Connecting Communities One Step At A Time

Pittsburgh, PA

Our run into Pittsburgh was cold and wet, and along many stretches there wasn’t a shoulder to run on. We were happy to reach the city and ran the last mile or so along the river approaching the Carnegie Science Center and Heinz Field. After a phone interview with a reporter from the Washingtonian Magazine (see the resulting article here), we decided to run some errands and search for a spot to park Rex. The first sign that Pittsburgh is home to some incredibly kind people was when a sales associate, Oden, at REI generously offered his driveway for the night. We were relieved to be able to stay within the city and enjoyed sharing a couple of Oregon Ninkasi beers with new friends. 

The following morning, we started our off day from running by meeting with Leigh Halverson, Deputy Chief of Staff for Economic Development for the Office of the Mayor. Recently elected Mayor Peduto charged his staff with creating the largest contiguous complete streets grid in North America, which is a progressive move for a city known for its steel-laden history. Traffic21, a transportation research program at Carnegie Mellon University, as well as data management collaborations between the University of Pittsburgh, the city, and the county are all aiming to improve the transportation infrastructure in the city. We were both impressed with the city buses we took during the day, not only were they prompt and clean but the drivers were very nice!

80% of Pittsburgh employment is thanks to ‘meds and eds’, or medical and education institutions. We spoke with CMU Police Lieutenant Gary Scheimer, a former 28-year veteran of the Pittsburgh Police Department. Lieutenant Scheimer remarked that it was an ‘honor to serve’ the students at CMU and he was proud of the good relationships between city and other university police departments. He told us about a popular student-developed program/app built in collaboration with the department that allows one to locate the nearest University bus, and he also spoke highly of the students involved with the volunteer EMT program. Knowing how stressful academia can be, the University provides 24/7 counseling and psychiatric services (CAPS), which was important to hear given our increasing awareness of the national lack of broadly accessible mental health support services. 

In between meetings, we visited the Carnegie Library, where we caught up on work and began researching the final stretch of the run to DC. After speaking with a research librarian and pouring over some guides and maps, we were excited to see that we would be able to run all the way into DC along the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) and C&O Canal trails! We enjoyed going inside the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh, and after a great sandwich at Primanti Brothers, we made our way back to Rex for the night. The next morning, after navigating Pittsburgh morning traffic, we found the car-less GAP trail and ran with big smiles on our faces.