Arizona Road Cyclist News

December 19, 2011

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 E-mail notifying you when each edition is available online or to modify or cancel your current subscription, click here. All E-mail addresses are kept on a secure server and are not shared with anyone. Should you later cancel that E-mail subscription, your information will be completely deleted.

Due to the upcoming holiday season, this issue of Arizona Road Cyclist News is is early, and  the next issue of Arizona Road Cyclist News will be delayed until after the New Year. As usual, I will send out an E-mail bulletin to E-mail subscribers if there is any very important cycling news to communicate in the meantime.


In this issue:
     Federal Guidelines on Rumble Strips Revised
     Tentative ABRA Race Calendar for 2012
     Cycling Explained
     Casa Grand Century – January 8
     Tour de Hero – January 28
     Picacho Century – February 12
     Feedback – Our Readers Respond
     About Arizona Road Cyclist News


Federal Guidelines on Rumble Strips Revised

New federal guidelines state: “safe accommodation of all road users should be considered when designing and applying rumble strips.” The term “all users” includes cyclists.

Several times in this publication, I have expressed the opinion that rumble strips, the roughed-up sections of pavement on the shoulders of many highways, while a safety measure for motorists, are a safety hazard for cyclists. The purpose of the rumble strips is to alert the drowsy motorist to the fact that the vehicle is drifting off the road. Rumble strips have been credited with saving many motorist lives.

Nevertheless, at least two of my cycling friends have been in crashes involving rumble strips. One of those friends, a member of the Arizona Bicycle Club, was riding the Casa Grande Century several years ago when his bike hit a rumble strip, and his bike went out of control and swerved in front of a speeding pickup truck. He was killed instantly. However, the rumble strip may not have been the primary cause of the accident; it is possible that he suffered a seizure that caused him to drift into the rumble strip.

The second accident happened a few years later during the Arizona State Championship road race. The rider was in the pack and did not see the rumble strip before he hit it. The rumble strip caused him to crash into the guardrail. He was seriously injured.

The new guidelines for rumble strips make them safer for cyclists in four ways: wide shoulders, bicycle gaps, edge-line rumble strips, and adjusted rumble dimensions.

1.    Wide shoulders: The guidelines suggest that rumble strips not be installed where bicyclists use the shoulder unless there are at least four feet of pavement between the rumble strip and the edge of the paved shoulder.

2.    Bicycle gaps: On any road that has a shoulder where cyclists are permitted to ride, there should be a 10- to 12-foot gap in the rumble strip every 40 to 60 feet to allow cyclists to cross.

3.    Edge-line rumble strips: Where practicable, rumble strips should be installed at the edge of the traffic lane rather than on the shoulder to give cyclists more shoulder area to ride to the right of the rumble strip.

4.    Adjusted rumble dimensions: This has to do with reducing the size of certain characteristics of the rumble strips to make them less dangerous to cyclists although at the cost of making them somewhat less likely to alert a motorist whose vehicle is drifting out of the traffic lane. Examples include reducing the width of the rumble strip and reducing the depth of the cut into the pavement.

The entire document is more extensive than the summary presented above. You can view the document on the Web by clicking here. Additional information concerning the US Department of Transportation’s recommendations for making roadways more pedestrian and cyclist friendly can be read by clicking here.

Tentative ABRA Race Calendar for 2012

The latest version of the Arizona Bicycle Racing Association race schedule for 2012 has been distributed to Arizona’s racing clubs. As this was written, the schedule was not yet available on ABRA’s Website, although I have made the tentative schedule available on mine (see below).

This is a la Niña year, which means that the frequent rains that we have been experiencing lately could continue into March. Some of these early races may be conducted in the rain.

