Arizona Road Cyclist News November 7, 2012
News for those who bicycle Arizona's streets and roads
Editor, Jack Quinn

 

Arizona Road Cyclist News has generally been published every other Wednesday and is available free of charge to anyone who wishes to read it. However, this is the final month of the publication. If you wish to sign up for an email notifying you when the last two editions have been uploaded to the Website or to modify or cancel your current 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.

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

In this issue:
     Shea Blvd Bike Connection to Fountain Hills?
     Armstrong Burned in Effigy in UK
     New Yorkers Rediscover the Bicycle
     Bike Lane Safety Redux
     Heart of Arizona, a Great Ride!
     ABC's McDowell Mountain Century -- November 10
     El Tour de Tucson -- November 17
     GABA Tucson Toys for Tots Ride -- December 1
     Peoria Ready to Ride Class -- December 1
     PMBC's Casa Grande Century -- January 13
     ABC Granada Park Breakfast Ride Destinations
     Feedback -- Our Readers Respond
     About Arizona Road Cyclist News

Shea Blvd Bike Connection to Fountain Hills?

[Update to the following article, November 12, 2012: The Arizona Republic article on the proposed Shea connection between Scottsdale and Fountain Hills was published today. To read it, click here.]

Talks and meetings continue about building a bicycle connection between Scottsdale and Fountain Hills that would be an alternative to Shea Boulevard with its high-speed traffic and a right lane that is in places not wide enough for a cyclist and a fast-moving motor vehicle to safely share it. The present thinking seems to favor completing the multiuse path along the south side of Shea Boulevard to Eagle Mountain Parkway in Fountain Hills and giving the Hidden Hills connection a lower priority. The total cost of the Shea Boulevard connection is estimated at $550,000, much more expensive than the alternative route thorough Hidden Hills. However, the federal government would pick up $273,000, and Fountain Hills' obligation would be $175,280, leaving Scottsdale to pay $101,720. An alternative path through Hidden Hills would cost Scottsdale an estimated $120,000.

As long-time readers of this newsletter are aware, there has long been a plan to build a bike path that would connect the gated community of Hidden Hills with Eagle Ridge Drive, which is at the top of a hill on the western edge of Fountain Hills. Hidden Hills is located in North Scottsdale along 145th Way, which is in turn an extension of Via Linda.

As most cyclists are also aware, the City of Scottsdale owns an easement along 145th Way in Hidden Hills for bicycle and other non-motorized access. Until about a year ago, the easement was open to cyclists who would often end their rides at the top of the hill at the end of 145th Way before turning around in the cul-de-sac at the end and heading back. The Hidden Hills Home Owners' Association petitioned the City of Scottsdale to relinquish the easement, arguing that we cyclists are a nuisance. The City refused to do as the HOA requested, but as a compromise solution, the City of Scottsdale Transportation Committee agreed to temporarily close the easement until the connection to Fountain Hills could be completed, reasoning that in the meantime, the easement was not serving its intended purpose.

The HOA's petition had the unintended consequence of focusing attention on completing the connection, which had been pushed to the back burner and largely ignored. For example, many officials of the City of Scottsdale were unaware that the City owned an easement in Hidden Hills that would have allowed the connection to be completed years ago. That fact came to light as a result of communication between cyclist James Winebrenner and Fountain Hills officials.

Plans were discussed to build a paved 20-foot-wide path to be built between Hidden Hills and Fountain Hills, a plan that would not only have provided cyclists a safe route to ride between Fountain Hills and Scottsdale, it would also have provided emergency vehicles with a route to reach Fountain Hills in case Shea Boulevard were closed. The cost of the project was estimated at $250,000.

The undeveloped area of Fountain Hills through which Scottsdale has the easement is owned by developer MCO Properties, originally part of the McCulloch Corporation, which was the original Fountain Hills developer. When the 20-foot path was proposed, it was thought that due to the housing crises, decades might pass before it was worthwhile for MCO Properties to develop that land. However, the real-estate market in Arizona has been slowly recovering, and it now appears that the property could be developed within three to five years.

