A Voice From Amsterdam: Cycling Through the Strip Should Be Easy #ExtendPenn

Biking on Penn Ave, just before 16th Street

Disclaimer: The views, opinions, and words of the below guest blog post do not necessarily represent or express those of BikePGH. They are solely those of the author. 

My First Experience Cycling Through the Strip District

Guest Blog Post by Coen Wesselman, an Amsterdamer living in Pittsburgh 

[Coen is from Amsterdam, a City considered to be one of the best places to bike in the world. He is writing this blog post coming from this background and as a newcomer to Pittsburgh and the United States.]

As an avid cyclist and recent transplant from Amsterdam, I’d like to share with you my first experience of cycling through the Strip District.

It was sometime in February and the weather suddenly went from 30 degrees to 70 degrees. That morning I woke up at 6am, ate a banana, and grabbed my road bike intending on a nice leisurely ride. On the road, I met very fit looking cyclist who had the same idea. I ended up riding with him to the Rachel Carson bridge.

Smoothly, we rode down Penn Ave and followed the bike lane until he took a right turn to go home. I stopped and took some pictures of the city.

Not knowing how to get back, I turned to Google Maps for advice on the best way home. I had to turn around and follow the bike lane back to Lawrenceville and go up Main street. So I followed the directions.

All was fine until I hit 16th Street. The bike lane ended suddenly and going straight was not an option. I stopped, looked around and grabbed my phone again for directions. A sign directed me onto Spring Way.

A big truck was in queue for the traffic light was blocking the entrance to Spring Way. Cars started to honk and I had no idea what to do. Confused, I went onto the sidewalk and waited for the road to clear.

I have never felt so clueless on a bicycle in my life.

From Spring Way a street sign sent me to Smallman Street, a street I have never been on. On the way, I got honked and yelled at for not stopping at a stop sign. In my defense, cyclists don’t have to make a full stop at stop signs in my home country.

I continued onto Smallman Street and while dodging a few potholes I quickly found myself surrounded by rush hour drivers. No big deal, just filter through the right side of them just like I would do normally. This move quickly ended when vehicles parked on the sidewalks narrowed the road.

I got back in line and the car behind me started yelling profanities at me and laying on the horn. This dangerous game continued until I had no clue where I was.

The road ended and all I could see was a do not enter sign. I had to stop, take a few breaths and get my phone out again. A few turns later I knew where I was and how to get back home.

Looking back, I can say that my first experience of cycling through the Strip District almost made me sell my road bike. 

We Need Your Help to Extend Penn

Extending the Penn Ave bike lanes will serve more residents while helping reduce the traffic burden that the new developments and autonomous vehicles have created. We can solve multiple problems at the same time by making this bikeway on-ramp into a bike highway.

Check out our campaign page and join our #ExtendPenn email list: bikepgh.org/extendpenn


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