The Luis G. Gutierrez Bridge, which connects the east and west sides of downtown Tucson via Cushing Street, is complete and crosses the Santa Cruz River Path.

When bicycle advocates looked at the plans they noted an opportunity to provide a connection between the bridge and the river path for bicyclists and walkers.

A disagreement over the land needed for the path prevented it from happening and would have delayed the project.

Instead, the plans called for stairs with a bike channel, which you can see in the photo above.

The idea is that you put your bike wheels into the channel and then you can easily walk the bike up or down the stairs.

It’s likely that a path will eventually be added to connect the two, but until then, cyclists can use the channel in the interim.

It does not work for people in wheelchairs and seems like it could be an American with Disabilities Act issue.

Have you tried this out? Where else would something like this be useful?

22 thoughts on “Photo: Bike channel at Cushing Street bridge makes stairs a snap”
  1. Hmm, looks tough for a fixed gear but I’ll have to give it a try. The main reason I’d be using path to bridge would be taking a trailer to the Thursday market at the the Mercado San Augustin, the channel ain’t gonna help me with that. Why they don’t just make those temporary connections from the construction permanent now is beyond me.

  2. So how would this work with a CETMA or wide panniers or a child trailer or a 3 wheeler or a recumbent? Pseudo infrastructure. Here’s my question, name a piece of automobile infrastructure with a similar limited functionality.

  3. These channels could have been improved by running them down the middle of the stairs like the Michigan Street crossing at I-19, allowing you to stand on either side of your bike as you push and to not scrape your bike on the wall. They are better than nothing, though.

  4. There are wide pillars blocking the ends of the grooves that interfere with panniers. Also I am only comfortable walking with my bike on the right and the groove is only on one side of the steps.

  5. I wouldn’t have a chance of getting my 60 pound trike up that. In the end tho, that really is the bridge to nowhere. The original bridge to nowhere connected a town to its airport on an island. This isn’t even that beneficial.

  6. I disagree that the bridge isn’t useful for a bicyclist. It’s probably one of the best connections for east-west routes.
    If I was trying to get in or out of downtown, I’d take that bridge as opposed to the Broadway underpass which has a lot more traffic and broken infrastructure.

  7. Yes. Implementation of this idea would have been ‘platinum’.
    Many stairways have a central division, usually a handrail.
    Most people do walk on the left side of their bike. So this piece of (infrastructure) was not designed by cyclists or vetted very forcefully by advocates. We’ve become to used to ‘better than nothing’.

  8. Let’s pour a concrete ramp in the middle of the night. Bikes get the shaft again in this ‘bicycle friendly’ town…

  9. You’ve got that right, zeez!

    FORCEFUL advocacy is what’s missing from the local equation. Y’know, the kind that paints guerrilla bike lanes in the middle of the night. Or shows up on bikes for noisy protests.

  10. Not only is the lack of bike ramp an issue, but the fact that cars will be allowed on the bridge and hence bikes relegated to the sidewalk (walking) with pedestrians is also suboptimal. my understanding was that at first the plan was that the bridge would only be for peds and the streetcar and bikes, and that bikes would share the roadbed with the streetcar. but then things changed. is this innaccurate? Or were bikes always intended to have to be pushed across? It seems like every single streetcar-related piece of infrastructure, from this bridge to 4th ave to the Toole/Congress mess have all been executed with bicycles only as a reluctant afterthought. Very frustrating.

  11. The plans call for bike lanes on the bridge in each direction. I haven’t heard of a deviation from that.

  12. Ask the Barbara Jordan question, from where to where?

    I agree it’s a nice alternative to being in traffic under the freeway but on the downtown side of things there isn’t an easy route to Cushing St. I do like how I can get south on Mission from the bridge or to A Mountain but really none of the connections really work all that well. More than anything this bridge underscores the barrier that I-10 represents to the widest category of bicyclists. Confident riders are already well served with east west river crossings. Until we can expand ridership in Tucson we’re not going to get to platinum and we’re also not going to get the attention and infrastructure that transportation bicycling deserves

  13. And then there’s Chicago, which just opened up a big urban bikeway. Which Mr. Tough Guy Mayor himself, Rahm Emmanuel, brags about.

    If chilly Chicago can get this sort of thing right, why can’t bicycle-friendly Tucson?

  14. I used it once. On the way down I found it easier to ride my bike straight down the stairs than to dismount and use the groove thing. In the future I’ll cross at one of the street crossings because lugging my bike up the stairs, navigating the pillars, and then dealing with the stairs on the way down was pointless. I’d almost rather trudge through the sand at the Simpson Street “crossing.”

    This bridge is Exhibit A for a city that wants to have Platinum bike-friendly status, but doesn’t want to earn Platinum bike-friendly status.

  15. What Erik said.

    You need the will to win. You also need the will to PREPARE to win.

    Can’t have one without the other.

  16. That’s the pattern, Steev. They say great things initially to get support, then chip away at the facilities giving lame-butt reasoning. We’re too easy to say ‘no’ to. Yet they allow factions to over-run the 4th Ave. underpass by 50 per cent.
    btw…I heard or read the city’s self-insurance budget/fund is 200 million in deficit!! YOWZA

  17. We’re too easy to say no to because we’re too nice! I mean, come on. Say what you want about groups like ACT UP! but look at all they accomplished. And, you guessed it, they weren’t always very nice.

  18. It is calmer than Congress, Mike, but it’s overpriced and not really on the way to anywhere since A Mountain is directly West of it. A bridge north of Congress would be useful for someone needing to get to Pima College. We need dedicated bike/ped crossings over the freeway and the river spaced no more than a mile apart if anyone ever wants to claim we’re serious about bike commuting. Three or four bridges over the Pantano would also be useful.

  19. It’s just a set of stairs that you have to walk down to be able to get on a huge multi-use path system that is great to use. Seriously, who cares? Why are cyclists such complainers. I don’t own a car, I ride my bicycle everywhere and for everything and can not believe what babbling, complaining BABIES most cyclists are. STOP COMPLAINING.

  20. Nate, I think the reason folks are complaining is that bridge cost 14.98 million dollars to design and construct. You would hope that somewhere in a budget that large there would have been funds to hire someone smart enough to figure out that bicycle access to the path could be incorporated into the project rather than added as an afterthought when a sub committee of the BAC figured out there was no access planned.

    Regarding your argument, “what babbling, complaining BABIES most cyclists are” I guess I’d like to point out that it isn’t an argument, it’s a logical fallacy. I do agree that the multi use path is great to use.

  21. We’re complaining, Nate, because we don’t have a significant seat at the table about things that directly affect us. The city tries to shortchange our interests to its own credit and we call them on it. I ride along those tracks every day and there is nothing of the project for bikes. Maybe some paint later. We don’t want it to be, “See, it’s not so bad.” later because it’s never going to be acceptable. The city has to actually do something workable, earn it, like was mentioned above. Hey, it gets accolades for the loop.

    It may seem like whining when compared to places that have essentially nothing and there are days when I vow to just shut up and ride my bike. The appropriateness of cycling here really warrants more than the slow and intermittent progress it receives and we don’t want it to stop while it’s still beginning.

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