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Cyclists Flock Downtown For Annual Bike To Work Day

More than 200 people pedaled out to Bike Pittsburgh's city-wide celebration of national Bike to Work Day on Friday. 

The Lawrenceville-based nonprofit coordinated coffee meet-ups and breakfast stations across the city. 

Adam Gray stopped by the Market Square station on his way to work at Highmark. A year-round commuter, he said he usually has a lot more company in the bike lanes during the summer. 

“Bike to Work Day is usually the beginning of more people coming out, and it’s safer on the roads to ride,” he said. “Riding in a group, cars seem to recognize more people out there.”

Sydney Lytle, who just bought a matte, slate-colored road bike, has a daily three-mile commute from the Strip District to Downtown.

“I just threw the basket on today so I can grab my plant I got at work yesterday,” said Lytle. “I didn’t want to crush it by, like, carrying it on the handle bars.”

According to the League of American Bicyclists, 40 percent of all commutes in the U.S. are less than two miles. The organization reports a growing interest nationwide in healthy and sustainable transportation in the last decade, increasing bicycle commuters more than 52 percent.

But not everyone who participated locally is a regular bicycle commuter.

Bill Mitro lives in Morningside and works in the Steel Tower. He said the six-and-a-half-mile trip can be a little much.

“This did spur me to come bike to work today, get a free breakfast, and maybe hopefully inspire me to bike in more, because it was a good ride,” he said.

Nearby sat a group of spandex-clad cyclists.

Matt Mayhew bikes in regularly from Scott Township in the south hills – a 12- to 15-mile trip each way. “Last year I put 10,000 miles on my bike and probably 3,000 miles on my car,” Mayhew said.

Whether weekend warriors or daily commuters, Bike Pittsburgh Advocacy Director Eric Boerer said he's just happy to see more bikes on the road. 

Boerer counted cyclists one-by-one as they rode past his perch at Penn Avenue and 10th Street using protected bike lanes as part of their morning commutes.

“We had a lot of negative comments last year that there’s nobody using the bike lane, so we wanted to show there are indeed people using it,” he said.

Last year, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership installed real-time bike lane counters in three locations on the bike lanes between 6th and 16th Streets. Researches found cyclists frequent the bike lanes most often on Sundays.

Bike Pittsburgh also dispatched a human counter on Bike to Work Day 2015 and found 168 bikes accounted for about 26 percent of all traffic from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., or roughly one bike for every three motorized vehicles.

Boerer and others clocked 207 bikes Friday morning, still about 26 percent of total traffic. At commuters' peak between 8:15 and 9:15 a.m., bikes accounted for about 31 percent of all vehicles. 

Virginia reports on identity and justice for 90.5 WESA. That means looking at how people see themselves in the community, and how the community makes them feel. Her reporting examines things like race, policing, and housing to tell the stories of folks we often don't hear from.
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