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Celebrate Bike to Work Day on Friday with Bike PGH

This Friday, May 15, is National Bike to Work Day and Bike PGH is helping hundreds of Pittsburgh bike commuters celebrate.
 
Ngani Ndimbie, Bike PGH communications manager, said Bike PGH is setting up five Commuter Cafés where participating Bike to Work cyclists can grab free breakfast and coffee. Cafés will be located in Oakland, Downtown, Friendship, North Side and South Side on Friday from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
 
Ndimbie called these pop-up cafés a fun way to meet and mingle with other bike commuters and added that this is Bike PGH’s 14th year hosting a Bike to Work Day event. Last year, 600 to 700 bike commuters popped into the cafés and more than 1,000 people are expected to bike to work on May 15, according to Ndimbie.
 
“We’ve been really excited to see this celebration grow,” she said. Ndimbie added that according to recent U.S Census Bureau figures, Pittsburgh has seen a 408 percent increase in the number of people who bike to work since 2000.  
 
Most Bike PGH members participating in the event will receive one of 350 swag bags distributed from the Commuter Cafés, made by the local cyclewear company Aero Tech Designs. But, 15 bags will include Golden Tickets that garner special prizes, like a Brooks bike saddle.
 
In addition to camaraderie and prizes, Ndimbie said the event hopes to expose people to bike commuting. In order to get more people peddling, Bike PGH is coordinating bike trains where newer riders can meet with a group in their neighborhood to ride to the nearest Commuter Café and on to work. The Bike PGH website explains, “Think of Bike Trains as carpools for people on bikes, but more fun.”
 
Ndimbie said volunteer conductors will lead the trains so new riders can learn from more experienced commuters, adding, “[It’s a] great day to get hooked on biking to work.”
 
Source: Ngani Ndimbie, Bike PGH
 
 

Double Wide Grill expands to third location in North Huntingdon

Since 2006, Double Wide Grill has been a South Side staple. Six years later, the gas station-themed eatery opened a second restaurant opened in Mars, Butler County. Now, Double Wide Grill has plans to open a third location in North Huntingdon, Westmoreland County, at what used to be Teddy’s Restaurant.
 
“This location is very different than the other two, which makes us really excited to get things underway,” said Double Wide co-owner Steve Zumoff. “Rather than turning an existing building into a restaurant, or building from ground-up, the new location was already a restaurant, so now it’s all about us transforming the space into the Double Wide brand that people already know and love.”
 
Double Wide Grill in North Huntingdon will be located just off the turnpike on Route 30, and is expected to open summer 2015. The menu will feature their popular ribs along with burgers, barbeque, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free specialties. Zumoff explained that the location will also continue to carry some of Teddy’s favorite menu items, like the stuffed pork chop.
 
“We’ll have 40 American craft beers on tap that will rotate with the seasons and a big menu that caters to meat-lovers and vegans alike, plus many gluten-free options,” said co-owner Scott Kramer.
 
Zumoff explained that North Huntingdon was attractive because of its new housing, business and office developments. Last summer,Express Scripts, a St. Louis-based Fortune 100 company serving 90 million people each year, announced that it was moving 600 employees to a 70,000-square-foot facility in North Huntingdon.
 
Zumoff added that the new, highway-adjacent Double Wide location is in a high-traffic area, wedged between a Giant Eagle, Target and Walmart Supercenter.
 
The 6,500 square feet of space will be transformed to have the same vintage gas station theme that has become the recognizable branding of Double Wide Grill. The inside will seat 220 people and the upcoming, newly constructed outdoor patio will seat up to 70.
 
“The new location has the garage look like our other ones … but we’re looking to make it a little more roadside [themed],” Zumoff said, explaining that they want incorporate a historic highway theme à la Route 66, as the location is off Route 30. “Hopefully, the travelers on the highway will find out about us … We’ll be the place they stop, a roadside attraction.”
 
Double Wide Grill in North Huntingdon is slated to open during the summer of 2015. Other locations are in South Side on East Carson Street and in Butler County on Route 228. 

