I am planning a 3-day ride on the GAP this spring. I'll be coming from Ohio, leaving my car near the Amtrak station in Pittsburgh so it's waiting for me when I take the train back from Cumberland.
Where is the best spot to park for 2-3 nights? The train gets in late night (11:30p) so I'm hoping to have a place that is close to the station and safe, as well as safe/allowed for extended parking while I'm on the trail of course.
I'm not averse to streets or night riding, but I'm not familiar with the area at all.
Best place I can find is the pgh parking garage right across the street in the Greyhound station. It is $13 a day. There is a form to fill out and then return to the security desk so they know you are parking overnight.
I can't find the overnight parking form but if you call the # you can ask the person who picks up. I'd give the form about a 95 percent optional. Prob most people don't fill one out.
That is the best option.
Other option, which is free, would be to park up in the strip where it is free (Penn ave probably around 23rd and up) but issue would be car break ins if people see the car there for too long. However, there are row houses up there, so a lot of people park on the street and leave their car for a few days. I'd give it maybe a 0.1 percent chance of a break in. Then you'd have to ride the 1.5 miles to the train. It is a straight shot.
When I did it I just used the grant Street garage. Always a space there. And inexpensive. And safe.
As you can imagine, free parking close to downtown is rare. Last year I parked near 2648 Brereton St
from 5am to sunset one day while I took Amtrak to Connellsville, and biked back. This spot is about an 11 minute bike ride from the train station. People that know Northside well might have suggestions (if they're willing to divulge their secrets).
How big is the hill on the North Side getting there? Or still flat at that point?
Poking around with Streetview, it appears that there are some parts of Penn Ave between 26th & 27th Streets with free, unrestricted parking.
Yes, there is a lot of free parking from Salem's (around 30th street) down to the AT&T store, especially the block with Kindred Cycles. That block has a lot of row houses too.
Sounds like we need a warmshowers sort of thing to hold onto a car for a week or so. I'm sure there are plenty of private driveways where an odd car could sit for a long period more/less safely. I'd offer my own driveway, but I'm 10 miles out, and a very unpleasant ride for someone without prior experience in dealing with very fast, heavy, suburban traffic.
Thanks for the tips! I am seeing some public lots near 13th and Smallman, and down by 21st and Smallman as well. Probably not something to count on. And no indication of overnight/extended parking. Anyone have any experience with those lots?
I see a paid lot at 15th/Smallman and the Google Maps photo shows $7/day. Pretty close to the station.
I'm not against a ride down the street for some free parking, my only real concern with that is getting in town at midnight and things being safe for the ride and the neighborhood in general.
Last time I was in Pittsburgh (not this particular area), it was super clean, safe, well-lit, etc. I assume the same is true but best to check. I'm an overthinker/overplanner as well :)
$13/day for parking is a bit rich for my blood but not against it either. Sometimes a few extra bucks is worth a few less headaches.
@Stu interesting idea! There are so many sites out there with GAP tips, I just assumed they'd cover the angle of leaving your car somewhere free. Didn't find anything, in fact my searching led me to this forum instead.
I don't know about those surface lots. I'd give them a call. They may also be business day only, so you may not be able to get your car out in the middle of the night. The $13/night parking garage is open 24/7.
edit: 15th and smallman open M-F only, and events on Sat and Sun.
11th and smallman seems to be open every day, with an automatic gate/pay by credit card. Unclear what happens during "event" parking (I'm assuming something big in the Strip or perhaps a Pirates game). the only rate listed is $10 a day, but that was really meant for daily commuters.
alco runs the strip lots. Along with tons of other lots in pittsburgh. Call their office. 412-323-4455
This would be a good thing to add to the GAP page
on the Biking Pgh Wiki.
Looks like many of those Alco lots are closed on the weekends or Sundays. The Cork Factory Garage seems the best bet for location and price, at $12/day: http://www.alcoparking.com/commuter/cork-factory-garage
(Excellent to-the-point, helpful and informative website for those Alco parking lots, by the way.)
The parking garages in the downtown area are more in the $16-$25 range.
Of course, the Cork Factory Garage is close to all the areas where free street parking might be available (23rd/Smallman) as mentioned earlier.
Of course, for another $1/day the Grant Street garage is super close to the Pittsburgh station. So yeah, aside from street parking that seems the best solution (as suggested earlier by @edronline).
