featuredimage_heatmap_streetsweep
Data via Parking Authority / Map made with QGIS

Where do Pittsburghers get street sweeping tickets? Basically everywhere.

We mapped more than 40,000 tickets. The results probably won’t surprise you.

featuredimage_heatmap_streetsweep
Data via Parking Authority / Map made with QGIS
Sarah Anne Hughes

Pittsburgh is in the middle of street sweeping season, which begins in April and ends in November.

If you live in an area of the city where the Department of Public Works sweeps, then you probably know that the Pittsburgh Parking Authority follows behind, ready to ticket drivers who’ve forgotten to move their vehicles.

The Incline requested records on street cleaning citations issued between April 1, 2016 and Nov. 30, 2016 from the Parking Authority. That request returned a whooping 40,042 records. Here’s a breakdown of those tickets by month:

Pittsburgh street sweeping violations by month, 2016

AprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovember
58126119476346675956558129954149

In this map 1 , you’ll see the majority of tickets clustered in Squirrel Hill and Oakland.

streetmap_overall

More than 500 citations were issued on Meyran Avenue during the 2016 street sweeping season, according to the data provided by the Parking Authority.

streetmap_oakland

Squirrel Hill parkers couldn’t seem to escape tickets either, with nearly 500 issued on Darlington Road and 339 on Wightman Street.

streetmap_sqhill

That dark spot in Garfield? Chalk that up to the 245 tickets issued on Millvale Avenue.

streetmap_garfield

The North Side’s most ticketed streets included Monterey (217), James (151) and Resaca (84).

streetmap_northside

There will be an app for that

The Incline isn’t the first to wonder about where — and why? — people get street sweeping tickets in Pittsburgh.

Justin Cole — with his teammates Mark Egge, Wei Zhang and Ridhima Sodhi — compiled a report on street sweeping fines while studying at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz School. The team’s conclusions after looking at the city’s program, as well as citation info from November 2015 plus April to October 2016:

  • Street sweeping reduces nutrient pollution by removing nitrogen and phosphorous from the city’s roads before being washed into waterways.
  • So it’s cost effective for a city that cares about the environment.
  • A lot of people get tickets, primarily because they forget to move their vehicles (rather than not giving a damn).
  • The $30 ticket is pretty low compared to other cities, including Fort Worth ($40), D.C. ($45) and New York ($65).
  • Still, at the current rate, potential yearly revenue tops $1 million.
  • City residents would benefit from a reminder system.

The team had previously worked with DPW at Steel City Codefest and was invited by then Deputy Director Lee Haller to do a project with the department, Cole told The Incline.

Originally, the team was investigating the feasibility of using auto-license plate readers to issue tickets. That was scrapped, Cole said, because of some existing state law restrictions.

So they instead turned their attention to PGH.st, an existing resident notification system created by volunteers that sends text message notifications about trash, recycling and yard waste pickup dates. If it worked for those topics, why not street sweeping?

One of the biggest parts of the team’s project was mapping and digitizing the street sweeping routes. Cole said they’re still waiting on the PGH.st volunteer group to release the completed application. A spokesperson for Councilmember Dan Gilman, whose office is working on the app, said there’s no news to report yet. But Cole stressed that everything needed to develop the program is publicly available.

“We’re encouraging anybody to develop it,” he said. “If somebody thinks they can create a better one, we encourage them to.”