I have applied to the University of Arizona and am strongly considering attending this school. Initially, the prospect of relocating to Tucson excited me. It sounded like a place with great mountain and road cycling, a good university system, and adequate cycling infrastructure. I love sunshine and good Mexican food, and was looking forward to having some real mountains to ride.
There are some people who have advised me against going to Tucson, but they are not residents of that area. I do not want to base my decision on their views of a city that is not their home. The arguments against Tucson are that the gangs/drugs/crime/traffic/sprawl/unemployment/heat/air pollution/water quality/meteorites are Out Of Control. If there are any residents of Tucson who can give me good information about their city, I would appriciate reading their opinions.
I live an hour north of Tucson in Queen Creek, and had family down there until a few years ago. Tucson has gotten bigger and more congested over the successive decades, true, but it's still worlds better than many places from a bicycling perspective. I understand this year Tucson/East Pima County reached Gold status as a Bicycle Friendly Community according to the League of American Bicyclists too. Yeah it gets hot in the summer, but not as hot as it's big neighbor to the north, and the winters offer great bicycling weather. (Example: I started commuting to work on my bike last November.) I'd suggest contacting some of the folks there, like the Tucson chapter of the Greater Arizona Bicycling Association ( http://www.bikegaba.org/ ) for more details.
From a university perspective it was an excellent school when I had friends attending there, but it's been a few years since then...
Those meteorites, though, man they're nothing but trouble. Wear a helmet and sleep with earplugs.
I've been living in Tucson for 4 months now, I moved out here from Pennsylvania. So far I'm enjoying it, I don't own a car and it's a great city for that. There is a large biking community from what I've seen. As for gangs/crime, I haven't had any issues but like I've said haven't been here long. Just lock up your bike well and you should be fine. I haven't been here for the summer heat yet so I can't really speak for that. I would imagine that if you can deal with Florida humidity you can probably deal with Arizona heat. Just remember to drink a whole lot of water.
I have lived in Tucson all my life. Lots of bikes are stolen, probably because there are lots of bikes here. The U of A has some of the top programs in the nation, depending on what you want to study, and I would base the decision on that, not the community. That said, the community is nice, and there are tons of hiking and biking options in or near Tucson. If I were you, I would try to spend a few days here, visit the campus, and decide after that.
Been living/pedaling in Tucson since 1978.
Great university. Friendly folks. Big cycling community. 400+ miles of bike lanes. Mex/hispanic food. . . over 100 restaurants for that (and we don't mean Taco Bell).
Several bicycle clubs. Varied riding up to 9200 ft. elevation (Mt. Lemmon).
Great riding in winter. Summer riding? Ride early in the day, get in 50 miles and hit the pool.
Have cycled in your Florida humidity/traffic . . . that's why we live in Tucson!
Crime/drugs etc . . . no worse than any other city.
Im from Tucson and am a recent graduate from UofA. Any rumors about crime/drugs are a waste of time. If you're here for school, you'll never be anywhere near the bad sides of town, and it's not even an issue. All you'll be concerned with is blue skies, lots of bike lanes and trails, and of course lots of eye candy at the UofA.
...and the best collegebasketballteam in the USA (maybe finals this season in Atlanta): University of Arizona Wildcats.
I specially come from the Netherlands to cycle in Arizona in April and I start in... Tucson.
Have lived and cycled in Tucson for 3 years now. Love it. Originally from the midwest and what a difference. Plentiful bike lanes. Ride outdoors all year long. Summer can be hot but ride early or head up the mountain. Ditto to #5 for the crime.
At this point, you may have already made your decision.
I was born and raised (to age 20) in Tucson, AZ and love it here. I grew up in the Northeast side of town, which is about 30 minutes away from UA campus, but I've spent most of my time down there now that I'm a college student.
Gangs/drugs/crimes: Isn't this a problem everywhere? The campus is near, but not really located in the bad part of town (which is what I'd call the south side), so it shouldn't be a pressing concern. I can't recall any gang related crimes on campus since I've been going there. Of course, college campuses are a drug hotspot, so that's really something you'll see no matter where you end up. I was relatively sheltered in high school, and didn't see too much drug use. Now in college, I regularly encounter people using weed, cocaine, ecstasy and acid, although in all cases, nobody pressures you into trying anything you don't want. Fortunately I haven't seen much heroine/meth/speed/etc., and those are the ones that people actually worry about.
Traffic is all relative I suppose. I spend most of my time riding my campus bike, and that's worked well. I use my bike much more than my car. Sprawl is also a real issue, and Tucson is growing fast, but I don't see how that is a problem for a college student. The city is growing outwards, not upwards - you shouldn't be affected on or near campus.
The Tucson heat is, I think, way overplayed. Sure, we commonly see 100+ degree days, but keep in mind that it is a dry heat. No humidity. If you're from Florida, I'm sure you've experienced your share of equally miserable days. Plus the winter is fantastic.
Pollution is moderate, water quality is fine (just buy a Brita if you're really concerned), and the meteorites concern is surely a joke?
Yup, El Tour de Tucson is a 'real happening'! It's silver anniversary (25 years already?) this November.
Have ridden all but one of the El Tours; missed one in the 1990s as boss would not let me off work.
Got my revenge, I retired the next year!
My wife has ridden it 15 times with me on our tandem . . .
Great community event in a great community!