Among the many strange things that I've done living in Phoenix is to ride my bike to work. It was actually a very tiny distance, from about Butler to just north of Dunlap, but it pretty much convinced my co-workers that they had a very strange person among them.
To me, however, it made perfect sense. As a fairly athletic man, a simple bike ride of about a half-mile was, literally, no sweat for me. I wore a shirt and tie at work, so I rolled my dress clothes up into a bag, and changed at the Fitness Center in the building where I worked, which was Corporate Center. You know, the building over by Fajitas.
As a kid from Minneapolis, Phoenix was absolute bicycle heaven to me. No hills! If you've ridden hills, you know what I mean. I spent my childhood bicycling around Minneapolis, and since it was mostly transportation, struggling up hills wasn't something I enjoyed. Phoenix is flat! And the weather! People who asked me if it wasn't ever too hot had obviously never been on a bicycle in the early morning in winter - cold was the only thing that stopped me. The heat felt great!
I was lucky. The building where I rode my bike to had a locker and showers. And I was able to lock my bike in an area that didn't tempt thieves. And what I remember the most is that at 5:00 I left my cubicle, went downstairs to change, and in ten minutes I was outside riding my bike. Sometimes I just went home, sometimes I just rode along the canal.
I only did this "commute" for about a year, and then our department moved into the main building in downtown Phoenix. And no, I never considered for an instant doing a ten-mile bike ride to work!
I am seeing more bicycles in downtown Phoenix nowadays, and instead of wondering how in the world the people do it, I just wonder why more people don't. Maybe it's the lack of a place to change, and shower, maybe it's a lack of safe places to lock bicycles. And maybe it's just that people don't think about it when they're designing buildings for people. Hopefully they will in the future!
Image at the top of this post: Bicycling on Central Avenue in 1908, Phoenix, Arizona. You're looking north towards Adams. Territorial Phoenix was very bicycle-friendly!
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