Crazy to find the parking is going to be 1/3 of my cost for this trip! 2 campsites and the return train ride w/bike should be about $70.
Would just pay the extra dollars a day and get indoor parking literally across the street from the train. Trains run late so who wants to be out cycling to the Cork factory at 1 am?
I thought maybe there might be some local insight to parking spots. But yeah if I am going to pay regardless, being across the street and indoors is a no-brainer.
I'm not a big-city dweller so I forget about all these things like expensive parking which are probably assumed expenses when you live in or frequent a downtown area.
Thanks again everyone for all the help! Looking forward to the GAP trip.
Here's another idea. I haven't tried this, but it might be worth a shot. Park in Millvale at the trailhead for the North Shore trail. It's patrolled, lighted, and free. Four miles along a scenic river trail, cross one of several bridges into the city, and roll down into the city to start your actual trip. On any given day, there are three dozen empty spaces.
Maybe even run it past the local police first, maybe make sure they're OK with it. I don't know why they wouldn't, but tell them your story, maybe even have dinner at one of the local restaurants in town there. Talking point: Better to drop a few dozen bucks into their local economy than lining the pockets of a parking conglomerate in the city. Their non-emergency number is 412-821-2777.
I parked in Millvale riverfront park just a few weeks ago at 7p and rode downtown. By the time I got back the entire park was empty. Zero cars. Zero people. Felt a bit creepy.
If I was parking overnight somewhere I'd probably park where there are more cars.
The Grant Street lot should work. I don't mind paying for a service, but would prefer to spend those dollars on the actual trail. But I suppose the parking lot is "part of the trail" in a way.
I know around me, there are plenty of places one could easily park long-term that just wouldn't be obvious to a visitor. Wasn't sure if maybe the local bicyclists here would quickly point out "oh you can just park over on X street and it will be fine".
Thanks again for the help.
10th street parking lot is free on weekends and there are always cars near the jail. I think you can park there on Friday after 6pm for free also. And this is on the GAP and just about 1 mile from Amtrak station -- Jail Trail to Grant which ends at Amtrak.
Google maps shows an opening from that parking lot onto the jail trail. Does that opening really exist? I thought the whole thing was fenced off.
edit -- yes, yes it does. Thanks to Google Maps.
That lot Mikhail mentioned seems to be the Second Avenue Parking Plaza
and the webpage says it is closed on the weekends and holidays. Not sure if closed means "open and no charge", or "locked up".
Rate is $9/day otherwise.
PMTCC uses this lot for many ride over weekends.
2nd Ave Lot does not have an attendant after 5 or so during the week and on the weekends. The gate is up and as Mikhail says, cyclists use it free of charge. I have a parked at the First Ave Garage on multi day rides. I like it because it is relatively inexpensive if you plan to park over the weekend. It is patrolled as all the garages are patrolled. The First Ave Garage
is near the trail and an easy shot down Ft. Duquesne Blvd. to the Point. Address: 600 First Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.
Good to know the Second Ave lots are free (and open) over the weekends.
Grant St. and First Ave. parking garages are $5 for weekend rates and night (after 4PM) rates.
Wanted to update this thread now that I have actually biked the trail and figured out parking.
For me, parking at the Grant Street Transportation center garage was the perfect solution. I took the Amtrak back from Cumberland, MD with my bike, and the Pittsburgh Station is literally across the street from the parking garage.
The Grant Street garage was well-lit and patrolled.
I was parked from early Sunday morning until just after midnight on Tuesday night (early Wednesday morning technically). The cost was $17, but no daily breakdown. Very reasonable.
Thanks again for the help. Wanted to share my experience for anyone finding this thread looking to do the same.
On a side-note, have to mention how impressed I was with the bike-friendly nature of Pittsburgh city roads. It was very easy to navigate to the GAP from the garage via Point State Park, despite some confusing street signage for the trail. Eventually I made it to Golden Triangle Bike Shop, and was directed to the Hot Metal Bridge where the trail really began.
Lots of conflicting and contradictory directions on all the map and routing apps I used ahead of time. I'd suggest parking at Grant Street garage, heading to Golden Triangle Bikes and then on to the Hot Metal Bridge from there. You won't have any issues finding your route after that.
if you want to hit Point State Park, do that in-between the Grant Street garage and Golden Triangle Bikes.