+ Pittsburgh 101
- Walk Score: 61. Walk Score measures the walkability of any address based on the distance to nearby places and pedestrian friendliness.
- Transit Score: 54. Transit Score measures how well a location is served by public transit based on the distance and type of nearby transit lines.
Bike Score: 40. Bike Score measures whether an area is good for biking based on bike lanes and trails, hills, road connectivity, and destinations.
Pittsburgh sits atop the heights overlooking the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers as they combine to form the mighty Ohio River, and it is surrounded by hills full of valuable minerals, useful for the production of metals and glass. And thus, once it was formally incorporated into a borough in 1794, it turned in fairly short order into an American industrial center with few rivals. Steel and petroleum production swelled with every major war, and cheap labor came from all quarters of the globe, drawn by innumerable low-skill industrial jobs. But all things change eventually, and by the 1970s steel production had largely left the United States. The city has never fully recovered in terms of sheer population numbers, but it has recovered in other important ways. All those busy furnaces over the centuries created pollution bad enough for biographer James Parton to describe 1868 Pittsburgh as “hell with the lid off,” and the problems only grew from there. Finally, following WWII, the city declared a “Renaissance” effort to clean up its air and rivers, and met with some success. Again in 1977, they renewed this effort with “Renaissance II,” but sadly nothing was more effective at cleaning up the air and water than losing all those mill jobs… And thus in 2016, we find a city successfully redefining its economy, but also one with good air, good water, 466 bridges (holycrap!) from which to behold its scenery, and the kind of decadent bones mixed with open space that one only seems to find in places that used to be industrial headquarter powerhouses. The urban decay porn here is amazing -- there are industrial relics lying about almost everywhere. Giant kettles and furnaces, rail cars, empty warehouses, and disused large-scale infrastructure of yesteryear are your constant companions. Pittsburgh has consistently been ranked at or near the top of The Economist’s livability index over the past ten years, and when we visited, we immediately understood why the likes of Google and Facebook have opened offices here. It’s an incredibly easy place to live, and we were immediately smitten with it.
+ Biking in Pittsburgh
Other than downtown, we didn’t observe much in the way of hand signaling, but then it’s not often congested elsewhere. It remains a good idea, especially downtown in the cycle tracks and bike lanes, to let folks around you know what you intend to do with those signals, of course.
Helmets required for anyone under 12 years old, and after dusk a front white light is required, along with both rear and side reflectors, interestingly. We don’t often see the side reflector requirement. You get to place your own bet on how many local law enforcement officers actually know about that stipulation, if you so choose.
We heard tales of normal bike theft, and our gracious hosts were eager to let us store our bikes in their locking garage at night. Thus, the usual rules seem to apply: bring it inside overnight if at all possible, and if not, use a proper u-lock or similar – not a combo chain, and likely not anything that was cheap.
Pittsburgh is technically Northeastern, but it’s too close to “Pennsyltucky” to really feel much like it. The vibe is almost uniformly blue collar, with downtown being a bit dry and the hipper neighborhoods offering a healthy dose of well thought out food and beverage choices. Good beer is alive and well here, as is top-notch public art and museums.
These self-guided cultural tours were curated by locals who bike and wanted to share their favorite nooks and crannies with you.
Coming soon! If you live in Pittsburgh and love food, music, art or just being outdoors? Curate a route for us by inquiring here.
- Healthy Ride (bike share)- $2 per 30 minutes for sturdy city bike with front basket, lights, fully enclosed chain guard and skirt guard.
- Golden Triangle Bikes- $8+/hr or $30+/day for hybrid, mountain, road, tandem, kids, trailer bike or kids trailer
- Bike the Burgh- $25 (Bring Your Own Bike) for tours of "Burgh Best of", Glass & Steel, Oakland and famous film scenes
- Bike the Gap- $700 (Bring Your Own Bike) for self-guide tour of the Great Allegheny Passage trail and C&O Towpath. Includes map, lodging, luggage transfer and one-way shuttle
- Golden Triangle Bikes- $20+ for tour of Pittsburgh highlights, beer scene, happy hour. Includes bike rental.
- Kindred Cycles- the Brompton and Brooks purveyors, as well as an all around kick butt shop.
- Port Authority (Map) - $2.50+ one way. "You can travel with your two-wheeled, non-motorized bicycle using Port Authority buses, light rail (T) vehicles and the Monongahela Incline for no additional charge."
- Amtrak Capitol Limited (Washington, DC - Pittsburgh - Cleveland - Chicago) - $20 for roll-on bike service
- Pennsylvanian (New York - Pittsburgh) - $10 for checked bike ($15 bike boxes sold at station)
None at this time.
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