(Pittsburgh City Paper photo)
By Ryan Deto
PITTSBURGH — Like most Americans, Pittsburghers are still mostly reliant on personal vehicles to get around. The majority of city residents still use cars to get to work and run other errands, and life without a car still has many barriers.
But unlike many cities in America, Pittsburgh actually offers a fair number of non-car travel options, and a significant section of Pittsburghers regularly utilize those. Pittsburgh isn’t on the same level for non-car transit as New York City, San Francisco, or Washington, D.C., but for a city its size, and one in a Rust Belt region, Pittsburgh punches well above its weight.
According to a 2019 City Lab article that measured each metro area in the U.S. by how amenable they are to living without owning a car, Pittsburgh was ranked 11th out of areas with more than 1 million people. A 2020 study from the website CompareCarInsurance.com ranks Pittsburgh as the seventh least car-dependent metro in the U.S.
As the city has added bike infrastructure over the years, like the Penn Avenue protected bike lane, there has been a corresponding increase in the number of bike commuters.
And thanks to Pittsburgh’s tightly packed and narrow roadways — and abundance of sidewalks in many neighborhoods — walking has always been an enticing option, with places like Oakland, Downtown, and sections of the North Side having more than 30 percent of their commuters walk to work.
The newest bike network expansion is into Hazelwood, which now has a separated bike trail through the Hazelwood Green development.
This new trail connects to the Eliza Furnace bike trail — which heads west to Downtown and connects to Oakland through the Junction Hollow trail — as well as linking to the trails across the Monongahela River into the South Side and on to Homestead and McKeesport. The new Hazelwood trail also recently received three Healthy Ride bikeshare stations, giving those without access to a bike the opportunity to ride.
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