Welcome to the Trib’s new outdoors and adventure sports blog. I’m excited to have this space to talk about running, biking, climbing, obstacle course racing, marathons, 5Ks, 10Ks, triathlons, kayaking, hiking ….you get the idea. In other words, all the many different and wonderful things to do outdoors here in Western Pennsylvania as well as the people doing them.
So to kick things off on this gorgeous Friday, I spoke to Mike Carroll of Bike PGH about an upcoming event called Open Streets PGH that will take place on Sunday, July 20 from 8 a.m. to noon.
According to Carroll, the Open Steets movement started in Bogota, Colombia, as Ciclovia. Every Sunday, they close down major arteries throughout the city to automobile traffic and open them up to walkers, runners, cyclists, dancers and allow pretty much anything and everything that doesn’t involve a motor vehicle. Hundreds of thousands show up every week and it creates a vibrant scene filled with people being outdoors and active in spaces normally occupied by cars.
The idea has spread to roughly 100 U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York, and after several years in the planning, it’s now coming here.
This year’s event will start small, Carroll said. Streets will be closed to motorized traffic downtown from Market Square to the Roberto Clemente Bridge. It isn’t a festival, so there won’t be vendors or live music or any type of planned entertainment. There will be free activities, however, including dance classes, yoga classes, Zumba classes, spin bikes, a climbing wall and a no-snow snowboarding demo on the Clemente Bridge courtesy of Seven Springs.
Aside from that, whatever you want to do in the middle of the road – ride a bike, walk, run, wander with your camera, dance, hop, skip, jump rope, pogo stick, unicycle, etc. – is completely up to you.
The idea, Carroll said, is simply to open the streets and let people be outdoors, be active and have fun.
If all goes well this year, they plan to expand to other neighborhoods for future events and open roads that would connect, say, Market Square to the Strip District, the Strip to Lawrenceville and Lawrenceville to East Liberty. Other cities have seen positive impacts on local businesses during Open Streets events, he said, and they hope the same thing would happen here, whether it’s wandering into a café or restaurant located where parking may often be difficult or a shop that you may have driven past a hundred times but just never noticed.
“In other cities this is a big cycling event because it connects neighborhoods and allows people to ride in a safe way between neighborhoods in their city,” Carroll said. “This year will be more a pedestrian event but in the future we’re really excited to connect neighborhoods and show people how to get around the city by bike in a safe way.”
To stay up to date on Open Streets happenings (and get the chance to win a new bike), go to http://bikepgh.org/openstreetspgh/ and click on subscribe to get on the email list.
= In other cycling-related news, the Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group (or PTAG) is hosting the 9th Annual Trailfest the weekend of July 18-20. These are free events for all ages beginning on Friday, July 18, at 6 p.m. at Hartwood Acres. Meet at Middle road parking lot for mountain bike rides, trail runs and hiking at 6 p.m. It continues on Saturday at Boyce Park soccer field for rides, runs and hikes at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. (registration at 9:30 a.m.), followed by lunch provided by Bug Burrito/Mad Mex and adult beverages by Full Pint Brewery. Free food for PTAG members, non-members can join or make a donation. Then on Sunday the fun moves to the North Park boathouse. Bike and running vendors as well as food trucks will be on site and hikes, runs and rides will be going on throughout the day. Sponsored by Over the Bar Café. Check out www.ptagtrails.org for more information on the organization or Trailfest.
= Friends of the Riverfront and the YMCA are sponsoring a triathlon practice run this Sunday. These free workshops will cover open water basics, give participants a chance to ride on the HOV lanes and run the sprint course and talk strategy and transitions. For more info go to http://friendsoftheriverfront.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Pittsburgh-Triathlon-Practice-Run.pdf.
= Speaking of the Pittsburgh Triathlon, have you always wanted to do it but the thought of swimming in the river terrifies you or possibly disgusts you? Did you once have that fear but did it anyway and, if so, what helped you get past it? If you have a story, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s all for now. Have a great weekend, everyone.