There’s nothing rusty about the pointed rivalry between Cleveland and Pittsburgh — and, this month, they’re taking it to the streets (and trails). The 2013 Rust Belt Battle of the Bikes has begun, and the winner is promised bragging rights and a locally welded crown (seriously).


There’s nothing wrong with a little city competition in the 2013 National Bike Challenge – we’re impressed with the two Rust Belt cities’ devotion to winning this year. In fact, Bike Cleveland Executive Director Jacob VanSickle said trouncing its Rust Belt neighbor is embedded in the very fabric of Clevelanders.

“Beating Pittsburgh is in our DNA as Clevelanders,” VanSickle said. “This is another way to show them that we are the Rust Belt capital of biking, and that’s why we’re strongly encouraging anyone who owns a bike in Cleveland to sign up and start logging miles.”

Bike Pittsburgh‘s Lou Fineberg, program director, called the cities’ relationship “special.”

“Rooted in our close proximity and the storied football rivalry between the Steelers and Browns this was too good to pass up,” Fineberg said. “There’s very little love between these two towns. We’d like to exploit that as much as possible in the name of bike advocacy!”

And while the Browns haven’t fared too well on the field, Bike Cleveland is hoping to give its fellow Clevelanders something to root for.  Mary Lauran Hall of the Alliance for Biking & Walking caught up with Jacob, too: “Finally, we’ve found something we’re really good at where we can beat Pittsburgh — riding our bikes,” he told her last week.

But one week into the Challenge, Cleveland has some work to do. At the end of week one, Pittsburgh has more than 12,000 more miles logged than Cleveland, plus more than 400 additional individuals registered. Pittsburgh is also No. 3 in the large city category currently, trailing Madison, Wisc., and Lincoln, Neb.

But Cleveland’s not far off: They’re No. 6.

The competition is good and well, but it also shines a light on the unique bicycling challenges facing these two Rust Belt cities.

“Our cities tend to be older, the cycle of freeze thaw reeks havoc on our roads, and the public sector can be slower to adapt and embrace change,” Fineberg said. “The National Bike Challenge is such a fantastic stage to show that people in this country care about this stuff in significant measure. As advocates we can use the Challenge to shed light on issues that reach well beyond who’s ahead on the Leaderboards.”

If you haven’t already signed up for the National Bike Challenge, there’s still time! May miles can be retroactively logged until June 1! Register now(*Disclaimer: I’m a Pittsburgh native — this coaster sits on my desk and I have a framed photo of Three Rivers Stadium in my bedroom.)


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Liz Murphy
Communications Manager

Ms. Murphy joined the League in January 2013. She previously worked as a reporter covering the Justice Department. Liz has journalism and women’s studies degrees from Penn State University. She commutes to work on her bright red bike daily.

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