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City Wants Pedestrians to Turn in Dangerous Motorists

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Pedestrians, especially at the city's busiest intersections, can now report inconsiderate and dangerous drivers by calling 311. - PHOTO BY HEATHER MULL
  • Photo by Heather Mull
  • Pedestrians, especially at the city's busiest intersections, can now report inconsiderate and dangerous drivers by calling 311.
Native Manhattanite and San Francisco transplant Alina Del Pino considers herself a seasoned pedestrian, but she says the rude drivers on Bigelow Boulevard have turned her leisurely 10-minute commute into a daily crucible.

Many times Del Pino has found herself stuck between lanes of traffic, waiting for the rare law-abiding driver to stop at the two marked crossings on her way to her office at Pitt's School of Information Sciences, in Oakland.

"Those two crosswalks are the bane of my existence," says Del Pino. "I always have to play chicken with the cars. I've come close to being hit."

Now both Pittsburgh police and planners are urging more pedestrians, bicyclists and other road-users to call so that they can muster sufficient information to monitor the trouble spots, like the one that Del Pino has been contending with. The number to dial is 311, via Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's Response Line. (Cell-phone users should call 412-255-2621.)

While previously some people were irate enough to have complained, city officials say the calls they have received were still too sporadic for them to pin down the hot spots. In a new drive to make the city's roadways friendlier, even for those who aren't driving, city planners are trying to gather as much input as possible to draw up a plan that would improve pedestrian safety. To that end, they are holding a meeting for pedestrians on Aug. 15, at the Brashear Association on the South Side.

"We here in Pittsburgh are very vehicle-oriented. You really don't think about pedestrians a lot," says Amanda Panosky, a city planning department intern working on the pedestrian plan. "We want to change that mindset. We want to make sure the pedestrians are included."

Meanwhile, police brass says officers can be more effectively deployed to catch traffic-law violations if only they know where to go.

"If we get complaints from the citizens, then we can focus our enforcement efforts. We want to do what we can to redirect our efforts to make it safer," explains commander Scott Schubert, of the special deployment division, which includes 26 motorcycle officers in charge of traffic-law enforcement.

Officials say they prefer that 311 complainants be specific about the location and the time of the violations.

Del Pino vows she is going to do her share to make her complaints known.

"I think I will call every opportunity, every time a car doesn't stop for me. I want to claim my right -- the law says the pedestrian has the right of way," says Del Pino. "I just think that people need to be involved."

The pedestrian meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wed., Aug. 15, at Brashear Association, 2005 Sarah St., South Side. For more information, call the city planning department at 412-255-2200.

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