Best Biking Community in West Pittsburgh
Folks, What is the best place to live for bicycle commuting in western Pittsburgh? Good commuting terrain, routes, and fun place to live.
I am planning to commute to work off of Cambells run…
Is it crazy to find a good location in relation to work and that is also cheap and has good biking into downtown too!
Oh I’m only looking for 3 months, starting in September.
I’ve been thinking about Carnegie, Crafton, West End, Dormont
Crafton and Carnegie are both convenient, and have a lot of “walkable features” (meaning they have shops, restaurants, etc. But, in Pgh, distance and accessibility are sometimes very different things. I defer to Stur and Bedmonds on the local accessibility question. They (and others) have first hand knowledge riding in this exact area.
The short answer is, there is no such place.
When you make “fun” one of the criteria, that makes it even tougher, I can’t think of an area I would label as fun. I mean, that’s kind of why people move out here, to make sure they don’t have too much fun.
But, based on where you plan to work, and accessibility to downtown, I think Crafton is going to be your best bet. There are side roads to get to your work, and the ride in to town is easy. The “center” of Crafton is sort of around the west busway stop and the roundabout on White avenue, concentrate on that area.
It may be tough finding a short term lease, I don’t know how that availability is, and you may have to sort through some crappy housing, I don’t know how to advise you there.
The worst case scenario is, you wouldn’t be far from the Sharp Edge Creek House, you couldn’t try all their beers in 3 months.
Ingram is also a possibility. You might even consider the McKees Rocks area, though parts of that are kinda rough. Commuting into town from there isn’t so bad, though, if you don’t mind crossing the McKees Rocks Bridge.
The bigger problem is getting into Penn Center West itself. It’s one of those places that’s best described as “completely inaccessible to humans except by automobile.” It should never have been built. You can fairly easily get to the bottom of it, but climbing 250+ vertical feet in a quarter mile is simply inhumane.
I live in Crafton – here’s what you’ll find.
Affordable rental but you will have to wade through some more beat up places. Most of the houses are 100+ years old, so look for ones that either include heat or have decent windows as there is no insulation built into them. You’d probably have better luck exploring the neighborhood and looking for “for rent” signs than looking on Craigslist or the paper.
The community is very walkable – very few roads are without sidewalks. There aren’t a ton of cute little shops and cafes, as you’ll find in other Pgh neighborhoods. But there’s a shopping center, 24-hour donut shop, and a couple of dive bars within walking (and definitely biking) distance.
I’m actually starting to bike commute next week to downtown. On my dry run on a MT bike with non-knobby tires, it took 25 minutes each way, and that’s taking the stairs on the West End Bridge instead of merging into the traffic on Carson St.
If you need to take the bus downtown, the West Busway buses make only four stops between Crafton and downtown. It takes me 25 minutes, door to door, from my house to Gateway Center.
The areas near the traffic circle (Crafton Ave) and the school (Crafton Blvd) are better kept than what you’ll find off of Fountain and Promenade Sts.
hehe, I think you (pinky, edmonds) figured me out quick. fun does include dive bars, and this “Sharp Edge Creek House” sounds great. Trying all of their beers in 3 months sounds like a challenge. I will take that challenge!!!
Edmonds, Eek! What I’ve heard is tha Pgh is on its way out of the industrial “not too much fun place” into a pretty cool gentrified city. good to know about the busing in Crafton. That is why i was thinking of Dormont. It looked to have good public transit. But maybe the bike commute to Penn Center is too hard??? I like to take public transit if I can’t bike. My car will be used for exploring the rest of the great state of PA.
Stu, thanks for the Ingram and McKees Rocks area, I didn’t even think of them. McKees Rocks looks like great access to the bike trail on the east of the Ohio River. Yes, the Penn Center location looked like a classic “American Dream”… move in from Texas, overbuild, then put in an Olive Garden, and drive back to your cookie cutter suburb.
