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$85K bike center creates secure indoor parking Downtown

Pittsburgh will soon offer a secure parking situation for commuters who cycle rather than drive into town.

The Bicycle Commuter Center has been built on the northern side of the Century Building in the Cultural District. The concept is simple: Two shipping containers have been converted into indoor bicycle storage with space for 26 bikes. The bikes in the facility will be safe from vandalism, theft, rain and snow--elements to which they may be vulnerable with on-street parking. Annual leases will begin April 1, and are available for $100, with a $10 key deposit. There are also 21 wall-racks and official BikePGH racks outside, available for free for short-term Cultural District parking.

Scott Bricker, with BikePGH, suggests employers could encourage cycling by paying for or partially subsidizing secure bike parking spaces, which could be reimbursed through the new Federal Bicycle Commuter Tax Credit.

The center is visible from as far away as the North Shore, thanks to its striking design--the containers are painted a bright green and surrounded by three stories of matching bright green paint; the look is completed by an iconic black-and-white bicycle mural.

The center is the first of its kind in Pittsburgh. Other cities, such as Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., have secure bike stations with shower and locker facilities as well as bike rentals.

The Bicycle Commuter Center was created through a partnership led by Bill Gatti from TREK Development Group, which is also responsible for the Century Building, the affordable loft development catty-corner from the Benedum Center. The Cultural Trust contributed the land on which the center is built; Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission's CommuteInfo supplied a $65,000 grant; and TREK provided an additional $20,000 of funding. Guardian Construction served as the general contractor, and Moshier Studio and Koning Eizenberg Architecture, which also worked on the Century Building, designed the project.

Gatti with TREK says, "We think the vitality of Downtown is contingent upon the creation of a 24-hour residential traffic. That was the inspiration behind the Century Building--that this critical mass will only be achieved through the development of moderately priced living options for a variety of income levels. And bicycle commuting is a natural extension of our goal to create an environmentally healthy and sustainable living community Downtown."

The Century Building, which opened in July, achieved 100 percent occupancy within three months. It is still at 100 percent occupancy, and has a waiting list of more than 200 names. The building is awaiting its LEED certification. It was designed to LEED Silver standards, though Gatti anticipates it may even earn Gold.

Another of TREK's current developments is the construction of townhouses in the lower Hill District, linking Crawford Square to Uptown to the new arena. TREK is working with the URA and the City of Pittsburgh. Construction on the first 23 homes is expected to begin within the next 45 days, and there are plans to build an additional 40, Gatti says.

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Writer: Caralyn Green
Sources: Scott Bricker, BikePGH; Bill Gatti, TREK Development

Photograph courtesy of TREK Development

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