The first thing most people notice when walking along the 2500 block of East Carson Street is that 45 feet of premium car parking has been transformed into a bike corral.
Convincing the city to give up automobile parking in an area where finding a spot is nearly impossible "was a really big achievement" says Mike Kotyk, owner of OTB Bike Café.
It's also just one of the bike-friendly community initiatives Kotyk has fostered in his bar, which goes well beyond the normal conviviality associated with a neighborhood watering hole.
"I wanted to be a community hub [for Pittsburgh bikers] when we opened the place," says Kotyk.
Inside the bar, colorful murals of bikers brighten the ceiling. Bikes and their component parts hang from the rafters and walls. There are signed biking shirts, and the walls are peppered with pro-bike propaganda.
The selection of craft beer at OTB is deep enough to satisfy anyone's thirst after a long ride. Bike-centric breweries like Colorado's Oskar Blues, and, of course, Pittsburgh's East End Brewery, are featured.
"It's amazing to see the level of advocacy for biking in Pittsburgh in all fronts," says patron and East End brewmaster Scott Smith. "To tie all that in with beer and do that in a responsible way — it's not about drunken bike rides — that's pretty cool."
Lou Fineberg, programming director of the bipedal advocacy organization Bike Pittsburgh, also praises OTB's commitment to Pittsburgh cycling.
"OTB's been pretty amazing from day one," he says. "They just recognized there was a big bike community emerging in Pittsburgh, and they've been supportive on so many different levels."
Take the Underwear Bike Ride, for example. Held in warm months, the monthly ride from Lawrenceville to OTB isn't simply an excuse for cyclists to go pantless: It's also a fundraiser. OTB donates nearly all its beer sales from the post-ride party to a worthy organization; the May 23 ride will support Planned Parenthood.
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