When MCO develops the property, the bike path would be replaced by a residential street with bicycle access. Therefore, any bike path constructed in the meantime would be temporary, which greatly lowers the cost of construction to an esitmated $120,00 for a ten-foot wide path paved with asphalt. When MCO development begins, the path would be closed during construction, and the new street would be build entirely at MCO expense. Scottsdale has hinted that this project might stand a better chance of being completed if cyclists could come up with some funding ideas to lower Scottsdale's share of the cost.

If you would like to read a report on the subject in PDF format that Scottsdale transportation planners Reed Kempton and Susan Conklu submitted to the Scottsdale Transportation Commission in October, you can do so by clicking here. Also look for an article on the subject this week in the Scottsdale insert to the Arizona Republic.

Armstrong Burned in Effigy inUK

Those of you who are anglophiles may be familiar with Guy Fawkes Day. As one cynical Englishman explained it to me, "Guy Fawkes is the only person who ever went to Parliament with a good idea: To burn it down!" The year was 1605, the day was November 5, when Guy Fawkes was captured guarding a store of gunpowder in a room beneath the House of Lords. He was tortured and sentenced to death by hanging, but he cheated (or anticipated?) the hangman by jumping from the scaffold with the rope around his neck.

In towns and villages throughout the UK on November 5, or on the Saturday night closest to November 5, Guy Fawkes is burned in effigy on a bonfire accompanied by fireworks. However, the town of Edenbridge in Kent has been departing from the tradition for several years by selecting a particularly infamous society figure to burn in effigy each year instead of Mr. Fawkes. This year, the Edenbridge Bonfire Society selected Lance Armstrong for the dishonor. The town constructed a 30-foot-tall effigy of Armstrong filled with combustible materials and fireworks and fed it to the flames.

The society's spokesperson, Mark Young, explained it this way: "Lance Armstrong is certainly the biggest villain in sport, with fans across the globe feeling cheated by a man who was thought to be whiter than white."

In a related note, the City of Adelaide, Australia has stripped Lance Armstrong of his key to the city. The Tour Down Under, based in Adelaide, was the first event he raced during his comeback to professional cycling in 2009, and his 2011 appearance in the race was his last participation in the ProTour.

New Yorkers Rediscover the Bicycle

With mass transit still limping along or not available at all in some parts of the Big Apple in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, New Yorkers rediscovered the bicycle last week. With few cars, busses and taxis on the road to compete with, many cyclists found biking conditions were almost ideal. Others opined that in those areas where gas stations were in operation, the long lines of cars waiting to tank up made riders feel insecure.

New Yorkers rediscovered the bicycle with no encouragement from the city government. Mayor Bloomberg enacted restrictions on motor traffic in Manhattan, but he didn't utter a peep (or a tweet, for that matter) in favor of cycling.

Perhaps it is just as well that he didn't encourage the unskilled to take to two wheels. Even with the much lighter traffic conditions, biking around New York City requires a good amount of cycling traffic smarts, because as the photograph shows, those who take to the bike lanes have to contend with some pretty wobbly riders pedaling in close proximity.

Will those who have taken to bikes for basic transportation during the rough days following the hurricane keep riding them when the transportation grid returns to normal? Only time will tell. As I cyclist, I hope that at least some of them will have gained the skill and the confidence to keep on ridin'.

Meanwhile, many Europeans who not too many years ago were abandoning their bikes in droves in favor of the automobile, have rediscovered the bike as a means of transportation. It is estimated that only one percent of Americans use a bicycle for basic transportation compared to 26 percent of the population in bike-crazy Holland, 18 percent in Denmark, and close to ten percent in many other European countries.

