Tuesday, August 29, 2006

We just keep growing, and growing...

This is not a news flash. America is suffering from an obesity epidemic that's costing us billions of dollars every year. According to a study done by Trust for America's Health, 31 states saw an increase in obesity over the past year. Truly horrifying is the rise in adult-onset diabetes amonst children. In fact, they've had to rename it Type II since it doesn't just appear in adults any longer.

Trust for America's Health makes plenty of recommendations in their report, but one stood out most to us here at Bike Pittsburgh:

At the local level, governments should approve zoning and land use laws that give people more chances to walk or bike to the store or to work. Local governments also should set aside more funding for sidewalks.

Wouldn't that be something! Obviously a major part of the problem is that we're living in communities that were designed solely for personal automobiles. Somewhere along the lines our planners forgot that the need to exercise on a daily basis is a basic human necessity and that people shouldn't have to belong to a private gym to be able to be mobile. They also seemed to have forgotten that millions of people can't afford or do not have the ability to drive (too young, too old, or disabled). Well, I think the time has come for communities to start to pay attention to the fact that we're killing ourselves while costing us billions in obesity related health costs.

Link to article

If you're interested in learning more, please consider attending the Childhood Obesity Summit at the convention center in Downtown Pittsburgh on September 16th.

Monday, August 21, 2006

City of Pittsburgh Announces Bicycling Plans for Liberty Ave.

On Saturday, August 19th Pittsburgh's Department of City Planning announced their plans for striping and marking pavement to better facilitate bicycle transportation through the neighborhood of Bloomfield. Richard Meritzer, the part-time bike/ped planner with the city, facilitated the presentation and follow-up discussion.

Over 50 bicyclists attended the meeting as well as a handful of neighborhood business owners and non-riding residents. An overwhelming majority of the folks present were very supportive of the city taking steps to do a better job accommodating bicyclists through this corridor including the president of the Bloomfield Business Association. A healthy question/answer session addressed concerns ranging from defining Shared Lane Markings and where they will be placed, to questioning the City's decision to only stripe one line for the bike lane despite the fact that there is on-street parking. Many feel, adding a second stripe will ensure that drivers park closer to the curb and not further into the middle of the bike lane - a practice common on the Beechwood Blvd bike lane, which is also striped with only a single line.

The City assured everyone there that they will take as many steps necessary to keep bicyclists as safe as possible through this corridor, and that they will constantly revisit this area to see if there are ways in which to make things safer.

The large turnout also reinforced that there is a huge cycling presence in the area who would like to see more cycling improvements in their neighborhood and throughout the city. Due to the success of the format, the city may hold future, similar "town hall" style meetings for cyclists, so stay tuned.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Aug 23-27: Allegheny Parks Mountain Bike Fest

Check out the event listings for the first-ever Allegheny Parks Mt. Bike Fest, brought to you by Pittsburgh Trail Advocacy Group and Allegheny Parks: Mt. Bike Fest Calendar

An Event to Highlight Allegheny County's wonderful parks and singletrack and to meet other Mountain Bikers. All Events are FREE. For these rides, we are asking that you have a knobby tired mountain bike in good working order, a helmet, water, and can handle 2 hours of hills, roots, and rocks. We should cover 12-15 miles of singletrack per park. We hope that you can join us!!


Recent Press Release:

Allegheny County Parks to Host Mountain Bike Fest
Organized biking excursions will showcase trails in six County parks

PITTSBURGH — Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato today announced the County Parks Department, in partnership with the Pittsburgh Trail Advocacy Group (PTAG), will host a Mountain Bike Fest from August 23 through 27.

“Pittsburgh and Allegheny County arguably have some of the best mountain biking opportunities of any major urban area. Within an hour of downtown, there are an abundance of trails suitable for everyone from beginners to the most avid mountain bike enthusiasts, and many of these trails are conveniently located in Allegheny County Parks,” said Mike Connors of PTAG.

During the five-day fest, mountain bikers can participate in a number of free, organized rides in Boyce Park, Deer Lakes Park, Harrison Hills Park, Hartwood Acres, North Park and South Park. Cyclists are strongly encouraged to have proper equipment, including a helmet, water bottle and knobby-tired mountain bike in good working condition.

“The Allegheny County Mountain Bike Fest is an inventive way to reach out to the growing number of cyclists and acquaint them with the trail systems available in our County parks,” added Onorato. “We are pleased to partner with the Pittsburgh Trail Advocacy Group on this exciting endeavor, and we encourage anyone who likes mountain biking to come out and enjoy what our parks have to offer.”

The organized rides will last approximately two hours and will cover 12 to 15 miles per ride. All trips will be led by local cyclists who are eager to share their knowledge and experience with bike fest participants. Following each excursion, bikers are invited to take advantage of the pools, picnic shelters, free concerts and other recreational activities and amenities available in the County parks.

For information on the Allegheny County Mountain Bike Fest, including designated meeting times and locations for the organized rides, contact Mike Connors at 724-934-9293 or mtbmike@bike-pgh.org. A detailed events calendar is available at www.bike-pgh.org. Information on Allegheny County Parks and directions to each facility are available at www.county.allegheny.pa.us/parks.

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Allegheny County operates nine public parks that span 12,000 acres and offer a wide array of sporting, leisure, cultural and entertainment opportunities. The Allegheny County Parks system serves to enhance the quality of life and well-being of the citizens of Allegheny County and Southwestern Pennsylvania. Various seasonal and year-round programs, activities and amenities provide residents with educational and recreational opportunities, while also contributing to the economic vitality of the region.

The purpose of the Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group is to protect and encourage multi-use trail access. PTAG members are especially concerned with single-track trails used by mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians. PTAG works with City, County and State landowners to ensure that all trails are approved, constructed and maintained to International Mountain Bicycling Association standards, with minimal impact on the environment. It also strives to educate all users on responsible trail use with the goal of fostering improved relations among landowners and trail users.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Re-designing Cities

Architect Hillary Brown offers some tips on how to make the most of miles of concrete and pavement rights-of-way in big cities.

"First off, we noticed that cars, surface transit, pedestrians, and bike riders all compete for the right-of-way. But too often, autos win out. So, we proposed carving out more space for bikers, and separating them from cars and walkers with islands and corridors of trees and vegetation."


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Friday, August 04, 2006

Potluck to Welcome 18 Cross-Country Cyclists to Pittsburgh

Monday, August 7th

6:30 PM
Friends Meeting House
4836 Ellsworth Ave
Pittsburgh PA 15213

18 people are riding their bikes across the country with Bike Aid, a project of Global Exchange, a national human rights, environmental and economic justice organization. They have been meeting with communities across the country to talk about peace and counter-recruitment as well as empowerment of marginalized communities. The riders have also participated in service projects along the way and will be volunteering at Healcrest Urban Farm in Garfield when they arrive Monday afternoon.

Brian Stagno, a local activist and member of PUSH, Bike Pittsburgh and the Thomas Merton Center is one of the riders. Please come and give them a warm welcome to Pittsburgh.