Hey Downtownies, help me out

This topic contains 23 replies, has 16 voices, and was last updated by  Swalfoort 3 yrs, 4 mos.

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Mar 15 2013 at 10:12am #

I’ve got a new gig downtown and plan to start off riding the bus in, but would also like to try riding my bike in on the jail trail. My destination is near the convention center.

Any tips for bike parking in that area and the best routes for cutting through downtown from the trail to Penn/10th?

Anything else I should know? I’m feeling like a newb because my previous bike commute was very low traffic streets and I could take my bike into my office. Jolene’s never been left outside for the day, it’s going to be hard on her too.

Lou M.

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Mar 15 2013 at 10:36am #

You can take the Jail Trail (up to the light at PNC Firstside) onto the pedestrian walk to Smithfield Street bridge. Hop on to Fort Pitt Blvd for about 1.5 blocks and head down to the Wharf Parking and take the path from the lot to the Point. Wrap around through Point State Park and follow the river trail to the Convention Center. I take part of that route everyday.


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Mar 15 2013 at 10:37am #

The news on connecting the EFT and Penn Avenue is not good at present. Two main options – cut to the chase and ride up Grant (small hill) or Smithfield (less hill, but more confusing traffic patterns), or swing AROUND downtown by following First Avenue/Allies or ??? to Point State Park, and grabbing the trail back out along the Allegheny from there. You can handle either option, although you might not like them all that much.

As for bike parking, depends a little on what you mean by Penn and 10th. The parking garage at 9th and Penn has bike racks right at the Penn Avenue entrance. From a visibility standpoint, it’s good. It’s largely protected from the elements. But, we have seen bikes go missing from there. So love your bike and lock it right, if you use that facility.

There is also a possibility at the federal building, which isn’t far from where you’ll be, perhaps. It’s in the little courtyard in front of the Liberty Avenue entrance to the building. It’s not very visible from the street, and is exposed to the elements, but from a safety perspective, it’s right outside glass doors behind which are lots of federal law enforcement folks (and others). Something to consider.

Final option: For $125 a year or so, you can get a space at the Bike Center on Seventh and Penn. Key controlled access to one of 26 reserved bike parking spaces (communal space, with racks for 26 bikes – so 25 others have access to your bike, but they are fellow cyclists….) That’s probably the safest option.

There is also free parking adjacent to the Bike Center. I tend to prefer the vertical racks located BEHIND the green containers, just because they tend to be less used, and because they are sort of out of sight.

(Can you tell I am really conflicted as to whether it is safer to park a bike in a public, highly visible location or in a less visible location?)

PM me if you want contact information for the Bike Center.


Private Message

Mar 15 2013 at 10:39am #

Oh, one of the reasons I like the Bike Center is that if there is ever a reason that I might need or want to leave my bike downtown, I don’t even have to think twice about it. I know the bike is safe.


Private Message

Mar 15 2013 at 10:44am #

I would take Smithfield to get to the convention center. What I usually do is come off the jail trail, get on Grant, take a left at the Boulevard, and a right on Smithfield – then go to Liberty and take 10th.

I come in very early in the morning, but from my experience, that’s the best way. Cars drive with more reckless abandon on Grant, and it’s a brick street.

For parking, I’m not too familiar with the area, but I believe there is a rack inside the garage right off of Penn at the intersection with 10th.


Private Message

Mar 15 2013 at 10:46am #

Tabby! What’s your new gig? Still with ACHD?


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Mar 15 2013 at 10:52am #

thanks for your input. I totally wouldn’t have thought of the river trail and while it’s a little more out of the way I like how much less time I have to be on the streets.

I was assuming the 9th and penn garage was my best bet, but the federal building is decently close so that might be good too.

I’m not ready to commit to the Bike Center yet, but it could be an option for the future. Is there a waiting list or are there really still available spots? 26 seems like such a small number, I assumed it was full already.


Private Message

Mar 15 2013 at 10:59am #

scott wrote:Tabby! What’s your new gig? Still with ACHD?

additional gig, Scott. :) Ha! Wasn’t sure if you’d see this.


Private Message

Mar 15 2013 at 11:02am #

We’re gonna have to get together for lunch as-planned :)
And yeah, take the jail trail, smithfield, and that takes you easy-breeze to convention area :)


Private Message

Mar 15 2013 at 11:43am #

@bikeygirl, can’t wait!


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Mar 15 2013 at 11:47am #

I used to get off the jail trail onto second avenue and head up Ross Street. It’s clogged in the morning, so it moves slow, OTOH you might get doored by cops or barked at by K9s.

2nd Ave>

then, ride the wide Grant St sidewalk in front of the Steel tower till you get to Strawberry Way and take that to Liberty.


explore the 2 alleys between Smithfield & Grant off of 6th Ave.

coming back you can take Wm Penn place back to Strawberry Way.


Private Message

Mar 15 2013 at 12:05pm #

Are you going to beg your bike not to take your man, just ’cause she can?
Love it.


Private Message

Mar 15 2013 at 12:29pm #

edmonds59 wrote:Are you going to beg your bike not to take your man, just ’cause she can?
Love it.

you know my bike is gorgeous and can get anything she wants. whether she wants my man is questionable- he’s a known gear masher.

eta: Kraynick once called him a downhill rider because he came in wanting to swap out for this stupid big chainring.