Even staid Business Week has joined the promotion of bike communicating by pointing out in a recent online article that a bike-sharing program that was supposed to start this summer would have alleviated the commuting chore following Sandy if it had been implemented on the original schedule instead of being postponed until next summer. The system's automated rental stations are to be solar powered and would not have been affected by electricity outages.

Bike Lane Safety Redux

In the October 22 edition of Arizona Road Cyclist News, I published an article entitled "Bike Lanes, an Illusion of Safety?" The article questioned the safety of bike lanes and noted that a high percentage of cyclists killed by motor vehicles in Arizona were riding in a bike lane when they were fatally struck from behind.

I would have left the question unanswered if it hadn't been for a reader who wrote that he was "appalled to read such nonsense" and claimed that there are "scientific data and actual studies proving the value of bike lanes." [The email is included in the "Feedback" section below.]

Bike lanes unquestionably to have value. I mentioned in the article that they signal to motorists that cyclists have a right to be on the road. I should have added that by at least giving the illusion of safety, they encourage more people to ride their bikes for transportation and recreation. However, it doesn't necessarily follow that they really are safer.

The writer sent me an except from an article stating that "on-road bike lanes were found to have a positive safety effect in safety, consistently reducing injury rate, collision frequency or crash rates by about 50%...." Fifty percent? WOW! If that were true, I would owe the writer and all of my readers an apology for the misinformation. But the claim is false.

Being the nerd that I am, I began investigating as many studies as I could that addressed or (more often) pretended to address the safety of bike lanes. I located the article from which the paragraphs that the writer sent were excerpted. The article was well-footnoted with links to the source information, so I delved into the studies that the article cited. I could read some them for free but the publishers of some studies charged a steep price for access. However, I could read abstracts of the expensive studies and thereby obtain a summary of their contents. Every one of the studies or abstracts I examined either fell apart upon closer examination or was misconstrued in the original article.

As an example the study "Safety Impacts of Bicycle Lanes" by R L Smith, Jr. and T Walsh (1988) found an increase in bicycle crashes after a bike lane was installed that caused the cyclists to ride against traffic on a one-way street. After that was corrected, "the increase was not statistically significant in contrast to a significant increase in total accidents in the city." In other words, there was a significant increase in bike accidents on the street with a bike lane, but the increase wasn't much worse than the increase in the city as a whole.

One study that did find that bike lanes are safer (and incidentally that bike paths are by far the most dangerous place to ride) is Kaplan's "Characteristics of the Regular Adult Bicycle User." However, the study is based on a survey of members of the League of American Bicyclists (called the League of American Wheelmen in those pre-politically-correct days) conducted in 1974. Not only is the study dated, but it cited no accident statistics to back up the information from the answers to its questionnaire. (Incidentally, you fellow old folks, we cyclists between 66 and 82 years of age "traveled, on the average, more miles than any other age group, but experienced the lowest accident rate.")

Those are just two examples of the studies I examined, but to be brief, not one of those studies offered any concrete proof that adding a bike lane to a street makes the street safer for cyclists. I found out why when I discussed the matter with a traffic engineer.

I did not ask the traffic engineer for permission to quote him, so he will remain anonymous here. He said that it is well known among traffic engineers that the studies that purport to show that bike lanes improve safety are all flawed and are mainly based on interviews with cyclists, often in emergency rooms. They are often published in medically-related journals (as was the article whose abstract the writer sent me) and are peer reviewed by people in the medical field who do not have the background to question the studies' claims.

If traffic engineers know that the safety improvements of bike lanes are illusionary, why do they keep designing them? To encourage people to ride bikes. If a bike lane is added to a given street, the number of bicycle riders using the street will almost always increase, and one of the mandates of people who design such facilities is to increase the use of alternate means of transportation, meaning alternatives to the single-occupant automobile. This is a laudable goal, but it does not improve cyclists' safety.

Heart of Arizona, a Great Ride!

