Pedestrianize parts of the city, like the Strip District

Written By Jake Dabkowski, Editor-in-Chief

Before the advent of the car, cities were inherently walkable. Rather than being exclusively for cars, roads were filled with street cars, bicyclists, carriages, and most importantly: people. We now live in a society that is relatively dominated by cars and buses. Simply put, there’s no going back to the entire city being walkable. That being said, there are certain areas that are heavily populated by pedestrians that are constantly being driven through by drivers with no regard for human life.


Take Market Square for example. It’s one of the best parts of the downtown area. Not only does it have plenty of great restaurants, bars, and shops, but it also comes with a robust sense of community. Unfortunately, cars drive through it, oftentimes speeding, with no regard for people walking around. These streets should be closed off, permanently. Allow Market Square to be what it is: a marker square.


Another area that would benefit greatly from this change is the Strip District. On a busy day the sidewalks in the strip are packed, and navigating the area can be incredibly frustrating. The strip is the ideal place to test pedestrianization; traffic through the main area isn’t typically essential, and there are a number of streets nearby to redirect traffic through. Being able to walk around the strip would do wonders for the community, and would make the area even nicer.


Another street that would be great to pedestrianize is Walnut Street in Shadyside. The rode is already incredibly frustrating to drive on, and most drivers I know avoid the road altogether. The area is an inherently walkable area, and pedestrianizing it would no doubt benefit the shops in the area and increase foot traffic.


Pedestrianization is something that the city has flirted with in the past. Every summer, for a few days, the city features an “open streets” campaign, where certain streets in the city are open to walk, run, skate, or bike through. I attended one of these when I was younger, and it was one of the reasons I decided to move to the city. It also was one of the first days I rode my trusty red skateboard, which, if you’ve ever seen me around campus, knows that I love and cherish with all of my heart, and to an extent I owe the open streets a lot for that love.


I understand that this is a crazy concept to some, especially to those who come to the city but do not live within the city limits. But the reality is that not everyone drives, and that many people who do drive prefer not to. Not only would making these changes help the community and businesses, but it would also be beneficial to the environment.


As a test, these areas could be temporarily closed off, like open streets, but more frequent. We could also pedestrianize them most of the time, but open the streets up again during rush hour. In general, this concept is a newer one, but it’s something that Mayor Gainey and his administration, as well as the city council, should consider.