BikingPgh is a resource for cyclists in and near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Please join us and share your knowledge.
- 1 Where to Cycle
- 2 Finding a Bike to Ride
- 3 Equipment
- 4 Locking your Bike and Theft Prevention
- 5 Maintenance
- 6 Safety
- 7 How to Fix Problems
- 8 The Cycling Life
- 9 Get Involved
- 10 Local Knowledge
- 11 Getting started with Mediawiki
Where to Cycle
Pittsburgh is hilly. The good news is that the topography will add variety to your rides. You should be able to find ways to get places, if not always by the most direct route.
Fortunately there are many resources to help you explore. Here are some general ones:
- Google Maps has a setting that shows bikable streets and paths. Find it in the drop-down menu at the upper left of the browser window. Tick the Terrain feature to get a (rough) idea of climbing. Bear in mind that the information is not about routes per se.
- BikePgh publishes a useful commuter bike map. Printed copies are available at many bike shops.
- Our local Strava Heat Map will show you where people actually bike (well, at least the ones who pack Strava).
Pennsylvania has official bike routes! Note that these seem to be for the experienced cyclist: the routes range in difficulty and other than the periodic highway marker, provide no amenities.
Local cyclists are brimming with opinions and suggestions! You can ask for route advice (how do I get from x to y?) on the BikePgh Message Board. And you will get more help than you know what to do with; you might even make some friends.
Trails in the Area
- Three Rivers Heritage Trails along the three rivers near the city, managed by the Friends of the Riverfront
- Steel Valley Trail on the Monongahela River, southeast of Pittsburgh
- Great Allegheny Passage from the Point 150 miles southeast to Cumberland, MD
- Montour Trail a 46 mile semicircle west and south of Pittsburgh, with a spur to the airport
- Panhandle Trail connecting west to Weirton, WV; intersects the Montour
- Butler-Freeport Trail north and east of Pittsburgh
Group Ride Resources
- Ride calendars are maintained by
- Weekly rides (seasonal, May-September)
- 412 Flock (formerly Flock of Cycles) a monthly fun-paced bike party, with music!
- Aspinwall Velo - Weekend rides originating in Aspinwall and Fox Chapel Area
- Critical Mass on Facebook
Popular Annual Events
In town and close-by:
- Mon Valley Century - August
- Pedal Pgh - August
- Month of Mud - September to October
- Dirty Dozen - November
Aways a bit:
- Crush the Commonwealth - April
- Tour of the Scioto River Valley TOSRV (Columbus, OH) - May
- Dirt Rag Dirt Fest (Raystown Lake Huntingdon County) - May
- Tour de Cure - May
- MS 150 Escape to the Lake - June
- Hilly Billy Roubaix (Morgantown, WV) on Facebook - June
And don't forget:
- Rust Belt Battle of the Bikes - A friendly competition between Pittsburgh and Cleveland - May to September; part of the annual National Bike Challenge.
- Channukah Parade - Bikes with Menorahs (or not) riding a parade pace with the cars - Some time between 25th of Kislev and the 3rd of Tevet (December)
- Icycle Bicycle on January 1 in the morning; has been setting out from REI on the South Side.
- Various ad hoc rides (Underwear, Viking, ...) Look for announcement on local message boards.
For additional rides and 2016 dates, visit the Annual Ride Calendar
Finding a Bike to Ride
Pittsburgh has a large selection of LBSs (local bike shops), each with its own vociferous constituency. Large retailers (Performance, REI, etc) are also nearby. We can't think of any particular ones you should avoid, so we suggest you make a point of visiting several and decide which one(s) have the selection and attitude you're most comfortable with.
- Who Made Your Bike?
- Cycling iQ’s ‘Vertical limit’ series of articles, reviewing twenty years of change in the bicycle industry. What happened to Schwinn? Who makes Novara/Scattante/house-brand bikes?
- Bicycle Retailer 2012 Factory and Suppliers Guide (pdf) This is a map of bicycle factories. Who really made your Trek, Kona, Raleigh, etc.
- Steel vs. Aluminum vs. Carbon Explained
- Sizing... sizing is a contentious issue, if you are new to cycling it's best to work with your LBS. Otherwise, Sheldon Brown gives a good overview
- Touring Bicycle buyer's guide (ACA)
- Golden Triangle Bike Rental in downtown Pittsburgh offers seasonal rentals.
- Pittsburgh has its very own bike-share system, called Healthy Ride. The system began operating in 2015; it currently covers only certain districts (Downtown, Lawrenceville, East Liberty, Oakland, South Side, North Side) but is being continually expanded. Check their website for up to date information.
When in doubt, first check Sheldon Brown.