34th & Carson office space offers new construction on a smaller scale

Want to create a brand-new office space with views of the Monongahela River and the Steelers? Avison Young, a Toronto-headquartered commercial real estate services firm, may have an opportunity for you on the South Side.
 
Avison Young’s Pittsburgh office announced earlier this week that it has been named the exclusive leasing agent for the 34th & Carson office development. Located at 34th and East Carson streets, the site overlooks the University of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Steelers football teams’ practice fields.
 
“If you happen to be a football fanatic, you can stand out on the balcony and watch them practice,” joked David Auel, Avison Young vice-president in the Pittsburgh office.
 
Leasing efforts for 34th & Carson are assigned to Auel and Ed Sauer, an Avison Young associate.
 
Currently under construction, the 31,000-square-foot, four-story office building will be the second Carson Street project from FirstSite Development, LLC. The firm previously developed 3447 East Carson Street, home to Matcon Diamond and Propel Charter Schools.
 
Auel believes that 34th & Carson will be well-received in the current market. He said Avison Young estimates that rates will be between $21 and $24 per square foot, with full-service leasing, including utilities.
 
“Newly constructed office space within and around Pittsburgh continues to enjoy a high level of occupancy,” Auel said. “Given the convenient location and access near the Hot Metal Bridge, coupled with free on-site parking, we believe that we will see strong demand from users wanting proximity to Downtown and university areas. Efficient floor plans on a smaller scale, subdividable down to 2,200 square foot, allow us to service a wide variety of business needs. The east elevation will have balconies overlooking the Monongahela River, Three Rivers Heritage Trail and the practice fields used by both Pitt and the Steelers.”
 
Auel added that the lot will be able to accommodate about 80 cars. He said the location is also attractive as it circumvents Downtown traffic and provides an opportunity for small businesses to get into new office space in the South Side.
 
“I think that we are offering a very unique opportunity,” Auel said. He explained that many new South Side buildings are occupied by larger companies like UPMC and American Eagle Outfitters. “So, this is a situation for someone who has a typical small business office [to get into] new construction.”
 
Construction is expected to be completed fall 2015, with occupancy available to tenants at the same time.
 
Source: David Auel, Avison Young

Sheraton Pittsburgh at Station Square completes $15 million renovation

In an attempt to make Pittsburgh's only waterfront hotel as beautiful as the views it offers of the city's skyline, the Sheraton Pittsburgh at Station Square recently finished an extensive $15 million renovation. 

Sheraton Hotels & Resorts and Pyramid Hotel Group announced the redesign of the hotel's lobby, meeting space, Trackside Restaurant and 399 transformed guest rooms, including 21 suites.
 
“The transformation of Sheraton Pittsburgh at Station Square combined with the exemplary service of our associates will help to propel it to new heights and reinforce its status as a landmark hotel in the city,” said Roger Life, Sheraton Pittsburgh at Station Square general manager. 
 
Guest rooms and suites have been modernized to include new furniture, wall coverings, carpeting and in-room guest safes. The guest rooms feature stunning views of Pittsburgh’s skyline, the Monongahela River or historic Mount Washington.
 
“There isn’t a hotel that has the ability to look onto the city like ours does,” Life said of the scenic views.
 
Trackside Restaurant, the hotel’s dining venue, has received a new look offering casual dining in a comfortable setting. Life said Trackside offers highboy tables with individual televisions for business or weekend travelers.
 
The hotel at 300 W. Station Square Drive has also refreshed more than 30,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting space featuring new wall and ceiling upgrades, carpet and lighting. The centerpiece of the meeting space renovation is the 9,750-square-foot ballroom venue for meetings, workshops and seminars. The full lobby redesign includes new carpet, wall covering, lighting and furniture upgrades. In the transformed lobby, guests can enjoy complimentary wireless connections -- and all rooms offer high-speed Internet.
 
“It’s a lovely transformation for the property,” Life said. “And the city of Pittsburgh.”
 
