Arizona Road Cyclist News

March 14, 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 E-mail notifying you when the latest edition has been uploaded to the Website 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.

In the following text, words and phrases that are both in boldface and underlined are hyperlinks that you can click for more information on external Websites.

In this issue:
     Cyclist Killed on Thompson Peak Parkway
     Paradise Valley Continues to Harass Cyclists
     Open Letter to Paradise Valley Police Chief John Bennett
     Stop Sign Bill Stalled
     Old Pueblo Grand Prix – March 17
     Tumacacori Circuit Race – March 18
     Cyclovia Tucson – March 18
     Hungry Dog Criterium – March 24
     Tour de Cure – March 24
     Sonoita-Bisbee Spring Bike Tour – March 24 & 25
     CAzB’s Memorial Ride for Safety – March 24
     Cotton Classic Individual Time Trial – March 25
     San Tan Criterium – March 31
     Great Arizona Bicycle Festival – April 14
     Alta Alpina Challenge – June 30
     About Arizona Road Cyclist News


Cyclist Killed on Thompson Peak Parkway

Scottsdale cyclist Shawn McCarty, age 53, was struck and killed by a black Chevrolet Tahoe SUV that reportedly swerved into the bike lane at about 4:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon while riding northbound on Thompson Peak Parkway just north of 100th Street. The driver was identified in press reports as Amy Alexander, age 40, of Scottsdale.

I don't know if cell phone usage played a role in this tragic accident, but I would be in favor of a law that required the police to subpoena the cell phone records of any driver who causes an accident that results in injury or death. If the person is found to have been talking or texting on the cell phone at the time of the accident, I believe that fact should trigger a lengthy jail sentence.

Paradise Valley Continues to Harass Cyclists

Those of us who thought that police harassment of cyclists in Paradise Valley would cease with the retirement of the anti-cyclist former police chief John Wintersteen were wrong. The harassment continues under Chief John Bennett..

My most recent experience occurred on this past Saturday as I was cycling home from the Wheezers and Geezers ride. I was cycling eastbound on McDonald Drive when a passenger car attempted to squeeze by me in violation of the three-foot law in a spot where there was obviously no room to pass. I yelled at the driver: "That was really stupid!" The driver turned out to be Paradise Valley police officer Corporal Nigel Williams in an unmarked police car. Oooops! He pulled me over and asked me to repeat what I had said, and I did.

To make a long story short, he tried to find a statute to cite me, but he couldn't until he asked me for my driver's license. When I told him that I wasn't required to carry my driver's license while cycling, he disagreed. He finally wrote me up under ARS 28-812, the statute that states that many of the laws that apply to motorists (although not the one requiring motorists to be in possession of a driver's license) also apply to cyclists.

I have written an open letter to Paradise Valley Police chief John Bennett requesting that the Paradise Valley Police stop harassing law-abiding cyclists and that a citation be issued to Corporal Nigel Williams for violating the three-foot law. Evidence for the violation should have been recorded by the video camera mounted on the windshield of his unmarked patrol car. If you wish to read that letter and join the campaign to stop the harassment and get this scofflaw police officer cited, a copy of the letter and the email addresses of many Paradise Valley officials follows in the next article.

Open Letter to Paradise Valley Police Chief John Bennett

Police Chief John Bennett --
6433 East Lincoln Drive
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253 

     Police Commander Alan Latsch --
     Mayor Scott LeMarr --
     Vice Mayor Mary Hamway --
     Town Manager James C. Bacon Jr. --
     Town Attorney Andrew M. Miller --
     Paradise Valley Town Council Members
          Lisa Trueblood --
          Michael Collins --
          Pam Kirby --
          Paul E. Dembow --
          Vernon B. Parker --
     Arizona Road Cyclist News Website
     Wheezers & Geezers Blog


Subject: Police harassment of cyclists in Paradise Valley.
Ref: Officer #157 and traffic complaint #37502, DR# 2012-3791 

Dear Chief Bennett,

Please excuse the long missive, but I cannot find a way to make it shorter.

