Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Re-Urbanization of Pittsburgh

My friend Chris made a great post on the Racing Union blog today; although I may be especially partial to it from my past relationship with the city Pittsburgh. Unfortunately while living in the city I did not partake nearly as much in the cycling options the city had to offer since I was not introduced to cycling until after moving to DC. However the recent steps taken in the city and the creation of new condo buildings, shopping and dining in the addition to South Side strip that is East Carson Street, the city has begun to make car free life a possibility for more then just college students at the many universities within the city limits.

Unfortunately the downtown area has never been a big draw like the neighboring areas of South Side and Oakland; the shops that were there would be closed on weekends and early on weeknights. There are no large condo or apartment buildings in the downtown area as most of the high rises there are reserved as office buildings. This leaves people no reason to make a trip downtown other then to visit the park at the point where the Allegheny and the Monongahela meet to form the Ohio River.

As Chris mentioned the development of the North Side shore, where there used to be old run down warehouses and other buildings there now stand beautiful urban condo and apartment complexes, either refurbished within the buildings or rebuilt from the ground up. Pittsburgh is working hard to redefine itself as a center for economic development and a city for young people. It appears to me that they are certainly on the path in the right direction in most of the aspects, though the economic position of the city is still ‘under construction’.
The current set up of the city assuming that work is to be found somewhere in or near the downtown area though would be ideal for a bike commuter. The traffic is heavy, but not as bad as somewhere like DC or especially NYC. Plus as Chris mentions there are a ton of new trails being constructed throughout the area around downtown. I think Pittsburgh would be an excellent place for a cycling revolution; with it's blue collar roots and it's underdog stature, to steal a phrase from DoJo master Gibbons, Pittsburgh could totally be the new hotness!

I think reading Chris’ post this morning really just touched off a nerve for me of missing Pittsburgh and the people there. I’m hoping to make it up there relatively soon to visit the many friends I still have there and hopefully this time I’ll get to bring my bike up with me. While I sort of detest hills, there is plenty of practice to be had one them in Pittsburgh.

On a much less-heartening note; China and India are definitely not learning from the problems of the rest of the world as their cities continue to sprawl across the land and the citizens quickly move away from their bicycles and towards cars. It’s so sad that while we’re here fighting for more bike lanes they are turning bike lanes into additional car lanes. China is going to get hit hard very quickly considering their population and they are going to need to do some serious rethinking of their transportation and development policies.

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