As for the hill, wow that sounds rough. Maybe that will wake me up in the morning on the way to work, and make sure i get the hell out of there at the end of the day when I leave! haha
Pinky, good info on Crafton. I recently got screwed when moving into the college town I live in now. I tried the move to town and look for the “for rent signs” technique. I couldn’t find anything, and ended up living in the living room of a finding a run down house paying overpriced $700 a month. I went broke in a matter of months. I was guessing the Pgh would be the same, being a college city and all. I don’t know, especially with a 3 month lease. But if you think so, I’ll trust ya. Plus then I can stop looking on craigslist!! I suppose Pgh is a big town, there should always be options somewhere.
Thanks for the feedback guys (and gal). I’m gonna keep looking for that ideal place. And cant wait to bike commute in Pgh!!!!
In my opinion, riding my bike to work is really the best part of the work day!
Just to clarify, the ‘burgh is tons of fun, it’s just the burbs that get a little…quiet…for some peoples taste. Welcome and have tons of fun, some of the most fun you can have are bikey events you’ll find on here, so the easy ride into town is key. Look forward to maybe meeting you on a ride.
When you get here remember 3 important words – East – End – Brewing.
haha, great. I look forward to the bike events. Too bad I’m not gonna be out there Aug 6ht-15 for the BikeFest.
Thanks for the 3 important words.
Here – Three – Months…
Gonna – Drink – Beer…
East – End – Brewing…
Black – Strap – Stout…
Sounds – So – Good…
Gonna – Bike – There…
A couple of follow-up points:
Good: Ingram to Sharp Edge is super easy, one straight flat street.
Bad: Planned 35% cut in area transit service planned for January, if state legislators don’t cough up a bazillion dollars right quick.
Good: Living in Crafton or Ingram would be a really good idea, to be near what’s left of the bus system.
Bad: The “smoky city” image is gone, but we still have a lot of backward-thinking politicians at all levels.
Good: Drinking beer will make you a lot of friends, and helps you ignore the politicians.
Bad: Dormont to Downtown will probably have quite a few buses and light rail trips left, but you won’t be able to get on them for the overcrowding, and biking either west (to Penn Ctr) or north (into Downtown) from there is not fun. Dormont is also about to undergo a two-year repaving project for its main street. Sounds like a good place to *not* be until you learn the area better.
[EDIT: one more thing] Good: Ignore the “Sidewalk Closed” signs on the McKees Rocks Bridge walkways. They rebuilt the bridge last year and forgot to take the signs away. There is absolutely nothing in the way, either side.
I clearly can’t read – I thought you were already here and looking. If you’re coming in from out of town and are trying to line up a place ahead of time, I’d keep checking craigslist and the Post Gazette.
Greicon Properties owns a bunch of Crafton/Ingram rentals, but I don’t know if they’re responsive landlords. Crafton itself is smaller than one square mile and Ingram is right next door, so if you find a place and are looking for someone to do a drive-by, that would be pretty easy for me to do.
In terms of safety, both communities get occasional thefts from unlocked cars or houses, a weekly DUI, and some disorderly conducts here and there.
The Post Gazette publishes a weekly police blotter for all of Western Pgh – I read it to keep an eye on what’s going on in my neighborhood. Here’s last week’s: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10203/1074253-57.stm
Stu, Thanks. Really good to know about Dormont! Now it is off to Craigslist to find a cheap place in Crafton, Ingram, or McKees Rocks area.
Pinky, oh wow. I may take you up on checking out a place. I’ll send you my email in a private message. (so those dang bots don’t get my email address) Good to know about thefts. I’ve had my car and house both broken into, it’s not fun. But I suppose that will be in about every community. Plus, if they see my old car, and me biking to work every day. They will think i’m too poor, and that I’ve got nothing worth stealing. haha
again, many thanks folks.
Good luck on your Sharp Edge project – but I hope you’re independently wealthy because getting through the whole list (which I’m not even sure is complete) is going to take whole lot of time and money:
When I worked out there, we used to call the Edge “home of the $100 lunch”…
i was going to say, i could easily drink all the beers at the creekhouse in three months, if only it cost less than three months salary.
i like what sharp edge has done for beer in the area, and if i lived near the creekhouse, it would likely be my favorite haunt (for lack of anything better), but paying $22.50 for lindeman’s cuvee rene gueuze then seeing it at d’s for $14 hurt a little bit, you know?
Mystery beer used to be a great deal – then they started using those “special” glasses that look like pints but are way smaller.
