Trail Pittsburgh volunteers in Frick Park
City Code to get a much-needed update
Yes. You read that right.
City Council preliminarily voted today to legalize riding bicycles on wooded trails in City-owned parks, a recommendation of the City’s Open Space Plan. For years there has been a little known, never enforced bit of municipal code that technically made it illegal to ride bikes in a City park “on other than on a paved vehicular road.” This even included children.
The vote today revisits this out-of-date line of code and ensures that people on bikes can legally do what they’ve been doing for decades, namely riding a bike on the wooded trails, ie. mountain biking. It helps reinforce an “open, unless restricted” policy to our trail system – a proven best practice.
Here is the change:
confined to roads. No person in a park shall ride a bicycle on other than a paved vehicular road, wooded trail, or path designated for that purpose. A bicyclist is permitted to wheel or push a bicycle by hand over any grassy area or wooded trail or on any paved area reserved for pedestrian use.
As everyone knows, the parks are filled with people of all ages riding on all types of off-road trails, everything from the main trails that bisect the parks to the “wooded trails” like the singletrack in Riverview and Frick Parks. Volunteers have been working for years with Park Foremen to build, maintain, and manage the trail system, a tried and true model for responsible access. The Parks Conservancy even promotes mountain biking as a great way to enjoy our incredible City Parks, despite the clause.
Thanks to Councilman Corey O’Connor and the advocacy of local mountain biker and business owner Eryn Hughes, a minor rewording of the City Municipal Code will yield huge benefits, especially for our robust mountain biking scene.
While the old line of code seems fairly innocuous, and almost laughable as it’s never been enforced, the change will actually affect things on the ground level. Additionally, since we were not able to report that these park trails were available to people on bikes in our previous Bike-Friendly Community application, the change will help Pittsburgh score better during the next round as we aim to improve our status from Bronze to Silver. More things to do on bikes means that we’re more bike-friendly.
This official recognition will make the wooded “singletrack” trail management better, as city workers can now work closely with the main wooded trail stewards, namely Trail Pittsburgh, to build, maintain, and manage the trails, similar to the successful model in the County Parks. It may also allow events, and possibly open up some grant money to make further improvements.
Pittsburgh’s topography and phenomenal park system has provided us with a unique urban recreational experience that few cities can match. Encouraging and promoting this amenity will help support the whole branch of our tourism industry already based around recreational cycling and our trail system.
In a unanimous vote today, Council preliminarily accepted the change. The actual vote will take place on Tuesday, February 2 which will then go on to the Mayor for his signature.
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