Saturday, April 11, 2009

I biked PGH!

I was back in Pittsburgh briefly, home of the world's most beautiful bike map. This time, unlike my last time in Pittsburgh, I actually got to use the bike map.

I am sad to report that the 2009 version of the bike map is slightly less beautiful than the original version. But it's still the most beautiful city bike map I've ever seen and the most functional I've ever used. And Pittsburgh, especially on bike, would be really tough to figure out without a good map.

Biking is always the perfect way to explore a new city. The snowstorm that greeted my arrival gave way to warmish and sunny weather for my day on bike.

I biked from the tony Squirrel Hill neighborhood where I was staying to the old town of Allegheny (AKA: the North Side). I stopped by Deutschtown (interesting but a little rough), the Warhol Museum (great), and the Mexican War Streets (beautiful). I biked along one of the the river trails, which was pleasant in it's industrial grimness. And even the "modern" part by the stadiums still had lots of chances to fall unobstructed into the river. And then up to Herrs Island.

There was one moment where, at night, when I was trying to find the entrance to another river trail. I was defeated by the freeways and decided to but my losses and carry my bike up over 200 steps near the 10th St Bridge. Pgh indeed!

Overall, though, despite all the mountains, it's pretty easy to bike on mostly flat land (unlike, say San Francisco). And because my ride happened to be on the day of the services for three police officers killed on duty, the streets were largely empty of car traffic.

Pittsburgh itself does, at times, have a vaguely post apocalyptic feel to it. But I love urban decay and old industry. And unlike, say, Baltimore or St. Louis, Pittsburgh seems to have gotten a big broom and swept up most of the rubble.

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