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May 25, 2010

Pittsburgh Urban Bike Trails

This afternoon I took what's becoming my favorite Pittsburgh urban bike ride - I started at the SouthSide Works, crossed the Hot Metal Bridge, and rode north on the Jail Trail.

As I approached Golden Triangle Bike Rentals, I slowed because they're usually closed when I ride by and I wanted to stop inside and look around, and they had the most remarkable thing: an overhead water mist station that was cooling off the cement plaza. It felt several degrees cooler along the twenty-foot long array of fine mist-makers (misters?)

In the picture below, the mist-making machine is the wavy structure along the bottom of the image:

This is an incredible idea for a place trying to encourage bicyclists to stop for a moment. It's eco-green. It's comforting. It makes you want to tarry for a moment. Truly awesome. My compliments to whomever had the idea. It's a brilliant thought for a trailside bike shop. I wish I'd taken a better picture of it.

I remember in summertime in Brooklyn, people who lived above storefronts would open hoses, water down the cement sidewalks, and sit in folding chairs set out on the cement because the evaporation would provide a break from the heat of the day. It was the poor man's air conditioning, my father told me.

I rode north across the Ft. Duquesne bridge, then east along the north shore of the Allegheny River out to Washington's Landing. I reversed and made my favorite downtown bicycle transition: I rode from the North Shore Stadium, across the Ft. Duquesne bridge, dipped down into Point State Park, climbed up the Fort Pitt Bridge, and crossed the Ohio River to Station Square.

The short bike ride from the Stadiums to the Point to Station Square is (in my experience) unequalled in American urban cycling. It's like riding from Manhattan into Brooklyn and then into Queens in ten minutes. It doubled my satisfaction that the cars were in rush hour slow-motion while I rode unhampered along the same bridges.

After Station Square I rode south along the trail back to Southside Works. There were a lot of people out and a surprising number of recumbents.

We're really very fortunate to have such a well-developed network of trails. When the final connections - the Sandcastle gap, and the Smithfield Street / Mon Wharf / Point State Park transition - are made, I think it'll be better than DC or Portland Oregon. It'll be the best urban bike trail network in America.

Tom Murphy's bike trails are really coming into their own.


Anonymous said...

There will be something similar at the new park in the South Side Works (below the Hofbrauhaus)... the mist will be rising up from grates in the ground, however.

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