First, by way of disclosure, I was invited to ride the Bull Shifters' Heart of Arizona Century this year as a non-paying guest of the Bull Shifters. However, those who know me also know that my personality borders on misanthropy and that I have often earned the ire of organizers and participants in the past by criticizing poorly-organized cycling events. I would not praise an event unless I were genuinely convinced that the praise had merit. This year's Heart was not only well organized, the support people went far beyond what was necessary to make us participants feel like royalty.

According to the list of registered riders a total of 84 cyclists signed up for the event, mostly from Arizona but several were from California. Seventeen of those riders registered for the 125-mile brevet; 61 for the 104-mile Century, and six for the new 44-mile Miniheart.

As to the route, the only hairy part of the century and the brevet was as 22-mile segment near the start of the ride along US highway 93. This highway is the main link between Phoenix and Las Vegas and carries high-speed traffic including many very large trucks. In places, the shoulder is narrow and separated from the motor-vehicle lane by a particularly nasty rumble strip. However, the rest of the route was a dream to ride, at least for those of us who like to do lots and lots of climbing, with spectacular scenery and lightly-travelled roads.

The best part of all was the support, both by the Bull Shifter volunteers and by the Maricopa Country Emergency Communications Group, an informal network of ham radio operators who drove the course looking for riders needing assistance and communicating with each other by radio.

The part of the ride that the riders praised the most were the great SAG stops. These were not your run-of-the-mill stops with water, potato chips, and a few green half bananas. These SAG stops were provisioned with far more than any cyclist could hope for. At one stop, we were fed chicken sandwiches on pita bread with lettuce and tomato, and at the Kirkland Junction stop, just when riders were at their tirdest, Jim Pettett was handing out root beer floats. I'm sure that it was the root beer and vanilla ice cream that gave me the energy to make the final climb up to Yarnell and finish the ride. Add in cookies, energy bars and gel, pretzels, peanut butter sandwiches, candy bars, etc., etc., etc., and each SAG stop felt like a roadside gourmet snack bar.

To top it all off, the Bull Shifters had the barbeque fired up at the finish line and made sure no rider started the drive home on an empty stomach. I can hardly wait for next year's version.

ABC's McDowell Mountain Century -- November 10

The Arizona Bicycle Club's McDowell Mountain Century is an annual event and is one of two century rides that the club promotes each year (although the ride did not take place last year). This year the ride will be held on November 10 and will start at Sereno Park at 56th Street and Sweetwater.

There are three ride lengths to chose from. The century ride isn't quite a full century at 96 miles, but who's quibbling? On the other hand, the metric century more than lives up to its name at 70 miles in length (112 kilometers). For those looking for a more leisurely ride, perhaps with the family, there is also a 36-mile ride. The century includes 3,233 feet of climbing; the metric century has 2,549 feet of climbing, and the 36-mile ride has 1,076 feet of climbing.

Registration opens at 6:30 a.m. and is $35 for members of ABC, GABA, and the Bull Shifters if paid in advance. Non-members pay $40. Day-of-ride registration is available for a $10 surcharge. For this riders get roaming support, up to 3 SAG stops (depending on the length of the ride selected), a club water bottle, and lunch after the ride.

For more information, connect to the ride Web page by clicking here.

El Tour de Tucson -- November 17

Almost all Arizona cyclists and indeed many cyclists worldwide are familiar with el Tour de Tucson, which takes place every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and attracts thousands of riders. 9,000 are expected this year. Registration will be limited to 10,000 cyclists.

The Tour de Tucson features rides for cyclists of almost all abilities. Riders may chose among 111-, 85-, 60-, and 42-mile routes or to ride with the kids on one of the shorter fun rides with distances of 5, 3, and 1/4 miles.

Be prepared to get off the bike. The 111-mile route includes two dry (hopefully) river crossings, and the 85-mile ride includes one of those crossings. If there's a big rainstorm the night before the ride, be prepared to swim with your bike in tow.

