Pima County's Lauren Harvey and Bill Saturley explain to plans residents and trail users.

In a meeting with residents and trail users Thursday night, Pima County officials reiterated their commitment to creating a paved and crushed granite path along the south side of the Rillito River between Campbell Avenue and Mountain Avenue.

In the sometimes heated meeting, residents expressed safety concerns about sharing the path among cyclists, pedestrians and horses.

Lauren Harvey, the project manager, said the plan should actually make the section safer because there will be a paved path and dirt path which will separate the users.

The River at North Campbell home owners association (of which I am a member, although my views may not represent the views of the entire board) was particularly concerned about liability because part of the land is owned by the HOA, but the county has an easement to construct a pathway system there.

Bill Saturley is in charge of acquiring property for the trail system. He said the county is having the section appraised and will offer to buy the land from the HOA to remove any liability issues.

Also of particular concern was a gate that allows neighborhood residents onto the path. Some homeowners were concerned that they would open the gate and walk right into bicycle traffic.

Harvey said there are several feet from the gate to the start of the five-foot-wide pedestrian dirt path. The edge of the eight-foot paved path starts at the edge of the dirt path.

Harvey said the dirt path will be a minimum of five feet in the narrowest parts of the path, but will be bigger throughout much of the stretch.

Harvey said the county will begin construction on the path in mid to late June. The project should take three months to complete.

This illustration shows how the path will be situated outside the neighborhood. Click the image for a larger version.
7 thoughts on “Construction on Rillito path starts next month despite complaints”
  1. I’m glad Pima County isn’t backing down on this issue.  They clearly are showing this path will be a good thing and they are doing whatever they can to make it safe for everyone.  Worst case, if things don’t go so well on the purchase of the property, I hate to say, but there is always eminent domain.  Would not like to see if get this point but glad things are moving along finally. 

  2.  Good to hear this is going to be done.   And I really fail to see how a HOA would have any liability for a county built bike path.

  3. “Also of particular concern was a gate that allows neighborhood residents onto the path. Some homeowners were concerned that they would open the gate and walk right into bicycle traffic.”  
    Heaven forbid the poor things might actually have to look first before wandering out into potential traffic – and here I thought that *everybody’s* mother had puonded that lesson in before we were old enough to walk to school by ourselves. 

  4. I hereby want to register my concern over oblivious homeowners just opening the gate and walking right into bicycle traffic.  It’s bad enough trying to ride around campus avoiding all the phone-zombies. 

  5. I attended the May 12th meeting to hear why some people opposed the major path upgrade on the south bank of the Rillito between Mountain and Campbell.  Mike’s May 13th post is extremely objective, and shows excellent journalistic integrity.  I, on the other hand, am going to speak my mind.  Hopefully, this will give you an insight into what’s going on inside the minds of some local cycling opponents, and what my take on the whole thing is, as a cyclist.

    In general, the people objecting to the improvements were old, stodgy, and bigoted.  Nothing new, there.  One lady passed around photos of her bruised arm, which she said she sustained after a bicyclist elbowed her maliciously.  Obviously traumatized by the event, she should have sought counseling.  Instead, she now feels that all bicyclists are “rude and crude.”  I hope no one else runs into her.  She’s not very nice.  There was also the lawyer who was fuming mad over wanting signs put up to warn bicyclists about their gate that abuts the Rillito path.  The gate is so far away from the bike path, it’ll be pointless to put up signs.  One lady even belittled people wanting to have a low carbon footprint by cycling instead of driving.  These people don’t care about project specifics, they just don’t want to share access with cyclists, no matter what.  The meeting was a real eye-opener for me.  I didn’t think there could be that much animosity toward cyclists.

    As Mike has reported previously, the section between Mountain and Campbell will have TWO paths.  One will be asphalt, conducive to cycling.  The other will be decomposed granite (DG), conducive to walking.  The walking path is closest to the homeowners and their beloved gate, which opens INWARD, toward their homes.  It won’t be a hazard to anyone but themselves.  In fact, the DG path doesn’t even come right next to the homeowners’ gate; instead, it is some feet away from it and will have its own little path to run from the gate to the DG.  All of this was clearly visible on the large schematics that Lauren Harvey brought, and which Mike included a tiny photo of in his post.  If you look closely, you can see the little arm off the path that is labeled, “Connect dg to gate.”  The asphalt path is around 8 feet wide, for scale.  One guy asked what would happen if he opened the gate, pushed his baby stroller out, and a horse ran over it.  Well, that would probably be evolution in action, but it can’t happen even if the guy isn’t fit to produce offspring (can’t be bothered to look both ways?).  Their gate doesn’t open right onto the path.

    My take on the project is that everyone gets what they want: Cyclists get a paved path and will be allowed access to that area, which was technically no-bikes before.  We won’t have to cross at the dangerous Campbell Ave bridge anymore, no matter where we’re coming from or going to (Trader Joe’s, anyone?).  Walkers get their own path that they don’t have to share with cyclists, which is fine because some of them evidently hate us.  The entire section ends up lusher than before because of government standards for riparian habitats forcing the planting of MORE vegetation.  Even the old sofas being dumped next to the dumpster will go away because the county will be liable for maintaining that land, now.  Eventually, if these small sections continue to get completed, we might actually have connections between all these facilities to make a huge loop around Tucson, as is planned.

    Now, I often ride the Rillito to get from point A to B.  I use it as a way to stay off surface streets, which tend to have cars on them, which tend to kill things they run into, like bicyclists and pedestrians.  I frequently pass the ghost bike at Mountain and Fort Lowell, as I’m sure many of you do.  That kid was killed by being run over by a bus.  Bicyclists tend not to kill pedestrians, even if they want to, sometimes.  I am willing to share the Rillito with pedestrians, equestrians, rollerbladers, dogs, bobcats, lawyers, more snakes, and yes, even fixies.  I have had to stop behind a line of pedestrians taking up the entire path.  I have had to avoid dogs on long leashes that dart out in front of me.  I have had to deal with pedestrians on short fuses that sometimes bark louder than their dogs.  Nevertheless, I still ride the Rillito because I can’t get run over by a car when I’m on it.  How many lives do you think the Rillito will save, by its very existence?

    I’ll still say hi to everyone, even if some won’t say hi back.

  6. With the section just east of Campbell on the north bank now paved, is this really necessary?  I just don’t think this is a good use of county funds. 
     I walk to Trader Joe’s and use both sides depending on the time of day and temp. 
    If this project means cutting down all the trees along this piece on the south bank there will be zero appeal to walking on that side.   If cyclists say they can’t cross the gateway bridge, go north a couple hundred yards, and ride the less than half-mile east on Limberlost to get to Trader Joe’s, well, that’s a little rich.  

    Pre-emptive statements:  I am not part of the HOA that is protesting this. I own six bikes and ride regularly. 

    Have a nice day!

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