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Copyright 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

Ah, Tucson! Ah, Pima County! What a Breath of Stale Air!

Jesus, this burg.

Back in November we picked up a flyer at a local bicyclist hangout.  It announced the imminent construction of a bicycle trailhead in our neighborhood, right beside Catalina Highway, a route to and from Mount Lemmon popular with local bicyclists. The trailhead was to be a memorial to Brad Gorman, a bicyclist killed by a driver along the same route a few years ago.

Project organizers were seeking subscribers to the tune of $50 each.  The payback for subscribers, besides the pride of being part of a worthwhile project, would be having their names engraved on paving bricks laid down on a portion of the trailhead.

Click for more information (PDF file)

Click for more information (PDF file)

According to the flyer (click on the illustration to see it), the project was in the final phase of design and had the blessing of both Pima County and the Regional Transportation Authority.  It also, we heard, had the support of several prominent Tucson citizens.

We bought two subscriptions, going in with friends from the two bicycling groups we belong to.

Then, on the 28th of December, we received a forwarded message:

Ray Carroll has scheduled a meeting to obtain public input on the Brad Gorman Memorial Bike Trailhead project on Catalina Highway. Below is a letter Ray sent to a local resident.

Recently you have been in communication with my office to voice your concerns regarding the Brad Gorman Memorial Bike Trailhead project.  I have noted all of your concerns, and I assure you that I take them very seriously. Based on your input and the comments from other residents in the area, I have requested that our Transportation Department put a hold on this project until a public meeting with concerned citizens could be organized. The fact that you were not notified regarding this project has been a cause for much consternation, and frankly, should never have happened.

The purpose of this email is to inform you of the public meeting I have scheduled to discuss this project and address the many concerns that have been raised. I have asked that Pima County staff be present with me to answer your questions and address your issues, and I hope that you can attend. I have also asked county staff to notify by mail the surrounding residents, so that any interested party could participate in the decision making process regarding this trailhead.

The details of the meeting are as follows:

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010
6 pm
Kirk Bear Canyon Library
8959 E. Tanque Verde Rd

I look forward to seeing you then.

Sincerely,
Ray Carroll
District 4

We were going to be there with bells on, of course.  But on the 4th of January, we got another forwarded message:

The Honorable Ray Carroll, District 4, Pima County Board of Supervisors and the Pima County Department of Transportation have heard from several neighbors regarding the Memorial Trailhead Concept on Catlina Highway between Camino Miramonte and Spruce Lane. We apologize that this concept appeared to the public in the Arizona Daily Star prior to obtaining public input. Please be advised that this site is no longer being considered for this project. Therefore there will be no public meeting on January 13, 2010.

The Department of Transportation is reviewing a new alternative location for the Memorial Trailhead. We will be obtaining public input in the future once a feasible location has been selected.

If you have questions, please contact Anabelle Quihuis at 520-740-6410 or email anabelle.quihuis@dot.pima.gov.

First of all, I think it’s highly unlikely the trailhead memorial organizers screwed up.  Clearly, they’d gone to the proper agencies and put in the required plans and paperwork.  If anyone screwed up, if anyone really did fail to notify neighborhood residents (which I rather doubt), it is the Pima County Department of Transportation.

The first message from Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll is simply an exercise in ass-covering.  The second message is just plain cowardly.  Why, people might raise their voices at a meeting!  Things might get unpleasant!  Better to just cancel the whole thing.

Yeah, I just bet DOT is “reviewing a new alternative location.”  And I think we all know what you mean by “the future” . . . that would be “never,” right, Mr. Carroll?

A local lawyer who represents bicyclists injured by careless drivers has been blogging the whole sordid affair.  Reader comments on his blog reveal the true nature of opposition to the planned trailhead.  From the Tucson Bike Lawyer blog:

BOB Says:
December 12th, 2009 at 10:14 pm

CLEAR PRISTINE DESERT FOR A PARKING LOT ? WHO’S GOING TO PATROL AT NIGHT PEOPLE SLEEPING THERE THEIR TRASH MOTION ACTIVATED LIGHTS CRIME PATROLLED COMING DOWN THE MOUNTAIN HOW COME HOMEOWNERS AND LANDOWNERS NOT NOTIFIED ARTICLE IS IDIOTIC THERES LIT SHOPPING CENTERS 3 MILES AWAY FOOD RESTROOMS ETC. tHE STATE HAS CLOSED REST AREAS AND WERE OPENING UP A NEW ONE

Marie Says:
December 20th, 2009 at 8:25 am

I totally agree Bob! Catalina highway is NOT A NATIONAL PARK, it’s a 50 MPH highway with much more vehicle than bike traffic. This is a very dangerous undertaking, especially since the beginning of the so-called “trailhead” (where’s the trail?) placement for bicyclists will be on the west side of the highway, not the east, and the bicylists will have to cross traffic to get to it going north on Catalina Hwy! Sadly, no courtesy was extended the homeowners as near as 50 feet away from this project; I am, however, not surprised. We have a quiet neighborhood, especially in the evening, and want to keep it that way. Constructing this rest/picnic facility (not trailhead!) in this location open 24 hours a day is absolutely absurd!

