Journey to Pittsburgh to Walk & Bike
During a recent 48 hour Streetfilms swing thru Steel City, we learned that like many other metro areas across the country, Pittsburgh has a growing movement for better bicycling and more livable streets. Among the coolest things you'll see in this seven minute Streetfilm travelogue...
- We got to hang at an am commuter breakfast with the advocacy group Bike Pittsburgh, and talk to cyclists about what they like about their city, and what could use some improvement.
- Adjacent to the Century Building is a unique private-public partnership using retro-fitted shipping containers for a secure bicycle parking project. For just $100/year you can safely park your bike indoors. A recent citywide law made it mandatory to provide bike parking in new buildings (or those being renovated.)
- The Over the Bar Cafe, a unique bicycle-themed restaurant serving great food and drink, and a frequent meeting place for rides and advocacy events. The walls are filled with cycling memorabilia and murals adorn the walls and is usually packed with riders and non-riders alike.
Clarence Eckerson Jr.: [00:16] Hey everybody, welcome to Pittsburgh. I’m walking over the Andy Warhol Bridge, one of hundreds of bridges here in Pittsburgh. I decided to come here for a few days to see what’s going on in the liveable streets world. One of the more pleasant things I discovered was that people love to walk.
Chrs Sandvig: [00:33] The beauty of Pittsburgh is that its heritage is in walking and streetcars. And what that means is that all of our bridges, many of which are, you know, approaching a hundred years or even older, have nice wide walkways along them that accommodate bicycling as well as pedestrians.
Lolly Walsh: [00:51] Pittsburgh has I think 446 bridges, which is pretty amazing. You can always stop and look at the view and get pretty swoony about all the different things you can see.
Speaker: [01:02] A lot of the infrastructure was built before cars became dominant, so there’s still, you know… all the bridges still have sidewalks which a publicly built bridge hasn’t had a sidewalk on it since about 1970.
Lolly Walsh: [01:24] I’m Lolly Walsh with Bike Pittsburgh and we decided to put together a little breakfast for people who are riding to work today, and we decided to do this for Bike Pittsburgh members so we can show our appreciation for their support for our work and also have the opportunity to talk to some people.
Clarence Eckerson Jr.: [01:41] What do you enjoy about riding in Pittsburgh?
Speaker: [01:43] The hills and the little neighbourhoods are amazing, and when you get on a bike and do it, it just notches that up. I mean there’s so many little houses on slopes of hills.
Speaker: [01:53] You get to look at everything and really pay attention to the buildings and I feel like it’s so easy to cover this city on a bike.
Speaker: [02:01] It’s fast, you never have to worry about parking. I, you know, I can make it to work just a little bit slower than what it would take to drive in traffic.
Speaker: [02:11] I don’t end up at work all cranky after sitting in traffic for 45 or 50 minutes.
Clarence Eckerson Jr.: [02:16] Are there some things that you think could be improved that could make…?
Speaker: [02:19] Absolutely. The potholes are awful. Sometimes you spend too much time looking down at the road, you’re not even paying attention to the cars around you.
Speaker: [02:28] Unfortunately people seem to be rather ignorant of bicycle laws around here and they’re not very respectful of cyclists.
Speaker: [02:34] There are like five lanes on Fifth, so why can’t we make one of them like a shared bus/bike lane or something like that.
Chrs Sandvig: [02:42] Greater accessibility I think to what we often call is the last mile and being able to have that connection at work to have your bike safely stored. But also having resources that you can use when you get to Downtown. We have a lot of trails that come through our neighbourhoods and converge on our golden triangle, but then that last connection is always the challenge. So there’s a lot of discussion about that.
Sara Walfoort: [03:11] We are in Downtown Pittsburgh. We are adjacent to the Century Building in the heart of Downtown. This is a brand new bike parking facility that was put in as part of a public/private partnership. Downtown Pittsburgh just recently adopted bike parking ordinances, zoning ordinances for the first time. So any new or retrofit area used building will have to provide bike parking. This is a really interesting concept because first of all the outdoor parking is located in an area that’s obscured from the street. So you get fewer idle fingers, you know, on your bikes. It’s not located at a transit stop, that sort of thing, where a lot of people are loitering. This is our bicycle commuter centre. These are old shipping containers that have been retrofit for this purpose. It is a public/private partnership. You’ll see our commute Info logo, that’s our local regional ride sharing programme. So let’s go inside. So there’s room for 13 bikes in each facility. The lease rate is $100 for the year. For me that’s a great investment and protecting my property. Because as you see I’ve got a bike computer, a light, my water bottle, my helmet, you know, it’s probably $100 worth of equipment right there.
Patricia S Burk: [04:21] Welcome to Market Square in Downtown Pittsburgh. This is the newly reconstructed public space, a $5 million project, public/private partnership. We brought in Project for Public Spaces from New York and they helped us to do some experimentation here, see how people actually use this space before we took pen to paper to design it. And we did so and we found that people loved outdoor dining here in Market Square. They also wanted the space to be more for events. They wanted it to be level, more of a European piazza. We have two WiFi receivers here, we have moveable tables and chairs with umbrellas. It’s a nice space. We do do some events here. So Forbes Avenue here came all the way through this space and connected to the major street of Liberty. This street, Market Street, did come all the way through but it ended at this side of the circle. You can see that the cars go around this space very, very quietly and slowly, the block sound really slows them down.
Scott Bricker: [05:31] We decided to take this organisation in the direction of getting better and better bike infrastructure in the city, educating motorists, educating our elected Officials. We are about 1500 members strong right now. We actually are pretty unique in that we helped pay for the bike lane engineering, sharrow engineering for the city. We also provide bike racks to the city.
Chrs Sandvig: [05:56] We grew over 200% in the past decade in terms of our ridership, I think fourth highest growth in the country.
Lolly Walsh: [06:03] There’s a really close knit community here in Pittsburgh. A lot of it seems to come through Bike Pittsburgh’s message board which is free and open to the public. It’s very inclusive and people are on it all the time.
Lolly Walsh: [06:21] We have the Over The Bar Bicycle Café where all of the decorations are bicycle themes. They support our advocacy that they give donations and discounts to members.
Kevin Hughes: [06:31] The bar is a bicycle theme café which has [unintelligible 06.34] Pittsburgh. Our main part of our business is definitely the cyclist community during the week. We have a lot of cyclists that work here, basically if you work here you ride a bike.
[06:44] My mum’s a cyclist and her boyfriend and that’s how I actually
came here first cos they brought me over food. I come here for
the people and the service. The employees are great and they have
great beers and everyone’s very welcoming and it’s always a very
fun time. And the food’s awesome.
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