I live in Phoenix, which is a world renowned city for urban sprawl. Much of the city’s layout was planned during the 1950’s-1970’s As a result, many of our main thoroughfares are 2-3 lanes wide with 45 mph speed limits. A few of these roads have bike lanes, although I’m not keen to ride on those roads.
I know what you’re thinking. “Oh great, another cyclist complaining that his city isn’t Portland and trying to make a city designed for cars into Copenhagen.” Nope. There are plenty of those blogs already. I merely bring this us up because this was a major deterrent for me from bike commuting. I feared riding among these cars on these fast stretches of road. I continued to procrastinate and drive my car instead. “I’ll start next week” quickly became “I’ll start next month”, which then became “I’ll start next winter.”
Eventually, my wife and I moved to North Scottsdale, which is one of the most friendly areas for biking in the valley. Once we were settled into our new apartment, I really had no excuse to keep driving. At the time, my employer was 5.4 miles away, allowed me to park my bicycle inside for security, and even provided a subsidy for utilizing alternate transportation. I decided that it was time to minimize my usage of the car. However, how would I safely get there?
At that point, I did what any self-respecting millennial would do. I fired up Google and discovered the magical “Bicycling” filter on Google Maps. Paths that I had never known existed were shown in a light shade of green. Rather than braving 50 mph traffic on a road designed like a runway, I was advised to follow little known paths that don’t permit vehicle traffic. High volumes of cars were replaced by trees, lawns, and ponds. Instead of waiting at stop lights, I cycled below them on underpasses that few Phoenicians know exist.Even more amazing, my commute on my road bike was only 3 more minutes than driving myself in my car.