12 December 2012

I am currently staying here in Tucson with my hiking buddy Jim. He is also my cycling buddy. Recently Jim took me on a 25 mile Tour de Tucson which was routed on both city streets and greenways along both the Rillito and Santa Cruz Rivers and made a nice loop ride.
Speaking of loops - Pima county is in the process of developing a 110 mile bike/walk loop.

The Loop is being developed around metropolitan Tucson with links to Marana, Oro Valley, and South Tucson. Pima County residents and visitors on foot, bikes, skates, and horses can enjoy the more than 110 miles of multi-use paths that have already been completed. If it doesn't have a motor, it's good to go on The Loop.

Work is ongoing to add more miles of paths. When complete, The Loop will connect the Rillito River Park, Santa Cruz River Park, and Pantano River Park with Julian Wash and the Harrison Greenway. The Loop is a great way to access parks, trails, bus and bike routes, workplaces, and schools. Restaurants, hotels and motels, shopping area, and sports and entertainment venues are also on The Loop.
A map of the loop may be seen here.

Source: Pima.gov

The City of Tucson and Pima county have put a lot of money into Bike/Ped roadway infrastructure as well as maps and publications like these two.

Bike - Ped publications at Pima.gov

View Tour de Tucson in a larger map

The small hook in the upper center section of the maps represents the on street section which connected up to the Rillito River Greenway. We biked the greenway to one of the major north/south cycling route: Mountain Avenue.

Once on Mountain it was a straight shot down to the U of A campus where we biked around for a bit and took a water break.

After we left the U of A campus we went through downtown, picking up Fourth Avenue. The previous week Jim and I had cycled down here to Fourth Avenue and check out the 4th Avenue Winter Street Fair. It was wall to wall people and vendors. To refuel we stopped at the Sky Bar - a 100% solar powered bar. There is a sign on the wall which says: "Sky Bar is a Solar Powered Cafe by Day, Astronomy Bar by Night. We have nightly astronomy shows along with deep space images displayed from our own telescopes."

Of course now all the people and vendor tents were gone and we zipped though the area and through the Fourth Avenue Underpass - another bike/ped/motorized project. The approaches to the underpass are embellished with tile portraits of Tucsonians. This is the Tucson Public Art Program in action.

Still not installed in the underpass are two sculptures of dancing nudes by Melody Peters. 4th Avenue underpasss sculpture

City waits and waits for 4th Ave. statue
Sometimes less is more.

Take the Fourth Avenue Underpass, where in 2003 the city awarded artist Melody Peters a $75,000 contract to produce two statues.
Nine years later, the city is still waiting for the statues, even though Peters has collected more than $68,000 in advance payments.
Although the city has since agreed to pay more - the cost is now up to $115,000 - the Transportation Department recently agreed to accept a single statue from Peters in an effort to salvage something from the contract.

Source: Arizona Daily Star   more...

I followed Jim though the Fourth Avenue Underpass. After that I have no idea exactly where we went. The map above is my best guess.
We wandered around various neighborhoods, some of which reminded me of the "holler squalor" I often see back home.
Eventually we connected up with the Santa Cruz River Greenway on the west side of town.

Located along the banks of the Santa Cruz River, the park runs from Twin Peaks Road to 29th Street. Another section, which includes El Paseo de los Arboles Commemorative Park, runs from Ajo Way to Drexel Road.
The Santa Cruz River Park includes the Anza Trail, part of a National Trail system following the historic route taken by Juan Bautista de Anza on his trek to establish the modern-day city of San Francisco, California.

Source: Pima.gov

Click on the photos below for a larger image.

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The name for the all inclusive facilities along the Santa Cruz River, including the Greenway is the " Santa Cruz River Park". This photo was taken at the southern terminus.

Santa Cruz River Park - 29th Street terminus

The bicycle icon marks the 29th Street/Silver Lake Rd terminus of the Santa Cruz River Park.

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To the north are distant views of downtown Tucson and the Santa Catalina Mountains.

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I lost count of how many bridges we crossed.

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This it the park entrance at N Riverside Road and W St Mary Road.

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These taxpayer funded public art projects are popular and well supported in Tucson and Pima County.

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Mosaic detail.
"The river gave life to..."

At this point we continued on north along the Santa Cruz River until we got the connector for the Rillito River Trail. From there it was about another 6 miles to Jim's place.

There you have it - an overview of my very own, personally guided - Tour de Tucson. Thanks, Jim!!


'Till next time...


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