Races scheduled for January and February are as follows:

Tortelli Winter Criterium Series, January 7, 8, and 15
Avondale Criterium Series, January 22 and February 26
Bicycle Haus Criterium, January 28
Race Against Time Time Trial, January 29
McDowell Mountain Park Circuit Race, February 4
Flapjack Time Trial, February 5
Valley of the Sun Stage Race, February 10, 11, and 12
Sun Devil Criterium, February 19

Some of the important races scheduled for later in the year are:

Tucson Bicycle Classic Stage Race, March 2, 3, and 4
State Road Championships, April 21
State Criterium Championships, April 28 & 29
State Track Championships, July 14 & 15
State Team & Tandem Time Trial Championships, September 9
State Individual Time Trial Championships, September 16

Details about the early races should soon be available on ABRA’s Website. In the meantime, you can view or download the tentative calendar in PDF format by clicking here.

Incidentally, the Phoenix Consumer Cycling Club does not plan to put on its Midweek Criterium spring training series in 2012. In recent years, this series of weekly evening criteriums had been a fixture in the February through April racing calendar, and I will miss my weekly (unpaid) announcing jig.


Cycling Explained

Have you ever tried to explain to your non-cycling friends why you paid more for your bike than the price of a good used car? Do they think you’re completely crazy for riding in traffic, wearing weird-looking clothing, and tucking into an aerodynamic position for death-defying, high-speed descents of mountain roads? Have you ever stopped for coffee after completing a century ride and had someone ask you: “How far do you ride? 15 miles?”

Maybe this animated video will give you a few pointers about how to explain our sport to your friends. Warning! It does contain some crude language, so you may not want to play it on the office computer with the speaker volume cranked up to full-blast. Also, those of you who race may find that this video hits a bit too close to home for comfort. The video's duration is just over seven minutes.

To watch the video, click here.


Casa Grande Century -- January 8

The Phoenix Metro Bicycle Club's annual Casa Grande Century ride includes a 100-mile full century, a 62-mile (100-kilometer) metric century, and a 34-mile option. All three courses are mainly flat.

All three rides start and finish at the Safeway store at 4970 South Alma School Road in Chandler. Registration is from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Riders may leave as soon as they check in. Sensibly, there is no mass start.

The ride fee is a quite-reasonable $20 for the century and metric century for members of the Phoenix Metro Bike Club, the Greater Arizona Bicycle Association, and the Arizona Bike Club who pre-register by New Year’s Day. Non-members will pay an extra $10. The fee includes SAG support and lunch in Casa Grande. Those registering after New Year’s Day should add another $10 to the fee.

The 34-mile ride, which does not include lunch, costs $15 for members of the three bike clubs and $20 for non-members until January 1. After that date, the fee goes up by $10 for both groups.

Online registration (with a possible extra fee) is available, or you can download and print out a mail-in registration and release form in PDF format by clicking the appropriate link on the ride’s Website. You can view that Website by clicking here.

In the last edition of Arizona Road Cyclist News, I raised some questions about the ride’s liability waiver. For rather long analysis of that waiver, scroll down to the final E-mail in the feedback section.

Tour de Hero – January 28

The Tour de Hero is an annual ride whose purpose is to raise awareness of the Arizona blood donor program. Riders are encouraged to recruit people to donate blood at a United Blood Services center between November 1 and January 14.

The ride starts and ends at the United Blood Services Headquarters at 6220 East Oak Street in Scottsdale. There are two ride options: a 62-mile metric century and a 31-mile half metric century. The first ride starts at 8:30 a.m. and the second starts at 10 a.m. There will be a complementary lunch after the rides from 1 to 3 p.m. courtesy of Papa John’s.

Online registration is available until January 14. The cost of the ride depends on the number of blood donors that the rider recruited. The base cost is $50 but drops to $40 for those who recruit from one to three blood donors, $25 fro those recruiting from four to seven donors. Riders who recruit eight or more donors ride for free, and early registrants who recruit 15 or more donors receive the free United Blood Services T-shirt.

To connect to the Tour de Hero page on the United Blood Services Website, click here.

Picacho Century – February 12

The Tucson-based Greater Arizona Bicycle Club.(GABA) has come up with a new course for its Picacho Century ride, which also includes 63- and 40-mile options. GABA promises that this year’s route will be a delight to cycle.

