Pittsburgh Business Times: 20 People to Know in Transportation and Infrastructure: Leann Chaney, Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission

Leann Chaney, senior active transportation coordinator at the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, works with stakeholders looking to advance active transportation such as biking and walking within the SPC’s 10-county region. She provides technical guidance to help local governments achieve their active transportation goals and improve safety, comfort and connectivity. She also manages SPC’s nonmotorized data collection program, implementing the Regional Active Transportation Plan for Southwestern Pennsylvania and sponsoring a quarterly Active Transportation Forum.

How did you end up working in active transportation, and what attracted you to the field?
I prefer biking or walking for short trips and often bike to work, so the idea of advancing active transportation was appealing to me. Active transportation plays a crucial role in public transportation and transportation demand management strategies and is integral to many aspects of the work we do at SPC.

In what ways can active transportation be incorporated into projects funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act moving forward?
There are numerous opportunities to incorporate active transportation into plans, policies and infrastructure projects. Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure can be incorporated into roadway and other infrastructure projects by embracing Complete Streets principles and using innovative design guidelines to develop contextually appropriate multimodal solutions.

What has been the most gratifying aspect of your career?
Knowing that more people of all ages and abilities can safely bike, walk or roll to get to everyday destinations because new bike lanes, trails or sidewalks were installed or because street crossings were improved brings a sense of fulfillment, knowing you’ve played a part in fostering positive change.

What emerging technologies do you see as having the most significant impact on active transportation?
Rates of active transportation have increased nationally over the past several years, driven by improved walking and bicycling infrastructure and emerging technologies like electric bikes and micromobility solutions, like scooters. E-bikes make biking accessible to a wider range of people, and scooters provide convenient options for short trips, particularly in urban areas.

What book are you currently recommending to friends?
“The Death and Life of Great American Cities” by Jane Jacobs — one of the most influential works in community planning.

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