In my neck of the woods, there's a canal that runs pretty much across the greater Phoenix area. The canal has some various uses, and has been constructed, and reconstructed many times throughout the year. Lately, one of the additions they've been making to the canal is completing some sort of paved path that goes through the entire canal! Sometimes it is a sidewalk, other times it is asphalt. It's actually pretty nice.
One of the cool features of this pathway is that it is built to be uninterrupted, meaning they built tunnels to go under almost every street. This means that for bike riding purposes, you hardly ever have to stop! Pretty great concept. Is there a downside? Well, when they constructed the tunnels, for some reason the sidewalks that are going through those tunnels are not so smooth, and pretty narrow. Probably still better than having to stop at an intersection for a red light though.
So how long is this pathway? Well, I ended up taking it for a 49 mile round trip. It could have been even longer, but I needed to get home, so I cut the return portion of the ride short by a little bit. Here's a little map of what I did...
|The only portion missing is in the upper left-hand corner, which would lead you to my house...|
During all of those miles (once I was in the canal at least) there was only three roads that I had to cross, and they were small, not very busy roads. Pretty safe ride for those riders, or even runners, that are concerned about being demolished by those crazy drivers doing their makeup, or texting, or talking on their phones, or changing the radio station, or just not paying attention. And even better news: there is currently construction to build a tunnel under one of the roads that I had to cross over! So even less of a risk!
The jury is still out on whether or not I'm going to ride in the canal often. My initial thought was, heck yeah! But after riding it a second time, it wasn't as glorious. Even though I didn't have to stop at all the streets, it is kind of hard to get into a rhythm because I had to slow down and come out of my aerobars every time I went through a tunnel. I have a 37 mile loop that I created out by my house that I like a little bit better than the canal. Right now, I think I'll use the canal if I need to get in a long ride on a weekday morning, or when there might be a lot of traffic. Other than that, I'll probably stick to the real roads. And really, I have a long-term disability insurance policy anyway, so what's the big worry about being pummeled by a car?