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The raving thoughts of a misanthropic academic

April 23, 2011

Bike Riding in Tucson?

Bike Sign TucsonI've lived in Tucson nearly four years, and throughout my time here, I have ridiculed the city's efforts to promote commuter bike riding.

As the proud driver of a gas-guzzling Chevy Colorado, I have found the bike lanes in Tucson simply annoying. There is nothing more irritating than making a right turn, and having to wait for every petty kraal of bike-riders in the bike lane to pass before me.

What's astonishing, I suppose, is that there is even a bike lane at all. Alas, Tucson routinely ranks among the top ten bike friendly cities in these states united, and actually does have quite a nice infrastructure developed for cyclists. Even the University of Arizona (home for at least another year), has made significant investments in creating a'bike friendly' campus, and in promoting alternate forms of transportation.

Unsurprisingly, the much-touted green aspect of bike riding isn't terribly appealing to me. But I do like the idea of staying in shape once our Lenten crusade against carbs ends. And all of the above, coupled with the rising costs of gasoline make investing in a bike an increasingly attractive idea.

And I have to admit, this bicycle is especially tempting...

The main question, for now, is whether I can actually give up my scorn for cyclists long enough to visit a bike shop and pick up some new wheels.

Highly unlikely, but stranger things have happened.

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16 comments:

Michael said...

Hi, I run a website in Tucson (http://tucsonvelo.com), which covers Tucson cycling.

If you do decide to get a bike, I'd love to to little posts with you about your impressions of riding a bike in Tucson.

I'd encourage you to seriously consider doing it. It is a ton of fun to ride a bike, is so much cheaper and will certainly help keep you in shape.

You can contact me through the site.

Mike

Anonymous said...

Just give it a try. What are you afraid of? Changing your mind?

Tory said...

@Michael-

Thanks for dropping by and the link back. Looks like you have a great site! I am seriously considering it. I will let you know if I do.

Can you recommend any bike shops in town that are friendly to beginners?

@Anon-

Actually, I am a bit afraid of changing my mind. But I'm even more afraid of getting hit by a truck on my way to school.

Will said...

There and Back Bikes is by far the best shop in town, especially for the type of bike you're considering. You'll get very personalized service but absolutely no pressure to buy. It's on Speedway between Cherry and Campbell.

Anonymous said...

As a Christian, Republican, NON-native American, I too encourage you to get out on a bike(or trike) and have some fun, get some exercise, and save some money.
I hope to see you out there pedaling.
Take care, and have a blessed Easter.

3wheeler

zz said...

I'm confused. Seems you drive regularly, doesn't waiting for pedestrians irritate you? How about other cars clearing the intersection so you can proceed. Why are bikes the most irritating - it's all the same wait.
Bike lanes are a part of Tucson's nice infrastructure and a leading characteristic of our gold level rating...why would their existance astonish you? Why would you want to become a source of scorn for other drivers by becoming a cyclist yourself? These things seem to lend to a negative rather than a positive attraction for biking - except for the cost of gas. Oh, and the fear. The fear is real. Better stay in you car. Work on your impatience....it's the root cause leading to death and injury of a lot of cyclists.

Tory said...

@Will - Thanks for the suggestion! I'll try and check out the shop this week. No pressure service is a big deal to me since I'm not entirely sure what I'm looking to buy.

@Anon/3wheeler - Happy Easter! Exercise and saving money are big draws for making the change! Thanks for the encouragement. If I follow through with it, I'll post some updates. Should be an experience.

@zz - You raise a lot of heavy questions to my tongue-in-cheek post. Why so serious...

zz said...

To me, the post read as just a bunch of contradictory statements. Maybe none of them outlandish enough for the 'tongue-and-cheekness' to come through. Sorry. Get a bike by all means and experience first hand the seriousness of driver scorn.

Tory said...

@zz - No worries. Sarcasm is always better delivered 'live' anyway.

I'm leaning toward getting a bike. I'll have a lot to learn, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I'm a coffee-addicted cyclist, and I hope you will give bike-riding a chance. I ride for fun and fitness (up Mt. Lemmon, or out to Colossal Cave), but I also work in some errand riding to the grocery store, library, etc. It is downright exhilarating to leave the car at home and get around by bike, if you can. At least I think so. Stop by a bike shop and pick up a free Tucson bike route map, which you can use to figure out how to get around. Unfortunately the map includes high-traffic streets such as Speedway, which is pretty unpleasant to ride on. But there are neighborhood streets that are nicer, so you have to figure out the best routes for you. I'm also a driver, but I guess my style is to do the speed limit and try to stay calm. I see lots of drivers getting worked up, tailgating and speeding. How fun is that? I've never said, "Gee, that was so much fun to drive to the store." But when I get back home from biking to do errands, I feel good--something to do with physical exercise.

Anonymous said...

If you want to give it a shot without spending a ton of money, give BICAS a shot. They sell rebuilt bikes or you can build you're own (and work around the place to pay for it). Cycling around Tucson isn't bad at all, I do about 50 mile a week and haven't had any problems. There are some roads which aren't great (Grant road for example doesn't have a bike lane) but for the most part the bike lanes are more than adequate and the drivers are very mindful of cyclist.

Michael said...

@Tory

I hope you do consider picking up a bike. It gives you a whole new perspective on what it is like being on Tucson's streets.

Most drivers are courteous as are most cyclists, but a few bad apples cloud the opinions of each other.

Cheers,
Mike

Tory said...

@Anon - Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts on biking in Tucson. I like the idea of having more flexibility in getting around town. My wife and I share a vehicle and do a lot of coordinating with our schedules. Since I'm mostly on campus, it would be nice to have more flexibility in getting from A to B. Thanks for the tip about the bike maps. I'll look into that when I'm shopping for a bike.

@Anon - Appreciate the tip about BICAS. I'll check them out. I would like to get a decent bike without breaking the bank. I know a quality bicycle can be pretty expensive, so BICAS might be a good option.

@Michael - I'm planning to look at bikes this week. My wife loves the idea; we'd both like to be more active and build exercise into our routine. On balance, there seem to be more reasons to give it a try than not to. I'll get in touch through your site once I get started!

Anonymous said...

I have to wonder if your scorn for cyclists and bike lanes comes from a subconscious jealousy for being stuck in a car instead of being one of us out enjoying ourselves!

Tory said...

@Anon - See my earlier comments to zz.

grrlyrida said...

At least you have good taste in bikes. That's a nice ride.

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Organic, free-range thought courtesy of your average, coffee-addicted, American Indian, academic. Program Manager @IGPatUA.


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