Getting to the Point already – Using the Riverfront Trails to beat traffic, park for free, and enjoy the outdoors
Now in its 50th year, the opening weekend of the Three Rivers Arts Festival (TRAF) saw incredible weather and with that, scores of cyclists also arrived. As usual, finding a place to lock your bike was a challenge unto itself, so the folks at the Festival have decided to add additional bike parking for the rest of the event that runs through June 14th. They also asked us to provide some basic information on how to utilize the trails to get to the Festival in the greenest way possible. Between the combination of riding to the TRAF and their initiative to reduce waste, you can enjoy the Festival, and know that you didn’t add any trash to our overflowing landfills, or add any CO2 to our atmosphere.
They will be adding a bike corral near the entrance to Point State Park and have secured a few additional racks that will be located near the Portal Bridge. You will still need to lock your bike up properly, but at least there will be something secure to lock to.
Beat the Traffic, Park for free…Getting To the Point by Bike
Fortunately for us, the Arts Festival is located in Point State Park, an easy bike ride from most of the city. That means you won’t have to pay for parking or wait in any long lines at parking garages. It also provides a great, family-friendly and healthy way to get to the Point.
If you still don’t feel comfortable riding on the roads and are able to transport your bike with a car, you can park for free at several trail heads around town and ride a completely flat, traffic-free route to the point.
On the interactive Pittsburgh Bike Map, you can find all of the riverfront trails, and access points.
A rundown of the Free Trail-head Parking
Click on the images to view a detail of the map
Free Parking: off of Second Ave.
Arguably the most popular trail head in the city, the entrance to the Eliza Furnace Trail is located off of Second Ave in Greenfield. There is a large parking lot, port-a-pot, information, and plenty of cyclists to talk to. It’s also conveniently located near the Bates St (Oakland) exit of 376.
The EFT takes you along Second Ave and the usual bumper to bumper traffic on the Parkway. The trail ends near the Allegheny County Jail, so you’ll probably hear many veteran cyclists call this “The Jail Trail.” Since the section around the Mon Wharf is not complete (yet), you must enter into traffic at Grant St or Smithfield St downtown. From here you can take the Blvd of the Allies all the way to the Point. The Blvd is wide through here and drivers usually treat you respectfully, but if you still don’t want to ride with traffic or you have kids, you can continue on the sidewalk for a few blocks. The sidewalk along Fort Pitt Blvd is usually pretty free of pedestrians. Make sure to give them the right of way and respect.
South Side – South Side Trail – 2 miles from the Point
Free Parking: Under the Birmingham Bridge, Riverfront Park
This park is popular with cyclists and boaters alike. It provides quick access to the Southside Works and the E Carson St business district.
You can take this trail to Station Square, then cross the Smithfield Street Bridge into town. Once in Downtown, follow the instructions on using the Blvd of the Allies on the Eliza Furnace description.
Another option is to ride to the opposite direction to the Southside Works, and cross the Hot Metal Bridge to join the Eliza Furnace Trail. Using these two trails makes for a nice traffic-free loop aroud the city.
Northside – North Shore Trail – 2.5 miles from the Point
Free Parking: Under the 31st Street Bridge, Washington’s Landing (Herr’s Island)
This is a popular parking spot for cyclists that want to beat the traffic and parking costs at the stadiums. You can ride this easy and pleasant path past the Hienz lofts, under the Three Sisters bridges, past PNC Park, and over the Ft Duquesne Bridge’s ped/bike path directly into Point State Park.
If you want an even shorter ride (1.5 miles), you can park for free near the Heinz lofts.
For an even longer ride (3.5 miles), you can park in Millvale Riverfront Park, just off of rt 28 in Millvale, near the 40th Street Bridge. Warning: the section of trail between Millvale and the 31st Street Bridge isn’t technically an official trail and is very bumpy. Ride at your own risk.
So there you have it. These are the major free parking locations for the trail. There are many other places to park for free near the trail. Also, once the casino is completed, there will be some free parking for trail users along the Ohio River.
You can also use these parking lots throughout the week. Many downtown workers utilize the free parking to get some exercise for the last leg of their commute.
The Arts Festival folks want to know what you think about your experience at the Arts Festival, cycling or otherwise.
Not a member of Bike Pittsburgh? Join today! We need you to add your voice! Bike Pittsburgh works to protect cyclist’s rights and promote the vision of making Pittsburgh a safer and more enjoyable place to live and to ride. For more info, check out: www.bike-pgh.org/membership
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