Arizona Road Cyclist News

November 9, 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 to read 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.

In this issue:
     Hidden Hills Easement Fate May be Decided Next Thursday
     ADOT’s Bicycle Safety Action Plan
     Phoenix Political Pedal Power (P4) Endorsed Greg Stanton
     ABC’s McDowell Mountain Century Cancelled
     Cystic Fibrosis Cycle for Life – November 11
     Mount Lemon Hill Climb Brevet – November 12
     GABA Tucson Fall Bike Swap – November 12
     Cave Creek Bicycle Festival – November 11, 12, & 13
     El Tour de Tucson – November 19
     Tucson Toys for Tots Rides – December 3
     NAMI Bikes Arizona Tour – December 10
     Casa Grande Century – January 8
     About Arizona Road Cyclist News

Hidden Hills Easement Fate May be Decided Next Thursday

The City of Scottsdale Transportation Commission meets on the third Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. in Kiva City Hall, 3939 Drinkwater Boulevard, Scottsdale. As you may remember, at last month’s meeting, a motion to temporarily close an easement for cyclists and non-motorized traffic in the gated community of Hidden Hills was tabled after the motion failed to pass on a tie vote. Although it is not stated in the language of the easement, the easement’s purpose is ostensibly to form part of a cycling connection between Scottsdale and Fountain Hills. The connection has been held up, because the City of Scottsdale has been waiting for the Town of Fountain Hills to obtain a second easement, which was thought to be necessary to complete the connection.

Thanks to the efforts of cyclist James Winebrenner, it has been learned that the easement already exists and that the easement's owner is the City of Scottsdale. Thus, at first glance, there appears to be no impediment to completing the cycling connection so that we can ride to Fountain Hills and points beyond without risking our lives in fast, heavy traffic on Shea Boulevard.

After the vote at last month’s meeting, City of Scottsdale staff was asked to investigate what would be required to complete the connection. I hope that at this month’s meeting, the emphasis will switch from closing our access to Hidden Hills and instead be directed toward deciding what is required to complete the connection between Scottsdale and Fountain Hills.

I plan to attend the meeting next Thursday evening, and hopefully by the time the next issue of this newsletter is published, we will have a tentative date for the opening of the new cycling route to Fountain Hills. The Arizona Republic also plans to cover the meeting.

ADOT’s Bicycle Safety Action Plan

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has developed a series of working papers involving bicycle safety in Arizona with recommendations for its improvement. The Web site for accessing the working papers can be reached by clicking here. The individual papers are in PDF format, so Adobe Acrobat Reader or another program capable of reading PDF files must be installed on your computer in order to view them.

Mike Sanders, a Senior Transportation Planner with ADOT and himself a cyclist and bicycle commuter, informs me that the working papers will soon be compiled into a final report.

Arizona may seem like a cyclists’ paradise compared to states such as Florida and Texas, but on a national level, Arizona is ranked as one of the most dangerous of the 50 states for cyclists when measured by the number of bicyclist fatalities per million inhabitants. As shown in the Figure below, taken from the study, cyclist fatatities have declined since 2005 when 36 cyclists were killed on Arizona's streets and roads. Cyclists fatalities dropped to 19 in 2008 before jumping to 25 in 2009. In terms of fatalities per million inhabitants, even in 2008 Arizona ranked as the ninth-dangerous state with 2.92 cyclist fatalities per million inhabitants compared to a national average of 2.32. An important goal of ADOT is to reduce the number of cyclist fatalities in Arizona by 12% on the state highway system by 2018. How does ADOT plan to reduce cyclist fatalities? Through a combination of three approaches:

1.    Engineering solutions, which means designing state roads to be safer for cyclists.

2.    Education of cyclists and motorists. Both are badly needed in Arizona. I suggest that education of law enforcement officers be added. Most police officers seem to have a very foggy idea of the legal rights and responsibilities of cyclists .

