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Biking in Tucson, Worth a Trip?

Milwaukee, WI
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Biking in Tucson, Worth a Trip?

My husband and I are road bikers as well as new mountain bikers. We were looking for a warm weather destination for outdoor activities and saw Tucson listed as 3rd best bike city. But in reading a December, 2012 comment....a visitor gave it lukewarm reviews. What we would like to do is possibly safe, unmotorized trails designated for walking/biking/rollerblading or roads with bike lanes that are not on major traffic thoroughfares. Does Tucson fit the bill and what would your suggested routes be? We would also need to rent bikes. Also, what is the wine country like? Or have you found other cities that better fit recreational bike riding (Sacramento, Austin, Santa Fe)?

Tucson, Arizona
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1. Re: Biking in Tucson, Worth a Trip?

Here are a couple maps of the Tucson area with the various types of bike paths marked:

…pima.gov/Pubs/…20INTERIOR.pdf

…pima.gov/Pubs/…20COVERSIDE.pdf

The main multi-use trails that are separated from the roadways are along the riverbeds (Rillito, Santa Cruz, Canada del Oro, Pantano). You will encounter a lot of walkers and even horses on certain parts of those trails. There are also a number of roads, that even though they are busy thoroughfares, have nice wide shoulders and are very safe for bike riders (I.e. Oracle Road north of Ina all the way to the town of Oracle). Can't really compare Tucson to the other cities you have listed, but as long as you're here in the spring or fall Tucson should work well for you. In the summer, it's just too hot to ride even in the early morning.

Marina, California
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2. Re: Biking in Tucson, Worth a Trip?

Tucson is decidedly more bike-friendly than Austin (my sister lives there), and I would say it's moreso than Santa Fe. The only cities in the US that I've been to that were more bike-friendly than Tucson were Boulder and Portland. However, the ratings are generally geared toward how easy a city is to commute with a bike. Tucson is great for that. As a visitor though, particularly staying in a resort or other hotel in the Foothills, you may find it a little more difficult to get around. The major attractions are also on the fringes of the city and not easily bikeable. There are also relatively few mountain biking trails in the area: Tucson Mountain Park on the west side and "Fantasy Island" on the east side. The national park and national forest trails are off-limits to bikes except for, of course, the roads.

But if you want to just go riding around to different parts of the city, then Tucson is wonderful for that. If that's your goal, then you should come. I would suggest staying more Downtown though, possibly in a B&B, as you'll find it easier to bike around. Almost all the major streets have dedicated bike lanes, there are bike boulevards leading from the central part of the city, and all city buses are equipped with bike racks.

Routes to take depend on where you're staying, but I would suggest doing at least one ride from Downtown, through the UA campus and through the Sam Hughes neighborhood (just east of UA) as it's a very nice ride and it's all very bike-friendly.

As far as the wine goes, if you're not expecting Napa, then you'll enjoy it. It's very relaxed and unpretentious. More wineries are open on weekends in the winter. As far as biking there, the roads are relatively lightly traveled as long as it's not too busy around the area, but they're windy, hilly, two-lane roads that are not the sort of roads I would want to bike on. It's also pretty far from the city, and the highway there would be very dangerous to bike on.

Hope that helps.

Tucson, Arizona...
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3. Re: Biking in Tucson, Worth a Trip?

I disagree about the lack of mountain biking. Check out this page for a list of the MANY mountain biking trails in the area: http://www.sdmb.org/trails/

4. Re: Biking in Tucson, Worth a Trip?

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