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Bike Report from Pittsburgh: Cool Bicycling Bridges & ProWalk/ProBike/ProPlace Coming in 2014!

Last week I was in Pittsburgh on a panel for the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place 2013: Moving People Forward Summit. It's a warmup for the much larger 2014 conference which will be also held there. Put it on your calendar.

It's no secret that Pittsburgh is a great city of bridges. And while they may currently lack a comprehensive on-road network for bikes,  pedestrians and bicyclists do have ample space and comfortable access to just about all their bridges.

Last time I visited in 2010, I fell in love with the elegance of the Hot Metal Bridge, which crosses the Monongahela River and provides an intergral link in the Great Allegheny Passage which connects all the way to D.C. One evening, I spent over an hour soaking in the atmosphere and the observing the people using it. It's peaceful, clean, and has great views.  I'd put it amongst my Top Five U.S. bike bridges.  I knew this time back I had to put together a montage, I hope it conveys my experience.

The conference ended with a group bike ride which showcased some of Pittsburgh's new bicycle amenities. One relatviely new facility really shows why we need to make top notch connections for bikes and peds that are not only functional, but incorporate art wherever  possible.   Check out some footage of the Shady Liberty Pedestrian Bridge.

Okay, let's get back to the conference, Pittsburgh City Council Member Bill Peduto delivered a great speech to help kickoff the event and charge residents for 2014. He's won the Democratic Primary for Mayor and now is the overwhelming favorite to win the post in less than 2 months.  As I found out later when I met him for dinner, he has a very impressive grasp of transportation issues from Bus Rapid Transit to PARKing Day, and has been a huge fan of Streetfilms for years. Understanding just how important livability is to a city in the bike/ped/transit realm he can hit the ground running on transportation and I think the next four years in Pittsburgh has a chance to be groundbreaking. Here's a few minutes of his remarks I grabbed.

And finally just in case you missed it on the published on the Streetfilms main site, I've embedded a few unique bike parking amenities I saw in a few hours riding around Pittsburgh.

  • Mike

    Cool, great to see. The one time I was in Pittsburgh was in 1995, and I was pleasantly surprised by what the town had to offer then (other than 90+ temps and 90+ humidity!). From what I've heard, it's been getting better and better, so I look forward to going there next year for ProWalk/Bike! Keep up the good work!

  • Courtney Cobbs

    LOVE LOVE LOVE these ideas and they can all work in Chicago. Thanks for sharing such a great video. I hope these concepts can come to Chicago.

  • Annie

    I moved to Pittsburgh 5 years ago from Chicago. Pittsburgh will never catch up to Chicago in bike infrastructure due to its terrain. There are wonderful recreational trails along the rivers. But it is far too hilly for all but the most physically fit, which dramatically limits bike commuting. I was just in Chicago two weeks ago and was amazed at the increase in bike lanes downtown. I was in a virtual bike traffic jam on the new protected bike lane on Dearborn during rush hour. What a rush! I cannot tell you how much I miss biking in Chicago.

  • http://www.UrbanCincy.com/ Randy A. Simes

    If you like the Hot Metal Bridge, then you need to get to Cincinnati and check out the Purple People Bridge there.

  • http://www.streetfilms.org Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    Oh that has been on my list for a LONG time. Hopefully in 2014.

  • Brad

    Pittsburgh isn't uniformly hilly. Getting around downtown, the North Shore, Southside, and Oakland is easy enough on a bike as these areas are relatively flat.

  • http://www.streetfilms.org Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    Pittsburgh does have some hilly challenges. But so does Seattle and in San Francisco, where "The Wiggle" bike route can be found to help you navigate around one of the toughest climbs.

  • John McNamara

    Mike and all
    I've been commuting by bike year-round for @8+ yrs here in Pgh. We have hills, its true, but they tend to yield great views. Downtown is always popping into view and its a purtty sight. Our drivers (based on internet chatter I've read) may be a little nicer on average, I've had mostly good experiences in my daily back & forth.
    As for the Hot Metal Bridge, I work nearby and use it every day. Its so cool to run into bicycle tourists laden with camping gear heading to or coming from DC, interesting conversations too.
    Thanks for showing us off Clarence!

  • 0paul0

    I visited Cincinnati recently. Some comparisons with Pittsburgh: they did not build a freeway (I 376) between their downtown and their riverbank. Not having that obstacle allowed them to build better connections to the water than Pittsburgh has. It appears that their bicycle commuter community is not as well developed as ours; I saw few cyclists in the city. Bicycling in SW Ohio seems to be mostly a recreational, not everyday, and it's centered around Xenia and Dayton and not well-connected to Cincinnati. Pittsburgh has done a nice job of bringing together various cycling subgroups: commuters, hipsters, families, mountain bikers, recreational road cyclists, and bike tourists. Thank you, Bike Pgh, Mayor Murphy, and Friends of the Riverfront!