Business Leaders Love the (Bike) Lanes

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“This is not a fad that 20-somethings have discovered. The beards will go but not the bikes.”

In the last month we’ve seen two articles released in which top tech leaders call for better bike infrastructure in Pittsburgh. Both Jon Bares, Director of Uber ATC, and Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator, have singled out better bikeways as central strategies for attracting and retaining top talent in our city. Build it and they will come.

During his keynote at OPT412, Paul Graham said (fast forward to 12:30 for his comments on bike/ped/transit):

The appeal of Pittsburgh though is not just buildings. Pittsburgh is lucky, like cities like San Francisco or New York, in being a pre-car town. Things are not too spread out. Because those 25-29 year olds do not like driving. [ … ]They like the walk and bicycle and take public transit. And if you have been to San Francisco lately you will have noticed the enormous amount of bicycles. [ … ] This is not a fad that 20-somethings have discovered. The beards will go but not the bikes. [ … ] Cities where you can get around without driving are just better. Period. This is not just a temporary trend. You can bet on bikes. And as with historic preservation, the empirical evidence shows that you can not go too far. So why not make Pittsburgh THE MOST bicycle and pedestrian friendly city in the country. SOMEONE needs to be #1, why not here? I can pretty much guarantee you wont regret it. The city will seem a paradise to the young people we’re trying to attract.

Comments from Uber featured in the Trib:

[John Bares, Director of Uber ATC] said recruits want more bike paths, cleaner air and better public transit. They want a vibrant downtown, and they want to live in it. Uber is competing for people looking at jobs in San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, Seattle and Boulder.

“If any of you have anything to do with making Pittsburgh better for young people, keep on it and hard, because that’s what we’re competing against,” Bares said. “Every single person we’re hiring, with almost no exception, we’re picking off from somewhere.”

And every person Uber hires, Bares said, could get another job tomorrow if they wanted.

We would agree with Paul: why not make Pittsburgh the most bicycle and pedestrian friendly city in the country? Are there really any downsides? It doesn’t take much time to determine that the answer; lets make our streets safe for all and build our population and economy in the process.


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