By Bridget Seelinger | The Duquesne Duke
As the air gets warmer and winter slowly melts away, a new organization has pedaled onto Duquesne’s campus: a student bicycle club. With the city of Pittsburgh expanding trails and bike lanes where bicyclists can ride safely, more and more students are bringing their bikes to school and finding other students to ride with them.
David Lampe, faculty advisor for the Duquesne Bicycle Club, said this group is a response to Pittsburgh’s changing bike culture.
“We live in a part of town that is undergoing a sort of revolution,” Lampe said. “The city is expending a lot of money to encourage people to ride and we are Downtown where a lot of that is going on and it’d be a real shame if we couldn’t get people interested in that.”
Sophomore molecular biology major Matt Gordon, vice president of the club, said the group is open to bikers of all skill levels.
“The organization is centered on a common interest in biking,” Gordon said. “We’re not talking necessarily about people who are super skilled and bike a lot. We are talking about people who are generally interested. If you like to ride a bike around the neighborhood, this is the organization for you.”
The bike club’s first event is called “Bike to School.” A group will gather in South Side and bike across the 10th Street Bridge and through the Armstrong Tunnel to school. There will then be a photo booth where participants can take pictures with their two-wheeled rides.
Gordon said the club is small but growing, with more than 20 members already.
“There is an interest in this on campus,” Gordon says, “We haven’t seen a drop [in the number of new members], just steadily chugging along, which is pretty significant considering that we have only been recruiting for less than a week.”
Pittsburgh has become more bike-friendly since Mayor Bill Peduto took office in 2014. Last summer, construction began on a “bike superhighway,” which will include bike lanes linking Downtown to Oakland and a section of Penn Avenue set aside for cyclists. In September, the city teamed up with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and local artists to create bike racks that doubled as works of art.
Peduto announced an initiative in March called “Envision Downtown” in which the city will invest $32 million in improving bike lanes and other aspects of transportation.
Gordon said the improvements are much needed.
“Pittsburgh roads are terrifying, especially when you’re on a bike on Pittsburgh’s weirdly designed roads,” Gordon said. “I think that [taking steps to improve the roads] is great for safety.”
Not everyone is excited about Pittsburgh’s bike-friendly initiatives. Duquesne junior Abigail Schwing, who drives or walks to school, said bikes do nothing more than clog up traffic and cause accidents.
“I just wish they would obey the rules of the road,” Schwing said. “They ride wherever they want without regard to anyone else. Roads are made for cars, not bikes.”
Lampe said safety would improve with time.
“Pittsburgh is a great city for biking and getting better all the time,” Lampe said. “I hope that there is a lot of bike traffic, tons of it, the more the better. The more bike traffic there is, the safer it is for the bicyclists.”