Last week, the Chronicle asked its readers in an electronic poll the following question: “Do you have safety concerns when you go downtown?” Of the 247 people who responded, 50% said yes; 33% said no; 14% said they don’t go downtown; and 3% said they weren’t sure. Comments were submitted by 67 people. A few follow.
Concerns don’t stop plans, but I do pay more attention downtown than in other neighborhoods.
How can you not when the news is constantly reporting that downtown is experiencing safety problems?
Downtown Pittsburgh is a cesspool of crime, drugs and homeless people urinating and defecating in the streets. Mayor Gainey has said many times that “homelessness is not a crime.” That may be, but it sure breeds crime all around it. It’s time for the mayor to step up and do something.
We go downtown very frequently. It’s very important for our safety to see police in their car, on bicycles and walking the streets. When we visit New York City’s Times Square, there is a huge police presence, and Pittsburgh needs to do exactly the same thing to deter crime. We can never let the criminals take over our beautiful city.
We have stopped going downtown due to safety concerns. It’s time to clean up downtown and make it safe again.
I’m frequently downtown and have never been concerned about my safety. My concerns are with absentee or disinterested building owners, whose street-level presence is an embarrassment. This makes it more welcoming to homeless folks to camp out and use as a restroom.
I used to enjoy going downtown when it was very easy for me to walk around Kaufmann’s to look at the holiday windows, cross streets and jump off and on buses. I now walk with a quad cane and I’m not sure if I can actually walk downtown! I know most of the concern these days is about homeless people and shootings, but I hope some attention is also paid to ensuring that sidewalks are accessible to those using canes, walkers, wheelchairs and scooters, and crossing streets is safe for those of us with mobility challenges. Homeless shelters can help us with those living on the streets, and better gun laws might lower the number of shootings — but none of those things can help those of us who have trouble getting around if the sidewalks and street crossings aren’t also taken care of.
I recently had to wait for a ride at night on Liberty Avenue after an event downtown. I was overwhelmed by the kindness shown to me by the strangers who reached out to help me with my limited mobility. I know there are bad actors in this area, but most people are good at heart.
We still go downtown, and our concerns aren’t excessive or paranoid, but realistic.
We live in an overwhelmingly pleasant and safe city. U.S. national crime rates are down significantly over the last 30 years. Our obligation as Jews is to love our neighbor and to care for them; not fear them. PJC