Tucson continuously ranks as one of the most bike friendly towns around, with the latest nod from Bicycling Magazine.

Tucson cyclist at past Bike to Work fest/Ryn Gargulinski

Tucson cyclist at past Bike to Work fest/Ryn Gargulinski

We nabbed No. 9 on the magazine’s Top 50 list, which cited the region’s 700 miles of designated bikeways, year-round sunshine and the rule that new street construction and reconstruction must contain bike lanes.

Dang, that sounds friendly – in theory. We wonder if those who compile the list ever tried to take a trek to the corner Blockbuster without getting hit by a pickup.

I used to bike daily. My bike’s only purpose of late has been getting in my way in the garage, where it slumps with deflated tires.

In the three years I’ve lived in Tucson, I’ve hopped on my bicycle twice. Once for a glorious ride along the Rillito River path and another for that heart wrenching trek a mere two miles to Blockbuster on North Swan Road.

My heart is still pounding from the Blockbuster jaunt.

Several folks I know agree that biking in Tucson is like taking our lives into our own hands.

Actually, it’s putting our lives in the hands of Tucson drivers.

That can never be a good thing. The only thing that seems to stay safe in some of those hands is their cellphones.

TPD bike patrol/Ryn Gargulinski

TPD bike patrol/Ryn Gargulinski

So how can we make Tucson a safer bicycling place?

The best solution, especially in honor of all this Earth Day hoopla, is to ban all cars. It works in Michigan’s Mackinac Island. Everyone there must get around on foot, bicycle or horse.

Since in Tucson that will never work, and make too many folks late for work, we can simply stick to riding bicycles around bike paths.

While these rides would certainly be safe and scenic, they, too, could interfere with our getting to work. Unless, of course, we happen to work in the Rillito riverbed.

Any other ideas?

We must give kudos to all efforts already in place to make area bicycling safer. We have some great initiatives and groups like the Tucson Bicycle and Pedestrian Program, the Pima County Bicycle and Pedestrian Program and the Greater Arizona Bicycling Association – just to name a few.

We also dig nationwide efforts at better biking, namely a new one called People for Bikes.

Past Bike to Work photo/Ryn Gargulinski

Past Bike to Work photo/Ryn Gargulinski

The campaign, which just kicked off last week, “aims to unite one million bicyclists of all riding styles and abilities to encourage government leaders to support legislation that improves bike paths, lanes, trails and other facilities from coast to coast.”

Cool.

Join the efforts at www.peopleforbikes.org

People for Bikes already got a big boost when Lance Armstrong signed on and encouraged his 2 million Twitter followers to do the same.

Now if we could just get motorists on board with the bicycling mindset, maybe I could pump up those bike tires.

Vehicles versus bicycles

Tucson police statistics

2010 (through March 21)
Personal injuries: 74
Property damage: 25
Bicycle only accidents: 8

2009
Deaths: 2
Personal injuries: 221
Property damage: 71
Bicycle only accidents: 35

2008
Deaths: 3
Personal injuries: 252
Property damage: 85
Bicycle only accidents: 30

[tnipoll]

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What do you think?

Do you ever ride your bicycle in Tucson?

Are you scared to? Do you even have a bicycle?

Have you had any incidents either with a biker or as a biker?

What would make biking safer around town?

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What do you think?