I was recently introduced to the 2012 Centennial Edition of the Bicycle Map and Phoenix Historic Neighborhoods (PDF).
It was created under the guidance of Joseph Perez, the city of Phoenix Traffic Safety & Bicycle Coordinator (May 31, 2012 video), so I had high hopes for what Joe might bring to the mix.
I’m hoping people using the map will see the close proximity of the historic districts, bike trails, canal paths, and light rail stops, and think, ‘I should move here. It’s so close to everything,’ Perez told me when I asked him about it.
As it turns out, I live in the Campus Vista historic district and own a bike, so I felt endowed with certain unalienable rights to… put this map to the test. Campus Vista is one of the 35 historic districts profiled, colored, numbered for easy recognition in this unique little fold up map. My neighborhood (light blue, #4):
Campus Vista. The opening of a new campus for Phoenix College in 1939, just outside city limits, created a demand for nearby housing. Bordering on the eastern and northern campus, the homes in this district represent a heterogeneous collection of mid-20th century domestic architectural styles.
Eager to start my journey, I head east on Thomas until I reached the yellow dots at 5th ave and head south. This dedicated bike lane takes me through a dark orange neighborhood, one of my favorite places to buy and sell homes, and one of the most popular historic areas to walk, drive, or bike through: the Willo District.
Showcasing a wide variety of home styles including Tudor, Spanish Revival, Bungalow and Ranch, Willo is one of the largest historic neighborhoods, with majority of construction having taken place during the 1920’s-1930’s. Significant architectural changes in Willo can be marked in the neighborhood starting with the earliest development near McDowell, and progressing north toward Thomas.
As I leave Willo, I cross south at McDowell and enter the Roosevelt District,
The first Phoenix neighborhood to be designated a historic district… A typical “Streetcar” neighborhood, its narrow and deep lots often showcase both California and Craftsman Bunaglow.
It’s a wonderful ride and I slow my pace even though it’s over 105 degrees out. (One has to have priorities, you know.) A bit later, I follow the dedicated bike path over the I-10 freeway, then stop as I’m struck by the proximity of the majestic Kenilworth Public School building (and not just because I see my name is in it).
View Phoenix Historic Districts in a larger map
I’ve reached Fillmore. The map shows my path as orange dots, a “Bike Boulevard” that leads east through central Phoenix to 7th street and the Garfield Historic District–- “modest bungalows, Period Revival homes, turn-of-the-century structures and a concentration of Pyramid cottages.”
A bike boulevard is designated visually on the road by ‘sharrows’, two white parallel arrows over a large white bicycle that make it obvious the road is to be shared with bicyclists. This summer, the Bike Boulevard (begun in a public meeting in 2010) will be completed when it reaches the Grand Canal Trail at 33rd street, leading bicyclists from there into Tempe. (Read the full story here.)
SRP has plans to install a pedestrian bridge this year,” said Perez. “To help connect the boulevard to the Grand Canal Path immediately east of Indian Trail but seperate because of an irrigation ditch.” [update: the bridge is now complete at Garfield & indian Trail!]
If you’re a bit skittish about sharing the road with cars, like I am, you might reconsider when you read Taz Looman’s Blooming Rock post, “Why I Converted from a Sidewalk Cyclist to a Street Cyclist”.
Well…Bike Boulevard and the land of Garfield awaits…I’m off!