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Get Out And Ride: Pittsburgh BikeFest Is Underway

Rebecca Devereaux
90.5 WESA
Katie Smith from Stahlstown, Pa. shares a moment with Ashli Molinero, of Pittsburgh's South Side, while awaiting the call for the next race. This is the first year a hand cycling event was included in Pittsburgh's BikeFest.

All 90 Pittsburgh neighborhoods will see an influx of bike riders this week as Bike Pittsburgh celebrates the 11th annual BikeFest.

The 10 days of eventsbegan Friday with a breakfast for bike commuters and wraps up Sunday with the group’s biggest fundraiser of the year, Pedal Pittsburgh.

BikeFest started with the goal of bring together cyclists from all the biking genras, including mountain bikers, road racers and commuters, to “celebrate everything pedal-powered,” according to Mike Carroll, Bike Pittsburgh Event Manager.

“It’s not often you get the daily commuter and the mountain biker to ride together, and BikeFest offers just a ton of opportunities for them to do that and to celebrate how great cycling is here in Pittsburgh.”

Tensions among bikers, pedestrians and drivers have skirted a boiling point in Pittsburgh this year as Mayor Bill Peduto unveiled further developments in bike infrastructure related to his long-anticipated complete streets policy. Carroll said he thinks this is an opportunity to talk about that tension.

“Most people in cars have ridden a bike at some point in their lives, (and) most people on bikes drive in cars…. So we’ve got a lot more in common than people think,” Carroll said.   

Carroll said the biking community has evolved over the last decade as different rides and organizations rose and fell in participation. New opportunities surfaced regularly, he said.

“It has not diminished over the last 10 years at all," he said. "If anything there are more people than ever that identify themselves as a person that rides a bike.”

Saturday features the “Every Pittsburgh Neighborhood Ride,” a 72-mile trek through the city hits all 90 neighborhoods using a route that minimizes hill climbs. Though, organizers admit it is not for beginners.

Sunday’s Pedal Pittsburgh is a multi-length race and fundraiser that takes over much of the city. Rides from two miles to 62 miles are expected to attract about 3,000 riders. 

“Pedal Pittsburgh is really the exclamation point on BikeFest,” Carroll said.

With the increased bike activity, Carroll hopes drivers will use a little extra caution this week.

“Think of the person in front of you on the bike as your neighbor, pass with four feet — it’s the law, and it’s a safe thing to do — and if you find yourself near a bigger group of cyclists, just use patience and pass with care,” Carroll said.