PARK(ing) Day 2016 - Quantitative Recap

To celebrate PARK(ing) Day 2016, collaborators BikePGH, Western Pennsylvanian Conservancy, The Cultural Trust and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership turned Penn Avenue in Gateway Center into a temporary park with temporary demonstration bike lane. The pop-up park was open from 9am to 3pm Friday September 16th and provided Downtown office workers, residents and visitors a variety of urban amenities including tables and chairs in a pedestrian plaza, expanded green space and food trucks. From anecdotal observations, both the expanded people-first space and the temporarily expanded bike lane proved to be a big hit.

Envision Downtown staff was onsite throughout the day to measure pedestrian activity and bike traffic during the experiment. We sought to document, quantitatively, the success of PARK(ing) day in activating Gateway Center using our Public Space Public Life Survey findings as a baseline.

The Details

The goal of PARK(ing) Day Pittsburgh is to show that if we prioritize planning for humans walking and biking, the transformation it can have on a space and on the city. Envision Downtown took pedestrian, bicycle, and stationary activity counts throughout the afternoon to later compare to the PSPL (add link) data from the Fall, October 6th, 2016. By comparing these two data collections we can document how the use of the space was affected by the temporary park compared to the use of space during a “normal” weekday morning and afternoon. Envision is interested in this comparison to help predict the effects of future plans to make gateway center, part of the great route project (link), more pedestrian and bike friendly as well as a more effective public space.

One of the intentions of the great route project, is to increase pedestrian and bicycle safety as well as providing a better experience while moving through the space by adding sidewalk bump outs, greenery, and possibly public art to the space. Although the main purpose for adding sidewalk bump outs is decreasing the pedestrian walking distance, these bump outs will also make the parking along Penn –extension permanent rather than limited to off peak hours. Making these changes is intended to increase the comfort of bicyclist and pedestrians moving through the space, and ultimately increase the amount of people that use the space effectively.

The Results

Both pedestrian and bicycle traffic increased with the addition of the temporary park and defined bike lane. Highest increase in pedestrian traffic was seen at 11am, and 12pm for cycling traffic. Both of these increases display that most people are moving in and out of the space during their lunch break more than any other point in the day. 


The stationary counts from PARK(ing) Day and PSPL provide information on how people were using the public spaces including bench seating, standing, waiting for transit, or interaction with a cultural or commercial activity. This data is represented in both a bar graph and doughnut graph portraying how many people were doing a select activity within the 4-hour period in which data counts were collected.  

While the majority of the stationary activities increased from PSPL to PARK(ing) Day, people waiting for transit and standing decreased when PARK(ing) Day took place. This reinforces the perception that people are not using the public spaces in Gateway Center for significant activity other than waiting for transit and standing. With permanent improvements to the space, this data indicates more people will be likely to utilize the space. 

Editors Note: This post was developed with the help of our new intern, Jeanne Batog. Jeanne is a Civil Engineering student at the University of Pittsburgh.