I am writing about a longstanding complaint that Paradise Valley police officers harass bicyclists who are riding in full compliance with the law. I have had several experiences in the past of riding in groups who were harassed by Paradise Valley police officers. My latest experience involves one of your officers who, in my opinion, misused his authority as a police officer by writing a bogus traffic ticket to get revenge on me when I accused him of endangering my life and violating ARS 28-735 in his unmarked police car. I request in the interest of justice that the officer be issued a traffic citation for his infraction. The evidence to support the citation should be found in the video recorded by the camera mounted in the windshield of his patrol car.

I cannot make out the officer’s name on the citation, but his ID# is listed as 157, and I have since learned that that ID# belongs to Corporal Nigel Williams. 

On Saturday, March 10 at approximately 11:45 a.m., I was cycling eastbound on McDonald Drive, which is a narrow street with a median. I was wearing a mirror on my glasses, and I was therefore very aware of traffic approaching from behind. Although under ARS 28-735 the street is too narrow for a motor vehicle to legally overtake a bicycle in the sections where there is a median, each time a car approached from behind, I pulled over onto the concrete shoulder to allow it to pass.

As the officer approached me from behind in his unmarked patrol car, I would have pulled onto the narrow concrete shoulder to allow him to pass also, but the shoulder and part of the traffic lane were occupied by pedestrians, forcing me to remain in the traffic lane, as was my legal right. If I remember correctly, I put out my left hand to signal to the driver not to pass until it was safe to do so.

According to ARS 28-815, I had a right to move away from the right side of the lane according to two sub-paragraphs: “If reasonably necessary to avoid conditions including…pedestrians…” and “If the lane in which the person is operating the bicycle is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.” I was cycling in full compliance with that law. The officer would have only had to wait a few seconds for me to be able to pull off the street and allow him to pass, but he chose not to wait.

ARS 28-735 reads in part “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….”

The officer attempted to overtake me, even though there was obviously no room for him to do so. At the last moment and touched his brakes when his bumper was much closer to my bike than the legally required three feet. He came very close to striking the rear of my bicycle.

After I passed the pedestrians and moved out of street and onto the narrow shoulder, I yelled at the driver of the car (I did not yet realize that the scofflaw driver was a police officer) “That was really stupid!” At that point, the officer sounded his klaxon, and I pulled off the road to the right onto Cameldale Way and stopped. As the uniformed officer got out of his car, he asked me what I had said, and I repeated “That was really stupid!”

Admittedly, pointing out to a uniformed police officer that he’s done something stupid is not wise, especially when it is true, but it is not against the law, and I was understandable angry at the officer’s disregard for the law and for my safety.

I won’t go though the entire discussion that ensued, but suffice it to say that the officer was very angry and self-righteous about being accused of wrongdoing. Out of anger, he adopted the attitude that it had been me and not he who had just committed a traffic infraction, although he was unable to name which infraction I might have committed until he asked me for my driver’s license, and I replied that I was not required to carry a driver’s license while cycling. He alleged that I was breaking the law by cycling without carrying a driver’s license. I pointed out that Arizona Law [ARS 28-3151] requires a person who operates “a motor vehicle” to have a driver’s license and does not apply to self-propelled means of transportation. As he was unable to come up with any specific statute that I had violated (although he continued to insist that a driver's license is required to ride a bicycle) he wrote me a ticket for supposedly violating ARS 28-812, which reads:

A person riding a bicycle on a roadway or on a shoulder adjoining a roadway is granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter and chapters 4 and 5 of this title, except special rules in this article and except provisions of this chapter and chapters 4 and 5 of this title that by their nature can have no application.

He claimed that that citation would cover my riding a bicycle without carrying a driver's license.

I think this is plain silly. First, as the statute above states, not all laws apply to both bicycles and motor vehicles. Some laws apply specifically to bicycles, and others apply specifically to motor vehicles. The requirement to have a driver’s license applies specifically to motor vehicles. If bicycle riders were required to have a driver’s license, the police could pull over and ticket every kid cycling to school. Additionally, ARS28-812 states that it applies only to Chapters 3, 4, and 5 of the Arizona Revised Statutes. ARS 28-3151 is in Chapter 8.

