanes, designated pedestrian walkways, included LED street lighting, and installed reflective bollards to block traffic from entering at either end. The new Pocusset Street is now open and maintained by the city as a pedestrian and bicycle-only roadway; shifting the road’s use from a dangerous shortcut to a community asset that will safely serve bikes and pedestrians for decades to come.

According to Bike PGH, it’s “possibly the first example in the country of a city shutting a length of street down for cars, investing in new, safe, bicycle & pedestrian infrastructure, and re-opening/maintaining it for pedestrian/bicycle use only.” Do you know of any others?

Elsewhere on the Network today: The State Smart Transportation Initiative reports on Grand Rapids’ compelling proposal to bring local streets into a state of good repair and make them comfortable for all users. Baltimore Spokes shares a comic that gets to the heart of the absurdity of ticketing pedestrians for jaywalking. And Kaid Benfield at the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Switchboard blog looks at two demographers’ perspectives on the “return to cities movement,” one a skeptic and the other a believer.

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