I don’t ever want to add up all the money I’ve spent there. Luckily my memory of all those times is hazy enough that it won’t be a problem
i think i had too many sam adams boston lagers and some random brown ale with noticeable oxidation to keep going the mystery beer route. and if it wasn’t obvious from the $22.50 bottle, my tastes, once they’re allowed to go expensive, tend to prefer the reeeeeally expensive (though, to this day, i would happily spend my last $25 on a 75 cl bottle of 3 fonteinen schaerbeekse kriek).
I used to frequent the Edge on St Clair. Too often, the mystery was PBR, or Stoney’s, or a Christmas beer from last year.
phew, all of this beer talk is making me happy.
It looks like I might not be able to win the beer challenge. Talking with some pro’s here!
I can tell this topic could really take off, and it should have it’s own message board. So now there is one!
BIKING and BEERING
Let’s chat about the beer in that thread!
Salty, I wish i was independently wealthy. But maybe the people who go to Sharp Edge will be wealthy and be kind and pick up my tab? Hey, I can at least wish… I know what you mean about those “special” glasses what a scam!
$100 lunch, $25 bottles… There better be gold in it!!!!
HiddenVariable, I have no idea what 3 fonteinen schaerbeekse kriek. But I’ll bet ya I couldn’t spell that without copy and paste. Brown’s can get old, and fast.
JZ, yeah my fridge also contains the mysterious PBR. Good to know about the places.
Rox has a couple of flavors. Besides McKees Rocks itself, adjacent Stowe Twp is indistinguishable. Everything is 100 years old. Rents will be, um, affordable.
There is another piece known as The Bottoms. The McKees Rocks Br has an exit onto The Bottoms; look for Helen Street on a map. Don’t be too scared off, it’s not a particularly bad place, only that the 100-year-old houses were pretty crappy when they were built; company housing and all. The name comes from a history of flooding, though it hasn’t done that since they put the flood control dams on the Mon and Allegheny a few decades ago. Even in the ’85 and ’96 floods, and Ivan in ’04, I think the Bottoms stayed dry.
Good to know I shouldn’t be scared of The Bottoms. There was some affordable rents in the area. I had been looking on Google Street View, and things looked a little sketchy . So, again good to know. It isn’t that bad. There are some affordable rents there though. And looks like a great location. not much on local bars/restaurants. But close enough to all the pizza shops in McKees Rocks.
Never knew it was called the Bottoms. I’ve ridden around there, poking around exploring. Didn’t seem sketchy, just one of those quirky tucked-away neighborhoods.
if mckees rocks is in your range, you might as well check out the northside too. bellevue, brighton heights – you’ll be close to the beautiful and underrated riverview park
There aren’t any really BAD bad places in Pgh. Even the places where headlines are made and police are often involved (see other recent threads on this board), most of the time things are pretty good for cyclists.
Pretty much, if you aren’t already involved in some sort of gang or drug activity, your chances of living to see tomorrow in one piece in Pittsburgh are darn close to 100%, no matter where you are.
As to the sketchy looking street, yeah, there are some bars you should probably stay the hell out of. Otherwise, what I see is a traffic-less level street. Bicycle heaven.
The Bottoms could use a newcomer or two. They had an arson problem 15 years ago or so, but nothing recent. A couple restaurants available in the immediate area (Roccos II heading to Neville Island comes to mind), for example.
I think I’d call the Bottoms mostly safe, likely cheap and fairly convenient to many things. I don’t know if that means convenient to Penn Center/Campbells Run Road via transit, however.
Actually the transit option from there isn’t too bad. He’d have to ride thru the Stowe Tunnel into downtown Stowe and catch a 24, which would get him to the area near Robinson Mall and the Steubenville/Campbells Run intersection. Pretty easy sail from there to PCW.
The better question might be, are you ready to shell out $105 for a Zone 2 monthly bus pass? Welcome to Pennsylvania, whose state government doesn’t give a rat’s ass about public transit.
This doesn’t really help our out-of-towner, but for everyone else, in the Rocks the next couple of evenings is the St Marys church Ukrainian festival. mmm, haluski. Yaroslov Popovych says “go”.