All rides include aid stations with water and snacks spaced between seven and ten miles of each other, and the rides have police support. All finishers will receive a medal (We live in an age where everyone who participates is a winner. If you have access to a copy of the December issue of VeloNews, check out the cartoon on page 18.), and there will be a fiesta after the ride.

Riders may also purchase a ride jersey for $79 or chose from a variety of event clothing such as cycling gloves, baseball caps, event shirts, and arm warmers to mention a few.

The ride is not cheap, and some mathematical skill is required to calculate the total registration fee. Part of the total cost of the ride is a processing fee, which rises in steps to $55 by November 10. In addition there is an $80 ride fee and a minimum $15 contribution for the longer rides. The ride fee for the fun ride is $15 per individual rider or $10 for riders who register as part of a group of four or more.

If you think the ride is worth the cost, start the registration process on the ride's Website by clicking here.

GABA Tucson Toys for Tots Ride -- December 1

GABA will sponsor three rides to support Toys for Tots in Tucson on December 1. The ride is open to non-members. The longer, faster ride will start at Udall Park at 9 a.m. Riders are requested to sign a ride waiver between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m. The ride pace is expected to be 12 to 16 miles per hour, and the ride typically breaks into a faster and a slower group. The distance is 30 to 35 miles round trip.

The family and social ride starts from McCormick Park at 10 am, although riders are requested to arrive by 9:30. The ride pace is 8 to 10 miles per hour, and the ride distance is 10 miles round trip.

Finally, there is a new ride that includes a tour of historical downtown. This ride starts from the Albertson's parking lot at 1350 North Silverbell. Riders are requested to arrive by 9:15 to sign a waiver and be ready to ride by 9:30. The pace is 12 to 14 miles per hour and the ride distance will be about 20 miles round trip.

To view the ride's Webpage for more information, click here.

Peoria Ready to Ride Class -- December 1

The Ready to Ride Class that was scheduled for October 13 has been rescheduled to December 1 from 9 am to 12 noon in the Lakeview Rood of the Rio Vista Recreation Center at 8866 West Thunderbird Road in Peoria. Due to a grant from the Maricopa Association of Governments, the class is free and open to new riders ages 16 and over. The class will cover the basics of cycling and riding on the streets with 45 minutes of on-bike training in the parking lot. Bring your bike and helmet.

To register for the free class, click here.

PMBC's Casa Grande Century -- January 13

The Phoenix Metro Bicycle Club's annual Casa Grande Century ride takes place this winter on January 13. This is the chance to go out and get in that first 100-mile ride of the year in relatively pleasant weather while cyclists in most of the country are huddling indoors and shivering. If a 100-mile ride is too far to kick off your New Year's resolution to ride more miles in 2013, there is also a metric century and a 33-mile version. As a bonus, the three routes are pretty flat with the exception of a slight hill on the out-and-back metric century.

The ride takes place on January 13, 2013 and starts at the Safeway Parking lot at 4970 South Alma School Road in Chandler with rider check-in from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Century riders must be on the road by 8:30 a.m., but riders on the two shorter routes can delay a bit and wait for the sun to warm things up.

There will be SAG stops with food and drink as well as roaming SAG support, of course, and the century and metric century riders also get lunch midway through the ride in Casa Grande. Until December 30, the registration fee for the century and metric century is a quite reasonable $25 for members of PMBC, AGC, and GABA. Non-members pay $35. For the 33-mile ride, the registration fee is $20 for members of the three clubs and $25 for others. After December 30, add a $10 late fee to those figures.

To access the ride Website, click here.

ABC Granada Park Breakfast Ride Destinations

The Granada Chapter of the Arizona Bicycle Club rides every Sunday morning and most holidays from Granada Park at 20th Street and Maryland in Phoenix. The current starting time is 7:30 a.m. The ride breaks into various speed groups varying from very fast to a relaxed cruising speed. All groups meet for breakfast. For insurance purposes, those who ride with the group more than once are asked to join the club.

