Today, from 5:30 – ???, Bike Maryland and the Waterfront Partnership are hosting a Bike 101 Commuter Workshop. Learn the basics of bike commuting and register for a chance to win a Trek 700 hybrid bike. To register or for more information, email Beth at email@example.com
Tomorrow, come join us at Twenty20 Cycling Co. in Hampden for The Avenue’s First Friday. Beer and wine will be provided as well as munchies and sweet treats. Come enjoy great company and maybe walk away with some door prizes from 6 – 8pm. Twenty2o is located at 735 W. 36th St.
An Adventure So Grand, It Requires Multiple Blog Posts
So, there Mark & I were soaking in the cool public space of Market Square. We had just missed the Thursday Farmers’ Market but there was still a lot of activity with street level shops, restaurants and the shiny Gothic Pittsburgh Plate Glass building. No wonder the next “Batman” is being filmed here. During college, we used to come up to Pittsburgh on Saturday just to get out of Frostburg. We had taken a few Urban Planning field trips to see the ‘new’ Station Square and burgeoning South Side scene. I hadn’t been in PGH since November 24, 1995 and I didn’t get to see much of the town. Over the past decade, I’ve come to loathe in a very respectful manner the town’s professional football team. Had they been in the NFC, I would probably root for them often. As they are in the same division as my team, it only guarantees the two toughest games on our schedule against a quality organization.
Football aside, there’s a lot going on in the Pittsburgh bike scene that I had to check out. Clarence did such a great job bringing PGH’s bike culture to light in StreetFilms that I was due for a visit. Before leaving B’more, I got in touch with my counterpart, Steve Patcham, and Bike PGH to see about getting a tour and trading some notes. After the serendipitous meeting with Patrick, we meet him back at his office and were immediately impressed with the handcrafted hanging bike rack in the City Planning Department’s office. They even had name tags for each hanger. Patrick & Jason took us for a spin through town on their commute home over the Allegheny River, around Heinz Field and over the Ohio River. We then rode a fast but wide road to Patrick’s place where we gladly lightened our loads and dumped the panniers.
Heading out to grab a bit, we rode the paths along the Monongahela River behind Station Square to the South Side on Carson Street. Yeah, this wasn’t the same Pittsburgh of my youth. Patrick must have read my mind when we pulled up to OTB Bicycle Cafe on Carson St. Not only is the entire bar decorated in bike decor, but everything on the menu is bike themed! After a delicious meal, we opted for a little more bike riding so we did what is common to Pittsburgh cyclists: We Climbed Hills!
Patrick took us on a long, slow climb up through Arlington and Mt. Washington. We stopped at Grandview Park for some amazing views of the city as thunderstorms lit up the twilight in the distance. Next came a rush-inducing drop along P J McArdie Roadway where we topped 45 mph. From there, we headed back to Patrick’s. We had more of Pittsburgh to explore tomorrow…
“Just the Girls” enjoyed a fun little road ride on Monday, with 10 of us gathering to spin our legs out from the weekend while making some new friends. Actually, it was 12 of us including my 2 and 5 year old girls sitting up front in the cargo bike eating LUNA Bars and reading Dr. Seuss. We all headed up Falls Rd. towards Jones Falls Trail at a leisurely pace, conversing as the grey urban landscape slowly transformed to a backdrop of lush greenery and flowers (hey, it was a chick ride after all, and we even stopped to pick raspberries!).
After cruising up the wooded switchbacks up to Druid Hill Park, a couple of us raced around the lake, and then we all coasted down the short-cut to Falls Road.
The highlight may have been when Shirley spotted a dollar bill in the road, and banged a U-ee to snag it. She promptly gave it to my 2 year old, but then started hunting for the something else one to give my other quietly frowning kid. Sure enough, passing through (what else, the red light district!), she found another dollar to save the day.
So this women’s ride was a success and we actually made a profit. The average speed of the ride… umm, no faster than 12 MPH, but who’s counting?
An Adventure So Grand, It Requires Multiple Blog Posts
Rolling into Connellsville, we were greeted by tons of trail art and a separated bike path through town. We loaded up on fajitas and chile rellanos for another 20 miles to our campsite. Years of trail experience has taught me that food is important to the morale of the trip. Night #1, I whipped up some broccoli & cheese rotini and added some pepper jack and bacon to take it up a notch. Night #2 included tomato soup with pepper jack & bacon, followed by chicken alfredo noodles. I crashed hard and early on Wednesday to make Thursday easier….which it was.
The last stretch to Pittsburgh had us doing 40 miles before lunch through trail towns, past metal factories, housing projects and over some more incredible bike/ped bridges. After McKeesport, the newest section of the GAP took us over more railroad, under the rollercoasters of Kennywood and along the Steel Valley Trail system to the old steel factory site of Homestead. Like other trails I’ve ridden around the country, the GAP was bounded here by an industrial area with “hazardous conditions” on one side and a railway on the other. Where there’s a will for a trail, there’s a way. A speed cyclist yelled at a group of us to get out of the way. One of the locals we were riding with said it happens often here and one time he and his fellow slow riders had to teach one of the speedsters a lesson. “He took it like a man and didn’t call the police.” After a quick reload on supplies to transition to an urban setting, we got back on the trail and quickly lost it.
We followed some local advice, but lost our way again only finding deadends and trainyards. The maps we had weren’t incredibly helpful but we found a low road and followed it westerly and got back on the Eliza Furnace Trail. As we pedaled through the trailhead parking lot, we were stopped by a municipal employee who asked, “Are you the Transportation guys coming from Baltimore?” Patrick works in the City Planning Department and heard we were coming to town. He confirmed we were headed in the right direction and told us to swing by the office later on. Ok, that was weird and providential.