3.    By improving the enforcement of laws and regulations, which is also badly needed. Perhaps the City of Phoenix could set an example by ticketing wrong-way cyclists and motor vehicles illegally parked in bike lanes. The latter practice is an almost daily occurrence on streets such as East Lafayette Boulevard east of 56th Street and Osborne Road between 44th and 45th Streets.

ADOT's recommendations will apply directly only to the state highway system, which account for only about ten percent of accidents involving a motor vehicle and a bicycle, but many Arizona municipalities look to ADOT for guidance, so any steps that ADOT takes to reduce fatalities could eventually be applied by municipalities. In addition, as ADOT points out, driver and cyclist education should change behavior not only on the State's highways but also on roads and streets throughout the state.

However, cyclists fatalities per million inhabitants is an inaccurate way to measure how safe or dangerous cycling is in a given state. In Arizona, a larger percentage of the population cycles than in many other states, and the good weather in the desert areas of the State mean that those who do cycle ride year round.  For example, in 2008 the US Census Bureau reported that in 2008 0.5% of workers cycled to work nationally. In Arizona, the percentage was almost double that number at 0.9%. (Interestingly, despite the city’s cold weather, a far larger share of Flagstaff’s population cycle to work than in relatively balmy Phoenix and Tucson. This may have more to do with the fact that Flagstaff is a smaller city in which a large part of the population lives within cycling distance of work. At any rate, bicycle-commuting figures are of limited value, because an overwhelming majority of cyclists ride for recreation or for sport, not for transportation.)

A more accurate way of measuring the relative safety of cycling in a given state would be to calculate the number of fatalities per million miles cycled, but estimating the number of miles cycled per year in a given state would require a very expensive study. Some Arizona cities such as Mesa, Tucson, and Flagstaff attempt by various methods to count the number of cyclists using their streets, and an ADOT survey of cyclists in which readers of this newsletter were asked to participate shows that 95 percent of respondents indicated that they cycle for recreation or exercise.

Nonetheless, even if cycling in Arizona is likely not as dangerous as statistics suggest, far too many cyclists die on Arizona’s streets and roads.

Total Cyclist Fatalities by Year in Arizona 2004 through 2009

Source: Arizona Department of Transportation

Luckily, only a small number of bicycle-motor vehicle crashes result in a fatality. Comparing the number of fatalities in the figure above with the total number of bicycle-motor vehicle crashes shown in the figure below shows that the portion of such crashes that results in a fatality is below two percent.

Even though the number of fatal crashes decreased in 2006 through 2008, the number of reported bicycle-motor vehicle crashes went up. These figures seem to indicate that although we were less likely to be killed on the road in 2008 than we were in 2005, the  tendency in the total number of bicycle-motor vehicle crashes has been moving in the wrong direction.

Source: Arizona Department of Transportation

The statistics on bicycle-motorist accidents include some interesting facts. Although a minority of cyclists ride on the wrong side of the road facing traffic, these cyclists are involved in a majority (52 percent) of crashes. It is also interesting that 51 percent of crashes occurred when the motorist was making a right turn. In thirty-seven percent of the crashes, both factors were involved: The driver was making a right turn and the cyclist was riding on the wrong side of the street against traffic.

Is riding on the sidewalk safer than riding in the street? Not when every cross street, driveway, and parking-lot entrance presents the possibility of colliding with a motor vehicle whose driver isn’t expecting to encounter a bicycle in a place designed for slower-moving pedestrians. Thirty-two percent of crashes involve cyclists riding on a sidewalk.

The study came up with 14 recommendations, a few of which are discussed in the paragraphs that follow.

Install pavement markings or signage to discourage wrong-way riding.

Wrong-way riding seems to become a more serious problem the closer one gets to the center of a city. For example, I see very few people cycling on the wrong side of the street in North Scottsdale, but I frequently see cyclists riding against traffic in Phoenix. The figure below shows the proposed signs, which I hope will be adopted by Arizona's municipalities.

The plan to discourage wrong-way riding also includes law enforcement. As mentioned earlier in this article, it would be a big help if police officers would issue warnings to wrong-way cyclists.

