From downtown to RIDC park
Hello all! I just moved here from Knoxville, TN. I live in the West End and I am interested in biking to work (~15 miles). I work at the RIDC park past Blawnox/Route 28 and can’t figure out a good way to commute there from downtown. I went out the Allegheny River trail, but it seemingly ended at Millvale and I was hesitant to gun it out the railroad tracks without knowing where it goes or the risk of causing trouble. Google Maps suggests riding the trail to the 31st Street Bridge, cross over to Penn Avenue, and take that to cross back over at the Route 8 bridge to take Freeport Road.
Any suggestions? I don’t mind riding roads, I’m just not sure which are safe.
Also, feel free to add me as a friend on Strava: http://app.strava.com/activities/65164345
Welcome to Pittsburgh!
I used to work at RIDC and live in Lawrenceville just off Butler St, so I can attest to the second half. Here is the route I would take: Google Maps.
Stretches of Butler and Freeport have a kinda narrow/non-existant shoulder, but it’s a relatively flat ride all the way up until RIDC. Use the sidewalk on the Highland park bridge. It’s only on the left side of the bridge so you’ll want to get over there a bit beforehand – I would usually cross by the gas station you can see in street view.
Taking the trail from downtown to 31st Bridge is a fine way to get to Lawrenceville and beyond while avoiding roads. Here’s one to get from a vague downtown origin to RIDC: Map. Better to stick on Butler or parallel side streets than to climb up Penn only to come right back down.
IF you haven’t picked one up yet, be sure to grab the printed Pittsburgh Bike Map. I think most if not all the local bike shops have it. It’s a great resource, shows which roads are preferred, or less steep, etc.
I’m sure that others will have better suggestions, but the Google route sounds fine. One caution: Freeport east of the Highland Pk Bridge has been milled (as of last week-end).
Depending upon what you are riding, you can take the North Shore all the way up to the 62nd Street Bridge, then take Main\Freeport Road all the way to RIDC. The trail on the North Side turns into a railroad service road that runs between the river and the railroad tracks. The last 1/4 of a mile near the bridge is mostly ballast so I would suggest a mountain bike. You can ride skinner tires but you cannot always find a great line (or at least I cannot).
That said, for the most pleasant continuos ride, I would take Butler Street beyond the 31st street bridge, then across the Highland Park bridge on the side walk as suggested earlier. Butler across the 62nd Street Bridge is a good option, but there are about two stories of steps at the end of the sidewalk on the Sharpsburg side. Freeport\Main to Blawnox from either bridge is very ridable regardless of the current construction.
RIDC Park has a gym. They might have showers, etc. if you do not have access to one.
Oh, one more thing… In regard to the service road. I haven’t seen them in years (maybe 10), but there actually is a Norfolk\Southern Railroad Police Force who actually have marked cars. What I suggested earlier is technically trespassing, and I have been told that in the past by someone in said car. That said, road gets allot of activity from runners, cyclists and people fishing.
That’s what I was unsure of. I had made it part way up the service road on my 35’s but it wasn’t really clear where I was headed and whether I would get in trouble.
Luckily, my office has a shower. I might try to get there one evening just for fun before I try it for fun.
For the record, the railroad service road is private, and use of that road by cyclists, walkers and joggers is technically illegal (trespass).
NS does not seem to enforce this closely, but they could decide to to so at any time.
Per PA real estate law, if they don’t at least occasionally object to people using the “unofficial” easement, it can become a “presumed” easement, which alters their property rights in some way. (It’s been a LONG time since I had to remember the details of a de facto vs. a de juris easement in PA). So, expect some level of “you shouldn’t be here……” from the NS staff/cops in the marked cars.
however, don’t let that dissuade you. the most i have ever gotten was “you’re not supposed to be on this road.” “oh, sorry.” and everyone carrie don with their day.
I have nothing useful to add except that I’m excited to see somebody else on the board from Knoxville. I mostly grew up in Knoxville and moved here two years ago from there (well, I had been in college in Nashville, but Knoxville was home anyway). I think you’ll like it here! Even more hills and bridges. And way more bikes (although Knoxville’s getting better all the time).
I love it here so far. The mountain biking scene in Knoxville was huge. I’ve been exploring a lot of the river trails and it is awesome how incredibly connected they are here.
@sierramister: given your mention of the mountain biking community in Knoxville, is it safe to assume that you are acquainted with the Pittsburgh Off Road Cyclists (PORC). Last time I checked, there was a mtb ride almost every day of the week. There’s some good mountainbiking here. I hope you find it. If you indicate that you have not yet “found” them, I am sure someone here will step up and introduce you to them.
The information from PORC and PTAG is a little confusing to me. Hopefully I don’t ruffle any feathers, and maybe my perception is limited to Facebook and website views, but it seems like the only trails getting any love are the Free Ride trails. I’m much more into the cross country trails, so its a little harder to get excited about the free ride advocacy for me. Finding consistent trail maps even seems to be a challenge. I’ve been to North Park, Frick, and Bavington, and enjoyed them, but so far I’ve been exploring the river trails much more frequently.
Maybe once I get into it a little more I’ll understand what’s going on.
PTAG is most definitely not primarily a freeride advocacy organization. we have one freeride trail and one small skills park in north park which account for not quite a mile of the over 40 miles of single track in that park alone. PTAG shepards the trail development in all the county parks along with highland park and frick (although frick is still a bit of the wild west with so many different user groups in such close proximity).
That said, the freeride area does get a lot of love, but its also new, and, in this state at least, one of a kind. we’ve logged well over 3,000 volunteer hours on the dr j trail and the skills park, and regularly get 20-30 people for work days. the PTAG site and facebook page, though, along with their newsletter, list regular workdays in all the parks in the region.
Pittsburgh has a huge cross country scene, with a ton of trail systems around the region representing pretty much the entire gamut of east coast terrain and deep roots in the greater mtb community nationally and internationally as well as the growing gravity scene with several top quality bike parks within a few hours drive of downtown. not to mention the fact that the best mtb in the world calls the burgh home.
A little late, but I tried both routes this morning. The railroad ballast was a painful experience for my hands over the course of the mile or so from Millvale to Sharpsburg, and it seemed to progressively get worse the further you got up river. Once I got out to RIDC park, I took Highland Park and Bulter back into town. A much better route (except for Penn Ave in town, which seemingly has the worst time red lights of all time).
Hopefully I can actually commute sometime this week or next.
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