Transportation
3:30 am
Tue June 11, 2013

Pittsburgh Installs New Bike Racks With Hopes of Boosting Local Economy

Fifty new bike racks will be installed throughout downtown by the end of this month, bringing the total of city-installed bike racks to more than 500.

Stephen Patchan, Pittsburgh’s bicycle-pedestrian coordinator, said adding more bike parking downtown is intended to spur business growth.

“The more bicycle-friendly business districts are, the higher customer capacity they generally have, which equates to more foot traffic for local businesses,” he said.

Lou Fineberg, business program director with Bike Pittsburgh, said constituent needs decided the best locations for the new racks.

“Coffee shops, banks, the post office, basically places people need easy access to with their bikes that are convenient,” he said. “Often, places you just stop in for a quick errand and leave so you don’t have to look all over downtown to park your bike somewhere.”

Fineberg added that the need for bike racks downtown was compounded by the loss of the old parking meters.

“Parking meters are the de facto bike racks around the city, so as more and more bike racks (are) replaced with the new meter project, it’s really important that we mitigate that and put new bike racks in these communities where parking meters are disappearing,” he said.

When it comes to bicycling, Pittsburgh has come a long way from its 1990 designation as one of the three worst U.S. cities in which to ride a bike. In 2010, we were recognized as a bronze-level biking city by the League of American Bicyclists, and named one of the top 30 bike-friendly cities by Bicycling Magazine. Over the past decade, according to the U.S. Census, bike commuting in Pittsburgh has increased by 300 percent.

Patchan said the city is trying to keep pace with that growth, working with downtown stakeholders and Bike Pittsburgh to determine how best to address cyclists’ needs.

The new racks play to cyclists’ fondness for ease, Fineberg said.

“It’s kind of counter-intuitive," he said. "You think people that are biking aren’t lazy — and I hate to think that we’re lazy — but the truth is when we get somewhere we like to park right where we’re going. Among other reasons, for security. It’s nice to be able to keep an eye on your bike.”    

Patchan said this is the first stage of downtown installation. More bike racks may be installed next year depending on additional demand.