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Businesses open arms to pedestrian-friendly OpenStreetsPGH

| Sunday, July 31, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
OpenStreetsPGH
Tribune-Review
OpenStreetsPGH
Casey Gregson, 9, holds hands with her parents, Joshua Gregson and Kathy Newman of Squirrel Hill, as they head toward the Clemente Bridge, Sunday, July 31, 2016. This was the final day for Open Streets Pittsburgh this year.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Casey Gregson, 9, holds hands with her parents, Joshua Gregson and Kathy Newman of Squirrel Hill, as they head toward the Clemente Bridge, Sunday, July 31, 2016. This was the final day for Open Streets Pittsburgh this year.
Bikers and walkers cross Liberty Avenue Sunday July 31, 2016. This was the final day for Open Streets Pittsburgh this year; the event encouraged everyone to walk, run, bike, or skate from the West End, through the North Side and into Downtown.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Bikers and walkers cross Liberty Avenue Sunday July 31, 2016. This was the final day for Open Streets Pittsburgh this year; the event encouraged everyone to walk, run, bike, or skate from the West End, through the North Side and into Downtown.
Harland MacTaggart, 6, tries riding a unicycle on the North Shore, Sunday July 31, 2016. This was the final day this year for Open Streets Pittsburgh; the event was designed to encourage everyone to walk, run, bike, or skate from the West End, through the North Side and into Downtown.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Harland MacTaggart, 6, tries riding a unicycle on the North Shore, Sunday July 31, 2016. This was the final day this year for Open Streets Pittsburgh; the event was designed to encourage everyone to walk, run, bike, or skate from the West End, through the North Side and into Downtown.

A mass of bicyclists and joggers closed the roads and jammed the sidewalks Sunday, but residents and business owners in Pittsburgh's North Side didn't seem to mind.

Restaurant owners set up tables outside and offered take-out specials. Other businesses handed out their information as the newcomers peddled past. Physique Rx'd, a pilates studio, led a class along the OpenStreetsPGH route.

“I think it's great,” Paula Graham said as she watched the passersby from the front porch of her Western Avenue apartment. “It's great to see people out and about.”

Sunday's OpenStreetsPGH was the last such event for this year and the first for the North Side. Typically, the bike- and pedestrian-friendly program takes participants on a 3.5-mile trek from Market Square to the Strip District, but this weekend's event took riders on a route that cut from Market Square, across the Roberto Clemente Bridge, through the North Side and back across the West End Bridge.

“I think they just wanted to try a different neighborhood,” said Dave Sobal, a site supervisor for Bike Pittsburgh, which hosts the OpenStreetsPGH events and advocates for a more bike-friendly city.

OpenStreetsPGH was created in 2014 to promote healthy lifestyles and Pittsburgh's small businesses. Organizers host three events each summer and decided to try a new route this time to expose more people to the North Side and all it has to offer, Sobal said.

It appeared to be successful, he said. The route was packed by 10 a.m.

“I personally am disappointed that I'm not going to be able to ride the whole route today,” Sobal said.

Participants who had never been to an OpenStreetsPGH event before enjoyed getting outside and seeing a part of the city they don't normally visit.

“How fun to go over the West End Bridge?” said Mary Modlin, who rented bikes through the Healthy Ride program with her husband and children.

She and her husband hadn't spent much time in the North Side since before they had kids and moved to Hampton, she said.

“It's nice to get back,” Modlin said.

Jim and Anne Kimpel of Shaler were new to the OpenStreetsPGH program. They were so impressed that they stopped along the route to take pictures of the crowd making its way down Western Avenue. They went to church on the North Side and hopped on their bikes and took off toward the West End.

They got to see the bike route in a way they couldn't if they were driving in a car and sitting in traffic, Jim Kimpel said.

“It's nice to see the neighborhoods,” he said.

“This is beyond great,” Anne Kimpel said. “I love the sense of community. Next time, we'll get more people to join us.”

Elizabeth Behrman is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. She can be reached at 412-320-7886 or Lbehrman@tribweb.com.

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