Guests who book before December 30, 2014, are invited to experience the newly renovated hotel with a special offer for stays through March 31, 2015. For more information, visit www.sheratonpittsburghstationsquare.com/renovation or call 888-325-3535.
 
Source: Roger Life, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts

Governor Corbett highlights $28.5 million Birmingham Bridge repair project as example of Act 89

Last week, Gov. Tom Corbett stood before the Birmingham Bridge and declared that its $28.5 million repair project underscores the benefits coming to Pennsylvania because of Act 89, a transportation plan.
 
Act 89, which the governor signed in November, increases transportation investment by $2.3 billion by 2018.
 
"My administration is working hard to deliver the hundreds of additional projects for this year from Act 89 proceeds, and the Birmingham Bridge is a very visible example of what we are delivering," Gov. Corbett said at the news conference near the bridge.
 
The 2,747-foot-long, 19-span bridge opened in 1976 and carries 23,000 vehicles a day. With resources from Act 89, PennDOT was able to accelerate the timetable so work on the bridge could begin this year.
 
Act 89 also supports jobs for local workers, the governor added, noting that the transportation plan saved an estimated 12,000 jobs and will create 18,000 additional jobs this year and 50,000 jobs in the next five years.
 
PennDOT's latest projections show that more than $2.3 billion will be invested into the state's highway and bridge network this year, more than $800 million above what would have been available without Act 89.
 
In Pittsburgh, Act 89 spared the Port Authority of Allegheny County from a trend of cutting service and alienating riders, according to the Governor’s Office. Act 89 funding allows the Port Authority to target improvements, such as overcrowding on routes and on-time performance issues.
 
Joseph B. Fay Co. of Tarentum was awarded the $28.5 million contract for the work on the Birmingham Bridge. It will involve steel repairs, bearing replacements, substructure repairs, light pole replacements, a concrete overlay and a complete repainting. The work is now underway and will be finished in 2017.
 
PennDOT has started work on more than 200 Act 89-funded projects covering more than 1,600 miles of roads and 83 bridges. Overall, more than 900 projects are expected to get underway this year, both from Act 89 and prior funding streams.
 
Source: Pennsylvania Office of the Governor
 

Salvation Army opens new South Side Family Store

A new Salvation Army Family Store opens in the South Side tomorrow with plenty of fanfare, including all-day free giveaways and the chance to win a 40-inch flat-screen TV. 

The 15,000-square-foot store at at 855 E. Carson Street will sell bargain-priced clothing, household items, electronics, books, toys, furniture and collectibles.  Every Wednesday, the store will offer Family Day discounts.
 
The Family Store opens at the intersection of East Carson and South Ninth streets for the first time at 10 a.m. tomorrow, following a ribbon-cutting event at 9:45 a.m. Opening day customers can enjoy free coffee and donuts in the morning.
 
"Our new Family Store will offer more selection and more bargains that appeal to everyone in order to provide our customers with a better shopping experience and support our social services work," says Martina O'Leary, administrator at The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburgh.  "We really look forward to contributing to the community at all levels." 
 
The store will bring more than 10 new jobs to the area, O'Leary said. Revenue from the Family Store supports the Salvation Army's rehabilitation center, which offers free services to community residents who struggle with alcohol, drugs and other life issues. Sales from the Family Store are the center's only funding source. Needy families may also receive vouchers for free furniture or clothing from the store through other Salvation Army programs.
 
Tax receipts will be provided for any donations received during store hours, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday. After-hours clothing donations can be dropped in bins in the parking lot.
 

Attack Theatre spotlights underutilized buildings at The Dirty Ball

The Attack Theatre is hosting their annual fundraiser performance event The Dirty Ball, Saturday April 12 in South Side’s Jane Street Warehouse — keeping in their tradition of using underutilized buildings for the event.
 
“Attack Theatre has a long history of going into new and interesting spaces,” said Tom Hughes, Attack Theatre marketing and special events associate, about the dance company’s ability to draw inspiration from unlikely places. He noted performances from street corners to theater stages.
                                                                                                                                 
Attack also has a record of hosting The Dirty Ball in vacant or developing spaces and showcasing the location’s potential.
 
