For the second year in a row, national outdoor outfitter REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) has awarded Tucson’s Living Streets Alliance (LSA) an REI Stewardship grant for $5,000 towards the completion of an extension of the curb-separated protected bike lane on North Stone Avenue. This brings the total amount awarded by REI to LSA for this project to $10,000. Currently, the curb-separated protected bike lane extends from East Toole Avenue to East Alameda Street along North Stone Avenue. The extension would continue the same curb-separated configuration one block south from East Alameda Street to East Pennington Street. It is a City of Tucson Bicycle and Pedestrian Program project and is scheduled for completion in May of 2017.
As a non-profit advocacy organization focused on improving quality of life in the greater Tucson area through better access to safe, healthy, active transportation options, Living Streets Alliance occupies a unique position to win private funding for public projects through the REI Stewardship grant program.
Niall Murphy, Outdoor Programs and Outreach Market Coordinator at the REI Tucson store says, “REI is proud to award the Living Streets Alliance with their 2nd REI Grant. LSA continues to make our Tucson community a better place by improving the places that our customers love and by creating new ways for the community to recreate outdoors.”
People who work, live and commute to and in downtown Tucson are reacting positively to the news that the protected bike lane project will be extended. Chris Leighton, Project Manager for Peach Properties says, “The next big phase in downtown Tucson’s redevelopment is housing. This will place an even greater emphasis on the need to provide adequate infrastructure for all modes of transportation. We have already done a fairly good job with public transit, pedestrians and cars. Facilities for people on bikes downtown, however, still need improvement. The extension of the Stone Avenue separated bike lane is an important next step toward that goal. It will provide a safe, comfortable place for cyclists to ride and as we have already observed with the existing segment, the vehicular capacity on Stone Avenue has not been affected.”
Justine Hernandez, a librarian at the downtown Joel D. Valdez Main Library branch says, “I’m completely jazzed by the recent addition of the curb-protected bike lane along the downtown portion of North Stone Avenue. It’s encouraging to see the future of healthy streets so prominent when you enter downtown from the north. As a denizen of downtown, a motorist, and bike commuter, I’ve witnessed how crazy car traffic can get, particularly for motorists unfamiliar with downtown’s warren of one-way streets and can see how this presents a legitimate safety concern for bike-commuters having to share the lane with motorists. The addition of curb-protected bike lanes creates a safe, visible space for all levels of bicyclists to get out and get moving, and can help relieve the stress motorists feel when sharing a small strip of road with bicyclists. As a librarian who works at the Main branch of the public library, the curb-protected bike lanes represent a safe passage to the library for the many individuals and families living on the periphery of downtown who choose to pedal to their destinations–especially as free parking options becomes less and less available. Keep those protected lanes coming!”
The REI Stewardship grant focuses on improving access to outdoor recreation opportunities for everyone and environmental sustainability. Jerry Stritzke, President and CEO of REI writes, “Stewardship is how we think about the long-term health of the outdoors. It is closely linked with how many companies address sustainability. It demands constant progress because it means nurturing that which existed before us and striving to leave it better, long after we are gone.”
Sustainability and safety are on the minds of the school leadership at City High School, which is located on Pennington Street the end of the planned protected bike lane. Carrie Brennan, Executive Director of CITY Center for Collaborative Learning says, “My organization leads three small schools in and around downtown with 350 young people, ages 11-18, commuting in and out of downtown daily. We encourage sustainable transportation with our students and families, and want to make sure they are safe when choosing to bike to and from school. In addition, to high concentrations of the 50+ staff members who work at our schools are frequent or daily bike commuters. So for me, the new bike lane extension has a big impact in both my personal and professional realms. All in all, it is a good thing for Tucson as we continue to strive to be a leader in creating sustainable streets and a more sustainable city!”