I remember when I was in high school. I had just gotten my driver’s license, and all I wanted was to get a car. I wanted to park in the big parking lot in the back of my high school with everyone else and drive myself to my sport practices. I wanted to drive to school, to the mall, to work — basically anywhere I needed to go.
My parents let me drive their car every once in a while, but it was short-lived because the car broke down. At the time, I was sad that I could no longer drive to the places I needed to go. When I got to college, I realized, with parking permits and the cost of gas, that bringing my bike as my main source of transportation was the better option.
I was satisfied with my bike all three years, and it did an excellent job at saving me money and getting me to places I needed to be. I also felt good about riding my bike everywhere because it’s eco-friendly and I can get some exercise. However, since summer has rolled around, I’ve been feeling a little limited by my bike.
My bike can take me pretty much anywhere in Flagstaff, but it can’t take me to Sedona or Williams or Phoenix. If I want to go hiking in Sedona, I’d have to get a friend with a car to go with me. If I need to go to the airport in Phoenix, I’d either have to take a shuttle or try to find someone to take me. It can get hard sometimes without a car. Which leads me to the question: How can a student staying over the summer with only a bike explore Flagstaff and the surrounding cities fully?
Having friends with a car is a huge part of having fun over the summer. Most of the time, they want to travel and go places too. One of my fears is being a burden to someone so I never want to ask for a ride to go somewhere I only want to go. It’s so much better when it’s mutual among friends. I’m lucky to have friends who have a car and who are as curious and adventurous as I am.
Pitching in for gas or buying some road-trip snacks is an easy compromise to being driven to some amazing destinations in Arizona. I recently went fishing with my friends on the Apache Reservation and helped pay for our lunch and gas. For an all-day trip, it was a good deal.
If a bike is a person’s only option, though, there are many things to do without needing a car in Flagstaff. The Flagstaff Urban Trail System provides beautiful nature bike rides and can connect a person to different places in the city. A bike can take a person to parks, downtown, the mall, around campus or the farmer’s market. People can even ride their bikes to work and can feel good about not wrecking the environment or paying for gas. Taking up mountain biking is also a fun way to explore Flagstaff. One of my friends likes to mountain bike at Shultz Pass and Fort Tuthill, which are relatively close to campus and offer challenging trails. Plus, it is summer, which means sunny days and clear blue skies. Flagstaff summer weather is the best time to ride a bike around.
I have been doing pretty well with just having a bike over the summer, and I still get to collect experiences and memories because of my generous friends with cars. But sometimes, you just want to ride your bike downtown and feel the sun on your shoulders, and that is OK too.