Thursday, October 7, 2010

Goldwater Pedestrian Underpass Adds Minutes to My Lifespan (in effect)

Before Picture, taken March 23, 2010 from the project inception post

Taken just before my first passage through it, October 6, 2010

I took some shaky video of my first passage, and considered adding the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey for a soundtrack to mark this momentous passage, but a simple before-and-after comparison seemed more proportionate to the subject. There's still some work going on around it, but I think today was the first day one could officially ride under Goldwater Blvd. This will save several minutes of bicycle commuting time each way, and also add safety, I think, particularly eastbound, since crossing eastbound on the north side of the canal is nearly blind due to a curve--to see if cars are at least one fahrnuff away to allow you to cross, you have to stick your tire out into the street to see around the curve (the one with my favorite giant rusted fish wall). Or from a drivers' point of view, they should have significantly fewer cyclists darting out in front of them and not making eye contact.

This may still be a work in progress. For example, the approach and path in the photograph just behind me is paved, but up ahead the canal is still gravel. Same thing on the other side of the road. Which works for me, I ride an adaptable cruisemuter bicycle that rides pretty well on any surface, including canal mud woo-hoo!, but I imagine in some plan somewhere there's a paved path along here that connects up with other underpasses, paved paths, and so on. 

OK, forget proportion, here's the video, JRA's First Epic Spelunking of Goldwater:

Which reminds me, I wanted to propose a little vision augmentation to the civic planners, based on what I saw down on the south end of the Indian Bend Wash path, near the Salt River, or as it currently is, the Tempe Town Mud Pan and Temporary Wading Bird Sanctuary. The combination of elements in the picture below is part of what would convince people to use these paths more often in the desert. This is a big, flat, hot city. Many typical useful bicycle journeys may be 20 miles or more. 

A combination of paths and streets connected in a logical way, with periodic stations with ALL of the elements below, is needed to encourage more people to take 20 mile+ rides on their bicycles, though. Without these, and more of them at places like the Goldwater Underpass, we will never see much usage of the paths by significant percentages of people who don't use them already, like me, because they will not see it as possible to ride 20 miles without a water, rest, and shade stop in Phoenix when it's 110F. I mention this because if the underpass and canal bank paths that connect with it are still a work on progress, we'll need a few additional elements to make them useful for more people, to realize more of the potential of that work. 

Shade structure, watering station and rest stop on the Indian Bend Wash in Scottsdale: MORE PLEASE

These elements are key. Others should be added based on location (nearby transit info, for example)

  • Shade
  • Benches
  • Water
  • Bike racks (key+ if there are hiking paths nearby, too)
  • Good viewing area with native flora/fauna
  • Informative Signage
These are key elements. The only one I could come up with that's missing is maps or other signage indicating distances and other information about where this is, and where you can go from here, in addition to the nice signs above about what plants you're looking at. You can ride from here to the Scottsdale Civic Center, downtown Phoenix, downtown Tempe, or a sculpture of giant aluminum horses that at least appear to be capable of spouting water during flood times, all on designated bike paths or lanes, but how many people would know that, standing here? Sure, most of us have devices that tell us how to get places, but first we have to know what the possibilities are.

In closing: thank you, Goldwater Underpass tunneling boffins for your excellent constructing here, which will benefit mammal-powered locomotion of all sorts, as well as automobile drivers who should face a less fretful passage through this zone as people adapt the underpass. Get up. Go ride. 

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