Thursday, May 16, 2013

Combining bike and city bus to Desert Botanical Garden

A couple of weeks ago, I made plans with a friend to meet at Desert Botanical Garden to tour the garden and view the butterfly exhibit.  DBG is several, several, several miles from the city so I knew it would be a long and possibly sweaty ride.  What to do?  I check the Google bike route and I would have been able to take the Grande Canal and bike lanes a good bit of the way but I'd also need to pedal on sidewalks, something I prefer not to do for the sake of safety and politeness.  Short of renting a car, another thing I didn't want to do, I decided to use the trip as an excuse to combine the city bus with my bicycle.  Had not city bike coordinator Joe Perez himself told me that I could take the Brompton on board Valley Metro buses as long as they were folded?

With the Brompton no larger than a suitcase when folded, it was easy to bring it aboard a Valley Metro bus.
On the appointed day, I arrived at the bus stop with about 10 minutes to spare but ended up waiting about 15 minutes past the scheduled stop because, as told to me by a driver on a different route, my bus driver was knew and got off on the wrong street.  Good that I planned for late buses.  Eventually, though, my bus arrived.  I scanned my card as the driver looked askance at my folder bike ("WTF?", he appeared to be thinking.)  I took a seat mid-bus, across from the exit.  Pretty soon I was fielding the usual questions.  My favorite is "How much does that bike cost?".  My sister suggested that the best polite response is to feign ignorance and say my daddy bought it for me.  Despite the fact that he didn't, I've actually had a lot of experience saying my father bought this or that for me so it felt uncomfortably natural.

Two stately saguaro along the bike lane leading to Desert Botanical Garden.
The ride out to DBG was otherwise uneventful and took about 25 minutes.  The bus driver alerted me to my stop and after I deboarded, I pedaled over to the bike lane on a gently rolling boulevard leading to the garden.  The views by the way, were rather breathtaking and I was reminded that we live in the desert.  I stopped my bike a couple of time to take pictures.  I didn't feel too good about stopping though as the traffic moved pretty fast.  Given the setting, I was surprised I didn't see other cyclist on the bike lane; it definitely makes the trip to DBG more memorable.

The gardens flanking the path meandering its way to the DBG entrance are just a preview of things to come.
Desert Botanical Gardens is not at all lacking for parking for cars, and it looked like they were in the process of building more.  I didn't any bike racks but assumed I'd find some closer to the entry.  I walked my Brompton up a lovely meandering path to the entrance and stopped an employee who pointed me in the direction of the bike corrals.  There were about 6 inverted U racks  just outside the entrance.  Good corrals but they needed more of them, and I thought they should be placed somewhere that encouraged visitors to think about biking the next time.  Mine would be the only bike, which I thought was a shame.  Bike racks at Desert Botanical Garden should be full of bikes.  Biking in, even from just the nearby bus stop, just added to the experience.  I wondered how much all those parking lots cost and what, if any, financial impact it would have, to actively encourage visitors to bike to DBG?  Would there be any benefit to providing an incentive to bike?  Phoenix is a physically active community, including all those retirees; seems a bit to me like a missed opportunity to promote DBG as a bike tourism destination. 

The woody cylinder-like form on the right is actually the remains of an expired saguaro.
Anyway, now that I've conquered combining biking and busing (I've made trips to several other places this way since then), my next big adventure will be to make the trip to Desert Botanical Garden completely by bike.  I had originally arranged for Joe Perez to make the trip with me last month but school priorities got the best of me; now the weather is getting too hot for me to commit to that long a trip completely by bike so that will be a story for this coming October. 

3 comments:

David Bickford said...

Glad the bike & bus combo went well. I do that almost everyday, although I put my bike on the front rack since it doesn't fold.

Here's one way to increase bike tourism in Papago Park: Right now, the Phoenix and Tempe sections of the park are minmally linked. The City of Tempe has recently created a beautiful bike path along the Old Crosscut Canal. It passes right behind DBG, but there's no indication of how to traverse the few hundred feet into Phoenix and find the DBG entrance. Phoenix and Tempe need to improve the connections between their sections of the park in order to make it bikeability evident.

She Rides a Bike said...

Have you sharsd that idea with Joe Perez, David?

David Bickford said...

I posted it on MyPlanPHX. I hope it will be harvested from there, but I'll mention it an upcoming meeting.