Arizona Road Cyclist News
April 24, 2012
News for those who bicycle Arizona's streets and roads
Editor, Jack Quinn

Arizona Road Cyclist News is normally published every other Wednesday and is available free of charge to anyone who wishes to read it. To sign up for an email notifying you when the latest edition has been uploaded to the Website or to modify or cancel your subscription, click on the "Subscribe to Arizona Road Cyclist News" link in the navigation pane to the left on the Website or on the link at the end of every email. All email addresses are kept on a secure server and are not shared with anyone. Should you later cancel your email subscription, you information will be completely deleted from our server.

It's been four weeks since the last edition was published. The weather has been great, and I've been spending time out on the bike instead of sitting at the computer. In order to not delay this issue any longer, I have not updated the list of cycling events. I apologize, but the Arizona cycling events scheduled for May and June are missing.

In the newsletter text, words and phrases that are in both in blue text and underlined are hyperlinks that you can click for more information on other Websites.

In this issue:
     Good Samaritan Cyclist Shot in Neck
     Amy Alexander Fined $420 in Cyclist's Death
     Three Cyclists Seriously Injured in Mesa
     Prescott Rider Strikes Blow for Cyclist Safety
     Phoenix Publishes Bicycle-Safety Comics
     State Criterium Championship -- April 28 & 29
     ABC's Desert Classic -- April 28
     Alta Alpina Challenge -- June 30
     Feedback -- Our Readers Respond
     About Arizona Road Cyclist News

Good Samaritan Cyclist Shot in Neck

Most mornings, I'm out on my bike before sunrise, and as a consequence, I go to bed early. Last Wednesday I was awakened at about 9:30 pm by the sound of a police helicopter circling overhead. I later learned that the helicopter was searching for a man who had shot a female pedestrian and a male cyclists in the green belt that covers the Crosscut Canal along 48th Street at Virginia Avenue two blocks south of Thomas Road at 48th Street.

The 21-year-old woman was walking in the park when she was approached by a man carrying a firearm who attempted to rob her. After the woman refused to give the man her money and cellphone, the man physically attacked her. Police said that the gunman was on top of the woman and attempting to drag her into the bushes when a 32-year-old male cyclist traveling along the park's bicycle path stopped and attempted to aide her. The gunman shot both of them. The woman was wounded in the leg, and the cyclist was shot in the neck.

The cyclist made it to the fire station at 48th Street just south of Thomas, from where he was transported to a local hospital in serious condition. The woman was less-seriously injured. The gunman fled southbound on foot and managed to escape. He is described as a black male of between 20 and 25 years of age.

At last report, the Phoenix Police Department had not released any further details on the three people involved.

Amy Alexander Fined  $420 in Cyclist's Death

The Phoenix New Times reported in an April 19 article that Amy Alexander, the Scottsdale woman who struck from behind and killed cyclist Shawn McCarty while the later was cycling in the bike lane on Thompson Peak Parkway in Scottsdale, has been fined $420 for the two citations she received.  Technically, on April 10 she forfeited the deposit she had paid. The two charges were driving in a bike lane and failure to obey the three-foot law when passing a cyclist.

I do not understand this light sentence. Even if the police and prosecutor believe that they do not have evidence to cite her with a more serious charge such as manslaughter, the three-foot law states that when a violation of that law results in the death of the cyclist, "the violator is subject to a civil penalty of up to one thousand dollars." How did she get off so lightly for two civil citations that were written as a result of her negligently killing a cyclist when she could have been fined $1,000 for just one of them?

To read the New Times article, click here.

Three Cyclists Seriously Injured in Mesa

On Saturday April 7, three cyclists were struck by an SUV and seriously injured while riding in the bike lane on McDowell Road  near 88th Street in Mesa. The cyclists were transported to a Scottsdale hospital. Two of the cyclists were later reported in critical condition and the third with life-threatening injuries.

