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postheadericon The Eight (8) Best Ways to Cross Tucson

I’ve been asked multiple times about how best to get across Tucson. I’ve been meaning to write a piece about it and it looks like I am finally getting around to doing so.

 

The first things we have to do is establish what we mean by “best.” For the purposes of this article here are the criteria (in no particular order) I will be using to decide what “best” means when it comes to roadways in Tucson.

  1. Road Quality – A road where you have to dodge potholes or that is so rough you have to hang on with a death grip will not make the list.
  2. Length – There are some very nice road that only run for a couple of miles. For this article, roads considered must cross a significant portion of the city. As you will see, it is okay for the road to merge with another and change names, as long as it continues in the same direction.
  3. Amount of traffic – a good quality road that has extremely heavy traffic is going to be less safe, especially as far as scooters are concerned.
  4. Intersections – I checked some some Pima County and City of Tucson sources which listed the most dangerous intersections in the city based on numbers of cars and numbers of accidents. This was factored into my choices. The ideal route will not pass through any of the most dangerous interstions.
  5. Personal Opinion – After riding around most of the city for the past 4 and a half years, I have my own opinions on which roads are good or bad for scooters and their riders. Feel free to add a comments and vote for your favorite.
  6. Construction – I realize that construction comes and goes. For this piece, I considered major construction work that will continue for months. This article will, therefor, be accurate only until another major construction project comes along and either spoils one of the “best” roads, or converts one of the bad ones into a “best” one. Maybe I’ll review this and update it every year or so.

 

One thing I DID NOT take into consideration is scenery. I plan on writing a piece in the near future about Tucson’s most scenic rides. Stay tuned for that. I also plan on adding a “Worst Roads” piece soon as well.

I had originally planned on calling this the “10 Best Roads,” however, after doing a little bit of research and applying my criteria, only eight roads made the cut. I have chosen four roads running north/south and four running east/west. I will finish with a couple of honorable mentions.

 

NORTH/SOUTH

Silverbell/Mission – I am aware that these are separate roads and that have to travel about 3 blocks on Congress to fuse them together, but, hey, I claim writers’ prerogative. This is the only road on our list on the west side of I-10. Combined, Silverbell/Mission runs more than 20 miles, from Twin Peaks Road, in Continental Ranch, to Valencia where the road leaves Tucson and enters the reservation. With the exception of about 4 miles, from Ina to Camino del Carro, road quality is pretty good. Traffic can be heavy around St Mary’s at times. There are some “speed tables” and a couple of small traffic circles on Mission between Congress and 22nd St. as well. Silverbell/Mission also gets special dispensation because it’s really the only road that runs for any significant distance on the far west side. We have used this route on a number of different club rides. There are a fewer than average number of stoplights as well.

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Stone/6th Ave/Nogales Highway – Stone is one of the few streets that pass all the way through downtown and are 2-way. On the down side, Stone will only get you as far north as River Rd, however, it makes it up on the south side where it merges with 6th Ave at 5-points. Further south it becomes Old Nogales Highway and will take you as far as Green Valley. Yes, traffic will be heavy as you pass through downtown, but I have found it to less congested than some of the other downtown streets. Road quality is pretty good along most of the way.

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Craycroft – 5.5 miles to the east is Craycroft. Most of the streets between Stone and Craycroft suffer from congestion, construction of roughness. On the north end, Craycroft actually goes up into the foothills then does a big U-turn near Ventana Canyon Resort and comes back down as Kolb Rd. On the south end, it goes into the main gate of Davis-Monthan AFB. Immediately after Golf Links Rd. Road quality is good to very good along most of this road, with the exception of the short section just north of Sunrise which is just fair.

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Harrison – The eastern most road on my list is Harrison. The southern section of Harrison (It stops at Wrightstown then resumes again at Catalina Highway and runs north for 2 miles to Snyder.) is only 5.5 miles long, but crosses the east side from Wrightstown to Irvington. Road quality is good and, because it doesn’t run all the through, traffic is much less than Houghton, which also has poorer quality.

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EAST/WEST

Irvington – The southernmost road on this list is Irvington. Truth be told, I almost forgot about this road. Irvington runs for more than 15 miles across the southern part of the city and that is minus the 3 miles that are occupied by Davis-Monthan. The western section runs more than 11 miles between Sunset Blvd and Swan. Road quality is good and except for the section immediately around I-19, traffic isn’t too bad. The 4 mile long eastern section only has fair road quality, but is an excellent alternative route between Kolb and Houghton.

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Glenn – We have to go almost 6 miles north before we come to the next road on our list. I think Glenn is my favorite way to cross town east to west. It runs almost 8 miles from Sahuara Ave, east of Craycroft, to Flowing Wells, which is right at I-10. Glenn has a 35 mph speed limit, which keeps those people in a big hurry off of it. There are also as many 4-way stops as there are stoplights. It is my opinion that 4-way stops are considerably safer for those of us on 2 wheels. Road quality is good and traffic is generally light.

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El Camino del Cerro/Ruthrauff/Wetmore – I know, another one of those combination streets. Well, Ruthrauff and Camino de Cerro are the same road, but separated by I-10. Thanks to some creative roadwork, Ruthrauff and Wetmore merge at Romero and Wetmore continues all the way to 1st Ave. Other than the intersection with Oracle,which gets congested at rush hours, I have found this to be a pretty decent road to travel. Road quality just east of I-10 is only fair, but otherwise it’s pretty good.

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Orange Grove – If you have to travel east/west a little further north, I recommend Orange Grove over Ina. Orange Grove runs almost 7 miles from I-10 to Skyline. I was tempted to add Skyline and Sunrise as part of this but traffic is just too heavy to give that part “best” status. Road quality is good and traffic is moderate. Except around La Cholla and Northwest Medical Center at change of shift times.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

North/South – The Park/Euclid/1st Ave combo runs almost 15 miles across mid-town. The southern terminus is at Valencia and the northern end is at Ina. It doesn’t make “best” status because road quality between Broadway and Speedway is abysmal. Also, the intersection with Grant can be difficult. Road quality from River to Ina is very good, but it has a 45mph speed limit and is uphill, so this can be a little dicey for small displacement scooters to stay with traffic.

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East/West – It is probably because I ride it almost everyday or because it is where Scoot Over can be found, but I really like Broadway. It is very wide and has that wonderful bus lane and bus pullouts that keep traffic from suddenly jumping in your lane to get away from a slowing bus. Other than the section from Camino Seco to Houghton, road quality is good. Of the “Big Three (Speedway, Broadway and 22nd St) Broadway is probably the safest. It does, however, have one of the most dangerous intersections, which is at Wilmot. I recommend avoiding it if you can.

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I will follow this entry with one about the “Worst Roads in Tucson” soon. Do you have a road youy think should have made this list, please make a comment.

 

Safe Riding Everyone

 

Howard

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