Fresh Water Cleveland is running a brilliant story (ha, I wrote it) about the differing bike cultures in Pittsburgh and Cleveland. This was inspired by a personal theory of mine that the health of cities can be measured by the number of miles of bike lanes it has and the number of blogs. Any social scientists want to take that on? (By my informal research, that makes Pittsburgh and St. Louis the healthiest Rust Belt cities.)
The Action: A small knot of cyclists set off en masse from a Carnegie-built library in a formerly robust steel town.
Background: Cycling is still a fringe activity in this Rust Belt metropolis, wedged as it is between the trendier East and West coasts. But a small yet committed group of riders shrug off the incredulous stares. Some even commute to work, though few of their employers provide showers and lockers, much less secure bike parking. At least the local transit authority finally has installed bike racks.
Welcome to Pittsburgh circa 2003, when the Post-Gazette published the story “Can Pittsburgh Learn to Love Bikes?”
The cycling community in the Steel City was just beginning to coalesce, a full 13 years after Bicycling Magazine named it one of the country’s 10 worst cities for biking. That unappealing distinction inspired Pittsburgh leaders to reflect upon the few who traveled the burgh’s famous hills and bridges through the sheer force of their own power, leveraged by a simple, classic machine.
“A critical mass of bicyclists — activists or not — is one ingredient that Pittsburgh needs to become the kind of hip place that attracts talented young workers now and in the future,” the Post-Gazette posited almost prophetically in 2003, at a time when even many in the cycling community considered the city a dangerous place to ride.
Fast forward to present day and you’ll find a vastly different bike culture has taken flight. Pittsburgh recently won the honor of being named a Bronze-level “Bicycle Friendly Community” by the League of American Bicyclists, putting them on par with regional leaders like Columbus and Indianapolis. With support of its mayor, Pittsburgh is aiming even higher, hoping to join cities like Denver, Austin and Minneapolis in the Silver class.
Read the full article at Fresh Water Cleveland …