Second, if I had not been in compliance with ARS 28-812, I must have violated some statute that applies to both bicycles and motor vehicles, and I should have been cited for violating that statute, but I was not and for good reason: There was no such violation. By writing such a generic citation that could cover the violation of any number of statutes in Chapters 3, 4, and 5 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, Corporal Williams may believe that he has the flexibility to accuse me of almost anything in the civil traffic hearing, but according to Arizona's Civil Traffic Rules and Procedure, that is not the case. Rule 8 reads: "A complaint is legally sufficient if it contains either a written description or the statutory designation of the alleged violation." There is no written indication of what I am alleged to have done wrong.

My case is not unique. You may be aware that cyclists’ complaints about Paradise Valley Police harassment go back years and predate your position as Chief of Police. Let me be clear: The Paradise Valley Police Department has every right to stop, warn and/or ticket any cyclist who violates a traffic law such as running a stop sign, but it has no right to continue to harass cyclists who are in full compliance with the law, and its officers have no right to endanger cyclists by violating the laws themselves.

I plan to use my traffic ticket as a means of bringing the problem of police harassment of cyclists in Paradise Valley to public attention in the hope of generating pressure for reform. I don’t know if the problem that some of your police officers have with cyclists is caused by a poor attitude or if it due to a lack of training. I suspect it is a combination of both. Only you can change the attitude part by indicating to your officers that scofflaw behavior towards cyclists will not be tolerated. As mentioned above, a good start would be to cite the officer who endangered me for violation of the three-foot law, ARS 28-735.

The second step is to educate your officers as to what is and what is not legal cycling behavior. Many of them do not know that now, especially when ARS 28-815 is concerned. The Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists offers a course in traffic law pertaining to bicycles, a course that is especially designed for law-enforcement officers. It might be a good idea to arrange such a course for your officers with a special emphasis on ARS 28-815.

Returning to this particular officer, I once again beg you to review the video from the camera in the unmarked patrol car that Corporal Nigel Williams was driving that day. If the video substantiates my claim that the officer violated ARS 28-735, I request that he be issued a traffic citation, not for my sake, but to send a message to all cyclists that the Paradise Valley Police Department is finally going to adopt a zero-tolerance policy when it come to officers' misusing their authority to harass law-abiding cyclists.

In summary, although I have related a personal experience, my experience is indicitive of the problems that many cyclists have been having with the Paradise Valley Police Department for years. I do not understand why the Town of Paradise Valley, through its police department, continues to alienate a large segment of the population including people who are in full compliance with the law.

Best regards,
Jack Quinn, editor
Arizona Road Cyclist News 

PS/ This e-mail and any replies from any representative of the Town of Paradise Valley will be published unless otherwise agreed in advance.


Stop Sign Bill Stalled

I suppose it will come to a surprise to no one that the bill that would permit cyclists to treat stop signs as if they were yield signs, House Bill 2211, is stalled in the House of the Arizona Legislature. The bill passed the Transportation Committee on January 26, but in order to reach the floor for a vote of the full House, it still needs to be approved by the Military Affairs and Public Saftey (MAPS) and Rules Committees. I believe that the chance of the bill’s of coming to a vote in either committee is almost zero.

To check on the bill’s progress for yourself, click here.


Old Pueblo Grand Prix – March 17

As its name implies, the Old Pueblo Grand Prix (OPGP) takes place in Tucson. (In case you were wondering, grand prix is French for “big prize.”) This is a chance to combine the Saint Patrick’s Day celebration with a major bike race that is the second in the series of major criteriums held across the country as part of the USA Crits Championship Series. The race is part of a weekend of cycling events that includes Cyclovia Tucson the following day (see below).

