Recreation | BLOGH: City Paper's Blog |
Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 5:22 PM

click to enlarge Bike Pittsburgh hosting Pokémon Go midnight ride tonight
A Psyduck found near Three Rivers Heritage Trail in the Strip District.
Bike advocates know the best way to get around a city is by pedaling. And local bike-advocacy group Bike Pittsburgh figures it can use pedal power to catch as many Pokémon as possible. 

As part of the ten-day BikeFest, the group hosts tonight's Pokémon Go midnight ride, in hopes of getting Pokémon players to explore different parts of the city by bike.

The game uses your smartphone’s GPS to place you on a map and indicate where nearby Pokémon sites are. When a Pokémon is near, your camera activates for an augmented-reality battle sequence. You look around with your phone until the Pokemon comes on screen, and then you toss a Pokéball toward it and attempt to catch it.

The request for a Pokémon event came from the community, says Mike Carroll, of Bike Pittsburgh. 

"With BikeFest, it is a collaboration of what the community wants to do," says Carroll. "This was a community-led initiative. We are in the business of saying yes."

Due to stories about some Poké-goers being hit by vehicles, and other injuries, Carroll says safety will be the top priority on the ride. Lights are required, and anyone riding phone in hand will be asked to leave the ride. Bike Pittsburgh encourages people to purchase handlebar mounts or make a functional DIY mount. Keeping phones in pockets while riding is also encouraged.

And once safety is taken care of, riders can enjoy the many monuments and historical markers that typically stand as Pokémon gyms and Pokéstops.

"Pokémon Go really helps to explore the city as it is, and being on a bike gets you even farther," says Carroll. "Riding really increases the range. They've got stations everywhere. Hopefully it will strike some interest in the history of our city."

Bike Pittsburgh is asking riders to meet at Friendship Park, in Bloomfield, tonight (Aug. 24) at 11:45 p.m. The ride will commence 30 minutes later. Pokémon-hunting should last about two hours, and everyone ends the night at Ritter's Diner, in Bloomfield. 

Tags: , , , , ,

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Posted By on Thu, Aug 18, 2016 at 3:55 PM

At the cross section of alternative mobility and urban greenspaces comes an event that’s gathering serious and casual cyclists for a trip to one of Pittsburgh’s community-created greenspaces.

GTECH, a nonprofit that focuses on greenspace initiatives, is organizing its fifth annual neighborhood biking event, Two Wheels Lots of Green. This guided biking event takes riders on tours of Pittsburgh neighborhoods, stopping at local greenspaces along the way. This year’s Two Wheels Lots of Green tour will be in Pittsburgh's southern Hill Top neighborhoods.   

“Our greenspaces are really unique,” says GTECH relationship manager Katherine Chamberlain. “They take many different shapes, and they’ve all been designed by neighborhood residents.”

The event gives participants the choice to take a rigorous, hilly seven-mile ride or a leisurely four-mile ride, both through the Hill Top's Allentown and Beltzhoover neighborhoods. While stopped at greenspaces, riders will meet neighborhood residents who have dedicated time to creating a green space. The event is also attempting to raise awareness about the amount of underutilized or vacant land in Pittsburgh.

“We want the ride to be accessible to people who are familiar with biking in the city,” says Chamberlain.

“It’s also a great way for residents of the neighborhood to show ownership of their green space,”

says CEO and co-founder of GTECH, Andrew Butcher. “It can be difficult to find time to be exposed to all the amazing things that are happening in these neighborhoods.”  

The idea for Two Wheels Lots of Green came from the Social Capital Council, GTECH’s social outreach committee. One committee member, who happened to be an avid cyclist, wanted to create more interest in greenspaces.

“We said, ‘Boy, I really wish there was a way that I could experience these spaces and meet the people who made them,’” says Chamberlain.

Two Wheels Lots of Green started at a time when the German Marshall Fund, a grant-making organization, was seeking initiatives that dealt with alternative mobility (like biking) and urban green space. The event received the fund's support in 2012 and has occurred yearly since. The ride aligns with GTECH’s mission to make use of vacant and underutilized land in the city.

“It was a perfect time for us,” says Butcher. “‘Shine the light and share the love’ has become a sentiment for Two Wheels Lots of Green.”

Butcher said that crowds for Two Wheels Lots of Green have grown over the past several years; composed of a mix of serious bicyclists and people simply serious about greenspace.

“We’re very excited about aligning this event with Bike Fest,” says Butcher. “This is one of my favorite GTECH events.”

“We always enjoy seeing the connection between the riders,” says Chamberlain. "There’s a developed camaraderie in the groups through a shared interest in greenspaces.”

