I received this email from contributor Jay Rochlin last week:

Yesterday (July 23) morning I rode to the top of Kitt Peak. The ride was great but I was surprised to be greeted by a nasty sign reading “No bicycles beyond this point.”

Kitt Peak is a great ride. There is very little traffic on the well maintained road and the 8% grade offers a tougher workout than Mt. Lemmon. I did the ride about a year ago. I got to the top and rode my bike right to the visitor center, leaned it against a picnic table, and went in. I bought a drink, some snacks and perhaps a souvenir. Many people asked me about the climb.

This year I was “greeted” by the sign. I nervously leaned my bike against the fence, wondered what was up, took a drink of water, and headed down. I’m surprised that Kitt Peak would “greet” bicyclists with such a hostile sign rather than bike racks and a ramada. Did something happen that caused a nutty over reaction? In any event, it doesn’t reflect well on either Kitt Peak or the Tohono O’odham people on whose land the observatory sits.

According to Rich Fedele, Kitt Peak’s visitor center manager, safety concerns prompted the observatory to limit the access bicycles have to the area.

“It is a working observatory,” Fedele said. “There are safety concerns and issues, so we had everybody leave their vehicles including bikes at the visitor center entrance parking lot where the general public disembarks.”

Fedele said the observatory added bike racks to the parking lot for cyclists to lock their bike to if they brought a lock with them up the mountain.

The visitor center is located behind the fence and would require cyclists to leave their bikes unattended to use the restroom, get water or buy something from the visitor center.

Tucson cyclist Chris Florko said he has ridden to Kitt Peak several times and didn’t think the restriction would bother him.

“I don’t really ride up it to visit the telescopes, I ride up it to ride up it,” Florko said.

Florko did say it would be a challenge for people who did want to stop at the top.

Have you been up to Kitt Peak recently? What did you think of the limitations?

6 thoughts on “Kitt Peak Observatory limiting bike access at summit”
  1. So basically they're now treating bicycles the same as all other vehicles and not allowing them beyond the point where they have never allowed any other non-observatory vehicles. Yeah, as usual I'm betting that it was that small minority off two-wheeled assholes who swing their sense of entitlement around like some smelly dead cat who generated enough pedestrian complaints to screw it up for the rest of us. Just the same, I haven't been up there in several years, so this may have changed, but I remember additional public toilets alongside of the parking lot (just to your right when facing that gate) and more in the radio telescope picnic area just a little bit down the road, so one needn't even venture the whole 50ft into the “no bike zone” to the visitor's center to take care of that business at least.

  2. That sign was up back in June when I rode up there…. I walked the bike over to the visitor center, leaned it up near that pretty mural, and went into the visitor center, no problems at all. Yes, I'd wager that some clown was racing around on top and caused this sign to be posted, there's always someone. But, no fear, the ride up Kitt Peak is still there and a great one.

  3. Yes–there is planned a 400-bed (dorm)
    for the area that is now a parking lot to
    serve as a steady source of clientele for
    the bar. The developer has stated there
    will be bicycle provisions around the facility
    on the east side leading to the hawk at
    4th Ave. This will probably be an improvement
    because there is also a provision for a direct
    path from Toole (south) to Toole (north)
    using that pedestrian bridge and a fire
    lane to be created near the rail road tracks.
    It will allow some bike traffic to avoid the
    lousy intersection altogether. This is also
    why one side of the underpass has a larger
    walkway than the other.

  4. Hi Mike, I actually work up at Kitt Peak on the 2m and 4m telescopes from time to time. My guess is that observatory staff were concerned about cyclists zipping about on the winding roads without too much concern for traffic. There’s quite a lot of heavy equipment being lugged around up there. Presumably there was at least one incident that prompted the change. I guess it’s good bike racks were installed but sucks the ridazz would have to carry a lock up there. Unless they trust astronomers…

  5. “Unless they trust astronomers… ”

    Insert infamous “wildcat stuffed in a toolbox” story here.

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