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Pittsburgh’s bikeshare system, POGOH, will add six new adaptive bikes to its fleet

A sampling of the bikes POGOH has added to its fleet.

Pittsburgh’s bikeshare system, POGOH, will add six new adaptive bikes to its fleet — an expansion intended to allow people of all abilities to ride.

The new bikes include a recumbent bike, a tandem bike, a hand cycle, a cargo bike, an adult tricycle and a side-by-side adult tricycle. (The last two are being custom-built for POGOH, and so have not yet arrived.)

“Adaptive” doesn’t mean any one kind of bike, said David White, POGOH’s executive director. Instead, it describes a class of bicycle accessible to a broader range of abilities than a standard ride.

He hopes that the new additions will appeal to “many people who previously thought that a bike ride wasn’t quite the right fit for them,” so they can find something that is. White said it’s important to acknowledge that bicycles might not be for everyone, nor can they serve every trip. But POGOH wants to “make bicycles work for more people.”

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To that end, the organization hopes people will recommend other models or adaptive tools that they’d like to see added to the system.

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Paul O’Hanlon, a member of the City-County Task Force on Disabilities, about the addition of new designs. “I think it creates a good opportunity for people who need to use a modified bike and maybe have never tried it.”

O’Hanlon said that 20 years ago he was curious if a tandem bike might work for him, but didn’t have a way to find out.

“It’s the kind of thing you don’t want to buy unless you’re sure it’s going to work for you,” he laughed.

The accessibility of various mobility options, or the lack of it, was a point of conflict this year, as local disability and transit advocates urged the city to discontinue its relationship with Spin scooters. (Ultimately, the state’s budget process ended the two-year pilot program with no further action from the city.)

But O’Hanlon said Spin and POGOH are very different. The former positioned itself as a transportation system and a way to address “the last mile problem,” the part of the journey in which people travel from wherever their ride drops them off to their final destination. But the scooter system was “exclusionary,” O’Hanlon said, because many people with disabilities could not use them.

By contrast, O’Hanlon sees POGOH as more of a leisure system, though he acknowledged people use them to get where they need to go.

Pittsburghers for Public Transit was equally opposed to Spin, both for its inaccessibility to those with different mobility needs and for complaints about the vehicles cluttering sidewalks. PPT’s Executive Director Laura Chu Wiens said the region needs affordable, accessible ways to connect to transit, and she applauded POGOH for being part of the solution.

“Not only are they providing transportation solutions, but they’re doing it … in collaboration with impacted communities,” she said.

POGOH will offer test rides of its new bikes on September 30 and October 20. The organization hopes to offer the bikes year-round from a permanent location along one of the city’s riverfront trails, but a location is still being finalized.