The plan also includes obtaining ADOT approval to mark wide shoulders as bicycle lanes, which might make wrong-way cyclists feel more comfortable about riding with their backs to traffic.

Adopt Arizona Complete Streets Policy

State Highways are often the main street in rural communities, but many of these streets are designed principally to carry motorized traffic. The Complete Streets Policy would accommodate all roadway users including pedestrians and cyclists.

Recommend enhancements to the Arizona Driver License Manual and Customer Service Guide.

Compared to most Western European countries, drivers and bicyclists in the USA are unskilled and unknowledgeable of what constitutes safe driving and cycling. In some European countries, people are required to attend a driver's school before obtaining a driver's license, and instruction includes how to interact with other users of the road including cyclists. Many US drivers are clueless when it comes to interacting with cyclists.

It seems to me that Arizona driving skill and knowledge levels are even below the USA national average, although I have no hard evidence to support that belief. As anecdotal evidence, however, I cite the fact that few Arizona motorists use their turn signals to signal a right turn, and for those turning left, many motorists signal only after they have entered the intersection. Many motorists attempt to pass cyclists at inappropriate locations such as when approaching a stop sign, a practice that often results in the motor vehicle stopping in the lane for oncoming traffic. Few motorists seem to be aware of the three-foot law, which requires motorists to give cyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing. Some motorists do not yield to bicycles in roundabouts, apparently on the theory that cyclists should not be on the road in the first place and therefore have no rights.

ADOT proposes adding an illustration to the Driver License Manual that would emphasize the fact that motorists in Arizona are required by law to give bicycles a minimum of three feet of clearance when passing. Also proposed are illustrations showing cars yielding to bicycles and pedestrians in roundabouts. The license manual would point out that cyclists "must obey the same traffic laws as drivers...and...have the right-of-way under the same conditions as motorists." It would instruct drivers to dim their headlights for oncoming cyclists, something that many drivers now fail to do. The ADOT proposal would add text to indicate that cyclists have the right to take over a traffic lane when it is unsafe for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to share the lane side-by-side. It would remove the incorrect statement from the drivers manual that state that cyclists must "Ride as near to the right side of the road as possible."

I have a suggestion for modification of one of the proposed new questions for the written driving test. The proposed question reads: "Although bicyclists must ride with the flow of traffic and as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, in which situations can they legally more left?" The question leaves out the fact that cyclists are only required to right as close to the right as practicable when riding "at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing." (Arizona Revised Statutes 28-815) In other words, if a cyclists is riding down the street and there is no other traffic present or if the cyclist is moving at the speed of traffic, there is no requirement to ride to the right, a provision of which not only most motorists but also many police officers are unaware.

Arizona Revised Statute 28-817 requires that bicycles be equipped with a white light in front and a rear red reflector when ridden at night and adds that the bicycle may also have red rear light. Technology has changed since the statute was written, and bicycle lights have greatly improved. Those of us who ride at night know that rear red reflectors have limited visibility and the minimum should be a red flashing taillight.

ADOT's goals in reducing crashes involving motor vehicles and bicycles are modest. In the years from 2004 through 2008, there were an average of 217 bicycle crashes per year on state highways (compared with thousands on urban streets). ADOT's goal is to reduce the average number of such crashes by 26 per year for the years 2014 through 2018.

It is be hoped that ADOT's efforts will not only reduce accidents involving cyclists on state highways, but that the driver and cyclist education will also reduce accidents on the streets of Arizona's cities and towns and that the infrastructure changes to the state highway system will serve as an example for improving the infrastructure in municipalities with cycling safety in mind.

One area that I did not see addressed in ADOT's action plan is the fact that rumble strips on the shoulders of state highways, although they may improve the safety of motorists by alerting a sleepy motorist that the car is drifting off the road, are a safety hazard for cyclists. (perhaps it is in there and I missed it.) I would like to see rumble strips installed only where there is a wide-enough section of the shoulder to the right of the rumble strip for safe cycling and for there to be a break in the rumble strip every 100 feet or so to make it easier for cyclists to cross them. I also wonder if it is necessary to make rumble strips so aggressive that they can cause a cyclists who rides over one to lose control.

