Cycling in Flagstaff
By Christian Booz
“Flagstaff is 100 percent a cycling town,” says Ellson Miles, the owner of Bici-Mundo in southern Flagstaff. Looking at the statistics, it is easy to see where Miles is coming. According to the Census Bureau, many Flagstaff residents cite a bicycle as their main mode of transportation, and the reasons for this thriving cycling culture are endless.
Due to Flagstaff’s progressive measures towards cycling infrastructure, the city has earned a silver status as a “bicycle friendly community” from the League of American Bicyclists. Being a relatively small town, the longest of rides usually takes no more than twenty minutes to complete. The close proximity to the mountains also encourages “alternative lifestyles,” similar to places like Boulder, Co. and Portland, Or. Having a university in town also helps to promote cycling transportation, because Northern Arizona University (NAU) offers several bicycle clubs and activities.
Cycling culture is a catalyst for living a sustainable life. An MIT study conducted by Shreya Dave found the carbon footprint of an ordinary Sedan is more than 10 times greater than a conventional bicycle on a mile-for-mile basis.
“The bike can change people’s minds and get them thinking about environmental issues,” says CJ Constantopoulos, part owner of Flagstaff Bike Revolution. Many people in the cycling community believe the bicycle can be the mascot for a change toward green living.
“By shifting the paradigm from cars and fossil fuels toward bikes, we can solve just about every problem facing our nation,” says NAU alumni and bicycle enthusiast Taylor Mahoney; these problems include pollution, noise, obesity, depression, fossil fuel dependence, conflicts over resources and the lack of a community.
Not only are the environment and economy benefiting from bicycle transportation, but many cyclists believe biking can create a friendlier community by strengthening local businesses and relationships.
“Bikes are the social machine”, says Josh Lipton, president of the Bike Shop Hub. The Bike Shop Hub is just one of the many bike shops that help build the cornerstone of cycling culture in Flagstaff.
Taylor Thomas, employee of Absolute Bikes agrees with Lipton.
“Biking creates happiness,” Thomas says, “it causes you to just take it easy.”
In addition to helping create a happier community, cycling can also get more people interested in town establishments. Riding a bike helps people explore the town; it enables more freedom and can take away the stress of finding a parking spot.
“Cycling brings local business and Flagstaff love,” says Moran Henn, program director at Friends of Flagstaff’s Future. “By not being constrained to a car, you can see what Flagstaff truly has to offer.”
If you are a new student interested in bicycling around Flagstaff, there are plenty of members in the cycling community who are here to help.
“Learn the FUTS trails and go on social rides,” Miles says. He also emphasized the importance of learning the traffic laws.
Anthony Quintle from Absolute Bikes explained how not taking cycling seriously can result in injury.
“Those of us involved in bicycle advocacy here wind up needing to spend extra time attending special public meetings and writing letters to the newspaper.” Quintle says.
Cycling is a great way to learn about the community, be fit, live a sustainable life and be a happier person all around. Science fiction author H.G. Wells once said, “Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human race.”