Brighton Heights, here.
I recently “rediscovered” biking. I rode quite a bit when I was in high school (in Erie) in the early/mid-nineties, and it was always my favorite exercise and way of getting around. I stopped biking when I went away to college in ’96, and it just sort of faded away.
In recent years I’d thought about biking into work, but the lack of bike racks and showers were roadblocks; and I wasn’t biking recreationally then so the motivation just wasn’t there. In early June I was working on the brakes on my car and stupidly snapped off a bolt…said car was our only [working] car at the time, and it couldn’t be driven until the bolt was replaced. The neighbors weren’t home, so I dug my old bike out of a dark corner in the basement, hosed several years worth of dust and cobwebs off, and rode to the Autozone on 65 to buy a replacement.
The ride there was easy, and exhilarating…it was all downhill! The ride back up was grueling for my out-of-shape legs. The feeling afterward, though, was indescribeable, and I was suddenly found myself hooked once again.
I thought again about riding into work (and decided my coworkers will just have to suffer any funk I might develop on my morning commute), and a quick google search led me to the map of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. I started biking into work the next week.
What a way to start the day! I’d been commuting via bus, not because it’s economical or anything (gas needs to be ~ $4.30/gallon before it’s cheaper for me to bus versus taking the car) but because I hate the morning grind with a passion. The bus was an improvement; I could zone out while watching the scenery instead of dealing with the idiots, but I hated being tied to PAT’s schedule. I finally found biking to be the commuting Nirvanna I’ve been searching for. It’s quick enough (faster than the bus, actually), and totally pleasant. Instead of looking out the window of a bus or hating the jagoff in the monster SUV who wants to tailgate in the right lane, I can quietly sail down the trail while watching the river traffic, dodging geese, enjoying the scenery, and greeting all of the morning users I encounter.
My old, beat-up mountain bike isn’t qite up to the task of daily commuting, and the front derailleur finally gave it up for good a few weeks ago. I’d been holding off on buying a new bike until I knew I’d really use it…and the last two weeks have been killing me to have to drive into work each day instead of exercising my legs. I’m leaving for another business trip to the Netherlands next week (where hopefully the beat up fixed-gear cruiser I bought last month is still chained up in front of the hotel where I left it), and when I come back, I’m pulling the trigger on a shiny new cyclocross or touring bike that’ll be my main mode of transportation for as long as I can keep it up.
Anyway, hello! to everyone. Thank you all for the community you’ve created! I was really surprised, once I started looking, to find such a vibrant cycling community in a city so unfamiliar with cyclists and with terrain such as ours. Kudos to all of you for everything you’ve accomplished in the past couple of years. I began to notice a difference as a car user about a year ago, and we seem to have only improved since then. I’m looking forward to the changes that are coming, and to joining the cause.
I prefer the peace and solitude of my morning ride and won’t trade that for anything, but I’d love to bike-pool in the evenings with anyone heading out from (or past) the Strip or Downtown to the Chateau trail. I normally leave between 5:00 and 6:00pm. Give me a yell if you’re going the same way.
Hi Matt.That’s great you decided to bike to work on your daily commute.I assume you live within the city.I put a lot of bike miles on weekends,but unfortunately can’t ride to work because my job is outside the city limits,(South Hills).I, and my 2 other co-workers tried doing it a couple times, but it’s very dangerous and risking ones life!! Maybe someday they’ll build a trail that connects outside the city limits.Pittsburgh is way behind the times and very unprogessive.I biked 13 miles to work when I lived in Chicago.Good luck to you on your daily commute.I’m jealous.
Having lived places that are truly unprogressive, Pittsburgh is actually doing very well, especially in the last couple years. Yes there are cities doing better, but for the most part, very few cities have trail or bike lane networks at all.
Welcome Matt. My place of work also has no shower. So I just go stand in the 60 degree datacenter for 10 minutes.
Wow!!Are you serious??? Can not agree with you Netvin.I lived in Pittsburgh for almost 10 years and very little progress has been made.
Still waiting for Steel Valley Trail to be complete that was supposed to be finished last year.Heard about an Allegheny River Trail going from downtown to Harrison city more than 5 years ago that they never even started.Heard about a trail a number of years ago, suppose to go from Station Square to Montour Trail in Groveton.Virtually nothing has been done!! I now consider myself a Pittsburgher and want to see this city progress, but sorry,we have a long way to go.
I will agree that not much has been done in the South Hills (except for the montour trail and its sister trails). Sorry if I wasnt clear. I have only lived in Pittsburgh 4 years. In that time I have seen bike lanes pop up, more multi use trails and flyovers, and now legislation for more abundant bike parking.
Before Pittsburgh I lived in south Georgia. And while the roads are plenty big enough, commuting by bicycle is very difficult. All roads at 55mph speed limit, and all drivers despise cyclists. I commuted by bike the last 2 years I lived there and that was only because I road on the sidewalk. It was far to unsafe to ride on the roads.
Welcome! I am an occational bike commuter. I live in the Bellevue area, and sometimes take the Chateau Trail home. (I usually prefer Brighton to California, which is faster.)
Once I know what my schedule will be for the next week or so, I’ll send you a PM, and maybe we can find a day to ride home together.
P.S. My place of employment has no showers or facilities either. Fortunately, the trip in is mostly downhill for me. I find that a quick cool down and a wipe down with baby wipes I keep at the office are sufficient to get me up to work standards for cleanliness.
In my opinion, if you’ve lived here for ten years and feel that little progress has been made on bike access you either have your eyes closed or are willfully ignorant of what’s happening around you.
I completely disagree, the amount of progress in ten years is staggering to me. The political machine moves slowly, but what BikePGH, Friends of the Riverfront and other outdoors groups and users have accomplished in this city in the past 10 years is rather unparalleled in such a relatively short amount of time.
For the sake of argument, most of the trails you’re talking about are outside of the city limits and subject to the political fiefdoms of Allegheny County. The majority (if not all) of The South Hills, Montour Trail, Groveton and Harrison City are not within the City of Pittsburgh.
Brad is 100% right. Consider what it takes to get one town to put in a trail. Then multiple that by 50. As far as I know, the Allegheny River Trail is in the planning stages, and a large part of the work ahead is negotiating with the fiefdoms that line the river.
Consider that when I started bike commuting many moons ago, one could not get downtown on a bike path. The only bike lane in the city was Beechwood Blvd. I’d say we’ve made some progress, no?
Great story. Welcome to the clan. I live north, too, but a bit west and north of you (think Northway Mall, CCAC North). I often come in thru Brighton Hts because it’s flatter than Perry and Perrysville. Shadeland wiggling over to Brighton is a nice glide into town. From the Chateau trail, Beaver to Eckert to McClure is a fairly pleasant climb, if you haven’t already figured that out.
Also, I hope you haven’t trashed that old bike. I put a few bucks into a new chain and gears for my 1970s Raleigh a few months ago and it runs like new. Lacking doing that, donate it to FreeRide.
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