The 100-mile ride will begin at the Fry’s parking lot at Cortaro and Silverbell in Tucson, whereas the two shorter rides will start at Ora Mae Harn Park at the Marana Municipal Center in the town of Marana.

The cost of the ride, which includes SAG stops and a SAG lunch, is very inexpensive at $15 for GABA and Arizona Bike Club members who pre-register. Others pay $25. For day-of-ride registrations, add $10 to those fees. At these prices, many Phoenix riders may want to drive (or cycle?) to Tucson for the ride.

To visit the ride’s Website, which has a link to online registration, click here. Online registration is $25 except for GABA members, who can log on to receive their discount. ABC members who want the member discount or others who do not want to register online can print download and print a registration form and release in PDF format. To avoid the $10 late fee, mail-in registrations must be postmarked by February 8, which is also the deadline for online registration.

Feedback -- Our Readers Respond

Regarding the Laveen Country Challenge.

The Laveen Lions web site is still frozen on info for their last ride in Feb. 2010. Back in January, I sent emails to several addresses I found on the site, trying to find out the status of a 2011 ride. None were answered. Then about 6 months ago, I found a contact in a Lions Club regional magazine, and through that person, I did finally get a statement from the Laveen Lions. I can't find the email... I believe it said simply that the event is gone and it's not coming back. No specific problem was stated that I recall, just that they simply decided not to do it anymore.

However, knowing how groups can and do change their minds, I plan to keep an eye out for it in future years. I told them that although I only rode it once, that it was inexpensive, well-organized, with plenty of volunteers, with a nice community BBQ lunch afterwards. I also asked them to PLEASE update their site which is now almost 2 years out of date. There was no further response from them, and the web site remains untouched.

Boil this down for distribution, as you see fit…

Scott Barvian in Mesa.

Thanks for the update on this ride, Scott. If you ever notice that the ride resurrects, drop me a line so I can include it in ARCN -- JQ

Hi Jack,

I always love reading the latest from Arizona Road Cyclist News. Clearly, it is a labor of love and I think a great service to the cycling community.

Sometimes, you mention why ARC News is a tad late. It never bothers me when an issue is late (it is free, after all), and maybe you will want to adopt this unapologetic motto somewhere on the website:

"Arizona Road Cyclist News: Sometimes late, but always great!"

(Ok, maybe some people will see that as too "self-promotional" but, hey, it's the truth!).

I'll keep recommending it to my friends, and you keep doing the great work.

All my best,

George Esahahk-Gage

I got a chuckle from your proposed motto, George, and as much as I am tempted to appropriate it and include it for the Website, as you write, that would be self-promotion. I think I’ll leave the judgment about the quality of Arizona Road Cyclist News to its readers. – JQ

Mr. Quinn,

As President of the Phoenix Metro Bicycle Club, the organizer behind the Casa Grande Century, I felt the need to respond to your comments posted in the Arizona Road Cyclist Newsletter.

While we applaud your efforts to inform cyclists about events in and around our state, your “editorial” on the Casa Grande ride waiver completely misses the mark. The waiver and its wording were approved by the League of American Bicyclists approximately three years ago. It was developed by our attorney who worked closely with the League in developing the waiver.

Unfortunately, we live in a rather litigious society and our Board acted in the best interests of our club and its members. We do not expect an apology for your editorial, as we understand the rationale behind your intent. However, we feel an honest clarification would be in order, now that you have the facts.

Ron Waller, President
Phoenix Metro Bicycle Club

Before I respond to Ron Walter’s E-mail, I want to clearly state that I appreciate his work and the volunteer work of all of the board members of the Phoenix Metro Bicycle Club (PMBC). Without these selfless volunteers, our sport would be much poorer. I am also grateful to all of the officers and volunteers of all the touring and racing cycling clubs in our state who give their time freely for the benefit of our sport.

