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Parking in Pittsburgh

Old 02-28-22, 12:15 PM
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Parking in Pittsburgh

My wife and I are planning on riding the GAP and C&O trails in September. We'll drive to Pittsburgh. But once there, where can I park the car? I'm more than a little concerned about theft.

If anyone in the Pittsburgh area can offer me a place to park, I will happily pay for that privilege.

Thanks.

Bob
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Old 02-28-22, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by engineerbob View Post
My wife and I are planning on riding the GAP and C&O trails in September. We'll drive to Pittsburgh. But once there, where can I park the car? I'm more than a little concerned about theft.

If anyone in the Pittsburgh area can offer me a place to park, I will happily pay for that privilege.

Thanks.

Bob
One of the best places to park for any extended time is in airport parking. Some of the larger ones charge quite a bit per day although you can usually find some kind of deal in some of the off-airport parking companies. I’ve parked in a bunch of different airports for several weeks without issue.
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Old 02-28-22, 02:29 PM
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Considering the cost of shipping our bikes back to Colorado, buying last-minute plane tickets, and replacing a stolen car, I'm willing to pay for secure parking.
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Last edited by engineerbob; 02-28-22 at 02:33 PM.
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Old 02-28-22, 02:34 PM
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PPA | Grant Street Transportation Center (pittsburghparking.com)

"The Grant Street Transportation Center can accommodate all your Parking needs for your planned trail excursion on the Great Allegheny Passage Trail (www.GAPTrail.com). Please contact the Garage Manager/Attendant on duty, if you intend to leave your vehicle for more than a day. You should also complete the - Extended Stay Customer Information Form - Download it here"

It's across the street from the Amtrak station. Convenient if you plan to take the train back to PGH. The ride to the start at Point State Park has bike lanes.

If you need a room near the station I stayed at the Hampton Inn on Smallman in 2020. No problem with brining the bike in the room.
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Old 02-28-22, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by engineerbob View Post
We'll drive to Pittsburgh. But once there, where can I park the car? I'm more than a little concerned about theft.

I think paying for a garage is definitely the best approach for peace of mind. There's also a lot of churches in Pittsburgh with decently large parking lots that mostly go unused. I'm sure that if you called and asked, any one of them would let you park for a week or so. You could maybe try St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in McKees Rocks and make up a name for yourself like Giannis Hellenandros or something and tell them what you need. McKees Rocks would be good because you can take the Heritage Trail down to Point State Park and have that traditional start to the journey on the GAP.


If you're inclined to accept some very low risk, you could certainly park on the street too. Car theft in and around Pittsburgh is not a big problem and street parking without a permit is readily available. Main thing to watch is street cleaning which is every two weeks on either the first and third weeks or the second and fourth. They won't tow you if you get dinged for parking through street cleaning, you'll just get ticketed with a small fee which you can pay online.
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Old 02-28-22, 03:55 PM
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We parked in the Homestead Courtyard x Marriot parking lot last September and had no issues. We met others doen trail that were doing the same thing. Hampton In is next door and they would allow us ot park there also. We stayed at the Courtyard hotel and left from there as it's right on the GAP trail.

This area is 25 miles from the Pittsburgh Airport.
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Old 02-28-22, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by engineerbob View Post
Considering the cost of shipping our bikes back to Colorado, buying last-minute plane tickets, and replacing a stolen car, I'm willing to pay for secure parking.
Parking at the Pittsburgh airport is fairly cheap. The Economy lot parking rate is $7 per day. The Extended lot is $10 per day. I have been parking there for years, I fly for my work, and have had no issues. My care was once parked there for 2 1/2 months.

There is no way I would leave my car on a Pittsburgh street for an extended period of time. I would also rather park at the airport than in a garage downtown.
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Old 02-28-22, 07:12 PM
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Also, If I am around when you take the trip, I'll gladly help you out. Unfortunately it is difficult for me to plan too far ahead since I travel often for work.
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Old 02-28-22, 09:33 PM
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indyfabz has the right idea if you plan on coming back via Amtrak. We have done it several times and have had no problems at all. It's only a few blocks away from the official start of the trail and just across street from the Amtrak station. Very secure as well and reasonably priced.
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Old 03-01-22, 07:44 AM
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When we rode the GAP, we dropped the bikes in Pittsburgh at a hotel near a rental car place, rented a car, then drove our car and the rental car to Cumberland where we dropped our car at the long-term parking area near the trail. Then got in the rental car and drove back to Pittsburgh. This was all in one day. Cost was something like $35 round trip plus gas. This way, we had no schedule to meet train tickets and we could head out when we got done. Granted we had 4 people with us so this was no big deal but you could do the same by yourself by driving to Cumberland (or other train stations) and taking the train back. Would probably cost more if an extra overnight is required or if you have to book the Pittsburgh hotel just to store the bikes while you shuttle. Again, for us, the overriding desire was to not have to worry about finishing the ride on a specific day.

Hope you have a great ride!
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Old 03-01-22, 08:06 AM
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Thanks, everyone. You have given me some very good ideas.

