Bikes: no oil, more toil

By ELIZABETH WILLIAMSON

A bike is more than a mode of transportation for senior Steve Kurpiewski. It’s a source of… A bike is more than a mode of transportation for senior Steve Kurpiewski. It’s a source of freedom.

“I’m not limited by anything because I have a bike,” Kurpiewski, who has been using a bike as his main mode of transportation for four years, said.

Kurpiewski can travel the entire city, using the rack on his bike to hold up two cases of beer, without paying for parking or gas, waiting for the bus or getting caught in traffic.

Many student bikers like Kurpiewski gathered at Schenley Plaza on Friday for the Alternative Transportation Festival, which took place at three locations throughout Pittsburgh.

Nathaniel Doyno, of Steel City Biofuels, Inc., coordinated the events, which featured live music and circus performances.

The goal of the event was to bring awareness to the problems that the city and country face concerning transportation.

“We have to get away from dependence on foreign oil,” Doyno said. “And we have to take care of the environment.”

Doyno proposed a challenge for Pittsburgh: Build a city with a transportation system that is cheap, easy for students to use and beneficial for the environment.

“Biking is perfect for students because it is efficient and practical, ” Alan Gerber, a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon University, said.

While living at home in Milwaukee for the summer, Gerber built his own bike, collecting the parts from Craigslist.com and a non-profit bike shop, which he compared to Pittsburgh’s own Free Ride!.

Located in Wilkinsburg, Free Ride! helps people to obtain, recycle and maintain their bicycles.

Gerber estimated the cost of his custom-made bike to be about $200. A basic used bike costs between $100 to $200 plus repairs. On the other hand, the price of a new bike begins at $300 and could climb as high as $10,000.

Since bikers do not rely on gas to power their vehicles, it is necessary to increase their calorie intake to fuel their vehicles. Gerber guesses that he burned anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 calories on his 30-minute commute to work this summer.

“Being able to fuel and power my own vehicle gives me a sense of accomplishment,” Chris Corbran, a Pitt student and a member of Bike Pittsburgh, said.

Founded in 2002, Bike Pittsburgh is an advocacy group for biking in Pittsburgh. The group recently completed revision of a bike map of the city for commuters that had not been updated since 1992.

The comprehensive map, which will be released this fall, indicates on-street bike routes, trails and bike shops – even details on the steepness of Pittsburgh’s hills.

The city’s precipitous terrain gives Pittsburgh bikers something to bond over and something to brag about.

“Us Pittsburgh bikers ride up hills,” Corbran said. “We’re not like the other riders in those flat, gridded cities.”

Leave a comment.