Meet Pittsburgh’s Bike Riding Priest

Father Doug Boyd chooses a bike as his main form of transportation

father doug
Among the thousands of Pittsburghers who regularly use their bike for transportation is Father Doug Boyd, assistant at St. Maria Goretti in the Bloomfield/Garfield area, and a chaplain at Childrens, Magee, and Shadyside hospitals.

A Monongahela native who was ordained in 1978, Father Doug used to be a caddy for Joe Montana’s dad and is a friend and classmate of former Cincinnati Red Ken Griffey senior. Around age 5 he started riding a bike and hasn’t stopped since.

Although his rides now are “mostly purposeful”, twenty five years ago he used to race. Father Doug says he typically avoids riding on “super cold” days or in torrential downpours, but other than that he’s usually on one of his two bikes. When he knows that he’ll be traveling on flat terrain he opts for his single speed for the ease of maintenance. However if he’s got to make his way over to the South Side or expects a hilly ride he takes the road bike.

Kevlar tires have made a big difference for him too, noting that since making
the switch flat tires haven’t been much of a problem. ” . . . [The bike] makes it a bit easier to get to the hospitals. It’s a little quicker too, so I actually I have more time and energy and it seems to help keep me in shape”, says the fit and affable 63 year old who also appreciates the cost savings too. When asked if there was any relevance to using a bike for transportation and his Catholicism he feels the connection of fitness and respect for the environment are relevant. He mentioned traffic jams too, perhaps that bikes presented a more calming alternative. He’s glad to see more nurses, therapists, and doctors riding and walking to work too. “It’s come a long way [in the last ten years], we’re getting like the Europeans,” he quipped, “not quite, but we’re getting there.”

The conflict that sometimes arises between people when bicycle safety issues arise prompted the priest to stress that bicyclists need to obey the laws and be courteous. “It goes both ways.” He thinks things have improved, but when bicyclists are observing the rules, like using lights at night and respecting traffic signals there’s a much better chance to remain safe. You can’t control the other person you can only control yourself and often the other person is driving a 3 ton vehicle. “You have to expect that drivers may not see you.” By and large Father Doug feels safe on the road, but he stresses that he’s also cautious, courteous, and respectful. One of things he appreciates most about the bicycle is the “fellowship” among people that it creates. He looks forward to better facilities so more people get out and ride.

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