Last weekend, we got a taste of how fun cycling in the city can be. But what if while taking in the sights on your bike, you can learn about Pittsburgh’s rich history?
Bike the Burgh Tours offers group tours from Thursday to Sunday where you will not only enjoy our urban terrain and architecture, you will also get to know our city more intimately.
For example, according to founder Valentina Scholar, Grant Street was designed to be the city’s shopping mall. Ending at the grand Penn Station, the vision was a street vibrant with shops. While Penn Station was built to design, the plan never fully came to fruition. How about the South Side? Did you know that it was the center of Pittsburgh’s oldest industry? Not steel. Glass.
These are some of the less-known details that bike tour participants can expect to learn plus many more—and Scholar gives a quiz at the end, so listen up!
Scholar moved to Pittsburgh from Berlin last summer and the new Greenfield resident was looking for a way to continue her work in Architecture and Art History. She saw the potential in Pittsburgh’s history and sought to combine that with another thing she was used to doing in Europe—biking everywhere.
“I saw that biking was growing in Pittsburgh, so I thought why not put that together with art and history?” Scholar says.
Scholar spent a year exploring routes, researching Pittsburgh’s past and designing tours around them.
Currently, Bike the Burgh offers two tours—Downtown/Southside and Downtown/North Shore. During the tours, Scholar will cover architecture, street art, the neighborhoods and urban history. “Pittsburgh used to be one of the leading cities in the time of the “robber barons”— right up there with New York and Chicago. There are a lot of stories to tell.”
Scholar is launching another two routes this summer: The Bridge Tour and The Andys Tour. The Bridge Tour will bring cyclists through 10-12 bridges along the trails and The Andys Tour will feature sites related to Andrew Carnegie and Andy Warhol.
Scholar enjoyed designing The Andys Tour especially. “This was very fascinating for me. We have two different personalities who lived in two different eras but just as we say of Pittsburgh today—there are so many surprising connections in their biography!”
Worried about our hills? Scholar assures that the tours were designed for all levels of cyclists. The routes are planned around the city’s plateaus and taken at a relaxing pace. The tours will take cyclists through a mix of streets, bike lanes and trails and are about two hours in duration.
“Between the bike lanes and the bike share, this summer everything came together to make this happen,” Scholar says.
The group meets at First Avenue and Ross Street downtown—a convenient location for those who do not own their own bikes. The Golden Triangle Bike Rental is one block away and there is a Bike Share station nearby.
Each tour has a maximum capacity of 15 people and costs $20.
The group setting gives everyone a feeling of safety and camaraderie, says Scholar. “There are a lot of people who come inexperienced at biking and are a little bit scared. But at the end of the tour, they have new confidence and sign up for more. Enjoying our city with a fun group is the best way to start your cycling experience!”