The Role of Greenspace in Pittsburgh’s Transportation Equity Conversation

Currently, the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI) is developing a Mobility Vision Plan for the next 50 years! While on its surface this may not seem like an environmental justice issue tied to vacant or disinvested land, the implications of this plan are incredibly far-reaching.

Source: https://pittsburghpa.gov/domi/index.html#

As the main entity tasked with managing the city’s transportation infrastructure, DOMI governs many aspects of your movement through your day-to-day life. In addition to the roads most of us use in our daily commutes, DOMI also maintains all of the city’s curbs, sidewalks, bridges, and city steps. These overlapping networks control not only the flow of people, but the flow of goods, commerce, stormwater, and pollutants within the city and surrounding municipalities. Without the vital work carried out by DOMI’s employees (in cooperation with other city departments), Pittsburgh would not be able to function as a city. In the execution of their duties, employees of DOMI adhere to the following principles:

City’s Mobility Principles:

  • No one dies or is seriously injured traveling on city streets.
  • Every household in Pittsburgh can access fresh fruits and vegetables within 20 minutes travel of home, without the requirement of a private vehicle.
  • All trips less than 1 mile are easily and enjoyably achieved by non-vehicle travel.
  • Streets and intersections can be intuitively navigated by an adolescent.
  • The combined cost of transportation, housing, and energy does not exceed 45% of household income for any income group.

Of course, DOMI does not operate in a vacuum: in addition to contending with our city’s famous potholes the department must also address other maintenance issues. These include both the catastrophic (in the form of mass-wasting events), and the gradual (such as neighborhood disinvestment). While the department’s tasks are varied, the development of its Mobility Vision Plan gives us a window into its priorities moving forward. Historically, Pittsburgh’s mobility infrastructure has been utilized to reinforce patterns of redlining and neighborhood segregation. But the 2070 Mobility Vision Plan gives the opportunity to revise this tale: we can reexamine our city’s circulatory system with an eye toward equity, integration, and inclusion.

As of this writing, DOMI has opened public comment regarding the 2070 Mobility Vision Plan. Grounded encourages you, as occupants of the City of Pittsburgh, to speak up about your concerns with transportation infrastructure and your vision for the future. Inconvenienced by a recent landslide that extended your commute? Tag it on DOMI’s interactive map so that they know the precise location! Concerned about numerous large vehicles idling near where you live or work? Send DOMI a tweet (@PGHMOBILITY2070) about your desire for transportation infrastructure that takes your health into account! Does the pedestrian infrastructure in your neighborhood need some additional attention to be safe or secure? Shoot DOMI an email (MOBILITY2070@pittsburghpa.gov) detailing your needs! If you’re a cyclist/pedestrian and want to advocate for more traffic calming measures to improve safety along the routes you travel, DOMI wants to hear from you!

Of course, DOMI is not responsible for addressing every single issue within the city limits. If you’re concerned about illegal dumping on a paper street or other area near your home, try reporting to 311. Also remember that organizational domains often intersect: if you’d like someone to come deal with a backed up stormwater drain on your street, it might be prudent to contact PWSA, ALCOSAN, and DOMI. By advocating for green stormwater solutions (such as curb bump-outs, rain gardens, and bioswales), you will also be encouraging landslide and pollution mitigation!

Whatever you do, remember that any city department cannot solve problems of which it is unaware: if you have a concern regarding your life in the civic sphere, make sure to bring it to the attention of those who can address it. Keep an eye on their priorities through reviewing both long-term plans and short-term schedules: it is only through vigilance and continued participation that equity be realized!

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