Bob
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Old 03-01-22, 08:14 AM
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Park in WV at the start of the panhandle trail ride that to montour and montour to Pittsburgh. there is a hotel and walmart real close to the trail head. crime rates are lower plus its free parking. only add another day of riding and get to technically cross another state.
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Old 03-01-22, 08:28 AM
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Slightly OT, but has anyone ever had a car stolen? I never have nor do I know anyone who has.

In twenty years of parking on the street in a city, the worst thing that ever happened was having a phone charger stolen from an unlocked car one night is some upscale suburbs.
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Old 03-01-22, 09:18 AM
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Regarding the return trip, if doing the GAP and C&O, we found it the easiest to rent a one-way minivan at Reagan National. I think it was around $130. Easy to ride to the airport from The Mall, all trails. We did reserve the van, which puts a hard-date at the end, although the rental car company said they'd swap days no problem..if they had a van available the next day. We reserved the van in the spring sometime for pickup in late September. By the time we did the tour(September last year), one way rental vans were not an option to reserve due to upsets in the new-vehicle supply from the car makers. Best to inquire early. We dropped the van off at the Pittsburgh Airport (after picking our truck up at the Homestead hotel) and kept driving west toward home.

Some folks reserve vans on multiple days and cancel what they don't need...we didn't care for that approach. Another option..schedule a couple days in Washington DC at the end to give some arrival flexibility**..example..book a van for Friday and plan to arrive in DC on Tuesday or Wednesday. There's PLENTY of good biking in the Wash DC area & much easier to get around than using a car if seeing the sights. We stayed at the Holiday Inn National Mall (across the street from the Dept of Education. Good rates, clean, good location and they had no issues with bikes in the room, elevator....

**I'd advise having a plan B for the C&O in case of weather. We rode the last day on the GAP in rain, all day. By the time we reached Cumberland it was a downpour. You can only get so wet & it was warm enough so it wasn't an issue. We were riding in two inches of water on the trail(flash flood) and my girlfriend was yelling at the clouds.."..this all you got?!" It was sort of fun. BUT..most of the C&O got 1.5-2+ inches of rain that day and were were to start the C&O the next day, Thursday. Having no desire to slog through the mud, we called an audible and booked the train to DC. Fortunately there were bike slots open. We spent a few days in DC and had a great time. Overall it was a great vacation.

Fenders on your bikes are your friends.
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Old 03-01-22, 11:59 AM
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OP, if you're a warmshowers member, you could try contacting members in the Pittsburgh area and ask if you could park at their home. I once received a request like that and a group of 4 cyclists left their van at my place while they toured in my area. They weren't seeking a place to sleep, just a place to park. I never met them because they arrived when I was at work, and returned to their van when I was at work.
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Old 03-01-22, 12:07 PM
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For those that haven't searched out rental car rates recently, you might be shocked at what they're asking (at least it was that way last summer)
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Old 03-01-22, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by ericoseveins View Post
You could maybe try St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in McKees Rocks and make up a name for yourself like Giannis Hellenandros or something and tell them what you need. McKees Rocks would be good because ....
Mmmm...I wouldn't recommend McKee's Rocks for parking.
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Old 03-01-22, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by fishboat View Post
Regarding the return trip, if doing the GAP and C&O, we found it the easiest to rent a one-way minivan at Reagan National. I think it was around $130. Easy to ride to the airport from The Mall, all trails. We did reserve the van, which puts a hard-date at the end, although the rental car company said they'd swap days no problem..if they had a van available the next day. We reserved the van in the spring sometime for pickup in late September. By the time we did the tour(September last year), one way rental vans were not an option to reserve due to upsets in the new-vehicle supply from the car makers. Best to inquire early. We dropped the van off at the Pittsburgh Airport (after picking our truck up at the Homestead hotel) and kept driving west toward home.

Some folks reserve vans on multiple days and cancel what they don't need...we didn't care for that approach. Another option..schedule a couple days in Washington DC at the end to give some arrival flexibility**..example..book a van for Friday and plan to arrive in DC on Tuesday or Wednesday. There's PLENTY of good biking in the Wash DC area & much easier to get around than using a car if seeing the sights. We stayed at the Holiday Inn National Mall (across the street from the Dept of Education. Good rates, clean, good location and they had no issues with bikes in the room, elevator....

**I'd advise having a plan B for the C&O in case of weather. We rode the last day on the GAP in rain, all day. By the time we reached Cumberland it was a downpour. You can only get so wet & it was warm enough so it wasn't an issue. We were riding in two inches of water on the trail(flash flood) and my girlfriend was yelling at the clouds.."..this all you got?!" It was sort of fun. BUT..most of the C&O got 1.5-2+ inches of rain that day and were were to start the C&O the next day, Thursday. Having no desire to slog through the mud, we called an audible and booked the train to DC. Fortunately there were bike slots open. We spent a few days in DC and had a great time. Overall it was a great vacation.

