In this edition of Cycling Cityscapes, we head out on a bike tour that links colorful murals to coffee shops to destination bike shops, using Tucson’s bicycle infrastructure. A GPX file is available to download.
To those unfamiliar with the American South West, the city of Tucson lies on the fringes of the Arizona-Sonora Desert, just sixty miles from the Mexican border. It’s a sprawling city set within a backdrop of arid mountains speckled with saguaro cacti, and blessed with a warming sun and clear skies come winter. With temperatures often hovering around the 70°F mark (21°C), at a time when much of the rest of the US is experiencing a deep freeze, Tuscon is becoming a winter hub for road riders, gravel riders, and mountain bikers alike. This, along with a burgeoning everyday bicycle culture, has helped ensure it’s regularly ranked within the US’ top ten cycling cities.
Tucson City Bike Tour
The route below offers a bike tour of downtown Tucson, linking murals with coffee shops, eateries, and bike shops, whilst showcasing just some of the city’s infrastructure. Download it for free by signing up with RWGPS. Sync it to the app on your phone and enjoy the family-friendly ride!
Here’s some example of murals we spotted on our ride around town.
Around and about Tucson
On our last visit, we enjoyed an in-depth chat with Tucson’s Duncan Benning, owner of Transit Cycles, and asked him about the city’s cycling infrastructure and his thoughts behind setting up his shop, which is well worth a visit. Have a read here.
Looking for some family-friendly mountain bike trails? The nearby Tucson Mountain Park has a number of possibilities catering to differentl levels; see images in our Salsa Timberjack impressions. For more technical trails, look up 50 Year, Arizona Trail, Sweetwater, and Star Pass on Trailforks’ Tucson page.
Other family-friendly recommendations include the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and the Pima Air and Space Museum. As for art galleries, there’s De Grazia Gallery in the Sun, Steinfeld Warehouse, Citizens Artist Warehouse, and the Photography Museum at the University of Arizona.
Tucson Bike Infrastructure Spotlight
- Tucson has its own bikeshare scheme, Tugo, with over 330 bikes spread across 36 stations. It’s $4 for a single trip, or $8 for the day, or perfect for locals, $80 for the year. See the website for a map of locations.
- Pima County has completed The Loop in Tucson metro 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 100 miles of shared-use paths that have already been completed. It’s peppered with artwork too; you can find a Loop Art Map here.
- The city has a great bike path system that works as an alternative grid to the main vehicular arteries; keep to them and you’ll find yourself in an alternate world where car-choked highways simply don’t exist. Riding through the university towards the Sam Hugues district is a great way to get a feel for it; traffic lights have sensors for bikes and bicycle-height call buttons. To check out pdfs of Tucson’s bikemaps, visit the official Tucson City website. There’s even a dedicated app that can be downloaded onto your phone. Routing via Googlemaps (and the bike icon) also does a good job at keeping you on track.
Can you recommend anything else to share with a bike-riding visitor to Tucson? Let us know! Can you help devise bike-friendly tours of your local city? Get in touch!