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Mar 15 2013 at 12:47pm #

I’d go straight down Grant Street and take the lane. I do this every day without trouble.


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Mar 15 2013 at 1:47pm #

I come in from the South Hills, so I cross at the Smithfield Street Bridge and take one of two routes, depending on weather. When it’s nice, I turn left from Smithfield to First Avenue, take it Stanwix, then Blvd of the Allies to the Point, and onto the trail up the River to the Strip (for me–to the Conv Center area for you.) When it’s less nice, I just want to get out of the cold, I take Smithfield Street straight to Liberty. I’m usually there around 7:00 AM, though, and traffic has not started to build yet. I’m not sure what it would be like later in the morning.


Private Message

Mar 15 2013 at 1:48pm #

I agree with Stu. I ride it to Grant to USX w/o issue. Just take it further down to the CC. Maybe we’ll bump fenders so to speak on the trail :-)


Private Message

Mar 15 2013 at 2:05pm #

I do this most days, too (when I don’t come down 5th). While I’ve never had an issue when taking the lane, it is a high traffic road and I did have a different feeling about the whole thing when I was just getting started and didn’t know to claim the lane.


Private Message

Mar 15 2013 at 5:02pm #

I work at 7th and Grant. I prefer to take Ross up through town, from the jail trail. I hop off the trail between the jail and the First Ave. parking garage, left on First Ave., right on Ross, then left on Sixth Ave, right on Grant, left on Seventh. I take the lane all the way. I prefer this to riding Grant from the trail.

Sometimes I hop on the sidewalk just before Ross meets Sixth, saves me from having to make that left turn. Either way, if I were you, I would then take Wm. Penn Pl. toward Penn and the Convention Center, as it becomes two way right there next to the Gulf Tower.

I don’t know about bike parking – I am lucky in that I can bring my bike in my building. I think there may be some racks in the convention center parking garage?


Private Message

Mar 15 2013 at 9:11pm #

Somewhat related question, I occasionally work downtown but not enough to rent a space at the Bike Center. The bike I want to use as a commuter is a fairly new Raleigh Roper with racks. Is it a dumb idea to leave a new (relatively) expensive bike locked at the racks like those at the 9th and penn garage? A lot of those bikes look well worn, so would my bike (which retails at $1400-ish) be more of a target? Assume U-lock and cable around wheel.


Private Message

Mar 16 2013 at 7:15am #

I generally go by the mantra that you want to lock your bike next to one that is locked improperly, costs more than yours, or preferable both. This is the theory that thieves will take what’s easy, or worth their time. On the other hand, I think a lot of the bikes stolen in town and the north side are taken by street people who prefer MTBs and other upright style of bikes as opposed to the latest carbon fiber go fast. In the end all you can really control is your method of locking (U & cable) and then luck takes care of the rest.


Private Message

Mar 16 2013 at 7:34am #

People in PGH steal bikes that are not secured with u-locks. A cable lock will not stop someone from taking your bike. This can happen in 5 minutes while you buy coffee. I consider it about as secure as tying your bike to a rack with a rope.

Get a Ulock and make sure it’s locked to the frame of the bike and a stationary object that is bolted to the ground. If you have quick releases, be sure to secure your wheels, either with a secondary cable lock that goes through both wheels, or minimally replace your quick release skewers with allan key skewers or security skewers (available at most bike shops). Also, replace your seatpost clamp with an allan key clamp instead of quick release if you have a QR seatpost.

If you lock it right, at least in PGH, you can be pretty confident that your bike will still be there when you return.


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Mar 16 2013 at 7:48am #

I find the transition from Jail Trail to Grant Street more challenging than riding Grant St itself. There is one entrance/exit at the traffic light for the merge point from the westbound Parkway and eastbound Ft Pitt Blvd, and another at the corner at First Avenue. I don’t care for either one, and I’m not real comfortable with wide intersections like Grant at Blvd of the Allies, so I rather like the idea of wiggling over to Ross St for a couple of blocks.


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Mar 16 2013 at 8:37am #

thanks again for so much input and ideas. I think I like the sound of Ross as well as the river trail when I can afford to go a little out of the way. This also reminds me that I want to replace my QRs


Private Message

Mar 16 2013 at 8:54am #

I try to monitor bike thefts downtown. It really seems that most thefts are crimes of opportunity. Aluminum bikes were common targets when thieves knew they could recycle them for the cash….(like $10 per bike). It’s not impossible that thieves are seeking the better bikes, but it doesn’t always seem to track that way.

I think the more distinctive you bike is, the less likely it will be stolen. I think the better your bike is locked, the less likely it will be stolen. I think the more care you take in determining WHERE to lock you bike, the less likely it will be stolen.

All that said, frisbee, et al., can you swing the cost of a mini u lock to fasten front wheel to frame, plus the u lock for frame/rear wheel to something secure? We’ve only verty rarely (if ever) seen a bike go missing when locked with a u lock.

Also, watch the “tiddly bits” on the bike. If you have good lights, bags, computers that are easily (or idly) removed, take them with you. I think these get stolen just for the fun of it by people with too much time on their hands.

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