To read another view of the ADOT study on Ed Beighe's Arizona Bike Law Website, click here.

Phoenix Political Pedal Power (P4) Endorsed Greg Stanton

I’m publishing this too late to affect the election, but Gene Holmerud, who holds several positions with the Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists and is newly appointed to the board of directors of the Arizona Bicycle Club, has come up with a new organization called Phoenix Political Pedal Power or P4, which questioned Phoenix political candidates on their attitudes towards cycling. Gene reports that in Districts 1 and 5 for City Council seats did not reply to a questionnaire. However, both candidates for mayor did take time to respond (or perhaps their campaign staff did it for them). After evaluating the answers from the two mayoral candidates, P4 endorsed Greg Stanton as being the friendlier to cyclist’s concerns. (By the time you read this, we should know if they picked the winner. -- Last-minute update: they did!)

I was pleased to see both candidates take the questionnaire seriously in a campaign that otherwise was marred by each mayoral candidate's taking cheap shots at the other and arguing about which of them has been the biggest lobbyist.

If you would like to read the questions and evaluate the answers of both candidates, you can do so by searching for Phoenix Political Pedal Power on Facebook, or if the technology works correctly, go directly to the organization’s Facebook page by clicking here..

ABC’s McDowell Mountain Century Cancelled

The Arizona Bicycle Club’s annual McDowell Mountain Century Ride, which has long been a fixture on the Phoenix-area fall cycling calendar, has been cancelled this year. As late as early last week, the ride was listed on the ABC Website with the remark “We ride rain, or shine, snow, tidal wave, hail, or dust storm." Apparently, something even worse than one of these natural disasters occurred, because when I checked the Website on Saturday in preparation for writing an article on the ride, there was a note that the ride had been cancelled.

Perhaps the ride was cancelled because few people knew about it. I am a member of ABC, and I wouldn’t have known that the ride was planned if I hadn’t stumbled across the information in preparation for writing this article. I asked several other members if they were aware that the ride was scheduled, and not one of them had heard a word.

At any rate, the ride is long overdue for an overhaul. When the route was laid out, many years ago, it was safe and enjoyable. With the increase in traffic, sections of the route on Pima Road are nerve wracking to ride, despite the presence of bike lanes, and the part of the descent to Rio Verde on Dynamite Boulevard/East Rio Verde Drive is downright dangerous on weekends, when bicycles compete for space on the narrow road with pickup trucks headed for McDowell Mountain park pulling trailers loaded with off-road vehicles while some of the trucks’ drivers steer with one hand while holding an open can of beer in the other. Maricopa County has widened its section of the route and installed bike lanes, but Scottsdale has yet to take steps to make its section safe for cycling, although Scottsdale Senior Traffic Engineer Reed Kempton informs me that a project to add bike lanes “between Pima and Alma School is moving forward and should be completed in early 2012.”

Cystic Fibrosis Cycle for Life – November 11

Hello there!

Thank you for doing this terrific newsletter every month. Would you mind adding this information in your next edition?

Register now for the Second Annual Cystic Fibrosis Cycle For Life on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011.

Two routes are available beginning at Heritage Park in Florence, Arizona—75-mile route and 35-mile route. This charity event benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and offers a great route for those preparing for their first metric century. It’s flat, fully-supported and will feature a BBQ, beer and a live band at the finish for the riders, the volunteers and families.

Get a taste of the ride by joining the group for a free ride on Saturday, Oct. 15, from BJ’s Brewery and Restaurant. SAG support will be offered, breakfast foods, rest stops and a free lunch. Plus, those who wish to register for the November ride may do so for only $20 (plus fundraising minimum of $100).

To sign up for ride updates click here:

Register now for the Fourth Annual Women-only Girls Gone Riding bike ride on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012.

