Biking the Phoenix Canals

Now that I live in Phoenix I’ve biked more in the past week than the previous 5 years combined when I was living in California. The major factor to this difference is that in Arizona there are actual trails designed specifically for bicycle riding.

I’m a squeamish bike rider and absolutely abhor riding on busy streets alongside cars. This is because I know for a fact that the majority of the cars on the road do not see me and are not paying attention to where they are going. And also my own experience as being a driver stuck behind a bicycle preventing me from making a turn or zooming off ahead of them.

Luckily in Arizona there are miles and miles of flat and easy to ride (often paved) trails along the numerous canals around the Phoenix Area. I live in the middle of east valley and spend a great deal of time biking the Sun Circle trail on the Western Canal (#7).

The best part of the canal trails is there are no cars on them. There aren’t even that many other people on them. Occasionally I’ll see another bicycler or jogger. The scenery isn’t that interesting since there are a lot of industrial areas to go through, but there are also parks and golf courses. The canals usually have a good amount of water in them that attracts birds and other wildlife. Large fish also swim and splash around in the water while you are going past. People can fish the canal, if they have a permit.

The negative to the trail is that there are frequent crossings of busy roads, some of which do not have a crosswalk. It’s not difficult to find a break in the traffic during light traffic hours, however it is irritating that you will frequently have to stop cycling sometimes for minutes at a time. Some parts of the trail can get pretty busy, especially when going through downtown Gilbert. And sometimes the trail seems to stop abruptly, such as at railroad crossings. By continuing on straight you are almost always likely to find it again.

Because there are so many long dedicated trails for bicycles only in the Phoenix area I think it is a great place to practice bicycling away from the danger of motor vehicles. I intend to spend much more time outside peddling now that the weather is getting very pleasant.