Biking Through Pittsburgh: The Past & Present
I bought my first bike here for twenty-five dollars on a neighbor’s lawn across from Friendship Park: a Huffy all terrain with a turquoise frame and duct tape around the hand brake.
It only rode in a couple of its eight gears, but it got me to and from work in Pittsburgh Technology Center that summer. A coworker taught me a direct and scenic route through Schenley Park, crossing a train track if I was running‒er, riding‒late, that otherwise ended on the Three Rivers Trail. The return trip built my quad muscles up Neville Ave, until I couldn’t stand the burn anymore and would walk the remaining twenty yards or so to Fifth. A city biking novice, I endured rain, close encounters with oblivious drivers and only one bee-sting in the effort to save time, money (and carbon emissions? Was I thinking about that then?).
Shortly after one harrowing commute up Liberty from downtown, I learned about Bike Pittsburgh’s efforts to lobby city government for bike lanes and joined the chorus of online voices asking for more space on the streets. With stronger legs, a couple short brushes with death and a growing concern over the integrity of my bike’s brakes, given Pittsburgh’s river-cut and carved terrain, I didn’t mind leaving this alternate mode of transportation out back by the trash cans one night and “forgetting” to care if someone else walked away with it.
Sure enough, my bike disappeared. A year went by and Mayor Luke was committing to install more bike lanes. With the momentum of the community’s movement, I started thinking about returning to the roads. A visit to REI encouraged my ambitions but gave me pause over the price of a good road bike (I noticed that cyclists with narrow tires breezed by me during morning commutes). Without any space in our third-floor apartment to store a bike, I decided to wait to invest.
Fast forward a few years later and the bike share program is taking off across the city! Healthy Ride stations pop up from the North Shore to Bakery Square. Early reports said the bikes were a little heavy, but the sight of people enjoying rides across the 31st Street Bridge was enough to motivate me to sign up for an account.
Anyone else itching to explore Pittsburgh by bike? All it takes is registering online at https://healthyridepgh.com/account/. I chose the "Pay As You Go" option, but monthly prices are available for more frequent riders.
My next post will hopefully detail my first successful Healthy Ride trip. Now I am off to find a helmet.
Main image courtesy of Pittsburgh Magazine