Four routes are available beginning at Higley High School at 4605 E. Pecos Road, Gilbert, AZ, 85296.

Ride 15-miles; 34-miles; 62-miles or complete your first 100-mile century! A charity event that benefits multiple Phoenix charities: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; National MS Society; Phoenix Women’s sports Association and Not One More cyclist Foundation, the Girls Gone Riding bike ride features breakfast, lunch, fully-supported rest stops, SAG, and opportunities to earn the annual jersey by raising money—all while enjoying a ride with like-minded women through Gilbert, east Mesa and Chandler.

Registration is $30 right now through November.

For the Girls Gone Riding newsletter click here:

Register now for the 4th Annual Girls Gone Riding All-Women's Bike Ride

Thank you,
Sheryl Keeme


Mount Lemon Hill Climb Brevet -- November 12

For those of you who chickened out on the Heart of Arizona last Saturday because of the cold and wet conditions (as I did), here's your chance to do a 200-kilometer (125-mile) ride this Saturday. The ride starts at the intersection of Twin Peaks and Coachline Roads near Marana at 7 a.m. Cyclists will have 13.5 hours to complete the ride, which includes a 25-mile climb up to the town of Summerhaven on the top of Mount Lemon.

Cost of the ride is $20. For more information on the ride and to register online, click here. Those who complete the ride will have permission to call themselves randonneurs if they are male or randonneuses if they are female and to purchase a radonneur medal.

GABA Tucson Fall Bike Swap -- November 12

Need to clean out that box of useless bicycle parts? Here’s you chance. The old junk bicycle parts and accessories gathering cobwebs in your garage may be just what another cyclist needs to get an unused velocipede back on the road.

The Greater Arizona Bicycling Association (GABA) will hold its annual fall cycling swap meet in Tucson this Saturday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Fourth Avenue between Sixth and Ninth Streets. The swap meet is free, although GABA will not turn down any voluntary cash donations. Will you be riding your bike there? Valet bike parking will be available. Please limit anything you have for sale to bicycle-related items.

To view the swap meet’s brochure in PDF format, click here.

Cave Creek Bicycle Festival – November 11, 12, & 13

Hi Jack,

Glad you’re back! I love the local news you provide…THANK YOU!

This year, I hope to catch you early enough to ask you if you would be so kind as to include a mention of the 3rd Annual Cave Creek Bicycle Festival in your e-news letter?  We did this for our inaugural event, I was too late last year…

Check out our evolving website + Facebook page, too.  We are in the final planning stages for this year, with so many exciting things coming together I can hardly contain myself!  For the Sake of Open Space

·         The Mountain Bike Race Ride is a 22-mile loop through the foothills in Cave Creek, which has spawned a healthy-loyal following on various rides throughout the week…this is a spirited event taking on some major roots!

·         The Bella Fondo Road Ride, 30 & 50 mile options, takes in the best routes the north valley has to offer, right off our door steps in “The Creek”….

·         Our most hysterical event is the Kids Kriterium event which starts kids < age 4 on kick-bikes, through age groups up to 14…these monsters take cycling seriously!!!  We have the local Fire Company start each age group race with a cycle lead-out…guaranteed to have you cracking up, I’m just sayin’…

·         Not to forget the Alley Cat Race, the Ride-in-Theatre…complete with the Huffy Toss contest, even packet pick-up & registration takes on the festival of fun~~~

As advocates for all kinds of cycling, all things considered BIKES, we consider our event a family affair, getting the youth of our communities accustomed to cycling along with the rules of the road + trail at an early age.  We like to think this will propagate a healthy knowledge about our sport & the healthy lifestyle it encourages.

Just this summer, leaders of the CCBF have developed an official advocacy alliance, the Cave Creek Bicycle Association, which is currently working to promote proper trail building in our area, and in conjunction with the Town of Cave Creek, has obtained a grant for the development of bike lane through town, border-to-border.  We held a movie screening of “Pedal Driven”, introducing to a collective audience what we hope to accomplish through appropriate channels, the preservation of our Open Space for future generations. 

