A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of showing John Greenfield, a blogger for GridChicago.com, and his friend Jonathan some of Tucson’s bike amenities.
We kept the ride relatively short. You can see the route below. We started at 4th Avenue and University and finished their 2o miles or so later.
What struck me while riding around with the out-of-towners was this: Tucson is better than I give it credit for and we don’t have a national reputation.
John mentioned several times how surprised and impressed he was by our infrastructure and the number of people he saw out on bikes. Here is what he wrote in his post on GridChicago.com
Earlier this month my buddy Jonathan and I spent a week visiting our friend Lauren in Tucson, Arizona, and I was a little surprised by just how bicycle-friendly a town it is. This college town of 520,000 people (roughly one million metro) was recently rated the 9th best city for biking by Bicycling magazine, one notch above Chicago, so I knew it was a good place to pedal. But this city in the Sonoran desert, surrounded by saguaro cactus-covered mountains has more going for it than just cloudless skies and inspiring nearby destinations for road and mountain bike excursions. Central Tucson has a blossoming bike culture and some excellent infrastructure, including a great network of bicycle boulevards, which our city would do well to emulate.
I’m not sure why Tucson isn’t on people’s radar much these days. Perhaps it has to do with cities like Chicago, New York and Minneapolis investing more money in cycling and having more outspoken political leadership than Tucson. Or perhaps it’s that Tucson is still viewed as the wild west where people continue to use a horse and buggy to get around on dirt roads.
Maybe that will change if the League of American Bicyclists decides to rank Tucson as a platinum city in May. It will be really interesting to see what the LAB decides and how persuasive the report writers are in making a case that our larger number of recreational riders should push us over the edge.
If the LAB remains committed to cycling for transportation and remains concerned about our bicycle crash data, it will be difficult for them to award us platinum.
Another encounter solidified the fact that Tucson is not seen as a cycling city my many. I was being interviewed by a reporter for a story. The reporter was in Ohio and was shocked that Tucson boasted such a robust cycling community.
I really enjoyed hearing John and Jonathan’s perspective on our city’s cycling community and infrastructure. It’s good once in a while to have someone remind you about all the great things our community has done for cycling as opposed to what we could be doing better.