This criterium has some major sponsorship backing and should have a juicy prize list. The course, which is located near East Broadway Boulevard and South Sixth Avenue in Tucson, has its start/finish line in front of the Cathedral of Saint Augustine.

Registration is online through Early registration closes on March 6, after which there will be a $5 late-registration fee added. Day-of-race registration is available with a 50-percent surcharge.

To view the race’s Website, click here.

Tumacacori Circuit Race – March 18

The Tumacacoria Road Race is a circuit race on a six-mile loop and will take place the day after Saint Patrick’s Day in Tumacacori, near Río Rico, which is 68 miles south of Tucson or not too far north of Nogales.

The circuit course is reported to have sharp corners, climbs, descents and rollers with 460 feet of vertical climbing per lap. The distance to be raced varies from 72 miles for professional, category 1, and category 2 men to 12 miles (two circuits) for 15-to-16-year-old juniors.

Juniors race for free. Most other racers pay an entry fee of $30, and the top men’s and women’s categories pay $35. There is a $5 late-registration fee after March 12.

You can view the race’s Web page by clicking here and the race brochure in PDF format by clicking here.

Cyclovia Tucson – March 18

According to the Cyclovia Website, “Cyclovia Tucson is an annual car-free event that opens selected streets to people so that they can walk, skate, run, bicycle, and socialize with their neighbors.” It’s a free event, open to the public, and "fun for people of all ages.” Cyclovia Tucson is the second event in a weekend of cycling fun that commences with March 17's Old Pueblo Grand Prix (see above).

Cyclovia takes place on March 18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., starting in downtown Tucson, and makes a five-mile loop to the south. In honor of the event, the Pima County Board of Supervisors has proclaimed the week of March 21 to March 27 to be Cyclovia Tucson Week.

For more information about this free event, including a route map and the opportunity to purchase a Cyclovia Tucson T-shirt, click here.

Hungry Dog Criterium – March 24

The Hungry Dog Criterium takes place on March 24. According to the flyer, the race will take place (assuming it does take place) on a closed course south of the Loop 202 between Val Vista Drive and Greenfield Road in Mesa. Registration is $30 for the first race and $10 for an additional race. Juniors pay no entry fee but will have to pay the $2 USA Cycling insurance fee. Registration will apparently be onsite. The number of race catagories is limited. There is one field for all juniors, only two fields for all women of all ages.

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

Tour de Cure – March 24

The Tour de Cure is an annual ride to raise funds to fight diabetes. The ride is held in cities throughout the USA. Riders are expected to raise money through donations and pledges.

This year’s Phoenix-area event offers rides of four different lengths: 80 miles, a 62-mile metric century, a 34-mile scenic route, and an 8-mile family fun ride. All routes are to be fully SAGed, and a party with lunch and entertainment is promised after the ride. It sounds like great fun.

To view the ride’s Website, click here.

Sonoita-Bisbee Spring Bike Tour – March 24 & 25

The Tucson-based Greater Arizona Bicycling Association’s (GABA) annual Sonoita-Bisbee bicycling tour is one of the most delightful bike trips in Arizona, passing through the rolling high-desert country of Southern Arizona with a stop in the historic town of Tombstone thrown in for good measure. Of course, what is a delightful ride to a conditioned cyclist can be pure torture to someone who is out of shape. Be aware that this tour involves significant climbing.

Cycling starts on the morning of March 24 in the town of Sonoita. Camping is available the night before in the Sonoita Fairgrounds. In a departure from previous years, there will be no arranged camping Saturday night in Bisbee, so make your hotel reservations early. The limited number of hotel rooms book up quickly on the weekend of this tour.

On day one, riders will pedal through the town of Tombstone, which is always worth a stop. After Tombstone comes the long climb up Mule Pass before welcome descent into Bisbee.

The second day starts with a descent past the Lavender Pit Copper Mine to the lower section of Bisbee and a right turn at the traffic circle to head towards Palominas and Miracle Valley (also known as Hereford).

