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Bikes coast into prominence for 15th Venture Outdoors Festival

| Wednesday, May 18, 2016, 9:00 p.m.
Tents are set up in Point State Park during the Venture Outdoors Festival
Venture Outdoors
Tents are set up in Point State Park during the Venture Outdoors Festival
Kayaking remains a favorite activity at the Venture Outdoors Festival in Point State Park.
Venture Outdoors
Kayaking remains a favorite activity at the Venture Outdoors Festival in Point State Park.
The Venture Outdoors Festival brings rock-climbing walls to Point State Park.
Venture Outdoors
The Venture Outdoors Festival brings rock-climbing walls to Point State Park.

Bicycling is rolling into a higher gear at the Venture Outdoors Festival at Point State Park.

Amid the many activities at the 15th annual event May 21, bicycling is gaining a bigger role as interest in it grows, says Donna Bour, director of development and communications for Venture Outdoors.

“It's a response to the bike culture of Pittsburgh,” she says. “If you want to bike here, you have to know what is available.”

Besides having rides exploring some of the trails near the park, the festival will feature Try-a-Bike, an examination of bikes and equipment for families, and a look at the bike-share program that is nearing its first birthday.

Of course, the festival will include many other types of activities. Staffers at Venture Outdoors began this festival in the group's early years as a way of exploring easy ways of having fun outside.

This year, in addition to favorites such as the rock-climbing wall and kayaking, the festival will feature crafts and vendors from the I Made It! Market and a game of 18th-century cricket held in conjunction with the Fort Pitt Museum.

In addition, music will be a part of the festival for the first time, Bour says. It will feature Pitch Please, a University of Pittsburgh a cappella group, and members of the Pittsburgh Songwriters' Circle, a project of Calliope: The Pittsburgh Folk Music Society.

The bicycling-oriented activities will give visitors a new look at two-wheeled adventure, Bour says.

Erin Potts, marketing director for Health Ride Pittsburgh, says the bike-share program has “many unique features” that many would-be users probably do not know. For instance, when a person registers online, the rider is given a six-digit code. That code can be entered, along with a phone number, on a bike's keypad, making it available for use.

Bikes also have integrated locks and can be secured at any time during a ride, being unlocked again with the code and phone number.

“So it is a smart bike, a smart dock and doesn't require a smartphone to use, just a credit or debit card,” she says. The Pay As You Go rate is $2 per 30-minutes or there are monthly passes start at $12 per month for unlimited 30-minute rides.

Healthy Ride staffers will have a computer at the festival and will be able to register riders there.

“Then they could go out to the station just outside the park and go for a ride,” she says.

Meanwhile, volunteers organized by Bike PGH, the bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group, will demonstrate their family-oriented bike equipment.

Jane Kaminski, membership and outreach manager for the group, says they will show off the use of bike seats for infants, cargo bikes, trailers and tag-alongs, the added-wheel that lets a small child ride behind an adult.

The activity is being organized by 412 Flock, a bicycle club, and the Spinnsters, a Bike PGH women's group, she says.

In addition, Bour says, the Pittsburgh Major Taylor Bike Club will lead 10- to 12-mile rides from the park during the festival.

Bob Karlovits is a Trib Total Media contributing writer.

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