Two Wheels Lots of Green’s rides start and end at Garden on Gearing, running from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. The bike tours are followed by a garden party back at Gearing, with live music, food and a pop-up playground provided by City of Play.

Participants can partake in “bike-powered” smoothies from Green Mountain Energy and iced coffee from Black Forge Coffee during the bike tours.

Tickets for Two Wheels Lots of Green are available for purchase on GTECH’s website.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, August 8, 2016

Posted By on Mon, Aug 8, 2016 at 11:35 AM

It was wacky activity on water Saturday at the EQT Three Rivers Regatta, as it held its annual “Anything That Floats” race. From the simple — an air mattress lashed with pool noodle — to the more elaborate — a bicycle-powered mock-up of the Roberto Clemente Bridge, spectators lined up along the Allegheny River Downtown came prepared to root and laugh.

Brianne Cassidy and Stephanie Georg, the crew of the water-worthy mattress, were among the teams crossing the finish line in one piece. Cassidy was quick to give credit where credit was due — tape. “It pulled the whole thing together,” Cassidy said, as the two sipped celebratory beers.

Tags: , , ,

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Posted By on Thu, Aug 4, 2016 at 11:27 AM

Revamped Pittsburgh park re-opens Saturday as August Wilson Park
Photo courtesy of Scott Roller/Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
Teenie Harris photos displayed along the fence by the park's half basketball court

Among Pittsburgh's neighborhood parks, there won't be one with a better view (to name just one amenity) than the brand-new August Wilson Park. The extensively renovated former Cliffside Park, with its spectacular view of the Allegheny River and the North Side, opens with a community celebration this Saturday.

click to enlarge Revamped Pittsburgh park re-opens Saturday as August Wilson Park
Photo courtesy of Scott Roller/Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
The view north from August Wilson Park (North Side visible in the background)
The park is named, of course, for Wilson, the two-time Pulitzer-winning playwright who grew up literally right around the corner. And in fact, that building on Bedford Street, now known as the August Wilson house is itself under renovation, and for the month is the venue for a production of Wilson's Seven Guitars.

The new park, which is fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, includes a multi-age playground, a half basketball court, a performance space and more.

Special features include installations honoring the work of Wilson himself and banners with photos by famed Pittsburgh-based photographer Charles "Teenie" Harris. (Featured quotes from Wilson's plays include this one, from Ma Rainey's Black Bottom: "You don't sing to feel better. You sing 'cause that's a way of understanding life.")

click to enlarge Revamped Pittsburgh park re-opens Saturday as August Wilson Park
Photo courtesy of Scott Roller/Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
Quotes from August Wilson plays adorn a wall in his namesake park.
Partners on the park's renovation included Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, the city's Parks and Recreation and Public Works departments, Hill House Association and the Daisy Wilson Artist Community (which is renovating the Wilson House), all with input from the community, according to a Parks Conservancy press release.

Saturday's events run from 2-4 p.m. and include a ribbon-cutting, "a festive all-ages procession along the park's winding entry path," music, activities for kids, and treats from Hill District food vendors.

August Wilson Park is located at 1801 Cliff St., a block off Bedford.

Tags: , , , , ,

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2016 at 12:53 PM

Yesterday Pittsburgh City Council gave preliminary approval to an ordinance amending the Pittsburgh City Code by removing language that says bicycles are confined to roads.

"The current city code confines bicycles to paved road use," cyclist Eryn Hughes said during the public comment period at the start of the meeting. "Despite the inherent confusion about policy the current and actual use of the wooded trails is primarily by mountain bikers who have lovingly stewarded them over 30 years following in the tire tracks of the volunteers before them."

The ordinance which was unanimously supported by council adds language to allow cyclists to ride in "wooded trail" areas that are often used by mountain bikers in city parks.

"This is really a technicality that we're solving," said Councilor Corey O'Connor, chair of the urban recreation committee and sponsor of the legislation. "The old ordinance said if you're on a wooden trail you had to push your bike. So now we're allowing bike riders to bike in our parks and trail systems.  It's a very minor technical amendment that we're making just to clarify the ordinance."

Some members made a point of emphasizing that the change to the city code will not allow cyclists to ride in pedestrian-designated areas in city parks.

"I just want to clarify that there are certain things you can do in the park in certain places and you're still not going to be able to ride in a picnic shelter area or places where people have permits and other places that are otherwise identified," said Councilor Theresa Kail-Smith.

Also at the meeting was Eric Boerer, the advocacy director of BikePGH, who said changing the city code would increase Pittsburgh's standing as a bike-friendly city.

