This summer, instead of abusing your office's casual Friday policy by wearing Hawaiian shirts to work, why not leave the car at home? Scott Bricker and BikePGH couldn't think of a good reason, either. The cycling-advocacy group is launching Car-Free Fridays, starting this week.
"The whole concept is we shouldn't just be celebrating or encouraging biking to work just one day a year," says Bricker, BikePGH's executive director. "We're trying to demystify biking to work."
The initiative kicks off Friday morning at 8 a.m. in Schenley Plaza in Oakland with free breakfast, coffee and help with repairs from REI staffers. At Fifth Avenue Place, Downtown, show your helmet for breakfast goodies. Pick up a voucher for discounts at different food and retail spots across the city, including dollar pizza slices at Spak Bros. in Garfield, dollar "Low Carbon Footprint Beers" at Belvedere's in Lawrenceville and even a free class at Schoolhouse Yoga.
"We're working on having this program continuously throughout the summer," says Stephen Patchan, the city's bicycle/pedestrian coordinator. He'll be speaking at the kickoff event Friday at Schenley Plaza. While BikePGH is the lead organizer on Car-Free Fridays, the city and Port Authority are providing some support.
"The city had [a biker breakfast] on Bike to Work Day in Market Square," Patchan says. "For those who came, it was a hit -- it sparked the decision, why don't we do this more often? The easy answer was, why not?"
A full list of discounts, as well as maps to bike-pool locations, can be viewed at www.bike-pgh.org/events/car-free-Fridays.
"We are encouraging transit and walking, too," says Bricker. "If you show up to the breakfast by bus or foot, you'll get the voucher." Every Friday all summer long will have programming, with different local businesses offering different discounts, breakfasts or events.
While Bricker warns motorists that Fridays may be a bit more bike-heavy in the months to come, both he and Patchan realize it's not going to completely change the culture in the course of one summer.
"The truth is, especially for the immediate future, the car is part of everyday transportation," Patchan says. "It's not saying get rid of your car entirely. Just try it for one day and see how you like it."