Even with the hills, Pittsburghers still want to ride bikes
A study conducted in 2006 by the Portland Borough of Transportation shows 60 percent of residents say they'd like to ride a bike on city streets, but they're concerned about doing so - and with the overwhelmingly car-centric design of our streets, those concerns are perfectly legitimate.
Regardless, we're seeing even with the hills, Pittsburghers do want to ride bikes. The American Community Survey showed from 2000 to 2010, the city had a 269 percent increase in biking to work. This all goes to show there are lots of people who want to ride bikes, there are lots of people who are new to riding bikes, yet there is no opportunity for people to learn how to bike on city streets.
"To fill the gap in Pittsburgh's bicyclist education, BikePGH created our City Cycling classes to give first-time and veteran cyclists alike, the chance to learn and practice the skills necessary to take their next trip by bike." says Scott Bricker, executive director of BikePGH. "Biking for transportation makes sense – it saves money, it gets people exorcising, and it's more environmentally sustainable."
This past spring BikePGH launched two levels of City Cycling classes for the different skill/comfort levels that beginning city riders find themselves at: Fundamentals and Confident. Both classes are taught by certified bike educators.
The Fundamentals of City Cycling class is designed for riders of all ages to learn the fundamental skills of city riding; like starting/stopping, handling curbs/potholes, or crossing railroad tracks. Fundamentals of City Cycling is taught Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7 p.m. at the Wheel Mill, 6815 Hamilton Ave. The Wheel Mill's controlled indoor space gives participants the chance for comfortable practice.
BikePGH is partnering with the Carnegie Library to host the Confident City Cycling classes monthly in different neighborhoods around Pittsburgh. The Confident class takes students, ages 15 and up, out to practice riding on streets and learn how to cross intersections, use bike lanes, and operate the bike racks on Port Authority buses (a very useful way to navigate our city's "unique" topography).
June and July's classes were taught in Lawrenceville and East Liberty respectively. The next class will be on August 16 at the South Side CLP Branch, 2205 E. Carson St. September's class is on the 21st, at the Allegheny CLP Branch, 1230 Federal St.
To register for a City Cycling Class – head to bikepgh.org/citycycling Through a sponsorship with Edgar Snyder and Associates, participants can register for free by entering the promo code "Thanks-Edgar" on checkout.
BikePGH is a non-profit organization established in 2002 that works to transform Pittsburgh's streets and communities into healthy, vibrant places that are safe and accessible for everyone to bike and walk. To help advocate for streets and neighborhoods that are safe and accessible – email firstname.lastname@example.org
By Dan Yablonsky
BikePGH's business and education programs assistant