Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Expansion of Cycling in the 'Burgh

The Pittsburgh bike community seems to be growing by leaps and bounds.  We used to be able to ride the trails with minimal traffic.  Especially when the weather was less than perfect.  That was OK with me.  Just like when I'm driving, I prefer less traffic when I'm biking.  My riding buddy, however,  wanted to see more cyclists out there using the resource.  He would often comment about it and now it would seem that he's getting his wish. A few months ago on a sunny, Sunday afternoon I saw more people on bikes than I saw at Pedal Pittsburgh the last two years.  It really is a transformation.

On the one hand, I will miss being able to ride in relatively low density traffic.  It can be very peaceful and relaxing to pedal with few other people around to deal with.  On the other hand, I kind of understand the excitement my friend and some others have expressed over the increase in bikers.

They say that safety improves for cyclists when they're more of us out there.  Of course we're talking about roads, not trails, but the more people out riding trails will eventually spill over into more people on the roads.  More demand for bike lanes and enforcement of the four foot passing law will lead to safer conditions.  Safer conditions will lead to more cyclists.  A very nice Catch 22 kind of cycle.

We're getting new, protected bike lanes in the city this year and Bike Pgh is doing great things.  We have a new mayor that's behind better, safer biking options.  Bike Share is on it's way.  Pittsburgh is growing in unexpected ways and I think it's a good sign - even if I have to now deal with more traffic on the trails.

I hope that the newest members of our biking community will really join it.  If you're thinking of commuting or if you're starting to do a lot of recreational riding, consider joining Bike Pgh.  They're more than just advocacy - they're a good resource.  Don't forget to make sure that the mayor knows you appreciate his support on safer biking issues.  There are lots of trail organizations that you can support.  If you can't afford memberships, maybe you can volunteer a few hours now and then to help with trail projects? Here are a few places you might start:  The Steel Valley Trail Council, The Montour Trail Council, Friends of the Riverfront, or The Allegheny Trail Alliance.

There are a lot of groups out there to ride with too.  Maybe you're not confident enough to ride on the roads with vehicle traffic but you want to.  You can join Flock Of Cycles for their monthly bike party rides.  It's a slow paced ride with music where the other cyclists will look out for you and teach you how to ride with traffic safely.

Maybe you're a seasoned cyclist new to the area.  Check out Pittsburgh's Major Taylor group, the Western Pennsylvania Wheelmen, or find information on Critical Mass, Team Decaf or other rides on the Bike-Pgh message board.

Several of the local bike shops organize group rides.  Check with Thick, Iron City, Kindred, Trek/Top Gear, Pro Bikes and others to see what they're offering.

Welcome to the Pittsburgh Bike Community.

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