November 11 - Wildflower Bread Company - 4290 East Indian School Road
November 18 - either Seeds - 3802 East Indian School or Steve's Greenhouse Grill - 139 East Adams
Nov 22 Thanksgiving - to be announced
Nov 25 - Arriba Mexican Grill- 1812 E. Camelback

Feedback -- Our Readers Respond

Hello Jack,

As many of your readers have noted, we are going to miss you. It has been such a pleasure reading your wonderful newsletter. I always look forward to your insight, updates, and sometimes muddling of facts vs. fiction.

Of course, now you’ve done it again, and I can’t just let it pass without telling you. I was appalled to read such nonsense about bike lanes, and bike safety. How could my beloved Jack, be so absolutely wrong?

There is scientific data, and actual studies, proving the value of bike lanes. There is a significant decrease in ‘accidents’ and fatalities, when designated bike lanes exist.

I know that you often, ‘have a feeling’, about situations, or you ‘never hear or see something’. The reality about science is clear, personal experience, and or second hand personal experience, is absolutely useless when describing cause and effect.

Scientific data is all that matters, and there is enough, to prove that bike lanes save lives. Please get on board Jack, and pass along helpful information, we need you.

Thank you for all efforts,

Todd Key (locally famous one-legged cyclist)

Todd included the following paragraphs from an article with his email, but the article's assertions do not stand up under close examination. -- Jack Quinn (locally infamous nonsense writer)

On-road marked bike lanes were found to have a positive safety effect in five studies, consistently reducing injury rate, collision frequency or crash rates by about 50% compared to unmodified roadways [61, 62 65-67]. Three of those studies [61 66, 67] found a similar effect for bike routes. One study [63] found that there was an increase in crash rates in the year following installation of marked bike lanes on a major road, especially for a section counter to on-road traffic flow, but this effect was not sustained over the long term. [That is not quite what the study says. -- JQ]

Evidence is beginning to accumulate that purpose-built bicycle-specific facilities reduce crashes and injuries among cyclists, providing the basis for initial transportation engineering guidelines for cyclist safety. Street lighting, paved surfaces, and low-angled grades are additional factors that appear to improve cyclist safety. Future research examining a greater variety of infrastructure would allow development of more detailed guidelines.

[The entire article can be accessed without charge by clicking here, and my response can be read in the article "Bike Lane Safety Redux" above. -- JQ]

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Jack: What a wonderful newsletter. We are all going to miss it very much.

Thanks for all your efforts. Hope to meet you one of these days.

Margaret Sinton, CRS, GRI
Associate Broker
Smart Referral Network

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Hi Jack,

I think you will find out on November 29 exactly how much your newsletter meant to us. This month's issue was a great one, and the margin formatting change is nice. (although my vision wasn't really affected by the previous versions).

I discovered your newsletter two years ago when I got back into cycling. I've looked forward to getting that email letting me know there was a new issue. Your passion for cycling and the issues you addressed were clearly evident.

Thanks from all of us who have enjoyed and appreciated your efforts on behalf of local cycling! Best of luck in the next phase of 'the life of Jack Quinn'!

Beth Allen

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Hey Jack, I meant to get back last week but didn't have time.

Just wanted to say great job with your points on the Armstrong and EPO era debacle. I read Tyler Hamilton's book and if it's all true, these guys were either forced to leave the sport or stay in and risk it all. I guess honor went out the table.

That Hidden Hills connector can't come soon enough with that last fatality. I actually work with the Barrow group and some of the surgeons over at St. Joe's. This physician was a prominent one and I hope the family can take action. There is no doubt cyclists need a bill of rights. I leave everyday on the roads and think of my family. I hope no more of our comrades have to suffer until action and laws are constructed.

Tim Hayden

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