In the last issue of Arizona Road Cyclist News I wrote the waiver appears to have been written "by a lawyer gone bezerk." That was flippant language, and I do apologize for it. Instead of making a flippant remark, I should have written why I believe the waiver is defective. I will do so now.

I believe that Ron Walters wrote in good faith that he believed the waiver was co-developed with the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) and that the LAB also approved the waiver's wording. I also understand the necessity of having riders sign a waiver given our "rather litigious society." However, I believe that PMBC's ride waiver, by pretending that the signer is waiving rights that the courts have ruled cannot be waived, could be dismissed in its entirety in the case of litigation.

The League of American Bicyclists neither develops nor approves club waivers. The League provides to its affiliate clubs a waiver that was developed by its insurer, American Specialty, and it provides that waiver to affiliated clubs with the suggestion that an attorney modify the waiver to conform with local legal standards. The waiver that American Specialty wrote approximately five years ago for the League of American Bicyclists can be read on American Specialty’s Website in PDF format by clicking here.

The PMBC waiver does include language from the American Specialty waiver, but language added to LAB's standard waiver causes me to doubt that PMBC’s version could be used as a defense in case of a lawsuit. The PMBC Waiver can be read by clicking here.

Before I go any further, I warn the reader that the discussion is about to get long, esoteric, and boring, so anyone who is not interested in the nuances of ride waivers may want to point the Web browser at a more interesting site. Secondly, my legal training is limited to one undergraduate and one postgraduate course in business law at ASU, so I have enough legal knowledge to read legal documents and ask questions but not nearly enough to answer those questions. Cycling seems to attract an inordinate number of attorneys, so perhaps a more-qualified person will weigh in on the discussion (non-billable hours, of course).

In the following paragraphs, each instance of bold-faced and underlined text is a hyperlink to a supporting document.

Sections of PMBC’s waiver that I find troubling are the following:

1.    In paragraph three PMBC implies that the signer of the document releases PMBC from any harm caused by “gross negligence.” Gross negligence is “So high a degree [of] negligence that it shows a reckless disregard for one’s legal duty, the safety of others’ life, limb, property, or a conscious indifference to the rights of others.” ( A signed waiver can serve as a defense against ordinary (minor) negligence, but I am under the opinion that courts generally hold that the right to sue in the case of gross negligence cannot be waived and that a waiver that attempts to protect the promoter from responsibility for gross negligence may be dismissed entirely. (“The waiver/release should never attempt to disclaim responsibility for ‘gross negligence’ or other outrageous conduct. It should disclaim responsibility for ‘negligence’.”

2.    Paragraph 7 purportedly makes the agreement “applicable to any and all Club activity from this date forward.” I question whether a waiver that purports to cover all unforeseen future activities unrelated to the specific cycling event has legal merit.

3.    In paragraph 8, the signer of the waiver purportedly releases the promoter from “any protection of Article 18, Section 5, of the Arizona Constitution.” Article 18 of the Arizona State Constitution is entitled “Labor” and deals with workplace issues, although Section 5 has been ruled to also apply to non-workplace situations.

Article 18, Section 5, rather than being a “constitutional right,” is an instruction to trial courts that cannot be waived. It is entitled “Contributory negligence and assumption of risk” and reads: “The defense of contributory negligence or of assumption of risk shall, in all cases whatsoever, be a question of fact and shall, at all times, be left to the jury.” [boldface mine] The words “in all cases whatsoever” are very clear, a fact that was affirmed by the Arizona Supreme Court in 2005 when it wrote ““… we … reaffirm today that Article 18, Section 5 means what it says: the validity of an express contractual assumption of risk is a question of fact for a jury….” (Phelps v. Firebird Raceway, Inc.)

In summary, the PMBC ride waiver appears to ask the rider to waive rights that cannot be waived. Doing so calls into question the validity of the entire waiver. I humbly suggest that PMBC's president and board will take a close look at what appear to be some "poison-pill" passages in this document and consider adopting the waiver supplied by the LAB.

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