We crossed the Hot Metal Bridge, back along the Jail Trail and by Golden Triangle Bike Rentals where we scored some bike maps. I would say our GAP Adventure ended at Market Square where we chilled in a public square, commenting on the architecture, lack of curbs, noting the activity and generally agreeing that Market Square works!
One more trail complete, but the adventure wasn’t over. We still had Pittsburgh to explore….
With the Southeast Bike Network being installed, a problematic area was the intersection of Bank St and Patterson Park Avenue: how do we show bikes (travelling eastbound in the roadway) access to Patterson Park while guiding pedestrians from the sidewalk to the same sidewalk ramp?
The original design included a crosswalk which extended to the middle of the intersection to show that bikes in the roadway would be in the intersection. After being installed, pedestrians complained that the intersection markings were confusing and that the crosswalk directed peds towards oncoming Bank St. traffic.
The solution was a crossbike – a pavement marking treatment that guides cyclists through intersections. Used in other cities across the U.S., this is Baltimore’s first crossbike. It clearly marks where eastbound, on-street bike traffic may transition to the sidewalk leading into Patterson Park. The separate crosswalk clearly shows the pedestrian connection between the sidewalks.
An Adventure So Grand, It Requires Multiple Blog Posts
I’m a sucker for long trails. Thin traces of dirt highways twisting through the woods offering a chance to escape; away from the cluttering noise and just gives me a chance to think while my body goes on auto-pilot. I started feeding this addiction in college, even more so after and weened myself after a walk from Georgia to Maine. A couple years ago, I learned of the a trail developing north of the C&O Canal going to Pittsburgh. I had mountain biked sections of this trail when I was at Frostburg, but now, the trail was virtually complete and ripe for my riding. I started planning this trip last winter and while others expressed interest, on the journey’s kickoff, only Mark Brown was ready to ride.
After a rainy drive to Cumberland, Mark and I loaded our gear and started pedaling the 150 miles to Pittsburgh on the Great Allegheny Passage Trail. This former rail bed of crushed stone reaches across the last range of the Appalachians to the Ohio River. The morning rain gave way to a hazy afternoon as we climbed up out of the valley smoke in the sun of the Cash Valley. Next to the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, we slowly pedaled to Frostburg for lunch. The trail continued to climb through the Borden Tunnel, across the Mason Dixon, into the refrigerated Big Savage Tunnel and finally to the trail’s highest point at the Eastern Continental Divide. It was all downhill from here…
The trail then followed a series of creeks and rivers over even more bridges. Flaughery Creek feeds the Casselman River feeds the Youghigheny River feeds the Monongahela River. Wind farms lined the ridges through Meyersdale and over the Salisbury Viaduct. The first night’s stop was in Rockwood, PA at the Husky Haven Campground; a great campground right on the trail with covered woodpiles for every site. (Showers, pool tables, water & charging station were across the river).
The next morning, Mark scored a rack one of a zillion bike shops right on the trail to get the weight of his back. We traveled through a green tunnel of rhododendrons along the rapids of the Casselman to Confluence where more bike shops and coffee awaited. From here, I felt the need to put the pedals down and reached the whitewater mecca of Ohiopyle State Park in no time.
In the middle of nowhere on the trail, interns were collecting the zip codes of trail users. Ya gotta love data collection, especially on bicycle & pedestrian projects! (ok, maybe its just me)
the adventure continues tomorrow….
I’ve got some catching up to do on the blog with riding the Great Allegheny Passage and all over Pittsburgh, but in the meantime:
Check out Cycle Maryland’s Survey to help improve biking conditions across the state.
Marla Streb leads another ride tomorrow evening at 6:15 from the World Trade Center. The ride heads north to the Jones Falls Trail and lollipops back for a downtown 1.5 hr “country” road ride. This ride is open to all ages/levels and will be casual and fun. Meet some new friends while spinning your legs. It’ll be just the girls!
Last week, Baltimore got word that the results of the 2010 study showing that more jobs are created through bicycle & pedestrian projects as opposed to road resurfacing and reconstruction projects. With 10 other U.S. cities submitting data, researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, have been able to produce a useful study of the employment impacts (job creation) associated with these projects.
The study compares 58 projects in 11 cities finding that bike projects create 46% more jobs than road projects without bike or pedestrian components. Other cities in the study include:
- Anchorage, Alaska
- Austin, Texas
- Bloomington, Indiana
- Concord, New Hampshire
- Eugene, Oregon
- Houston, Texas
- Lexington, Kentucky
- Madison, Wisconsin
- Santa Cruz, California
- Seattle, Washington
Read more at the Alliance for Biking and Walking
In other news, Carfree Mark Brown and I will be biking the Great Allegheny Passage this week and spending some time
by MARLA STREB
Uber bike planner Nate Evans and I took a spin down N. Monroe Street’s freshly striped bike lane the other day, which connects Mondawmin mall/metro station to North Avenue. Around lunchtime, there were few cars using this neighborhood artery. In fact, a couple of happy teens on modified BMX rigs cruised down the gentle slope, taking up most of the street. Evidently they hadn’t yet noticed the sweet bike lane (or they just didn’t want to ride with Nate and me). To make way for this important and safe bike route, a lane for the cars was removed. Apparently the driving community is not so stoked about the shrinkage and wants the bike component removed. Bummer for the neighborhood!
With that new bike lane, more and more local folks might realize biking is a safe alternate to getting in that car or waiting for the bus. If the city shows that it respects their neighborhood by providing them a safe and environmental way to enjoy it, then citizens are likely to respond in kind by respecting the rights of cyclists throughout the whole city, as well as their neighborhood.