After a fifteen-year wait, Pittsburgh cyclists have in their hands something that cyclists from other cities take for granted, a bicycle map. Pittsburgh’s “spaghetti bowl” street layout makes it difficult to get around, so newer residents and cyclists ride the larger, arterial roads, which are usually poor for cycling. The back streets are quite pleasant, so the map, created by Bike Pittsburgh, is designed to help cyclists find the best alternative route to traverse our myriad neighborhoods. “Our goal is to make it simple for people to choose a bicycle to transport themselves,” says Scott Bricker, Executive Director of Bike Pittsburgh.
In 1991, Bicycling Magazine ranked Pittsburgh one of the worst cities to ride a bike. The mayor at the time, Sophie Masloff, then produced a bicycling map of the city. Since then, bicycling in Pittsburgh has exploded, so the time was ripe to make a new one to help out local cyclists.
Pittsburgh has no traditional urban grid pattern, and the streets that transect the city tend to be busy with fast moving traffic. Also, the lower-traffic routes tend not to connect neighborhoods, or are very steep hills. “Our hills and bridges give Pittsburgh it’s unique identity and beautiful views,” says Eric Boerer, Bike Pittsburgh’s Membership Director, “but it also makes bike travel between neighborhoods intimidating, especially if you don’t know the milder side streets, and how they connect to one another.”
Bike Pittburgh’s map contains a cartoon depicting a safe commute and locations of major hills, landmarks, and trails. We also identify and mark unavoidable stretches of road that are hazardous where people are to ride with “Caution.” For these areas, we provide information on who to contact to lobby for safer streets.
The “Sophie Map” was produced and funded by the City of Pittsburgh, an arrangement common in most urban areas that try to encourage bicycle transport. Bike Pittsburgh produced this new map with funding provided by the Heinz Endowments. Map cartography by deepLocal with illustrations by Glen Johnson.