Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Civic Management

Pittsburgh could probably take some lessons from other cities (most notably New York) on improving its image among its residents. Certainly one gets the impression that Giuliani's efforts in New York to make the place seem friendlier and safer worked amaingly well, although that may have just been PR.

I was thinking about this after the downtown fireworks display on Sunday night. Pittsburgh fires off the display from the Confluence, so there are basically three main areas to watch the show -- north of, south of, and between the rivers. Since there is abundant parking and large grassy spaces on the north side (not to mention it being closest to our house) we were settled there with our picnic. After the show we made our way back to the car, strapped the boys in, and prepared to leave the parking lot. Forty-five minutes later we had moved about 4 feet. After another half hour or so, we managed to get onto roads were traffic was moving, and after that getting home was a doddle.

While I expect a certain amount of congestion leaving a major civic event, what really amazed me was the complete lack of police officers in all this. The congestionw was being strongly driven by complete gridlock in a few key intersections, and it seemed that the correct placement of even a dozen uniforms directing traffic would have done wonders for keeping things moving.

For all that, at least the boys were asleep in their car seats. Two years ago we went to Austin's fireworks with our then-two year old, and Karin's post on this year's event sounds all too similar.