Scott Says:
December 21st, 2009 at 11:42 am

There’s no NIMBY quite as whiney as a Tucson NIMBY.

“Now that I’ve ‘clear(ed) pristine desert’ for *MY* house, all you riff-raff need to STAY AWAY!”

So how is a safe clean facility off the road with security lights that is patrolled and maintained somehow worse than people just parking all over the side of the road like they do now?

Taxpayer Says:
December 21st, 2009 at 5:45 pm

Safe? Clean? Patrolled? Maintained? GET REAL!
How is it a good idea to spend $100,00.00 of taxpayers money to build a bike rest area when we are closing other rest areas due to budget cuts? We are also laying off police/firemen (And you think they will patrol it all night, every night)? Do you seriously think that this is going to make riding a bike on Catalina Hwy safer, when it will hold only 14 parking spaces and vehicles travel well over the 50mph speed limit? Where will the overflow park: On the Hwy and obstruct vision to the area residents (now you are putting more people in danger. Who is going to maintain/repair it, empty the trash and clean up the place? Answer: Volunteers…Ya, right! Where will the people go to the bathroom, and will the volunteers clean that up too? Another brilliant idea by our government officials to waste more money!

Scott Says:
December 22nd, 2009 at 11:33 am

You’re worried about overflow parking, safety, cleanliness? That’s just it – people who ride in the Catalina National Forest are parking along the road there now, this just gives them a safe place to park and unload bikes off the road. I agree this is probably a whole lot fancier and expensive than it needs to be – all that’s really needed to accomplish the safety objective is a parking lot off the road, it doesn’t even really need to be paved. But I have no doubt that the surrounding NIMBYs would whine even louder about a public use facility that’s actually UGLY.

You’re not fooling anybody NIMBY; your one and only concern here is what it might do to your property values to have a public mini-park within sight of your foothills property.

Taxpayer Says:
December 23rd, 2009 at 8:45 am

I will not stoop to your level in name calling.
This is about safety and unecessary spending of taxpayers money. People do NOT currently park on the side of the highway, they park 2.5 miles down the road in a parking lot. This is NOT a trailhead, it is a PARKING LOT/REST AREA in a neighborhood. It is dangerous for EVERYONE if it is built just a few feet off of a highway that has a posted speed limit of 50 mph. You are obviously not thinking this through, which does not surprise me.
END OF STORY!

Scott Says:
December 24th, 2009 at 7:54 am

Yeah, it’s dangerous to your sense of elitism that they should park safely within sight of your foothills home instead of unsafely along that “highway” down a bit where you don’t have to see them. Anyone who’s ever taken that road knows exactly where they park now because they’ve seen the cars lined up on the shoulder. It’s pretty obvious what this is really about for you. Funny how the only ones who claim that this lot is somehow less safe that the current shoulder-parking status quo are the folks who own property adjacent to it.

Yeah, it’s NIMBY (not in my back yard).  But it’s also “I’ve got mine, Jack,” mixed with roads-are-for-cars-so-get-out-of-my-way resentment.  Tucson has a bit of a rep for that sort of thing.

The good news is I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this.  NIMBY neighbors may have succeeded in gumming up the works, but there are influential people behind the trailhead project, too, and many of them live in the same neighborhood.

One influential supporter, I’m told, is Jim Click, a prominent local auto dealer with many friends in city and county government.  Lance Armstrong (though I don’t know whether he’s one of us or not) was training on this very road just a couple of weeks ago.  Tucson itself has a reputation to defend as a bicycle-friendly community.  Finally, the bicyclists behind the trailhead project are prominent citizens themselves: doctors, lawyers, orthodontists, business owners.  Of all the spandex- and jersey-clad yuppie poseurs riding up and down Catalina Highway each day, Donna and I probably represent the bottom end of this two-wheeled demographic.  Riff-raff, forsooth.

Yeah, there’s more to come, no doubt about it.

In the meantime . . . I don’t know if any of you local bicyclists read this blog, but if you do and if you want to see the trailhead built, you may want to let Ray Carroll know what you think of him caving to the NIMBYs and canceling the project. Here’s his contact information:

Pima County Board of Supervisors
Office of Ray Carroll
District 4
130 W. Congress
Tucson, AZ 85701
phone: 520-740-8478
fax: 520-740-2721
e-mail: cherry.rosenberg@pima.gov
http://www.pima.gov/bos/rcarroll/index.html

© 2010, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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