The first Dirty Ball in 2006 was held in an underutilized 9th Street spot, the event was also held there in 2007. Today, this building is in use as the Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School. And, this isn’t the only site that has been renovated post- Dirty Ball.
 
In 2008, Attack spotlighted the Pennsylvania Macaroni Warehouse, which has since become the Pitt Ohio Express. Before it was Goodwill of Southwest Pennsylvania, the 2009 Dirty Ball was hosted in the building then known as the 51st Street Business and Tech Center. The recently opened Pittsburgh Public Market — near Attack’s Strip District office — was home to the 2012 Dirty Ball when it was still an underused space.
 
Hughes explained that within a year or two of a Dirty Ball, the site becomes permanently occupied. Making it a rarity for the ball to be held in the same place twice.
 
“Every year it becomes a little more difficult,” Hughes said about the search for an up and coming locale.  “That might be bad for Attack Theatre, but it is good for Pittsburgh.”
 
Hughes joked that this search is a rewarding one and even called it a “game.”
 
“We really show the potential of every space,” Hughes said about efforts to attract attention to a venue.
 
He added that the company also draws inspiration from the changing location, incorporating different architecture into the night’s performances. Last year, he noted that a dancer was able to climb in the South Side’s Mary Street Clock Building — incorporating another level to the performance.
 
This year, Hughes noted they will be utilizing the “big, beautiful” Jane Street Warehouse to create a one-night only nightclub with installations, games, dance performances and music by TITLE TOWN Soul & Funk.
 
“We always say to expect the unexpected,” Hughes said.
 
Tickets to The Dirty Ball can be purchased online at www.attacktheatre.com/tdb14

Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Tom Hughes, Attack Theatre

Oxford looking to break ground on Hot Metal Flats this spring

The Hot Metal Street corridor, which over the last five years has seen a cadre of large buildings constructed in and around the South Side Works, — including two hotels — is getting new residential space.

Oxford Development will break ground this spring on the Hot Metal Flats, a 115-unit apartment building on the lot between the SpringHill Suites Southside Works and IBEW Local No. 5. Hot Metal Flats will offer a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments ranging from 570 to 1,200 square-feet, and averaging about 700 square feet.

“Most of the units will have some kind of view of the city, the river or the South Side Slopes,” says Megan Stearman, Oxford’s marketing coordinator, adding that most units will have either balconies or Juliet balconies.

Humphreys & Partners, a Dallas-based firm, is handling the architecture while local contractor PJ Dick will do the construction. Walnut Capital will manage the property and handle leasing. Among its amenities, Hot Metal Flats will include off-street parking for tenants’ cars and bicycles, a fitness center and common areas for outdoor recreation and grilling.

“All of the access it will provide, from the trails and the riverfront to all of the South Side’s restaurants and shops, is itself a main amenity,” Stearman says.

Hot Metal Flats will be Oxford’s second project on the South Side. It completed and opened the HYATT house, just across Hot Metal Street, last year.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Megan Stearman

Schell Games expanding to Station Square offices

Schell Games, the South Side-based videogame developer is expanding its operations and will move from its space at 2313 East Carson Street this spring, but it won’t be going far — two miles down the road, to be exact.

“We’re going to be in Bessemer Court, which is located in across the street from the main mall area in Station Square,” says Schell spokesperson Jill Sciulli.

The award-winning, local game developer, now entering its 12th year of business, has occupied its South Side location for the past six years. The new space won’t just be bigger, but more convenient for both Schell’s employees and clients.

“I think the location will be a lot easier for clients to come visit, as well as a bit more accommodating to them. It’s a much more [tourist-friendly] place, and if they spend the night, they’ll have an easier time taking advantage of what Pittsburgh has to offer,” Sciulli says.

Though she couldn’t detail specifications, Scuilli described the new space as consisting of two floors with a mezzanine and large windows

“In terms of creativity, we feel it will allow our employees to explore their creativity and inspire them,” she added.