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the need for willing volunteers.  Our website offers an easy opportunity for folks to log-in with their preferences for contribution to our fabulous bike-fest.

With the best of regards, RIDE ON!

Ann Patsy

El Tour de Tucson – November 19

El Tour de Tucson is almost certainly Arizona’s largest bicycle ride with an expected 9,000 participants this year and a choice of 42-, 60-, 85-, and 111-mile routes. For the kids, there will also be ¼-, 3-, and 6-mile fun rides. This ride is structured more like a running event than like a traditional bicycle race, so it will include aide stations every 7-1/2 miles on the 42-mile and longer routes. The 111-mile ride includes two river crossings (the river is normally dry, but one never knows), whereas the riders in the 85-mile ride will cross the river just once. The ride has full police support at all intersections, which hasn’t always prevented crashes between cyclists and motor vehicles in past years.

Computing the cost of riding El Tour is not a task for the mathematically challenged. You can't just read the amount on a Web site. The total cost consists of a processing fee, a registration fee, and an involuntary contribution. For adults, the cheapest ride consists of a $70 registration fee, a $15 contribution, and a processing fee that started at $5 last January through March, is currently $35, and which jumps to $45 on November 1 and to $50 on November 13. Got it? If the figures that my accountant ran are correct, I think that if I register before November 1, I can get in on the ride for a mere $120. At this level, in addition to getting to participate in the event, the rider receives a T-shirt.

Fees go up from there depending on whether or not the rider wants additional mementos of the ride such as a poster, a certificate, a jersey, or a trophy. For $1,000 a rider gets all of the mementos except that he or she must choose between a certificate and a jersey (apparently you can't get both).

For more information about El Tour de Tucson, click here.

Tucson Toys for Tots Rides – December 3

Tucson’s Greater Bicycling Association’s (GABA) Toys for Tots ride is actually three rides that meet at three different locations. Each ride has a different distance. All three of the rides feature moderate paces suitable for amiable conversation. The rides are open to non-members of GABA.

The longest, fastest ride (although most cyclists will find it neither long nor fast) meets at Udall Park on the south side of Tanque Verde east of Sabino Canyon with registration from 8:30 to 8:45 a.m. and the ride getting underway at 9 a.m. The ride is expected to be between 30 and 35 miles roundtrip and proceed at a pace of between 12 and 16 miles per hour.

The shortest and most-leisurely-paced family/social ride will start from McCormick Park on the east side of Columbus just north of Glenn and south of Fort Lowell. Riders are requested to arrive by 9:30 to sign waivers. The ride then gets underway at 10 a.m. The route is a short ten miles, probably about right for many of the kids, and is expected to be covered at an eight- to ten-mile-per-hour pace.

The third ride meets in the Albertson’s parking lot at 1350 North Sivlerbell (corner of Speedway) with sign-in at 9:15 and ride departure at 9:30 a.m. The pace is expected to be 12 to 14 miles per hour over a 20-mile route.

For more information on the Toys for Tots rides, click here.

NAMI Bikes Arizona Tour -- December 10

This is a fund-raising ride for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) that starts and ends at Veterans’ Park in Sierra Vista with 35-, 67-, and 100-mile options. Riders pay a registration fee of $35 and are also expected to raise donations. The longer routes include such historic Southern Arizona towns as Tombstone, Benson, and Bisbee. The century ride starts at 7:30 a.m., the 67-mile ride at 9 a.m. and the 35-mile ride at 10:00 a.m.

To connect to the homepage of the ride’s Website, click here.

Casa Grande Century -- January 8

The Phoenix Metro Bicycle Club is already gearing up for the Casa Grande Century ride, an event that it promotes every year. There will be a 100-mile full century, a 62-mile (100-kilometer) metric century, and a 34-mile option. All three options 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 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 now, and the form for mail-in registrations is promised to appear on the ride’s Website soon. You can view that Website by clicking here.

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