Stomping Grounds:Tucson cyclists are riding in the Loop

by JESSICA GONZALES

USA Today ranked Tucson number seven in “The 10 Best U.S Cycling Towns” in 2014. With our variety of bike lanes, trails and routes, that title comes as no surprise to Tucson’s cycling community.

One of those much-loved routes is the Loop, a large bike path that spans over 100 miles for cyclists, equestrians and roller-bladers. With multiple parks along the route, access to major streets in the city and restrooms along the way, the path is already a great means to get around a wide section of town. The car-free super highway is now on its way to upgrade.

The city is currently working to expand the popular trail, which at its completion will form a 130 mile loop around town.  The improvements will include more connections to the Rillito, Santa Cruz, Pantano River Parks, the Julian Wash and Harrison Road Greenways. The city is planning to connect Tucson to neighboring Marana, Oro Valley and extend down to South Tucson with the Loop.

One might be surprised to find out how the Loop came to be. Back in 1983, Tucson was stricken by a tragic eight foot high flood. The flood caused damage along several areas of the city, including the Santa Cruz, Rillito and Gila. After the area began to get cleared up, several people began to realize that the damaged land might be a good location for a travel path. With time and the help of voters the idea of the Loop soon became a plan and now is in its final stages.

With summer near its end, the temperature will soon start dropping to the ideal numbers for a comfortable cruise.

The Loop near Alvernon Way, is one of the many access points of the bike path within the city. Regular rider and cycle enthusiast Dennis Warner, is already planning to take on all 130 miles of trail once the Loop is completed.

“It’s one of the best things the county did,” Warner said.

Many people may agree with Warner. It is definitely one of the most eco-friendly things the county has implemented. I am sure there are plenty of others who are excited for the completion of the route.

The Loop is more than just a beautiful, well maintained route of travel. Over time the path has become a hot spot for encouraging bicycle safety and has served as a location for fundraising events.

Pima County’s bike ambassadors are providing free bike bells to riders who participate in one of their safety events along the route, running until Nov. 1. The next safety event takes place Oct. 3, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. where River Park Path meets with the Santa Cruz Path.

So, what are you waiting for? Anytime is a good time to have a scenic workout on the Loop. The route seems an easy place to get to, considering one in three Pima County residents live less than a mile away according to the Pima County website. The Loop is fairly easy to find, and is also convenient with plenty of restrooms and water fountains along the route.

If you don’t ride a bike don’t be discouraged, anyone can jog, walk or ride anything else as long as it’s non-motorized, including horses.

Jessica Gonzales/Aztec Press Dennis Warner takes a break in his training for his quest to conquer “The Loop” when it is completed.

Jessica Gonzales/Aztec Press
Dennis Warner takes a break in his training for his quest to conquer “The Loop” when it is completed.

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