After the move, Schell will also look to add to its workforce and will add up to 10 new employees later this year. The company currently employs about 100 people.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Jill Sciulli

Eat + Drink: Constellation Coffee, Reverse Keg Ride, farmer markets wind down

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly roundup of epic local nomz.

Constellation Coffee arrives at Penn & Main
Amy Weiland worked as a barista at Tazza D’Oro in Highland Park for more than three years, all the while wanting to open her own shop. When she walked by the vacant space at 4059 Penn Avenue in Lawrenceville, she knew she’d found something special.

Serving coffee from Annapolis-based Ceremony Coffee Roasters, Weiland opened Constellation Coffee last week.

“I wanted to go with something from the east coast,” Weiland said of her roaster choice. “Whenever I was doing samplings from different roasters, Ceremony just blew every other roaster out of the water. All their coffees have nice balance and flavor, and all are light to medium roasts.”

Constellation will go for a diner-style vibe. In addition to serving up mainly espresso-based drinks, it serves up slices from the Pittsburgh Pie Guy.

Within the next few weeks, Constellation will have new painted signs and furniture designed to make the space more cozy. Weiland says she hopes to add more retail business and coffee classes in the coming months. Constellation Coffee is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

East End’s Reverse Keg Ride on for Saturday
The East End Brewery will hold its annual Reverse Keg Ride — a bike trek from the OTB Bicycle Café on the South Side to the Brewery’s home in Larimer — this Saturday.

The annual event celebrates the moving of an empty keg of East End’s Pedal Pale Ale from OTB back to the brewery, and ends in the ceremonial tapping of the first keg of its Snow Melt Ale. Registration is available through the event page on East End’s website and costs $20 per rider, with a $25 fee for late registration. The ride is limited to 300 participants and note:  there won’t be a day-of registration.

The convoy will depart OTB at 4 p.m. and arrive back at the brewery around 5:30.

Market Square will host final farmer’s market of the season tomorrow
A smattering of Halloween events will help mark the end of the season for the Market Square Farmer’s Market tomorrow.
Daycare centers will conduct trick-or-treating around the market, booths will be extra spooky and vendors will adorn their favorite Halloween costumes. DJ Soy Sos and local singer-songwriter Jess Sides will provide the daytime entertainment, and instructors from the Arthur Murray Dance School on Sixth Street will do three 10-minute performances during lunch hours.

It will mark the final 2013 installment for the popular Downtown market, which this season, attracted between 8,000 and 10,000 visitors each week.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Amy Weiland, Scott Smith

Eat + Drink: tacos, pierogies and all kinds of beer!

Eat & Drink is Pop City's roundup of local epic nomz.

Casa Reyna opens taco stand
Here’s a new game to play with your friends: how far down any one stretch of Penn Avenue do you need to travel before finding a place to buy a great taco?

Whatever the answer was, the distance just got shorter. Casa Reyna, the restaurant sister of Nic DiCio’s Reyna Market in the Strip District opened up a taco stand outside its 2031 Penn Avenue space. The stand will be open daily from 10 a.m. to about 7 p.m., depending on business, year-round.

First annual Pittsburgh Pierogi Festival
A host of local restaurants will converge at South Shore Riverfront Park this Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. to present the inaugural Pittsburgh Pierogi Festival. Vendors will include Bar Marco, BRGR, Franktuary, Marty’s Market and more. Admission to the event is free and all vendors will be cash-only.

To learn more about the first annual Pittsburgh Pierogi Festival, check it out on Twitter or visit its Facebook page.

Pumking at D’s
For those in in the full swing of fall, D’s Six Pax and Dogz in Regent Square will fill its massive tap room with a vast selection of pumpkin beers starting Friday. In addition to pumpkin beers already on tap, D’s will roll out Southern Tier Pumpking not only from this year, but cellar-aged kegs from the previous three years.