- Review of headlights, 2013
- Review of taillights, 2013
- 2013 (mtbr) Mountain Bike Review Shootout
- 2014 (mtbr) Mountain Bike Review Shootout
- Peter White on the Perfect Dynohub Headlight
Locking your Bike and Theft Prevention
Many bike thefts have been reported lately in Pittsburgh. Almost all of the stolen bikes were locked with cable locks. A cable lock can be cut easily with a tool a thief can hide in their pocket. DO NOT USE A CABLE LOCK AS YOUR ONLY LOCK! You need a U-lock!
- If you are still relying on a cable lock, watch this video. See how quickly and nonchalantly a thief can steal your bike?
- Best Bike Locks (concludes that Kryptonite Series 2 U-lock ($32) is good)
- Cutting Locks With Bolt Cutters - see why cable locks are bad
- Sheldon Brown's Locking Strategy
- About the Stolen Bicycle Market in San Francisco
- What to do when your bike is stolen (a work in progress) w/ links regarding the stolen bike market in Chicago.
- Reduce the incentive for theft by never buying one of the bikes reported stolen.
- If your bike has been stolen, report it here by adding it to the bikes reported stolen page. Also post on the bikepgh.org message board. Include a picture; this makes a big difference! People really do recover their bikes -- we are all looking out for each other.
You owe it to yourself to learn the basics of taking care of your bicycle. You should at least know how to lubricate your chain, replace and patch an inner tube and adjust your brakes. If you're not exactly sure how to do something, you can look it up on YouTube. By now pretty much everything has a video for it. Do watch several versions of a procedure; quality of exposition will vary and not all details will agree. Remember that like with most things in life, learning from others works the best.
- Free Ride PGH's DIY RECYCLED bike collective. Volunteer or donate in order to take hands-on classes!
- Articles by Sheldon Brown and Others The bicycle king of the interwebz, may he rest in peace.
- Repair Help and Education (Park Tool) They make your bike tools, they also offer free instructions!
- Bicycle Tutor Videos (paid registration required)
- A bicycle wikibook It's a wiki, about bike maintenance!!!
- Collection of Instructables on Bike Cleaning and Maintenance
To figure out what's nominally on your bike you can go to the maker's website. Most reputable ones archive bike specifications, by model and year. You can then use that information to track down the manuals for a specific part. Of course the information may be incomplete, or even inaccurate. So be careful. Some bike makers don't bother making older specs available (and you bought their stuff why?)
- Campagnolo Technical Documents
- Shimano Technical Documents
- SRAM, Avid, TruVativ, RockShox Technical Documents
- Sutherland's Handbook for Bicycle Mechanics @Scribd (purchase required)
- Zinn & the Art of Bike Maintenance (purchase required)
- Barnett Manual (purchase required)
- The Bicycle Wheel by Jobst Brandt @goodreads (purchase required)
If you have a confrontation with a driver, or experience harassing behavior, try to get the license plate number and report it on the Dangerous Drivers thread. Also call 911 and file a police report. Remember, it's not just you -- many of these drivers regularly harass cyclists, and police reports tracking their behavior serve as a legal paper trail that can help victims should they cause an accident -- not to mention that documented aggressive behavior can lead to those drivers getting a ticket (this usually requires excellent proof, such as a video, and persistence on your part, though).
- Bike Commuting 101 - learn to be a safe bicycle commuter
- Pennsylvania Bicycle Drivers Manual (pdf)
- Pennsylvania DOT Bicycling Homepage
How to Fix Problems
- For emergencies and safety issues, always call 911. A missing manhole cover, for example.
- For city-level maintenance issues, such as potholes, streetlights not working, and so on, 311 works well. Call the number, or use the web form.
- If that doesn't work, get in touch with the City Council representative's office in the relevant neighborhood. They have people on their staff who are hired expressly to respond to citizen issues. It works better if you're a voter in their district, but don't hold back if you see an issue that is not being fixed.
- Pittsburgh has a Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator! Get in touch with their office for policy issues.
- For PennDOT issues, such as detour signs blocking sidewalks and other issues related to road construction projects, use their web form. Note: the form won't work on a phone browser; you need Internet Explorer to use it. Construction projects are done by contractors who may not care about cyclists or pedestrians; but when PennDOT gets a complaint through this form, they really do fix it.
- For bigger issues, contact your representative or senator at the state level. Like city council, they have staff who are assigned to fix problems. Advocate for bike issues; many people let things slide, and you'll be amazed at how effective you can be.
- Follow bicycling issues in the media. Sometimes good things happen, sometimes bad things happen. If you know about them you at least have the opportunity to do something.
- A list of links to some useful local resources is at Activism.
The Cycling Life
Weather and Such
- Rain Gear gives you the lowdown on Pittsburgher's experience with deal with bicycling in the rain (we have a lot of it).
- Cold Weather
- The Frozen
- Bike Pgh message board - discuss safety, routes, equipment, parties...
- Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group - help build mountain biking trails
- Western Pennsylvania Wheelmen - organizes group road rides
- Rails to Trails Conservancy
- Adventure Cycling Association
- Biking-related Zines housed at the Carnegie Library main branch - Oakland