Tags: , , , , ,

Friday, November 20, 2015

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 12:05 PM

click to enlarge City of Pittsburgh, development groups protest ALCOSAN's possible riverfront construction
Photo by Ashley Murray
Rev. Rodney Lyde, of Homewood's Baptist Temple Church, speaking at a demonstration against ALCOSAN's planned construction along riverfronts

Standing in front of an 8,000-square-foot black tarp on the banks of the Allegheny River to signify a large work area, several organizations and a Pittsburgh city official said they couldn't stand behind ALCOSAN's proposed plan for river-front construction.

"We have come so far as a city and community in revitalizing our river fronts from places where people didn’t want to go to these cultural and recreational destinations," said Stephan Bontrager, spokesperson for Riverlife, an organization that guides the development of the city's river fronts. "So to undo that investment would be a tragedy, especially when there are such simple solutions that can be done with landscapes that enhance the investment we already have."

Several other organizations, including the Clean Rivers Campaign, Bike PGH, the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, and the City of Pittsburgh, spoke out against the proposed construction of 18 drop shafts. The shafts would allow access to the tunnel construction ALCOSAN has agreed to as part of a federal consent decree. The mandate is in place to bring the sewer infrastructure into compliance with the Clean Water Act. Right now, during heavy rain or after snow melts, stressed pipes overflow with stormwater and sewage into the region's waterways.

However, the groups say that extensive construction could hurt the economy, and that they want more investment in green 
click to enlarge City of Pittsburgh, development groups protest ALCOSAN's possible riverfront construction
Photo by Ashley Murray
Groups laid an 8,000-square-foot tarp on Allegheny Landing on the North Side to protest ALCOSAN's proposed construction along the region's river fronts.
infrastructure that would reduce the flow of storm water into sewer pipes.

According to a Riverlife economic impact study, in the last 15 years about $129 million has been invested in the city's river-front parks system, with a return on investment being nearly $4.1 billion in adjacent river-front development.

"Basically, these parks and trails were built, and everyone wanted to be next to them — new hotels, new office buildings, new restaurants, new residences," Bontrager said.

The group of speakers, including Mayor Bill Peduto's Chief of Staff Kevin Acklin, said they would like to see an "adaptive management approach," much like the one that elected officials just saw in Kansas City. That approach would include green infrastructure to keep storm run-off out of the sewer system and to beautify communities, as well as updating current gray infrastructure, like sewer pipes.

"What we’re really up against is a bureaucratic group of lawyers who have really been trying to get this done. They’ve been at it for a decade,"  Acklin told City Paper after the press conference. "We want to get it done, but we want to do it the right way. This is our city. We’re going to bear the risk of everything they’re planning for."

Acklin is referring to the decades-long back-and-forth negotiations between the federal and local governments on improving aging sewer infrastructure in order to comply with the federal Clean Water Act.

"All we’re asking for is what other cities have gotten ... a regionalized approach to invest in green infrastructure and existing infrastructure, because we think that’s not only ecologically sound, but that helps with economic development," Acklin said. "It helps us put those dollars, instead of just in the tunnels, but into our neighborhoods as well."

ALCOSAN says that it is negotiating with federal, state and county regulators for a plan that includes more green infrastructure and one that less expensive. Right now, the plan will cost billions. (Those costs are something that low-income ratepayers are concerned about.)

"Planning and design have not yet started and will not be completed for several years," Jeanne Clark, public information officer of ALCOSAN, wrote in an email. "They will also not necessarily be along the river. It may be possible to move some inland. ... We will work with the communities and the municipalities to make sure we create the least disruption during construction, and for green leave-behinds when we finish."

She wrote that those "green leave-behinds" could include a building, where a drop shaft would be housed, that would blend in with a trail or redevelopment, and that ALCOSAN has handled such a situation similarly along a bike trail in the South Side.

"Again, we will work with the community to decide what is the best green leave-behind. And we will avoid too much construction interference, taking measures like having workers park off site and shuttle them in so they don’t add to the footprint," she wrote.

Municipalities that feed into ALCOSAN's pipes and waste-water treatment system — currently 83 municipalities in Allegheny County do so — have been ordered to do a green-infrastructure pilot project for the next 18 months. 

"We are committed to creating the best, most cost-effective plan to fix our water-quality issues," Clark wrote. "But ALCOSAN cannot do it alone. We currently own under 100 miles of pipe and the plant, where everything from all 83 communities winds up."

Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Posted By on Wed, Nov 11, 2015 at 3:30 PM

Games company Niantic Labs is seeking players here for a Saturday-afternoon session of Ingress, a kind of digitally enabled capture-the-flag contest that’s been played around the world.

In a press release, Niantic says Ingress agents “visit real-world locations to capture portals, experience history, enjoy at and have fun.” The agents are divided into Resistance and Enlightened agents, who are pitted against each other. The game, which is free, is powered by a mobile phone or other GPS-enabled device. Niantic says "hundreds" of players have already signed up.

Niantic calls the game series “XM Anomalies,” and says that these fantasy contests that take place in the real world “bring together hundreds of Resistance and Enlightened Agents of all ages for an intense burst of walking, running and biking gameplay.”

The stakes are “Human destiny! The future of civilization!” But the games are really more social events. (Here’s a more detailed explanation from an Ingress enthusiast.)

Saturday’s session here, named “the Abaddon anomaly,” follows October’s Ingress Mission Day, which attracted 200 players in Pittsburgh. Niantic expects this event to attract tourists from the region and even from overseas.

The afternoon-long game, however, is open to experienced and beginner agents alike.

The Abaddon anomaly begins at 1 p.m. Sat., Nov. 14, at the City-County Building, 414 Grant St., Downtown.

Prospective players can download Ingress from the Google Play or iTunes stores. Register here. You’ll be asked to choose your faction (Resistance or Enlightened) and to provide an agent name.

Tags: , , ,

Friday, October 30, 2015

Posted By on Fri, Oct 30, 2015 at 12:00 PM

By many accounts, independent bookstores are a dying breed. But some are bucking trend. And in Oakmont, Mystery Lovers Bookshop celebrates 25 years this weekend — a testament to the fact that, more than just where you buy your books, bookstores can also be staples of a community.

Mystery Lovers Bookshop opened in 1990, and was honored by the Mystery Writers of America with a Raven award in 2010. The store carries new copies of a wide variety of crime, thrillers and espionage fiction, and hosts an annual Festival of Mystery.

The store celebrates its longevity with a free event tomorrow from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The event includes a special edition of its Coffee & Crime series, with local mystery author Nancy Martin, at 11 a.m. Martin will speak about her newest book, Miss Ruffles Inherits Everything (Minotaur Books), which will be available for purchase before its official Nov. 3 release.

Founders Mary Alice Gorman and Richard Goldman then arrive for a meet-and-greet, and to make a  special announcement. (The store's current owners, married couple Natalie Sacco and Trevor Thomas, took the place over this past May.)

The annual $0.10 book sale follows. Proceeds will be donated to a local charity that has yet to be announced.

Mystery Lovers Bookshop is located at 514 Allegheny River Blvd., in Oakmont. Light refreshments will be provided, and costumes are encouraged.

Click here for more info.

Tags: , , , ,

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Posted By on Thu, Jun 5, 2014 at 4:03 PM

After being closed for almost two months, a dog park in Mt. Washington will be reopened this Saturday June 7, despite the controversy still surrounding it.

The park was closed April 16 for maintenance and was originally set to reopen May 9. However, at a public meeting where residents met with city officials to discuss issues with the park, several residents called for the park to be relocated, citing noise complaints and safety issues. As a result, the reopening of the park was postponed until a compromise could be reached.

"From what I have been told, all parties have been addressed and the park is to be reopened on Saturday June 7 while a dialogue continues as to the best possible solution," says Adam Paul Cosgrove, president of Paws for Olympia Park.

Mt. Washington Dog Park
  • Mt. Washington Dog Park

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Posted By on Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 2:27 PM

Last May, we told you about PittsburghPass, a local woman’s plan to help families have more fun on less money, especially in the summer.

The plan that provides bulk-rate-discounted admission to five local day-trip getaways is back, with new options.

For $83.99, PittsburghPass offers one person one admission to Kennywood, Sandcastle, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Carnegie Science Center and The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.

Each pass costs $83.99 regardless of age — though the price is only slightly less than the total of a kid’s admission prices to all five. (Kids under 2 get free admission at all the venues.) Total savings can be up to $143 for a family of four.

The pass, the brainchild of Miranda Bauer, recalls area hotels’ offers of discounted admissions to such attractions.

The new option is a “Singles & Couples” pass: $65.99 gets you admission to Sandcastle, Kennywood and the zoo.

Both kinds of pass are on offer until June 7, and are good throughout the 2014 season for each venue, says Bauer. (That means through year’s end for the zoo, Science Center and Children’s Museum.)

Bauer, of Baldwin, is a former corporate marketing manager who’s now a stay-at-home mom.

Learn more at

Tags: , , , , ,