“We’ll also have the Southern Tier Warlock, which is a stout made with Pumking. There’ll be a bunch of other pumpkin beers but it’s really about the Pumking,” says D’s Beer Czar Justin “Hootie” Blakey.

Penn Brewery wins at the Great American Beer Festival
Penn Brewery’s Chocolate Meltdown, a chocolate stout which the brewery plans to release this winter, took home a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival this month.

“It was an old homebrew recipe of mine. I brought it in and we scaled it up,” says Nick Rosich, one of Penn’s brewers. “We get all our chocolate from Besty Ann over here in West View. We use that in the kettle, and we use quite a bit of lactose to bring out that milky creaminess. It’s a chocolate milk stout.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Justin Blakey, Nick Rosich

Pittsburgh StepTrek will showcase step preservation in the South Side Slopes

While it’s known far and wide as the City of Bridges, Pittsburgh has more sets of stairs than any other city in the country. And no Pittsburgh neighborhood has more stairs than the South Side Slopes.

From noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA) will host their 13th annual StepTrek —a stair-centric day featuring a pair of self-guided step tours, food trucks, an artists’ marketplace and more than enough water to keep you hydrated on your hike.

As usual, StepTrek will feature a pair of routes — black and gold — for trekkers seeking differing degrees of difficulty, and SSSNA volunteers have been working for weeks to clear the paths.

“There were two different sets of steps which were completely overgrown [with vegetation]. We’ve cleared them and both of those will be on the gold route, which will be the more difficult one this year,” says SSSNA President Brian Oswald.
The Slopes are home to 68 of Pittsburgh’s 712 staircases, many of which haven’t been maintained in years. Oswald says he understands that the city doesn’t always have the money to fix the steps, but that his organization does what it can to showcase them and keep them up.

StepTrek is meant to offer participants views of the city they’ve never seen before while taking them through the ins and outs of one of Pittsburgh’s most topographically and architecturally interesting neighborhoods.

“The most frequent response we hear every year is, ‘I had no idea this was here,’” Oswald says.

In addition to a pair of routes, participants can engage with an orienteering course, designed in collaboration with the Western Pennsylvania Orienteering Club, and a smartphone app which describes the history of landmarks along the steps.

South Side Park, located at Josephine and 21st Streets, will serve as StepTrek's hub. Tickets for StepTrek are $12 in advance and $15 the day of. Advanced tickets may be purchased through Showclix.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Briand Oswald

Eat + Drink: Peet's Coffee in Pittsburgh, Cocktail Week, America's largest native fruit

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly glance at the finest in local epic nomz.

Peet’s Coffee coming to Pittsburgh
Peet’s Coffee & Tea, the San Francisco Bay area-based coffee roaster and retailer whose coffee has a near-religious following on the west coast, is set to open its first Pittsburgh stores.

Peet’s will take over the locations of the former Caribou Coffee shops in Oakland, the South Side, Brentwood and the Waterworks Mall, near Aspinwall.

According to Gary Wilson, a principal with the development firm of Langholz Wilson Ellis, which owns the site of the recently closed Caribou Coffee in Oakland, the developers are in the process of approving plans now. Wilson did not give a timetable for the Oakland location’s opening.

Peet’s products aren’t entirely new to the region. Giant Eagle has carried various Peet’s blends for several years.

Eat + Drink heartily recommends giving the House Blend a shot. Fans of darker roasts are likely to enjoy the full-bodied Major Dickason’s Blend.

Pittsburgh Cocktail Week
A cadre of bars and restaurants will participate in the first annual Pittsburgh Cocktail Week, which will run from September 16th through the 22nd.

Cocktail Week will include everything from tequila classes at Verde to ice-carving sessions at The Livermore, will run from September 16th through the 22nd.

A list of Cocktail Week events, still being updated, is available on the event’s website.

Paw paw tasting
The paw paw is often described as a cross between a banana and a mango. It’s the largest edible fruit native to the United States, yet most people have never even heard of it. Andy Moore is looking to change that.

