The city of Bisbee is a rural town located in southeastern Arizona in the Mule Mountains four miles north of the international border of the US and Mexico. The town consists of 3 districts and 10 neighborhoods that are disconnected by geologic features and linked solely by State and County Highways. Most traffic speeds on these highways range from 45 to 65 mph, making it extremely treacherous for the 5,209 citizens of Bisbee as well as the 200,000+ tourists who annually visit the town to travel any other way but by vehicle.
The above photo is a typical sight along the Lavender Pit on State Route 80. This is a 1.25-mile section that connects Historic Old Bisbee (the location of the Arts and Cultural District) to the Historic Lowell District. This photo shows a cyclist wedged between a concrete wall on the mountainside of SR80 and a large pick-up truck. There is no margin for error.
Over the past 10 years, there have been numerous reports of serious cycling accidents along the Lavender Pit. On June 14th, 2021, local author and cyclist Sergio Lalii was killed by a hit and run driver along this segment of highway. Many other stories include serious injury, in 2014, a cyclist riding south on SR80 fractured her pelvis when she tried to avoid debris in the road and crashed due to the lack of shoulder room in her attempt to avoid the lane of traffic. In our research, we discovered many, many more stories like this.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. 19.6% of the population is under 18 (Census), 21.7 % of families are single parent (AZDHS), and 26.1% of children under 12 live in poverty (AZDHS). These vulnerable youth populations do not feel safe biking to school or around town, contributing to a diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses, child and adult obesity, Vitamin D deficiency, and other maladies (Louv). The number 1 cause of mortality among adults 45 and higher in Bisbee in 2018 was Chronic ischaemic heart disease (AZDHS). Research shows that this condition is preventable through exercise (NIH), and that safe multimodal infrastructure increases biking/walking/ running (Preventative Medicine). Also, an alternative transporation network will address many recommendations in the Bisbee General Plan and Transportation Plan including: economic development from eco-tourism and Mexico; "reduction of automobile use/ air pollution"; "provide bike and pedestrian trail connectivity"; "linkages to neighborhoods, parks, schools, public facilities and community services".
Our vision is to create a safe network of shared-use pathways that supports multiple recreation and transportation opportunities, such as walking, bicycling, inline skating and people in wheelchairs.
The envisioned shared-use pathways will safely connect all the residents of the Bisbee area, including Naco, to necessary resources and recreation, while increasing the overall health of the community, and lessening its carbon footprint.
On July 8th, 2021, the Bisbee City Council voted to move forward to get funding for Option B (shown above) of the Lavender Pit shared use path. This is a huge step for Bisbee, and the culmination of 2.5 years of advocacy work by the Bisbee Bikeways team.
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