Q&A

Q&A2020-09-30T00:40:07+00:00
Anthony Weinmann, Pittsburgh Paramedics Union2020-09-29T23:07:23+00:00

The Safety Street Q&A series features NCSR partners, industry leaders and other notable transportation organizations who are working towards the collaborative goal of safer roads.

Anthony Weinmann has worked as a paramedic in Pittsburgh for 30 years. For the past 6 years, he’s served as President of the Fraternal Association of Professional Paramedics Local 1, the union that represents the city’s 160 paramedics.

Safety Street had the chance to  ask Anthony about some of the traffic safety problems he and his members face every day.

Safety Street: How much of your work  revolves around responding to automobile collisions?

Anthony Weinmann: A significant amount of our time is spent responding to automotive crashes across the city. Pittsburgh EMS Rescue is the only entity that is responsible for rescue situations.  There are two trucks designated to rescue 24/7 that are equipped with tools like the “Jaws of Life,” which are designed to enable rescuers to remove people out of the entrapments that often result from car collisions.

Safety Street: What do you think is the most common cause of auto collisions?

Anthony Weinmann: In my experience alcohol plays an important role in vehicular collisions. in addition, most collisions occur at areas such as intersections, stop signs and red lights. I think most problems originate from people being in a hurry, trying to beat a light or cruising through a stop sign.

Safety Street: Do your members respond to many collisions with pedestrians and cyclists?

Anthony Weinmann:  Definitely. Many of the car incidents we respond to involve pedestrians.  It may be when they are walking, crossing at intersections, or riding on their bikes.

Safety Street:What is the number one thing drivers in Pittsburgh and across the country could do to be safer? What is the most important tip you would give them?

Anthony Weinmann:  Distraction while drivers are talking and texting on their cell phones have increased in recent years.  It is becoming more common and more concerning, and the consequences can be devastating. I can’t stress enough the importance of the following four points: wearing seat belts; storing cell phones while driving; obeying traffic lights and driving at posted speeds.

Safety Street: Pittsburgh City Council recently voted to authorize red-light safety cameras. What was your reaction to the news?

Anthony Weinmann: I was pleased, as were my members.  We believe the cameras will help decrease the number of crashes that involve running a red light. It will make people more aware of the lights and less likely to speed up to “beat” them.

Safety Street: Why does your organization support the use of red-light safety cameras?

Anthony Weinmann: We believe the cameras will lead to a reduction in collisions and a reduction in injuries. That’s our bottom line. Paramedics believe overall safety will improve once people realize that they will pay a price for running red lights, even if police officers aren’t able to monitor every corner.  Our job is saving the lives of people who are in injured during crashes. Reducing the number of people who are injured unnecessarily is an objective we all support.

Safety Street: Is there a particular part of Pittsburgh where reckless drivers are a big problem?

Anthony Weinmann: It’s hard to narrow it down to a single area. As with many communities, there are many busy intersections in town and not just one problematic area. Some areas of town that are particularly vulnerable to problems are those that have a large amount of traffic or major roadways.

Downtown and Oakland where the universities and hospitals are, including the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, are both found to be especially problematic when it comes to pedestrian and cyclist collisions.

Eric Boerer, Bike Pittsburgh2020-09-29T23:07:23+00:00

The Safety Street Q&A series features NCSR partners, industry leaders and other notable transportation organizations who are working towards the collaborative goal of safer roads. 

Founded in 2002, Bike Pittsburgh is a charitable non-profit that works on behalf of the Pittsburgh community to make the city safe, accessible, and friendly to bicycle and pedestrian transportation. Eric Boerer has been a safety advocate nearly a decade. He started with Bike Pittsburgh part time in 2005 and is now its full time Advocacy Director. Safety Street had the chance to ask Eric about his views on the value of red-light safety cameras for cyclists in Pittsburgh and across the country.

Safety Street: What is the biggest challenge that cyclists face on the road?

Eric Boerer: The biggest challenge is aggressive driving. It’s something that I feel has changed dramatically over the years as more cyclists appear on the road. Thankfully, drivers have been improving in recent years, but it only takes one aggressive driver to ruin someone’s day or ruin someone’s life. Aggressive driving is probably the thing that scares Bike Pittsburgh members the most.

Safety Street: What’s the number one thing you hope drivers will keep in mind?

Eric Boerer: What Bike Pittsburgh is really trying to do with its driver education programs is humanize cyclists. Bikers are just normal folks trying to get somewhere. We could be your cousin, your doctor, your teacher. We’re not out there trying to annoy anybody, we’re just trying to get where we’re going.

Safety Street: The Pittsburgh City Council just approved a rule allowing red-light safety cameras in the city of Pittsburgh. What do you hope will be the outcome?

Eric Boerer: For one, we hope the outcome is that people actually stop at red lights. The cameras work, according to our research. Overall safety will be improved once people start obeying the law. On a broader level, it raises awareness of traffic safety in general.

Safety Street: Bike Pittsburgh has been an outspoken supporter of red-light safety camera technology. Why do you feel red-light safety cameras are so critical to cyclists?

Eric Boerer:  It’s about safety. Any tool that helps police enforce safety on our streets is good for cyclists and really good for everyone who uses the roads. Once people think there’s a chance they could be penalized for doing something illegal, they’re far less likely to do it.

Safety Street: In Pennsylvania, fines paid by red-light runners will go in part to funding safety projects for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. Are there are strong cycling safety projects on your radar?

Eric Boerer: We’re working on bike lanes throughout the city in many different neighborhoods. Last summer, we released the Better Bikeways vision, which outlines that system. They’re bike lanes that encourage physical separation between cars and bikes. We’re trying to step up the level of bike lane beyond just a stripe on the road, whether that is in the form of painted lanes or in some cases concrete. Some additional funding for safety improvements could make current lanes safer, too.

Safety Street: Which neighborhoods in the city do you think are best for cycling? What are they doing right?

Eric Boerer: Last spring, the city painted intersections on Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield at the Bloomfield Bridge. Where cars need to cross bike lanes in order