Do the legwork: Pittsburgh gets serious about walking and biking

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It's time for Pittsburgh to get moving. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Councilman Patrick Dowd and the cycling community agree, so they've put together a timely initiative to increase bicycling and walking in the city.

Key to the plan's success will be the city's new bike-pedestrian coordinator, Stephen Patchan, whose duty is to pave the way for friendlier cycling conditions and more enticements to walking. The first two years of his salary will be covered by the Richard King Mellon Foundation, with the city budget picking up the cost thereafter.

Among the city's plans are having a complete system of marked bike routes in place by 2010, using tax credits to encourage companies to provide bike facilities, stepping up the repair of broken city steps, upgrading pedestrian crosswalks and sponsoring events to encourage more biking and walking. Although a bicyclist himself, Mr. Patchan doesn't profess to have all the answers, so he's eager for biker/walker feedback via e-mail (Stephen.Patchan@city.pittsburgh.pa.us).

With obesity an unfortunate fact of American life and gasoline prices hitting new heights each year, the plan to get Pittsburghers off their duffs and out of their cars could pay dividends through better health, lower fuel costs and lighter traffic. But that will take enterprise and creativity from the bike-ped coordinator, dedicated follow-through from the mayor and council and steady input from people eager to get more out of their own two legs.



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