Pittsburgh's North Shore survives trifecta of events

If back-to-back Pitt football and Pirates games make for an ideal Saturday for Pittsburgh sports fans, they also highlight some of the city’s less savory features: parking and traffic problems.

On Saturday, the Pirates’ 4:05 p.m. start followed a noon kickoff for the Panthers, while Rib Fest events took place all day at Heinz Field. Parking on the North Shore after 2 p.m. was restricted to drivers with prepaid hangtags.

Hours before the sold-out Pirates game began, many fans opted for Downtown and Strip District parking options.

Cathy and Fran Moxie of Springdale had already eaten lunch by about 1:30 p.m., when they were sitting under an umbrella by the center field entrance at PNC Park. Having read about the potential parking problems, they opted to arrive early, leave their car in Downtown and take the T from the First Avenue station.

Normally, game-day parking costs them $15, but it was just $5 this time with the free T ride — their first time using the light rail.

“We’ll do it all the time now,” said Ms. Moxie.

Patrick Hilko, who rides a bike taxi, noted that the walking traffic was higher than a typical Saturday afternoon. For Pirates games, he normally takes people from the free Rivers Casino parking lot to the park. On Saturday, however, those spaces cost $50-$55. “After they pay that, they don’t want to pay” for a rickshaw ride, he said.

As a result, “we have to meander around” looking for customers, he said.

Between food and beer trucks setting up shop, restaurants packed for lunchtime crowds, and a block party outside of PNC Park, there would be plenty for early birds to do, noted Marlowe Hill, who was tending the bar outside of Atria’s.

At around 2 p.m., as Pirates fans crossed the Roberto Clemente Bridge to the park, a group of Pitt fans walked toward Downtown, presumably confident that the Panthers would maintain an early lead over Delaware. (They won 62-0.)

City officials reported no arrests, crowd issues or related problems as of Saturday afternoon, but there was plenty of automobile traffic to match the foot traffic. “It’s about what we expected,” said public safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler. She added that about 20 people — including the Pitt mascot — were treated for heat-related issues, and six were transported by paramedics.

Elizabeth Bloom: ebloom@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1750. Twitter: @BloomPG.

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