The three cyclists, reported to be triathletes, were identified as 44-year-old Scott Drozdz of Tempe, 43-year-old Brent Holderman of Gilbert, and 49-year-old Angelito Paras Silla, of Mesa. They were cycling with a group when they were struck from behind by an SUV driven by 60-year-old Kimberly Larson of Queen Creek, who was reportedly navigating by GPS and who took her eyes off the road when the GPS device lost its signal. While she was distracted from her driving, her SUV drifted into the bike lane and struck the cyclists from behind. Scott Drozdz suffered the most extensive injuries including fractures of his spine, neck, and ribs.

The three triathletes had completed 25 miles of a 35-mile ride when the accident occurred. The ride was to be followed by a run.

Prescott Rider Strikes Blow for Cyclist Safety

The following is an email exchange between Prescott cyclist Russell Carter and Prescott Unified School District Transportation Chief Norma Fry about the propensity of a school bus driver to crowd cyclists when passing them.

From: Russell L. Carter
Sent: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 8:14 AM
To: Norma Frye
Subject: Multiple PUSD bus # B-17 bicyclist endangerment incidents

To whom it may concern,

On Tuesday January 17th, 2012 I was cycling westbound on Iron Springs Road at about 2:35 pm. The location was a few hundred feet past the shopping center which hosts the Walmart Supercenter. I was cycling about 8" from the white line, and within 18" of the right side debris line, steadily and wholly within the bike lane.

A Prescott School Unified School District (PUSD) bus, number B-17, drove by me and quite obviously tried to get as close as possible without its wheels touching the white line. The bus's mirror passed about 8" from my left shoulder. As I watched the bus drive away I could see that there was at least 3' of clear space on the left hand side of the bus, within his lane. There were several cars in the far left lane, but they were not crowding the bus.

The bus driver pulled out about 500' further on, possibly to kill time. I cycled up and asked the driver if he knew about the Arizona State Law that requires vehicle operators to maintain a 3-foot separation from cyclists. He immediately responded with profanity (quote: "F*ck you, I can drive as close to the white line as I want, as long as I don't go over it").

At this point it is instructive to read the Arizona Revised Statutes with regard to this issue (link:

28-735. Overtaking bicycles; civil penalties

A. When overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction, a person driving a motor vehicle shall exercise due care by leaving a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three feet until the motor vehicle is safely past the overtaken bicycle.

Note that I was wholly within the bicycle lane when the incident(s) occurred.

Resuming my account of the incident, after a bit of useless back-and-forth discussion with the driver of PUSD school bus B-17, I responded that I did not care to cause a lot of problems for either of us but that if he made a habit of this, I would have to report him. I then went on my way.

The bus then pulled out behind me, and while I resumed traveling exactly as before, as I always do, the bus got right up to the white line, and the mirror was within 4" of my left shoulder. This time there was no other traffic whatsoever anywhere in the vicinity of the bus, other than myself.

I wish also at this time to report that about 4 months ago in nearly the same location at nearly the same time of day, Prescott School bus B-17 did exactly the same thing. However, since the bus did not stop, I have no idea who was driving.

I want to emphasize that the important issue here is the safety problem caused by the illegal operation of the school bus in the manner described above when near cyclists. I want to de-emphasize the use of profanity by the bus driver. Profanity will not get cyclists killed. However vehicles operated in a chronically unsafe manner, as this PUSD bus driver has done repeatedly, in violation of State of Arizona Law, will eventually get cyclists injured or killed.

Thank you for your time.
Russell L. Carter

From Norma Frye
Date: Fri, 3 Feb 2012 09:07:26 -0700
To Russell L. Carter

Mr. Carter

I apologize for not responding earlier. I was gone on Wednesday and had a large bus evacuation of the high school as a drill on Thursday. I am looking into this matter and it will not be tolerated from any of the drivers. This behavior is not what our district represents. If there are and other issues in the future fill free to call [number deleted] my cell if you cannot reach me at work.

