Bike tourism in your city
I am planning to be in Pittsburgh for a 5K in August. I’d like to get some cycling in while I’m there and have a few questions.
Are any of the downtown hotels known for being bike friendly? I’m going to have my family of 4 with me FWIW.
My last trip to Pittsburgh, I stayed up around I-579 in a suite (not sure of the hotel) and that would work, but my recollection is that is considerably higher elevation than the assorted riverfronts. I’m old, I don’t like hills.
Plus I’m running a 5K, which I have never done, so I want to save my knees if I can.
I plan on getting 1, maybe 2 rides in while I’m up there. What is the must ride? I’d like to bike across all three rivers in one ride too.
Lastly, I hope to ride down to one of the kayak rental places. Are bike racks readily available along the rivers?
What is the bike parking situation at PNC Park? We have a bike valet at Nationals Park.
What else do I need to know?
Re must-rides: Here’s a short loop ride along the river trails that includes many of the best sights:
Point State Park-Strip District Trail-16th St Bridge-Northside Trail (past PNC Park)-Fort Duquesne Bridge-Point State Park again-Smithfield St Bridge-Southside Trail-Hot Metal Bridge-Eliza Furnace Trail-back to Point State Park.
Here’s a map:
That route could be a starting point. To bike across the Ohio River, also, you could do the West End Bridge. Unfortunately, it’s not as bike-friendly as many other bridges: you have to choose between biking with the cars (less safe, but easier navigation) or biking on the sidewalk (and carrying bike up & down stairs).
Re kayaking: most years there’s a very convenient kayak rental on the North Shore under the 6th St Bridge, next to PNC Park, but with covid, I think it’s currently closed. Check:
Bike racks: there are bike racks scattered along the riverfront and near PNC Park, though not as many as you might want.
Most of us live here and so are clueless about bike-friendly hotels. If you find one, let us know.
There are a bunch of Downtown hotels, a few for $85, most more expensive, and there are motels on either end of the Hot Metal Bridge (which is a wonder).
Paul is right about the Ohio, the SW side of the West End Bridge is famous for being hellish, and going down the Ohio (i.e north) and back is so bad that getting to the West End bridge interchange makes the heart soar (“Our very own little piece of hell!”).
You want to pick up a free(!) Bike-Pgh map of Pittsburgh at any bike shop around.
There are two inclines that go up the cliff on the SW side on the Monongahela (the Mon) River; they allow bikes on them. Great classic view of Pittsburgh. Riding down is fun (check yer brakes first).
The kayak rental place Paul mentioned is on a river trail on the North Side, and I beleive you could park your bikes there. Not sure if it’s open.
If, like my sister-in-law, you are terrified of bridges, don’t come to Pittsburgh.
Give us a debriefing after you trip, please.
Where and which is your 5k?
If you want to stay downtown, both Distrikt and Monaco provide guest bikes, while the Courtyard Marriot and Drury are bike friendly if you bring your own (not implying the others are not). The Marriot hosts https://www.nobleinventionbiketouring.com/ groups, who sometimes rent bikes from http://www.BiketheBurgh.com a block down the street (with its protected bidirectional bike lane). A must see for visiting cyclists is http://Www.bicycle heaven.org.
let me know if you have further questions.
Paul’s map is perfect because it includes most of what is referred to as the “Three Rivers Heritage Trail”. This is the best trail system for visitors. Flat, great views, mostly easy to follow, and takes you to several interesting parts of the city. There is also a protected two-way bike path that goes along Penn Avenue from Point State Park to 16th Street, which is nice because it takes you through city streets. (The trails are mostly just along the rivers, so they are sort of isolated from the neighborhoods.)
The Three Rivers Heritage Trail also follows the north side of the Ohio River toward the west for a few miles, and then is basically a dead end, but it is a nice out-and-back ride along the Ohio River that I would suggest instead of trying to cross the Ohio.
I should have added that Bicycle Heaven is just a few minute ride off of the Ohio Riverfront trail.
My plans for the 5K changed, so I’m not visiting your fair city. I was looking forward riding along the rivers, though the Ohio River bridge leaves something to be desired. I pondered going out in traffic or carrying the bike up the stairs.
Perhaps I’ll come out in April, when the Nats are in town. I also wanted to go up to Aero Tech Designs and find out why they are always out of my size for bike shorts. Good product though.
Eventually, I’ll get up there and report back.
Thanks for all the of the feedback, it looks like a fun place to bike.
Don’t let steps deter you, unless you’re traveling with a loaded bike. I haul my bike up steps all the time. It’s one of the things you have to learn to deal with in Pittsburgh. We have a lot of them, and some are enormous, hundreds of steps. The three major benefits of steps are, one, that you use a different set of muscles to climb steps as opposed to trying to pedal up that same hill; two, your chances of dealing with car traffic on those steps is zero; three, often the shortest distance between two points.
Alternatively, all the buses have bike racks, so if you don’t mind paying the bus fare (hint: get a daily/weekly/monthly pass), that’s an easy way to gain elevation.
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