Dirty Dozen spectator ride highlights small businesses, bike lanes


Photo courtesy of BikePGH
In this photo, the recently finished connection between Chestnut and East Ohio Street is highlighted. 

By Alyse Horn

The Dirty Dozen has become well known not only in Pittsburgh, but also worldwide.  Bicyclists travel from out of state, and country, to compete in the madness that some have nicknamed “The Hell of the Hills.”

The event takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving and is a race up Pittsburgh’s 13 steepest hills on bicycle, in which each competitor “must ride up every hill using [their] own current power available without stopping or crashing,” according to the official Dirty Dozen website.

There are two locations on the Northside where residents can watch the madness, cheering or jeering on the participants: Rialto Street in Troy Hill and along Suffolk/Hazelton/Burgess Streets in Fineview and Perry Hilltop.

Danny Chew, who founded the race in 1983, was paralyzed from the waist down in September after a serious biking accident. According to a Post-Gazette article published on September 5, Chew was riding with a friend in Ohio when he had a “dizzy spell’ that caused him to veer off the road into a drainage ditch and broke his neck. He also had, and still has, the goal of biking one million miles during this lifetime. In the Post-Gazette article, Chew said “I’ll just have to finish my million miles on a hand cycle,” he said. “So be it.” According to his website, from 1968 to 2014 he had biked 752,311 miles. He has also won the Dirty Dozen nine times.

Nick Ross, chair for the Northside Bike/Ped Committee, said he is in the planning stages of organizing a route to bike and watch Dirty Dozen competitors try their luck at the Northside hills. Ross said the group will meet on Foreland Street near Allegheny City Brewing, 507 Foreland St., between 10-11 a.m. and then head out.

“We’re trying to converge and highlight the business district in the neighborhoods where the event is going on, and using the new bike lanes to show folks can use them to get around the Northside,” Ross said.

Bike lanes were recently finished between Chestnut and East Street. Bike PGH said that even though the segment is short, “it does provide a needed connection between East Ohio business district and points west to the neighborhood of East Allegheny and points east,” according to its website. Communications and Marketing Manager Alexandria Shewczyk said the connection also helps people access Riverview Park and the trail system.

“The city has reassessed and determined that East Street could be ‘right-sized’ and provide new transportation options for residents,” Shewczyk said. “East Ohio Street bike lanes help connect two neighborhoods that were bisected by the highway.”

If you’d like to participate in the bike ride, email Nick Ross
at nick.ross@hdrinc.com. Click here to visit the Facebook event page. Click here to see the spectator route.


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