Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Walkers and Drivers and Bikes, Oh My!

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Walkers and Drivers and Bikes, Oh My!

Article excerpt

If Pittsburgh has the worst drivers in America, what chance does a pedestrian have?

Demonstrators will gather Thursday afternoon in Lawrenceville in the hope of increasing walkers' odds of making it across the road but, before I get to that, let me make a U-turn back to our famously lousy driving.

You've probably heard that the online insurance marketplace EverQuote put Pittsburgh in a tie with New York City as having the worst group to regularly sit behind a wheel. Rankings are based on an app reportedly used by 150,000 of the nation's drivers taking 20 million trips across 230 million miles.

Given the five key categories that shape the ranking - speeding, cell phone use, excess acceleration, hard braking and hard turning - I knew Pittsburgh had to be at the top of this heap. Hereabouts, we call those five activities "driving."

(I'd also throw in the growing and infuriating belief that using on a turn signal while waiting at a traffic light is uncool. Maybe drivers are busy texting, but could they at least use an elbow to flip a blinker?)

Anyway, on Thursday morning when the headline about our driving deficiencies hit the front page, I drove to the corner of 40th and Butler streets in Lawrenceville to meet an optimist. Jason Jablon is the program coordinator for Lively Pittsburgh, an organization that believes it can bridge "the common interest of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists."

This seems a task as easy as bridging the common interests of Moe, Larry and Curly, or maybe the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Mr. Jablon, 41, was waiting on the corner with his 9-year-old daughter, Lyla, because it was take-your-daughter-to-work day. That worked out because she could text for him as he drove.

I was a few minutes late, and by then they'd already seen a couple of cars roll through the red light on Butler into right turns onto 40th Street. The drivers' minds must already have been focused on crossing the Allegheny River because one of them nearly creamed a kid who was in the crosswalk trying to get to the other side of 40th Street, Mr. Jablon reported. …

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