Lawrenceville Community to Convene around Mobility Solutions
Few things are as important to our quality of life as our ability to move around our community. While the “walkability” of the Lawrenceville neighborhood is part of its essential character and one of its main selling points, ongoing mobility challenges impact the daily lives of all residents and community members. Poor sidewalk and accessibility infrastructure and perpetual construction makes it difficult for neighbors to get around safely, especially people with disabilities, parents with strollers, and older adults. Busy intersections like 40th and Butler and speeding drivers along residential streets threaten the safety of pedestrians, bikers, and motorists alike. And while Lawrenceville has a growing bike network and is well-served by transit lines, there’s still plenty of room for continued improvements to make bussing and biking easier.
And of course anyone who knows Lawrenceville knows that parking is a perpetual issue in the community. Finding solutions to these various issues has been a topic of many a Lawrenceville community meeting over the years and now those conversations are finally bearing fruit. After many months of discussion between Lawrenceville United, Lawrenceville Corporation, the Department of Mobility & Infrastructure, the Pittsburgh Parking Authority, and the Office of Nighttime Economy, City Council Member Deb Gross introduced a Mobility Enhancement District (MED) ordinance at the end of 2022 that will be the subject of a series of community meetings in April.
The MED would create a dedicated, locally controlled source of funds for mobility improvements in Lawrenceville and the Bloomfield border. These funds would come from new meters being placed on Butler Street and Penn Avenue, nighttime enforcement of meters, and dynamic pricing to capture extra revenue when demand is at its peak. By better managing the supply of parking when many visitors are coming to the neighborhood, the intent is to increase turnover for small businesses, while simultaneously reducing the amount of “cruising” that takes place as visitors circle residential blocks in search of precious parking. Revenue from the MED could help with much-needed mobility enhancements, such as bus shelters, sidewalk repairs, bump-outs, traffic signal upgrades, and more.
Also under consideration as a companion to the MED is potential changes to the Residential Permit Parking (RPP) program in Lawrenceville and the Bloomfield border. Currently, large swaths of the residential community aren’t included in RPP zones, and daytime hours of enforcement end precisely when many residents come home from work and visitors come bustling into Lawrenceville for the business district and nightlife. While no one loves paying for parking, unlimited free parking is an incentive for people outside the community to park all day, taking up limited on-street parking and only exacerbating the issue.
Any changes to RPP would be informed by the needs of particular blocks. Some streets may benefit from adding RPP, while others may benefit from hybrid zones (a mixture of metered parking and RPP), while other streets may benefit from modifying RPP enforcement hours to extend into the nighttime. While conversations around parking often bring out heated discussion, many community members are ready to move forward with some changes.
“I believe it will benefit residents to secure parking with permits and create parking turnover that benefits businesses along Butler Street,” says Eric Kellar, owner of Lawrenceville Pet Supply in Upper Lawrenceville.
Armin Samii, Chair of the all-volunteer resident group Better Streets Lawrenceville, which has long advocated for improved mobility options, agrees it’s time to reconsider how we manage parking in Lawrenceville. “The current [RPP] program no longer reflects the usage patterns of our vibrant neighborhood. The proposed changes will encourage visitors to carpool, take public transit, or use active transportation to get to Lawrenceville – making our neighborhood better for residents, businesses, and visitors alike.”
As the MED and possible RPP changes get considered for advancement, Lawrenceville United (LU) and Lawrenceville Corporation (LC) will be conducting a series of community engagement events to explain some of the proposals in greater depth, provide options to the community, and solicit feedback, starting with a kickoff at the Lawrenceville “Happenings” community meeting on Thursday 4/13 at 6:30 PM at Arsenal Middle School’s auditorium. Following this, there will be three open houses where community members can stop in at any point, see visuals of various proposals, engage directly with LU and LC staff, and offer input. The first will be on Tuesday 4/18 from 5-7 PM at Trace Brewing (4312 Main Street), the second will be on Saturday 4/29 from 11-2 at the Ice House Studios (100 43rd Street), and the third will on Monday 5/1 from 11-2 at the Boys and Girls Club (4600 Butler Street). The process aims to conclude at the Lawrenceville “Happenings” meeting in May, which will be on Thursday 5/11 at 6:30 PM at Goodwill’s Workforce Development Center (118 52nd Street).
All community members–including residents, small business owners, workers, visitors, and other stakeholders–are invited to attend these sessions, get information, and offer input. For more information, please visit www.LUnited.org. Lawrenceville United can be reached at 412-802-7220 or info@LUnited.org and Lawrenceville Corporation can be reached at 412-621-1616 or firstname.lastname@example.org.