Fenders on your bikes are your friends.
I did the same. I live in Pittsburgh, and left with no real plan. I rode from my house. When I got to DC, I rode to Washington Reagan, and picked up a car there, one way to the Pittsburgh airport. Mine was more expensive unfortunately, since I rode during Hurricane Irene, and fights were canceled, so there were not many cars available. I actually had to wait just outside DC for a day, since there were no cars available anywhere in DC for the day I would arrive. Other than that, it was a great way to get back to Pittsburgh.
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Old 03-01-22, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
For those that haven't searched out rental car rates recently, you might be shocked at what they're asking (at least it was that way last summer)
We booked a van last spring about this time for pickup in late September(last fall). All in (rental + taxes, fees..) may have topped out at $150-$160(?)ish(base rate may have been around $120-$130ish). I just looked now. Same booking, one way DCA to PIT, and the base rate looks to be $144. With fees taxes.. tops out at $181. It has gone up, but like anything else..you have to weigh the alternatives and see where you net out. A train seat with bike slot needs to be booked & this is a rather inflexible reservation. You arrive in Pittsburgh around midnight..which likely means you'll be heading for a hotel with associated cost, in Pittsburgh. With the minivan rental there's more flexibility(though it may or may not be limited, depending on demand, though a SUV substitute could work also), you leave DC at your own time, turn the van in on your way home & keep on going. Drop off was easy and fast. We dropped off the van last year and drove west for 3-4 hours before hitting a hotel. Made for a more pleasant, shorter drive the next day.

Amtrak for two people with bikes will be about $120 for non refundable tickets, & about $250 for a flexible ticket(if memory serves..$20 bike?). Amtrak has some history of not running on time...that's always a wildcard. Plus you're staying in Pittsburgh with a longer drive the next day.

Where you net out depends on where you place value. There's lots of options with the GAP/CO trails.
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Old 03-01-22, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
For those that haven't searched out rental car rates recently, you might be shocked at what they're asking (at least it was that way last summer)
I just looked at one-way pricing (Avis) from Philly to Middletown, NY for a long-weekend trip in early May, totally expecting sticker shock. The rate for an SUV was surprisingly low. Maybe the market is shifting, though looking this far out could have helped with the rate. Assuming I can cancel without much of a penalty, if any, I may lock it in later this week just in case.
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Old 03-01-22, 07:09 PM
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Last summer, a touring friend of mine and his son from Ohio had decided upon a ride here in the Midwest and when he went to book the car, for a modest trek back to the start......first there were very few choices and almost no vehicles available and the price was several hundred dollars. The young man behind the counter told him it was more than double what it usually ran, supposedly due to a shortage of vehicles nationwide.
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Old 03-01-22, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Altair 4 View Post
Mmmm...I wouldn't recommend McKee's Rocks for parking.
I just looked at the crime stats and whoa. I had no idea there was so much murdering in McKees Rocks. It just always seemed to me to be a chill place to go to a strip club.
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Old 03-01-22, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by ericoseveins View Post
I just looked at the crime stats and whoa. I had no idea there was so much murdering in McKees Rocks. It just always seemed to me to be a chill place to go to a strip club.
I worked with police in the 80s. I showed up in McKees Rocks one morning, and the cops asked if I wanted to ride in their car that day. I often did. They all laughed though, because the car in question had a fresh bullet hole. Someone had taken a shot at them shortly before I arrived. They were on their way back to the station.
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Old 03-01-22, 11:48 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
I just looked at one-way pricing (Avis) from Philly to Middletown, NY for a long-weekend trip in early May, totally expecting sticker shock. The rate for an SUV was surprisingly low. Maybe the market is shifting, though looking this far out could have helped with the rate. Assuming I can cancel without much of a penalty, if any, I may lock it in later this week just in case.
There seems to be a vast difference depending on location. For example, Avis offers a one-way from Dulles to Pittsburgh (240 miles) that costs $150 per day for an SUV. Denver to Pittsburgh costs $210 for the same single day but good luck on getting to Pittsburgh from Denver in a day. The distance is 1460 miles and takes about 22 hours with no breaks. Two days would be a tough drive…and cost $420.

Oddly, a one-way rental from Denver to Rapid City (about 400 miles) is more expensive than a one-way to Pittsburgh…$270 for an SUV. DIA does have a lot of traffic and does rent a lot of rental cars.
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Old 04-08-22, 09:22 AM
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I wish I'd seen this post before I made all our arrangements. The price of parking and a hotel for the night is annoyingly high. At least our ride will help offset the cost. We plan to camp almost every night. Working out logistics for our C&O GAP ride has been too darn stressful.

Our plan:
Drive to Pittsburgh, park in a garage somewhere near the trail start.
I know it will cost too much to leave the car week. ​​​​​​​I'd park elsewhere, but I'm not confident about getting around Pittsburgh by bike once we're parked.
Spend the night at "Distrikt Hotel Pittsburgh" for too much money (yes, that's how they spell it.)
We can ride to the hotel from parking, or at leat walk with our bikes if the streets seem too crazy. It's really close
Ride or walk walk to the take 5 am Amtrak to DC
We're set with tickets and bike tickets already
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