Councilwoman Rudiak Calls for More Traffic Safety

Jul 3, 2013

Cars are buzzing by faster than the posted speed limit.

Groups of children are dodging cars trying to make it to the other side of the street.

All of this going on over the shoulder of Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak.

The councilwoman, joined by representatives from Bike Pittsburgh and community residents, stressed the need for an upgraded traffic safety system Wednesday outside of the Carrick Regency High Rise along Brownsville Road.

In the last three years, six people have been killed or injured in traffic-related accidents on Brownsville Road. Among them: Tyrique Snowden Hill, 6, was riding his bicycle when he was struck by a car and killed in 2010; Patricia Meinke, 59, died in February 2011 after being hit by a car; and John Pearson, 55, was riding his bike when he was struck and killed last week.

A study commissioned by Rudiak and the Carrick Community Council said traffic problems were the top public safety issue for residents living near Brownsville Road.

Rudiak has received calls from residents of Beechview, Bon Air, Brookline, Carrick and Overbrook regarding dangerous intersections, speeding traffic and the need for clearer crosswalks and signs across the neighborhoods.

Rudiak said Pittsburgh’s outdated infrastructure needs to be updated in order to keep the public safe on the streets.

“The city needs to step up its game in terms of better engineering our streets, in terms of educating the public, in terms of enforcing our traffic laws to make sure that we have safe streets for everyone,” Rudiak said.

While speeding and distracted driving is a behavioral issue, Rudiak said it’s the engineering and design of the streets that influence behavior.

“There are studies that have shown that trees along the road have a psychological effect on drivers that influence them to slow down, and that’s the design of the street,” Rudiak said.

Rudiak wrote a letter to the Department of Public Works in December 2012 addressing potential “traffic calming measures,” such as stop signs, crosswalks and speed bumps. Rudiak said a response was received, but she said it wasn’t the response she was looking for.

Rudiak would not discuss the specifics of the planning department’s budget.

Rudiak hopes a better relationship with the new mayor of Pittsburgh will bring about the change she wants at a faster pace.

“Right now, often times you’ll send something along and you don’t hear anything for until three months later and that’s the truth,” Rudiak said. “So, we need immediate response to these issues and we need open communication about why some things work and why some things may not work and we don’t really have that right now.”

A community open house is being held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. July 15 at Stewart Avenue Church to further discuss reports on Brownsville Road and traffic safety.