Swalfoort, yeah that is what I am wondering too whether the Bottoms is bike commutable to Penn Center West. I want to bike commute into work everyday.
I don’t mind doing a hybrid bike-bus-bike commute, but I’d rather bike the whole way. Especially if its $100 more a month. (there goes the price saving by living in the Bottoms)
The Bottoms looks really cool, maybe even a view of downtown Pittsburgh from a upper floor apartment? That would be cool! However, an hour bike commute each way to Penn Center West every day could really slim down my daily free time. I am thinking Crafton-Ingram area may be a better daily commute fit, 35 minute bike ride each way. Any thoughts on biking times?
Shoot maybe i’ll get a bus pass, just to live in a cool place. (prices would probably end up being about the same then. But just longer commute each day.
Hey, all i wasn’t able to find a place in crafton. I took a look at the roads to Penn Center West. Unfortunately it doesn’t look bikable. Really access by car only. So, I’m looking to share a place on the North Side, unless I find something else in the Crafton/Ingram locations. Sublets are tough-tough to find. Anybody got thoughts on the northside. Around the Allegheny hospital. It seems a little sketchy? But close to flat biking areas into downtown etc…
Did you look in Carnegie itself? Campbells Run Road isn’t the greatest, but it’s not entirely awful. Uphill in the a.m., downhill in the p.m. Right in downtown Carnegie flooded badly in 2004’s Ivan, but I’d bet there are plenty of rentals on nearby hills right in town there.
Northside has several neighborhoods, each with its own personality. Yeah, there are some real run-down areas. But as I said in earlier posts, you are probably fairly safe as long as you aren’t already in some criminal activity and stay out of certain bars. Lots of the NSide is fairly flat, but other parts have OMG hills. Rents vary accordingly.
If you’re not staying in town past New Years, you’re probably OK on the bus situation. Get a bus pass; you have a 3-trip ride from NSide to PCW, which gets costly if using cash or the tear-off tickets.
You might also want to tie up a beater bike overnight at the Carnegie busway station, bus to it, and bike to PCW. That would eliminate the least reliable part of the bus commute. Plenty of buses will get you into Downtown Pittsburgh and out the West Busway.
Bike or foot, though, there’s no way up into PCW without using your legs. I’m not sure where you’ll be, but you may not need to climb the whole thing. Just make sure you get a triple front ring, and/or a granny gear on back.
Hey, I was thinking about looking for your thread!
+1 for Carnegie then. You can get an ACTA shuttle right from there to your workplace, and still be right at the end of the West busway for rides into town. North Side just seems like a rough multiple transfer ride to work.
I ride up Campbells Run road all the time right past Penn Center West, it’s bikeable, But obviously I have no idea what your comfort level is.
Stu, I’m pretty sure an ACTA bus will take him right up the hill to the office buildings, wouldn’t they?
+1 on using ACTA. I ride the Ikea-based shuttle myself every day. Just find out when everyone else in your building catches it, and get on the same time. No cost, reliable most of the time (unless you’re running late…they won’t wait for you, and you might be waiting a while if you have to call for the next one).
A 10-minute ride from Carnegie to Crafton or Ingram on the busway, and a 1-mile bike ride, can still put you at Sharpedge, too.
btw, us natives call the town car-NEGG-ie. JSYK
I’ve been trying CarNeggie and no short terms bummer. So still checking for crafton/carnegie places… we will see.
Good to know about the ACTA. I’ll try to check them out.
Well, if you get really stuck, I’m pretty sure the Westpointe Apts in Robinson does short-terms. It’s pavement heaven, but not impossible to get to PCW by bike. You have a major regional shopping mall as an over-the-back-fence neighbor, and a short walk to the bus that takes you to the foot of PCW 200 feet away. (You can even see the sidewalk connecting the mall and the apartments if you zoom in, plus two buses laying over, tho not yours.) Just very very suburban, nothing villagey about it. Probably not cheap, either.
Aside from the #32 bus [PDF], your bike option is to climb up to Steubenville Pike, and go down Campbells Run Rd to PCW. There are several ways to get from near the top of that hill to going down CRR, most involving threading your way through parking lots, and a little backroad called Devassie Rd. I used to both work and live RIGHT there. I know every crack in the pavement in that area.
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