Travel, access to wilderness, spontaneity, and freedom of movement have always been very important to me. I ditched my personal vehicle 9 years ago and my largest hurdle has always been the question of how to get out of town without a car.
In 2007 – around the same time that I moved to Seattle, sold my car, and started a new job – I started riding a bike in an urban setting for the first time. In my research of the areas surrounding Seattle and the adventures to be had there, I found that many of the guide books advertising to hold the best hikes or bike rides in the area start with a drive to the trailhead. Without having that option, I turned to other means to get out of town: public transit and a bicycle. I was already using these modes in the city, why not expand their application?
I was very fortunate to have friends who desired the same sort of adventure. Together we sought out the best bus, ferry and train lines that would take you to the edge of town, cutting out on hours of city and suburban riding and starting our adventures closer to the night’s rest stop. Through these adventures, we formed the Post Car Travel Agency, planning door to door trips using bicycles and transit.
Both Seattle and San Francisco, the two cities of my previous residence, have some of the greatest urban environments, abutting some of the wildest areas in the country. In Seattle, a short, bike-friendly ferry ride from downtown will bring you to Bainbridge Island. A slightly longer ferry ride will take you to Bremerton on the Olympic Peninsula to start an adventure in the Olympic Mountain Range, the pacific coast, and the Hoh Rainforest.
Similarly, you can be in a great camping spot in the redwoods just a lovely 30 mile ride north the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. A train ride to the end of the line on BART, San Francisco’s commuter train, will give you access to Mount Diablo to the northeast, Lake Del Valle to the southeast, and Half Moon Bay to the southwest, to name a few.
There are many individuals in Pittsburgh actively working on making our city streets more accommodating of people walking, biking and taking public transit. Equally important is the need to improve connections of safe and desirable street space for pedestrian and bicycles with convenient and safe transit stops and more public transit trips. Many of the trips I mentioned are possible because bikes are accommodated on those public transit trips. Sometimes trips are made more difficult by transit agencies requiring you to put your bicycle in a box, or not allowing a bicycle at all. This severely limits the possibilities.
In Pittsburgh, we are very lucky to be living on one of the two Amtrak lines to be piloting new baggage cars that accommodate full size bicycles. Sources tell me this is happening very soon, so look out!
I am still new to Pittsburgh and am very excited to explore the possibilities at the end of our public transit lines this summer and fall. With the GAP trail’s terminus here, you are no strangers to cycle touring. What trips lie at the end of our transit lines?
Traveling without a car introduced me to a deepened connection to the landscape through slower travel and a relationship with public interfaces (trains, buses, ferries) that I hadn’t experienced before.