“It’s native to 25 or 26 states in the eastern United States, and it’s virtually unheard of,” Moore says. “How does something that’s this ubiquitous get overlooked?”

Moore, a former Pop City staffer, is looking to answer that question and others, as he travels around the country to research the history of the paw paw for a book he’s working on. To help raise money to finance his research and travels, Moore will host a paw paw tasting event Thursday, September 19th at 7:30 p.m. at Buena Vista Coffee on the North Side.

Attendees will learn about the paw paw, and have the opportunity to sample a variety of paw paw-inclusive foods, including ice cream, cupcakes, and the raw flesh of the fruit itself.

Those attending will also receive paw paw seeds from which to grown their own paw paw trees, and Moore plans to raffle off a pair of paw paw trees to one lucky participant.

Tickets for the event are $40 and may be reserved by calling 407-967-3519, or e-mailing Moore.

You can follow his paw paw adventures on Twitter @thepawpawbook.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Gary Wilson, Andrew Moore

You can now surf the three rivers, thanks to Surf Pittsburgh

“I don’t think people understand that surfing is something you can do on rivers,” says Steve Ford.

Luckily for Pittsburgh, Ford is here to change that perception.

Earlier this year, Ford opened Surf Pittsburgh, the city’s first river surfing service, on the South Side.

Headquartered at 1407 East Carson Street, Surf Pittsburgh uses a special boat, launched onto the Monongahela from 18th Street, which is designed to create three-foot-high waves in its wake.

“It’s like most other wakeboard boats, except for the way it’s weighted and the way the hull is designed,” Ford says. “The way the boat is made, you drive really slowly, only about nine or 10 miles per hour.”

River surfers initially balance themselves on a board while holding onto a cord attached to the boat, then let go of the cord once they’re riding the waves the boat creates.

Ford says most training sessions take 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the group, and that it’s not as difficult as people might think. He estimates that around 90 percent of the people Surf Pittsburgh has taken out have been able to ride waves on their own.

“Depending on the conditions like the weather and the wind, you can surf down the Allegheny to the Ohio and back up the Mon,” Ford says. “On weekdays, when there is less traffic on the river, we’re able to go right down by The Point.”

Surf Pittsburgh offers private and group lessons and can accommodate groups of up to 10 people.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Steve Ford

Lots of Green Bike + Bus Tour now bigger and better and ending in a party

For the second straight year, Growth Through Energy + Community Health (GTECH) will host a BikeFest event highlighting neighborhood efforts to make Pittsburgh greener.

The Lots of Green Bike + Bus Tour, which will take place on August 10th, offer participants bike tours of seven and 32 miles, as well as the option of a 90-minute bus tour for those less inclined to ride.

To expand upon last year’s bike tour of new and innovative community green space, GTECH has partnered with Grow Pittsburgh to make the event even bigger.

“Most of the projects that will be highlighted are former vacant lots — spaces that have been transformed into community green spaces,” says GTECH’s Sara Innamorato.

The tours will begin at 9 a.m., and leave from GTECH’s offices at 6587 Hamilton Avenue.

“If you look at the route, a lot of the gardens are in neighborhoods with high levels of vacancy,” Innamorato says. “There are these green efforts happening in the community and there are people who really care about them and want to make them better.”

The tours include stops at community gardens and parks in city neighborhoods such as Garfield, Greenfield, the South Side, East Liberty, Homewood and Larimer, and areas just outside the city, including Braddock, Wilkinsburg, Homestead and Millvale.

When the tours conclude, participants will meet back up at GTECH’s offices for a party, featuring food from local vendors such as Marty’s Market, My Goodies Bakery and Rob’s Awesome Italian Ice, drinks from Commonplace Coffee, and beer donated by East End Brewing Company.

The Tech Shop will be on hand with a bike-themed demo, and Carnegie Library of Braddock’s Print Shop will be doing custom screen printing.

Tickets for Lots of Green are $10 and may be purchased through Showclix. For more on 2013 BikeFest, visit its website and check out Pop City’s expanded coverage.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Sara Innamorato
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