Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Downtown Partnership, and others involved in the city’s downtown planning and business community, are taking a close look at a concept that would involve radically altering this part of Liberty Avenue into what’s called a “shared space.”
“Shared space really is an open design, meaning that there aren’t any rules,” said Robert Ping, technical assistance program manager at the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, an organization that is based in Port Townsend, Washington.
“Even as downtown Pittsburgh has undergone this really dramatic revolution, with an emphasis on residential growth, cultural amenities, and public space, the road network, and the transportation network, is basically the same as it was after World War II,” said said Sean Luther, executive director for Envision Downtown, a public-private partnership created by Mayor Bill Peduto and the Downtown Partnership.
Pittsburgh is not unique in this regard, according to Ping of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute. “The way we’ve designed our roadways is to really prioritize the automobile’s throughput and speed,” he said.
In his view, this type of design for city streets is making less and less sense for many parts of the U.S. these days given changes in demographics and preferences.