August 07 2013

Biking the Three Rivers: Pittsburgh’s Unique Cycling Experience

Pittsburgh South Side Bike Paths

With the increase of non-motorized transit occurring in almost every major urban centre, cycling in the Steel City is becoming increasingly commonplace. Whether it’s for leisure or out of necessity, the citizens of Pittsburgh are using bikes as a more economic and leisurely way to meander around the city’s limits.

As I had never cycled through the city before, a friend and I decided to ride through some of these paths to see which could provide scenic and interesting views of the city. With over twenty-five miles of trails and designated bike paths across the city, getting from one side of Pittsburgh to the other via biking is quite an easy task. Starting from the southern banks of the Monongahela River, we rode the South Side Trail down to the Fort Pitt Bridge. The South Side Trail goes through Station Square, which is one of the larger attractions in Pittsburgh, and also gives a scenic view of the city from the riverfront.

Pittsburgh Point State Park Paths

Crossing into downtown, the path enters Point State Park. By following the path, you can ride your bike right down the riverside to the point where the three rivers meet, which is an amazing and popular view of the city. After debating where to go next, we decided to make an attempt at cycling through the downtown corridor of the city, which, although very nicely routed and marked, we found to be highly dangerous and congested. We found that many cars do not respect the marked bike paths, and many also park in the bike lanes. This could potentially be a problem for bikers in the downtown corridor; but as time moves forward and more people are seen biking downtown, hopefully the city can learn to use some form of marketing to show respect the bike lanes.

The city of Pittsburgh began their large push for bike transit in 2002, and is still improving and creating new paths every year. With this increase of bike transit, and from what I saw on my bike ride, I believe these paths are a good way to see the city. However, some work still needs to be made to make these bike paths sustainable for the citizens of Pittsburgh for reasons other than leisure.

What types of things do you think the city should do to help out bikers, especially in the downtown corridor?

Credits: Images taken by Greg Shermeto. Data linked to sources.

Greg Shermeto

Greg Shermeto is a recent graduate at the State University of New York at Buffalo with a B.A. in Environmental Design. While studying, Greg worked on projects including the South Buffalo Trolley and Trail System, which helped to connect the Western New York Railway Historical Society’s railroad museum to the downtown corridor. He has also worked for the University at Buffalo’s Center for Urban Studies, where Greg assisted with the redevelopment of the Perry Choice neighborhood in downtown Buffalo. Greg also spent a semester studying the built environment of the Baltic States in Estonia and Latvia. Greg’s interests include transportation planning and community design, and the efforts to make urban areas accessible and functional for the future. For the Grid, Greg will be writing about planning issues and topics about the city of Pittsburgh, where he currently resides.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 7th, 2013 at 9:54 am and is filed under Environment, Environmental Design, Infrastructure, Transportation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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