From Miracle Valley the ride continues through Sierra Vista, and Mustang Corners back to Sonoita. In previous years, the ride has passed through Fort Huachuca, but there is no mention of a ride through the military reservation on the Website for this year’s ride.

The cost of the ride for those who register in advance is $70 for GABA and Arizona Bike Club members and $80 for others. Add another $10 if you register on the day of the ride. You are responsible for your own lodgings in Bisbee.

To view the ride’s Web page, click here.

CAzB’s Memorial Ride for Safety – March 24

Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists’ Safety Ride takes place this year on March 24. There are three ride options: a 100-kilometer (62-mile) metric century, a 50-kilometer half metric century, and a five-mile family fun ride. All rides start at Iron Gear Sports, which I believe is located on Power Road just south of McDowell in Mesa. The 100- and 50-kilometer rides cost $25 for members of ABC, PMBC, GABA, and CAzB who register by March 23. Non-members pay $30. Day-of-ride registration is available for an additional five bucks. The registration fee for these two rides includes lunch.

The family fun ride is free, and lunch is available for purchase.

The 100-kilometer ride over Brown Road, Country Club, and the Beeline Highway our to Fountain Hills and Fort McDowell. The route then passes through a section of the Tonto National Forest (where are the trees?) past Saguaro Lake to the Salt River Recreation Center. It then climbs over Usery Pass before heading back to town.

The 50-kilometer route goes as far north as Gilbert Road before cutting over to McDowell Road and heading home.

To view the rides Web page, click here.

Cotton Classic Individual Time Trial – March 25

The Cotton Classic is a 20-kilometer out-and-back individual time trial that starts and ends in Arizona City. Registration will be at the Mesquite Grove Assisted Living Building, 16286 South Sunland Gin Road in Arizona City. This course is frequently used for the Arizona State Time Trial Championship races, so it is a good way to both learn the course and judge the competition.

There will be categories for all racers including juniors by age and masters in five-year increments. There will also be a fixed-gear category, a mountain bike category, and a recumbent category. Registration, which can be performed onsite or the evening before that race in Tucson, is $20 for adults and $3 for juniors.

Information on the 2012 race was not yet available as this was written, but as soon as it is, there should be a link on Team Saguaro Velo’s Website, which you can view by clicking here.

San Tan Criterium – March 31

The annual San Tan Criterium will take place this year on March 31 in Mesa just south of Falcon Field south of East McKellips Street and west of North Highley Road. There will be races for men from juniors through age 60+ and for women from juniors through age 50+. Registration is $30 online until March 28 and onsite the day of the race with a $5.00 late-registration adder.

To view the race’s Webpage, click here.

Great Arizona Bicycle Festival – April 14

Mark your calendar now for a day of bicycle-centric fun. The Great Arizona Bicycle Festival takes place in Mesa, Arizona on Saturday, April 14 and includes a plethora of bicycle-related events including the 70-mile El Tour de Mesa, which starts and finishes at Center and First Streets. For those who are not up to a 70-mile ride, there is a shorter, 28-mile version an a four-mile fun ride that might be suitable for riding with the younger children.

Other events include a Ciclovia, in which the main streets in downtown Mesa will be closed to those pesky motorized vehicles and open to bikes. A cyclist’s swap meet featuring vintage bike parts and accessories will be held from 6 a.m. (cyclists tend to be early risers) to 3 p.m. The Kids’ Fun Zone will include bounce houses, face painting, games, and free make-and-take crafts. Kids will also have the opportunity to participate in a Bicycle Safety Rodeo in which they will practice bike handling and bike safety while riding through an obstacle course. MACFest is billed as an arts-themed festival with artists’ creations, music, and other fun events.

Some of Arizona’s top bike shops will be on hand to sell cycle-related merchandise, do giveaways, and repair bikes. What event would be complete without a touchy-feely Holistic Healing and Natural Fitness Festival? Finally, there will be a self-guided bike tour through the neighborhood north of Main Street with ten stops.

To view the event’s Website, 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.

Connect to the Alta Alpina Challenge Website by clicking here.

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