Thank you
Norma Frye

Phoenix Publishes Bicycle-Safety Comics

The City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department is set to introduce a six-episode series of comic books into Phoenix schools with the goal of improving bicycle safety. The comic books, which are designed for kids in the fourth through eighth grades, are intended to promote the safety-improvement goals in the City's General Plan. Phoenix bicycle coordinator Joe Perez wrote the text for the comic books, and artist Rob Osborne drew the illustrations. The design expenses were covered by a grant from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, which will also cover production costs for 10,000 copies per episode. The City has yet to decide whether to split the six episodes into three for fall and three for spring or to release all episodes at once.

The materials are to come into use next year. According to a City of Phoenix press release, three Phoenix school districts have already expressed interest in the comic books: Paradise Valley, Isaac, and Fowler.

State Criterium Championship  — April 28 & 29

The Arizona State Criterium Championships will take place this weekend over two days: April 28 and April 29. Participants in the championship races will be awarded medals. However, there will also be two non-championship races held on each of these days, and these races will pay cash prizes.

The races will be held on the Underground Criterium course, just southeast of the corner of Deer Valley Road and Seventh Street. This is an interesting course with a climb on each lap, and although I haven't ridden the course myself, I'm told that the corners are wide enough to be taken at high speed and that the surface is in excellent condition.

Online registration closes on April 26 at 7 p.m. The entry fee  for adult riders in the championship races was $30 through until April 3 and now carries a $5 late-registration adder. Day-of-race registration is available for $45. Juniors pay $10 online or $15 for walk-up registration at the race. The entry fee for the non-championship races is $25 online or $35 at the race. Riders who also compete in a championship race the same day pay $15.

To view the race brochure in PDF format, click here.

ABC's Desert Classic — April 28

The Arizona Bicycle Club's Desert Classic Century will be held on April 28 from 7:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. The ride is scheduled to start at Oggi's Pizza and Brewing Company at 6681 West Beardsley Road. Online registration was $25 for members of ABC, PMBC, and GABA (what about the Bull Shifters, who give ABC members a discount on their rides?) and $40 for others. However, after March 17, a $5 adder was tacked onto those fees. Registration is in advance only.

In addition to the century ride, there are 30-, 45-, and 65-mile options for this event.

To connect to ABC's main Web page, click here.

Alta Alpina Challenge — June 30

This ride doesn’t take place until the height of the summer, but because it takes place in the cool mountains of Northern California and Nevada, it is probably something you want to plan for in advance, so here’s the info.

The Alta Alpina Challenge starts at Turtle Rock Park in Alpine Country in California near Lake Tahoe and the Nevada border. This ride is just the thing for those looking for a high-altitude, tough ride away from the Arizona desert at the peak of the Arizona hot season. How long is the ride? Well, take your pick. For those looking for some family fun with the kids there are two family fun rides. Choose either the 15- or 20-mile option.

Feel like getting a workout? There are rides for you. For the real wussies, there is the Wild Sierra Metric, a 64-mile ride with a mere 5,000 feet of climbing. Piece a` cake!

For those who like to stretch their legs, there is the 5-Pass Challenge. This is a bit more reasonable with 16,000 feet of climbing in 134 miles. That’s enough to get your heart beating and make it feel as if you’ve had a modest workout. However, I know that many of my readers will consider this to be a sissy ride, soooo……

How about the 8-pass challenge? Now we’re talking about a real bicycle ride. The route is 198 miles long and features 20,300 feet of climbing. Need to make it a full double century? You can always cruise around the parking lot a few times at the end of the ride to make the full 200 miles.

Until May 1, the cost of the rides is $25 for the Family Fun Ride, $50 for the Wild Sierra full or metric century, $90 for the 5-Pass Challenge, and $100 for the 8-Pass Challenge. In addition to excellent support on the ride, you’ll receive a T-shirt. Riders can also purchase a ride jersey, and those who finish the 8-pass challenger get the bragging rights of the 8-Pass Finisher’s jersey.

