Bicycle valet service makes Banff Film fest in Pittsburgh more attractive

| Sunday, March 31, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Screenings of the Banff Mountain Film Festival always are a way of planning outdoor activities, but this year's event is providing a little help in getting out there.

To make it easy for bicyclists to get in a workout and attend the films, Venture Outdoors and BikePGH are offering free, valet parking for bikes inside the Byham Theater, the Downtown site of the event.

“We are encouraging car-pooling and public transit as well,” says Mike Carroll, event coordinator of the bicycle-advocacy group. “It is just a good way to cut car use.”

The 11th edition of the film festival, which features top films from a competition at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, will be April 6 and 7.

The festival will feature 16 films, nine on April 7 and seven the following day. They were taken from the 28 chosen out of 369 in the competition, says Seana Strain, world-tour coordinator of the event.

Jim Baker, world-tour manager from the Banff group, says the tour is visiting 400 sites for 740 screenings in 40 countries on all seven continents. More than 330,000 viewers are expected.

The films cover all sorts of outdoor topics, including biking, boating and climbing. They include the eight-minute “The Gimp Monkeys” about disabled climbers descending Yosemite National Park's El Capitan, and the 47-minute “Wild Bill's Run,” a look at a snowmobile trip from Minnesota to Moscow.

Alyson Walls from Venture Outdoors, the outside adventure group, says the bicycle-parking feature was added in conjunction with BikePGH, which is using it as part of its Car Free Fridays series.

At the screenings, bicyclists will be offered a free beer and snacks before the films. Of course, wisdom and caution are a big part of bicycling and socializing in the evening.

“We naturally want to emphasize responsible behavior and remind everyone riding to have front and back lights and to bicycle in a group if possible,” Carroll says.

Banff's Strain, who says Pittsburgh has developed a good reputation for its outdoors enthusiasm, is intrigued at the bicycling valet, adding she has heard of another in Madison, Wisc.

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-320-7852.

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