mountain biking in Frick (local laws)
I was riding in Frick Park on South Clayton today and passed a woman walking on the trail. She seemed friendly enough, but just as I had passed her, she said, kind of under her breath, “you’re not allowed to ride bikes here” or something to that effect. I turned around and came up along side her and asked her how she knew this, and we actually had a pleasant conversation. I told her why I thought it’s ok to ride in the park, and she told me why she thought it wasn’t, but it wasn’t like an argument – we parted in a friendly way, acknowledging that we were definitely getting information from a variety of sources.
In the process though, she directed my attention to the following sign:
(text: Mountain bikes are not permitted in Frick Woods Nature Reserve / city code 473.03 bicycles confined to roads / no person in a park shall ride a bicycle on other than a paved, vehicular road.)
At first I thought that maybe the nature reserve was just a small part of the park, the areas where they’re cultivating specific plantlife or things like that. but I went to http://www.pittsburghparks.org/park-featuresn and read “The 151 acres that Henry Clay Frick bequeathed to the City in his will were rededicated as the Frick Woods Nature Reserve on Earth Day 1991.” under “natural areas”. Thus, they seem to be saying it’s not okay to ride any of the trails in all of Frick Park.
So this is really depressing. (I’m not suggesting, btw, that no one should ride in the park if it’s against the law. I do, however, like to know when I’m doing something illegal. I didn’t know about this.)
Anyway, I’d like to know if anyone knows anything about this – are we (frick mountain bikers) basically all criminals? Or is it some weird law on the books that there’s an understanding isn’t actually enforced? Or is there any sort of discussion going on about changing it?
The thing that makes me really confused (or maybe hopeful) is the sign above the first one.
It refers to the red area on the map, one of those places where they seem to be giving the plantlife special protection and they say “protected area. no dogs or skateboards. walk bikes.”
So if you’re supposed to walk your bike in the protected area, that seems to suggest that you can ride it in the rest of the park.
But the mean sign seems to suggest otherwise.
So what’s the law? Are we really restricted to the pavement? Doubletrack but no singletrack? Excuse me while I go hyperventilate somewhere.
Input please. (Just looking for actual information, as opposed to advice on how to deal with my newly discovered low-life status. Thanks:0)
((Just kidding. I’ve always known I was a lowlife.))
I’m crossposting this on the PORC forum – more mountain bikers there (I assume) but the traffic seems really low.
and i will cross-post my reply from the porc forum
that red area is the heart of the original 151 acres. the rest of the park was added later bringing the total area to somewhere around 400-500 something acres. you really should walk your bike in the red area as it is a very environmentally sensitive area, and a very rare bit of interior forest in an urban area.
technically it is illegal to ride on a non-paved path in any city park, but the city knows how much money mountain biking brings to those areas and how much work we bikers do as a community to maintain the parks, so they kind of look the other way. there has been talk of changing the law several times but i dont know if anything has ever come of it. someone who has been involved with ptag longer than myself would probably know the history of access in the city much better.
Clarification from the Frick Park website:
The Frick Woods Nature Reserve is a 151-acre
reserve in the northwest portion of Frick Park.
The reserve aims to protect and enhance natural
diversity in the heart of Pittsburgh and provides
opportunities to experience nature through
educational programs, habitat restoration projects
and volunteer participation. Surrounding the
Environmental Center is a variety of gardens filled with Pennsylvania’s native plants and a popular trail system.
Bikes are prohibited in this part of Frick Park.
it’s my understanding that you are allowed, by law, to bike anywhere in Frick except for the two red areas….those are the area behind the garden where you took that picture, and the area where the wooden overlook is below the burned out nature center.
Batman AND Robin have been alerted about your evil doings and you will be apprehended within the hour.
On a more serious note, I understand the laws to be this: It is technically illegal to ride bicycles on the unpaved trails in the city parks.
With that being said, there seems to be no enforcement and very very little signage. I always make sure not to ride(or even walk a bike) through the nature preserve.
When I produced adventure races a couple of years ago the city approved not only mtn biking, but racing mtn bikes in Frick.
Which trails are actually off-limits? I’ve heard that the single track off of Nature Trail is… then again I’ve also heard that it isn’t.
Seth I think that law was changed last year. The only two trails that are off limits are the trails behind the burned out nature center and the trails above the garden near the nature center.
this is what the municipal code says:
I think it’s pretty clear.
(e) Bicycles confined to roads. No person in a park shall ride a bicycle on other than a paved vehicular road, 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.
that sign left out that very very important line: “or path designated for that purpose”
so is technically wrong. I’m guessing that was by design because the person who made it a) doesn’t like bikes, or b) the signs been there for a really long time and no one bothered to update it.
the frick park nature reserve is a special part of the park.
i thought this might apply, but it doesn’t because for the parks purposes, bikes (non motorized) are not considered vehicles
(b) Vehicles confined to roads. No person in a park or in a greenway shall drive any vehicle on any area except the paved park roads or paved greenway roads or parking areas, or such other areas as may on occasion be specifically designated as temporary parking areas by the Director. For purposes of this Section, the definition of vehicle shall include but not be limited to an automobile, truck, all-terrain vehicle (“ATV”), quad, motorcycle, motorbike, or motorized dirt bike.
plus, the pittsburgh parks conservancy has a whole page on their site dedicated to riding bicycles in Frick Park
btw, if anyone wants to see the municpal code themselves, it’s right here:
The city’s page on general park rules prohibits bikes except on roads.
But the Parks Conservancy has a similar list of rules, apparently derived from the same source, that omits this rule (and some others).
Maybe the city’s page just needs updating.
i wouldn’t doubt that it needs updating. it’s one of those things that would slip thru the cracks too. in Highland Park it says: Our only long-course pool, bike trails, playgrounds and the new bike track are part of the park.
on the city’s “bicycling” page, there is still a pdf of “cycling resources” that was posted in 2006
Erok, that’s something about leaving such a significant qualifier off the end of the sign’s text. I’m really glad to know how the rest of it goes and where to refer people (what? there are more words? and you just want us to believe you about what they are? yeah. also, bikers are entitled to a portion of any snacks you may be carrying while walking in the park- hey, is that a sandwich you have there?)
Anyway, I hope it’s just an old version of the law and not a creepy intentional omission. According to the woman on the trail, there was a guy working (working? actually not sure of that. she made him sound like someone official, but who knows at this point) up in the little building at the Beechwood entrance who told her what the park rules are, basically quoting that sign as written.
Tempts one to tape an addendum to the bottom of the sign. (will. not. get. tape.)
The sign you show illustrates the original meaning of “the exception that proves the rule.” If you see, say, a parking sign that says “No Parking Mon -Thurs” that implies that parking Fri-Sun is allowed.
in my experience, the city employees that are telling the rules, etc may not know, or get the memo on official rule changes, especially on something as “minor” as that. then you throw in personal biases and you end up with wrong info.
hey everybody, i’ve been sending emails back and forth with the city, and they’ve updated the parks “General Rules” section to reflect what the Municode says.
It no longer says “ride bikes on roads only”
check it out
Very interesting…I go down into Frick @ Biddle Trail and it never occurred to me that I shouldn’t. Thanks for sharing bikefind.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic. Click here to login.