By the way, as you can see from the map below, the 8-pass challenge consists of a number of out and back legs, so there are plenty of opportunities to cheat, bypass one or more of those legs, and to cut the ride short.

Feedback -- Our Readers Respond


Perhaps Paradise Valley might emulate Tempe.


Lloyd Thomas, Esq.

That's a good comparison, Lloyd. In Tempe, cyclists, especially commuting cyclists, are considered to be an asset. In Paradise Valley, we are considered to be a nuisance and are reluctantly tolerated. Tempe is crisscrossed by bicycle lanes. Very few streets in Paradise Valley have them.



After reading about your encounter with the PVPD I'd like to make a comment or two.  I bought my current bike in 2005 and it now has 42,000 miles on it.  I think that qualifies me as a cyclist.  I don't do group rides anymore because I'm 72 and have Parkinson's and would be the first to get dropped.  I ride through Paradise Valley a lot and frequently see the large groups of riders.  I also was a Police Officer for 21 years with a department on Long Island close to the size of the Phoenix PD and was there in the 70's when there was a big bike boom so I've seen situations from both sides.

What is missing in almost all of these situations is common sense.  The cop who issued you the ticket appears to be lacking it but then again we don't know what he faced already that day and calling him stupid, even if he was, probably didn't help. He obviously didn't know the law and only proved it by writing a bad summons. By the same token, I've seen large groups of riders ignore stop signs and sometimes traffic lights and riding three or four abreast.  They're out for exercise and fun, but the drivers they inconvenience might be going to or coming from work, or the hospital, or who knows what.  Get back to two abreast or single file and give the motorist a break. 

I've seen two riders riding abreast on narrow roads with a line of cars behind them.  Come on guys, you're legal but not helping to build a better relationship with motorists who don't have a clue about the laws regarding cyclists and probably never will.  As I look back over this it sounds like I'm taking the side of the cop or the motorist but I'm not.  I just feel that there is no way to educate all of the general public and even police officers regarding the rights of cyclists, and until we can, we should keep from riding in a way that makes things worse.

Ed Cain

I admire the fact that you are out cycling despite having Parkinson's disease, Ed. I also agree with most of what you wrote. Many cyclists ride in a manner that gives motorists grounds to complain about us all. As I've stated before, I think that the reason many groups of cyclists block traffic is that they are blissfully unaware that there are cars behind them trying to get by. Most cyclists consider mirrors to be dorky.

I hope you will not take it amiss if I disagree with you on two points. The first may seem like a trivial distinction, but I did not call Paradise Valley Police Corporal Nigel Williams stupid. I said that what he tried to do, attempt to pass me when there was obviously no room to do so, was stupid.

The second point involves riding two abreast on narrow roads. Arizona law permits and the Arizona Department of Transportation recommends that cyclists take over the lane when it is too narrow for motorists to pass safely. If I had been riding in the middle of the lane, Corporal Williams might still have been angry and pulled me over and written me a bogus traffic ticket, but I would have prevented him from trying to pass me and thereby endangering my life. I committed an error by riding too far to the right in an area where I should have been in the center of the lane.

I realize that many motorists do not understand that we take over a narrow lane, because it is the only way to be safe, but I don't think that we should put our lives in danger out of consideration for their lack of knowledge. 


Thanks, Jack, for training the PVPD, and for all you do.

Mike Walsh



I would like to make sure you know the 31st Desert Classic Century is scheduled for April 28, 2012. It was not cancelled this year or last.

Kristi Felts Moore
President, Arizona Bicycle Club

I am glad to know that the Desert Classic will take place. I wrote something in the previous issue of Arizona Road Cyclist News that could be interpreted as saying that last year's Desert Classic had been cancelled. It was not. It was ABC's McDowell Mountain Century that did not take place last year. Thank you for the clarification, Kristi. -- JQ

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