Oakland Business District Pedestrian Count

Ped Count

To better understand the Oakland Business District’s market place, the OBID has requested the help of the University of Pittsburgh to do a pedestrian count in Central Oakland’s busiest corridor.  With the leadership and help of Mark Magalotti, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer and Codirector of the Center for Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure at the University, PYRO-Box pedestrian counters made by Eco-terCouns have been set up to collect data on foot and cycling traffic in the business district.

The counters record the number of pedestrians by direction and data is summarized per hour. Magalotti’s team anticipates running the counters for about two weeks, and the 24/7 information will then be compared to the manual counts of pedestrians the team is collecting during the district’s busiest times – lunch and dinner hours.  Magalotti’s team consists of MD Shakir Mahmud, a graduate student in the transportation engineering program, and Nathaniel Dirks, a graduate student who installed the pedestrian counters.

“This project has provided an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students in transportation engineering to gain experience in pedestrian data collection and understand the importance of measuring pedestrian activity levels as it related to urban business districts,” said Magalotti… “The project is being conducted as a public service project for OBID by the student chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers,” Magalotti continued.

Revv Oakland’s Startup Profile: TravelWits

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Co-founders: Arman Bimatov, Alla Safonova, Maxim Likhachev

Co-founders: Arman Bimatov, Alla Safonova, Maxim Likhachev

What does TravelWits do and what is its mission?
TravelWits.com allows you to book a last minute vacation or getaway much easier than any other travel website. Simply enter your budget, vacation theme, and desired time in transit then our website returns what we call TripKits.

TripKits are pre-built getaways that include the total cost of a trip such as the cost of the flight, hotel, airport parking, and Uber to the resort or hotel. Our website builds TripKits by looking at all transit options such as flying, driving, taking a train or bus, not to mention thousands of hotels and resorts.

People don’t often realize all their options because configuring the total cost of several trips is very time consuming. In addition to building the complete trip, we allow users to purchase the flight, train or bus ticket within the same checkout as the hotel.

TravelWits.com caters to people who want to find new vacation ideas without breaking the bank, or endlessly searching online. As for booking the vacation, TravelWits keep customers informed about pricing changes via email alerts so that when the price is right and moment is right TravelWits allows you to book the entire trip in one single checkout page.

How was the company born?
As founders we personally ran into this issue over and over: every few months we would schedule a weekend getaway, but routinely we had little time or desire to actually plan. Building a website that made it easy to travel last minute has been our main goal, and this came from our personal frustrations and shortcomings with current travel websites.

How long has TravelWits been around?
TravelWits is a young company in the startup phase and it has raised a seed round of funding from Innovation Works. This summer TravelWorks will move out of beta and will launch in four markets. You can checkout the beta product for these markets at:
Getaways from NYC
Getaways from Pittsburgh
Getaways from Boston
Getaways from Washington, DC

Why did you chose to locate in Oakland?
We have close ties to CMU and one of our founders is a CMU research professor. Given, Oakland was a natural fit.

How is Revv Helping Your Business?
Most of all Revv has supported us by offering up an ideal office space in a location that attracts the talent we need. We often work with young engineers, interns and young professionals. Being located in Oakland is helpful to attract these workers.

Whimsy on Fifth

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A one stop shop for all fashion, home décor, jewelry, gourmet treats, custom gift baskets, upscale resale and retail – or just quirky trinkets! – Whimsy on Fifth is your place. Located at 3402 Fifth Avenue in Oakland, Whimsy on Fifth is an eclectic, fun and whimsical place to shop for some much needed retail therapy. Owner, Jennifer Travers Skidmore, opened its doors on January 23, 2017, and welcomes everyone to drop by her new boutique. “We’re a one-stop-shop for all gift shopping, balloons, wrapping and celebratory items… If you give us a notice ahead of time, we’re even happy to get things ready for events!” said Jennifer. Whimsy on Fifth even plans on offering flowers and monogramming services in the near future.

Jennifer’s husband previously worked at Carlow University and her children attend Carlow’s campus elementary school, so she would pass by the 3402 Fifth Avenue storefront very often prior to making it her business. “The space called me from a distance, so I asked the Sciullis next door at Sciulli’s Pizza about it and they were happy to give me a tour!” said Jennifer. “Oakland is a really neat community with all types of people and professions, and Whimsy aims to capture the large walking demographic that Oakland has,” she continued.
Whimsy on Fifth hopes to have an official grand opening sometime in the spring. Jennifer also currently attends Harvard University studying for her Masters in Museum Studies.

When asked what her favorite part of the Oakland commercial district was, Jennifer responded with “3402 Fifth Avenue!”

Whimsy on Fifth is open:
M-F
10am – 6pm
Hours subject to change; follow Whimsy on Facebook.

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Lotsa Stone Fired Pizza

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Lotsa Stone Fired Pizza, located on 3619 Forbes Avenue in Oakland, is bringing fresh, customized pizzas from the hearth to your plate. Lotsa plans to officially open in mid-March and can’t wait to share its fresh ingredients, signature crisp crusts and smokey flavors to your taste buds. Jenna Martino, marketing analyst for Lotsa, is excited to kick off their Oakland location. “Lotsa provides a variety of flavors we know college students will love… We have customizable 11” pizzas that have the freshest ingredients,” said Jenna.

Lotsa Stone Fired Pizza prides itself in its quick service and the fact that it’s open late for the hungry night owls of Oakland. “Lotsa is definitely fast-casual and customers will always get a great product quickly,” said Jenna. “We’re open late too so we can serve the Oakland night life!”

Lotsa was started in 2015 in Morgantown West Virginia and hopes to have 12-15 locations by the end of this year. “We love college campus locations because of all the foot traffic, and Oakland sure has a lot of that,” said Jenna. Lotsa encourages everyone to drop by and try their Build Your Own Pizza option where you can choose your dough, sauce, cheese and up to five toppings for only $8.99.

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Fuel & Fuddle – the latest restaurant in sustainability

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Fuel and Fuddle, located at 212 Oakland Avenue, is the latest restaurant to get designated and make equipment upgrades through the Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants program. Fuel and Fuddle is a true hot spot in Oakland serving upscale bar and grill food since 1996, and owner and OBID Board Member, Brandon Smith, is happy with his business earning a Silver plate designation level. “The program definitely made me more aware of the importance of green practices and equipment to be environmentally friendly and help save money,” said Brandon. “Thanks to the knowledge and expertise of Rebecca Bykoski, program manager of the Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants program, we were able to tackle the designation process as well as identify equipment we could switch out,” he continued.

Fuel and Fuddled used the funds provided by the program to replace a 30 year-old furnace. “Instead of repairing the old furnace, I found value in a new high-efficiency furnace that used less gas saves money in the long run,” said Brandon. Brandon would like to see more Oakland restaurants jump on board this opportunity to save money through sustainability. “It’s nice when doing the right thing is the thing that helps your business grow,” he concluded.