An Adventure So Grand, It Requires Multiple Blog Posts and Titles
(The following takes place been 10 am and 10 pm)
Friday started with trying to meet up with Scott and Paul while President Obama’s motorcade created rolling street closures in Pittsburgh. I met up with Steve Patcham at his office where we talked shop about developing & implementing bicycle master plans, abandoned bike policies and navigating public works procedures. Then we were ready to roll…
The 6 (count ‘em) of us navigated the still congested streets as Steve first took us through and under the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on a waterfall lined walkway opening out to the Allegheny River waterfront. Its amazing what Pittsburgh has done to open the riverfronts to the public. Imagine a Waterfront Promenade that borders both sides of 3 rivers. Heading up through the Strip District, we envisioned BRTs and bike lanes along the bustling commercial center. Steve pointed out that PGH’s sharrows also wear away quickly. I rode over a sharrow so faded, I didn’t even noticed it.
Not far away, we stopped at the Penn Avenue art-deco headquarters of BIKE PGH, the local bicycle advocacy organization. Scott Bricker, executive director, shared some of the successes and challenged faced by the 1500 member organization. While seeing significant improvements over their 9 year existence, Bike PGH still struggled to get more bike lanes on the ground, but was instrumental in promoting the city’s bike culture. Scott, along with advocacy director Erik Boerer and program director Lou Fineberg joined our cycling conversation as we headed up the Liberty Avenue bike lanes to get some lunch at People’s Indian Restaurant – good fuel for the rest of the ride.
After lunch, we walked over to Kraynick’s Bike Shop. We could barely fit in the door as the place was wall to wall bike parts. Seriously, I couldn’t see the walls because there were so many bike parts in this place. Owner Jerry Kraynick won’t do your bike repairs, but will show you how in the do-it-yourself bike maintenance pit at the back of the store.
We pedalled over to Squirrel Hill to get coffee and take in the busy sidewalk scene on Forbes Avenue. Sidewalk cafes, shoppers, BMXers and tandems coexisted peacefully. Comparisons were made on how both B’more & PGH were Rust Belt cities that really do have a lot going on with bikes, but can’t be compared to the larger, more progressive bike cities. I know its tough for B’more sitting between DC and Philly. Ideas were thrown out about how our two towns could develop a friendly, bike-related wager. On-street bike corral ? (yeah, we already got that) X number of bike lanes a year? (Hmmm) Getting more elected officials on bikes? (Possibly). So when I returned home to see the new crossbike, I was like “Oh yeah, one more up on Pittsburgh!” But they do have one passionate and effective local bicycle advocacy group.
We learned some of the local bike lingo:
- Stay Low – riding along the river
- Stay on the Plateau – saving the hill climbing by combining trips uphill
Bike PGH also had a great assortment of stickers that promoted biking like
- “Helmet Hair Is Sexy”
- “My Other Bike Is A Bike”
- “Be The Engine”
At Schenley Plaza, we split up as some stayed on the plateau while we went low. Down the cobbled Joncaire St towards Eliza Furnace and along the Mon, we crossed towards the South Side passing the Pittsburgh Steelers Training Facility. Patrick said he once passed Mike Tomlin riding a bike to work. Others said they saw many Steelers on bikes around town. Now, that just hurts! Ok, Ray’s taken to two wheels, how about the rest of the team? Harbs?
Patrick led us on our 2nd dinner tour of PGH with a return to OTB, then over to Pizza Sola on Carson where they had Cheerwine and crazy delicious Greek pizza. To burn it off, we headed back across the Allegheny to see the Pirates new stadium with ample bike parking, up across the North Shore then back to Schenley Plaza to catch a free Fitz and the Tantrums show. We capped the evening off at Primanti Brothers for a classic samich and Iron City.
A whirlwind bike tour of Pittsburgh to the max! Check out Friday’s route. I have a new found appreciate for PGH, its bike culture and its people. Even wearing purple, I was not heckled once.
Rust Belt Bikes United!