Why Flagstaff is a Biker's Paradise

Bill Morrow
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Cycling as a sport and a mode of transportation is growing nationwide. Flagstaff has always boasted a robust cycling community, and it's only getting better, as cycling takes off all around the country. According to the League of American Bicyclists, Flagstaff currently ranks as a silver-level bike-friendly community.

The League of American Bicyclists' online profile says Flagstaff, “has all the right characteristics to allow cycling to thrive: a compact urban form, an extensive open space and public lands, fantastic scenery, and a young, healthy, environmentally and socially-aware populace.” That sentiment is obvious in the ever-expanding bike infrastructure and group advocacy of the city. (Check here for the complete League of American Bicyclists profile).

Jessica Martin

Biking is a common way to get around the city, and through a combination of multi-use trails, bike lanes and simple sharrows, it's possible to get all the way from one side of Flagstaff to another in well under an hour. Often a quick bike ride, especially downtown on a Friday night, takes less time than driving. Local businesses encourage this trend; bike parking is ample near all of the most popular shopping spots, and businesses such as Historic Brewery sometimes offer discounts to cycling customers. There are places where bike paths suddenly cross roads, or dwindle into a narrow shoulder without warning, but over time these will be fixed with the continuing help of Flagstaff's cycling community.

Flagstaff is a biker's paradise in the summer: big enough to have an active advocacy group, the Flagstaff Biking Organization, and small enough that it's easy to get everywhere on two wheels. Cyclists flock to the mountain in the hot Arizona summer for high-altitude training. At 6500-7000 feet, such training can be exhausting for those not used to being up so high, but gorgeous forest vistas, alpine lakes and cool mountain breezes help the miles fly by. Even in the winter, cyclists can be seen strapping on their fenders and studded tires to brave the wind and snow, commuting to work no matter the weather.

Jessica Martin

Bike to Work Week is the culmination of this bike-friendly culture, a proud annual tradition usually held in the second half of May. It's a week-long celebration of bike-friendly culture, sponsored by the Flagstaff Biking Organization, which promotes bicycles and the outdoors, as well as encouraging more and more people to commute by bicycle.

But it doesn't stop there: Flagstaff's biking advocacy goes strong throughout the year with trail days and projects going year round. Most recently, the FBO spearheaded the community to vote for Flagstaff in a Bell-helmet-sponsored contest. They successfully spread the word and residents made their voices heard, earning Flagstaff a brand-new bike park. The FBO says, “the park will be free, open to the public, and available for competitive events and skills clinics.” It will join the dozens of trails and road routes around Flagstaff for even more biking fun. Work starts in summer of 2014.

Jessica Martin

Local shops get in on the advocacy action, too. Absolute Bikes hosts lots of yearly charity events, from century road rides to mountain bike races, and funds several community initiatives. As they say, “We live and ride where we work, and we want our home to be a great place.” Flag Bike Revolution offers espresso to go with bike demos, group rides, sponsored trail days and more, all with a counter-culture feel. Bike shops tend to be more than just stores in Flagstaff; such a small city can support a tight-knit community with tons of local involvement, and the local shops are no exception.

Flagstaff is a little-known (for now) gem of a biking destination, nestled in the beautiful, high-altitude forest. Come see what avid Arizona cyclists have known for years – Flagstaff is the place to bike for every type of cyclist and skill level.

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