Bike to Work Day: Lawrenceville to the South Side


To climb or not to climb, that is the question.

No other route that I frequently ride is so based on my mood, than from my home/office in Lawrenceville to the South Side and back. There are so many ways to do it, yet each has their own highlights.

Usually it boils down to whether I’m in the mood for a hill climb or not, and for some reason, going to the South Side, I tend to opt for the flat route, while heading back to Lawrenceville, I’ll climb.  The “as the crow flies route” is a bit shorter than the flat route, but you must climb. Whichever way you decide to take, it creates a nice fun loop, taking you through completely different neighborhoods and topography, in roughly the same amount of time, while working some bike lanes, trails, and great views into the mix. Below are my preferred routes from my home and office in Lawrenceville to one of my favorite watering holes, OTB Bicycle Cafe on East Carson St, and back.

Flat route Lawrenceville to the South Side (6.3 miles)

Neighborhoods seen: Lawrenceville, Strip District, Downtown, South Side

flatThis is a relatively long number of miles to ride in Pittsburgh, without a hill.  The reason is that you stick close to the rivers. I start out by making my way through the charming neighborhood streets of Lawrenceville.  Getting past the 40th St bridge can be tricky, as you either have to make your way up to Butler Street (and the traffic that goes along with it) or find your way under the bridge via the not-so-secret cut through the parking lot near the Lawrenceville trail and 40th St.

At 39th St, I’ll make my way back into the neighborhood, and catch Charlotte St to Smallman Street. Smallman is really wide, with very little traffic at this end. To avoid the section where the road narrows and seems to gain some traffic, I’ll turn again toward the river at 31st St, and continue west on Railroad St into the Strip District. Railroad ends at 21st, and until the Strip District Trail reopens, I’ll usually head back to Penn Ave, riding through the heart of the Strip into downtown, catching a nice bike lane along the way. At 10th St, I’ll make a left, and start heading south toward the Monongahela River on William Penn Way, a pleasant crosstown connector.  William Penn goes basically to the Smithfield St Bridge, where I’ll cross to connect to the South Side Trail in Station Square. From here, it’s a car-free ride east along the river to the SouthSide Works, mere blocks from the veggie burgers with peanut butter and pickles at OTB.

Link to route

“As the crow flies” South Side to Lawrenceville (5.4 miles)

Neighborhoods seen: South Side, Greenfield, Oakland, Bloomfield, Lawrenceville

hillHeading back to Lawrenceville, I start out by crossing the Mon at the Hot Metal Bridge, making sure to take in one of the best views of downtown – that you can only see if you’re not in a car. Once across, I’ll make a right to briefly catch the Eliza Furnace Trail to where it ends at the parking lot. I’ll then wind my way down toward Second Ave and back onto Saline St in “The Run” of Greenfield, where I’ll catch up with the Junction Hollow Trail through Schenley Park.

This emerges at Boundary St, at the bottom of Oakland, where I’ll ride to Neville St and climb the only uphill on this route, bringing me to Fifth Ave. From here I’ll continue on the sharrows of Neville St, to Centre Ave, to Millvale Ave, where I’ll ride into Bloomfield. There’s some nice bike lanes on Liberty Ave in Bloomfield, so I’ll take those to Main St, and take a look at the bright green bike lanes that we helped get in at the intersection. I’ll then get to one of my favorite parts of the whole ride, bombing down Main St to Butler St, and I’m back in Lawrenceville.

Link to route

This post is part of a series from BikePGH staff sharing their favorite bike routes around the city for Bike to Work Day 2014. If you are interested in biking to work on May 16 as part of a group, there will be casual group rides or “Bike Trains” leaving from various areas of  city. Check out this previous blog post if you are interested in joining a Bike Train.

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