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Residents fighting Rillito River path upgrade that will benefit cyclists

A hand cyclist rides on the unpaved south side of the Rillito bike path

The Pima County Parks and Recreation department is looking for feedback from cyclists about a proposed addition to the south bank of the Rillito River path between Campbell and Mountain Avenue.

The county wants to make the stretch a dual-use path, by adding a paved section for cyclists in addition to the existing dirt path for walkers and equestrians.

According to Carlo DiPilato, a project manager for the Parks and Recreation department, the connection is critical.

The piece of the path will allow cyclists to move between the north and south sides of the Rillito using the Mountain Avenue bike/pedestrian bridge rather than the Campbell Avenue bridge, which doesn’t have bike lanes and has very narrow sidewalks.

The southern section of the bike path is one of the only areas in Pima County that bicycles are prohibited on.

DiPilato said the plans are being finalized, but the department has received a lot of negative feedback from residents in the area.

“There has been a lot of controversy concerning this segment, they just want to leave it the way it is,” DiPilato said.

The county wants to pave the section from Campbell to Mountain on the southern side of the Rillito.

Residents in the area have expressed concern that the project will remove trees along the path that provide shade to the residents.

DiPilato said they are working to keep as many trees as possible and said the area will actually have more vegetation when the project is completed.

He said often residents in the area are the only ones to respond to project developments.

We know that individuals that live within a given proximity of a proposed development are the first to express their needs and concerns,” DiPilato said. “Those that come in and traverse the facility as a resource are less likely to respond.”

A bike rider crosses the Campbell Avenue bridge on the sidewalk. If the county paves the potion of the Rillito, cyclists could more easily use the Mountain Avenue bike and pedestrain bridge.

DiPilato said cyclists who have an opinion about the path extension should write a letter to the department’s director.

Letters should be addressed to

Rafael Payan
Director of Pima County Natural Resources Parks and Recreation
3500 W. River Road
Tucson Az 85741

Dipilato said a hard copy is preferable, but support can be voiced by calling Payan at 520-877-6209 or emailing rafael.payan@parks.pima.gov

Editor’s note: We live in one of the neighborhoods along the section of path between Campbell and Mountain. I am voicing my support of the project within my neighborhood.

14 comments
pedals
pedals

Just sent out a letter today to Director Payan supporting the dual-use path on the south bank. Many Tucsonians seem to be particularly conservative when it comes to bike access, so that every little improvement has to be fought for tooth and nail.

Mtngoat
Mtngoat

I would use this path all the time (with or without paving) to get to Trader Joe's. So, in my opinion, skip the pavement, kill the signs forbidding bikes, and maybe even install some signs explicitly permitting cyclists so the cyclist-shovers are informed. I feel like paving that messed up section on the north side between Campbell and the Country Club ped bridge would offer a larger safety gain overall. Too many cyclists that want to ride the path to the east need to cross from north to south at the dangerous Campbell bridge to stay on pavement. I mean literally it is 20 yards or something! Why not fix that?!

Rcclark
Rcclark

The only thing I have to say is about the "trees that provide shade.." Get your own shade tree.. People should not be able to control a situation by claiming a loss of shade that, does not belong to them to begin with.

Red Star
Red Star

Silos abound in Pima County Government. Last week in these pages we learned that the loop is a Huckleberry ego thing that, as it turned out, is not federally fundable as a transpo thing, this week we learn that a segment of the loop may be both a Parks and rec *and* a transpo thing. One would expect county supervisors to get a handle on things and get control over the silos so that they may function in the interests of residents. That doesn't seem to be happening, with wasted time and other resources coming along for the ride. So, in addition to communicating with Payan, you might write to the county supervisors and urge them to get control over these people. Oh yeah, tell the Supes you don't want Huckleberry to build a Tucson velodrome as close to Phoenix as he can get...

Charles Miles
Charles Miles

This would be a great addition to a really useful part of the River path and would certainly help with the currently awkward N/S crossing at Campbell. Just finished a letter to Mr. Payan to show support. (Also, I agree with Scott above - I am not sure I understand the assumed connection between pavement and allowing cyclists - maintenance issue? some kind of city requirement?)

miguel
miguel

I am all for leaving it as is. I ride my bike on the dirt path all the time, I like it. So long as you're not going 20mph its a non-issue.

Tony
Tony

Just sent an e-mail to Mr. Payan to show my support for this project. After a couple of close calls on Campbell, just so I could continue on the path, I avoid crossing Campbell these days.

Edward
Edward

Great to see that there is progress is being made here. I would use this section of bike path everyday. I have been verbally assaulted on two occasions while walking my bike through this area with my son in an infant carrier for safety reasons. The local equestrians and pedestrians need to share this section of the path - as we do everywhere else along the Rillito

Scott
Scott

As much as I love to make fun of NIMBYs (that *would* be the easy target here), why not just allow bicycles to access the unpaved section as-is if they so choose? Unless it's raining, that hard-pack desert dirt is nearly identical to concrete anyway.

James
James

As a cyclist, I like pavement. As a runner, I can't find enough areas with softer surfaces. Since I don't generally cycle for 'recreation', I was always disappointed when a new section of the Rillito was paved and my flat dirt was replaced with asphalt. I don't know how I feel about this.

Brody
Brody

I'm with Mtngoat. I would really love to have a solid stretch of Rillito trail on the North side from east to west all the way. You can ride under the bridge on the North side trail just as easily as the South, and I would prefer to do that, but on my road bike my skinny tires can't handle the dirt in that one section between Campbell and Country Club when it gets loose, and it does get shifty over there. Pave that and leave the dirt stretch on the South trail for the other people who enjoy it now. If I want to go to Trader Joe's I take the bike lane on Limberlost, no problem.

Colby
Colby

I may regret this, but I going to engage with Red Star. First I have to say that, like most of his posts on this and other comment boards, I can't tell whether Red Star supports or opposes the issue at hand, or if he is off on a tangent. So, Red Star, please help me... "...so that they may function in the interests of residents." Who are 'residents'? The people who live by the path? Me as a user of the path? "...urge them to get control over these people." Which people? Their workers? The residents? The people who want to use the path? Just for entertainment, I also attempted to write about Red Star in the third person voice, as I occassionally observe him doing about himself (was that convoluted enough?). Cheers.

sr
sr

From the posting: "The county wants to make the stretch a dual-use path, by adding a paved section for cyclists in addition to the existing dirt path for walkers and equestrians." This sounds to me like like perhaps any pavement they lay down would be additions next to the dirt path and not replacement of it.

Red Star
Red Star

"...so that they may function in the interests of residents." Who are 'residents'? The people who live by the path? Me as a user of the path? residents=those who reside in Pima County "...urge them to get control over these people." Which people? Their workers? The residents? The people who want to use the path? these people=Pima County employees who construct and utilize silos. In large scale governmental organizations these are primarily top level administrators; not necessarily elected officials to whom they, presumably answer.