Phoenix bike summit provides opportunity for bicyclists and officials to discuss safety
Phoenix bicyclists met with city officials in an annual bike summit hosted by the city’s Street Transportation Department Saturday to discuss issues that could increase the safety of local bicyclists.About 60 bicyclists, including several spandex-clad enthusiasts who rode to the summit, came to the Burton Barr Central Library in downtown Phoenix. They focused much of their attention on possible locations for new bike lanes.
City of Phoenix Traffic Safety and Bicycle Coordinator Joseph Perez began the six-hour meeting, providing statistics and possible solutions to obstacles facing Phoenix bicyclists.
Perez discussed High-intensity Activated Crosswalks, or HAWK, pedestrian crossings. The signals stop traffic for pedestrians crossing the road, and are cheaper than full traffic lights. Perez said Phoenix currently has nine HAWKs, but none downtown.
Kerry Wilcoxon, a traffic engineer for the City of Phoenix, mentioned “road diets,” which involve reducing the number of car lanes in a road and using the space to add bike lanes.
A road diet on 15th Avenue near Bethany Home Road effectively decreased traffic in a residential area, and made the avenue more navigable for bicyclists, Wilcoxon said.
Wilcoxon said the bike summit was especially important for Phoenix officials to get direct opinions from the bicycling community.
“The main thing you can do is be here today, and follow up on what we’re doing,” Wilcoxon said.
Phoenix police officer Toby Ehrler discussed traffic laws involving bicycling and said Phoenix police are not currently sufficiently trained in traffic laws that relate to bicyclists.
“I would say the training is somewhere between zero and, in all honesty, no more than a couple hours,” Ehrler said.
Ehrler said he was in the process of trying to make a mandatory training video focusing on bicycles for Phoenix police officers.
About 12 people raised their hands when Ehrler asked how many in the crowd had been hit by a car while riding a bicycle.
“Subconsciously, as a driver or as a motorist, you’re looking for a car,” Ehrler said. “You’re looking for a truck. You’re looking for the UPS guy because you’re expecting that package. You’re looking for everything other than a bicyclist.”
One of the “break-out” sessions included bicyclists from specific areas in Phoenix, like downtown and Ahwatukee, drawing on maps of their neighborhoods where they thought improvements could be made for bicyclists.
Brent Freiberger, a downtown resident who has commuted by bicycle since 1993, said many downtown bicyclists wanted a bike lane on Third Street from Indian School Road at least as far south as Fillmore Street.
Wearing bright yellow and red cycling apparel after riding his bike to the summit, Freiberger said he came to learn about the issues affecting him as a bicyclist. He said bicycling had made him feel more independent than people who rely on cars.
“Maintaining a car was an unnecessary burden,” he said. “With the combined insurance cost and fuel cost, I discovered I could live a fuller life without being shackled to a car.”
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[Source: Joe Peach, This Big City]
Cities across the world are starting to pay more attention to the role of the bicycle in creating sustainable urban environments. Encouraging cycling can reduce the strain on public transport provisions, minimise congestion and pollution, and improve the health of those on two wheels. However, if more people choose to cycle, new challenges will emerge in how we run our cities. If your commute to work is more than gentle exercise and the building you work in has no showers, personal hygiene throughout the day can be a problem. And if the city you live in doesn’t provide adequate parking facilities for cyclists, finding a secure location to store your bike for 8 hours can also be a challenge.
Whilst both these issues are simple to overcome, they are enough to deter some from adopting the bicycle as their main form of transport. With this in mind, Australian bicycle parking company Penny Farthings have created the Green Pod—a high quality facility for cyclists containing secure space to leave your bicycle, a changing room, lockers and a shower. Units can be customised depending on the needs of the area or venue they serve.
Penny Farthing’s Mark Rossiter says:
We see parking to be one of the major obstacles between cycling becoming a major transport mode. Recently some governments have started investing in large scale centralised cycle centers with capacity for 200+ cyclists. We believe small scale decentralised parking is better because is makes the facilites closer to users and improves point to point journey times (and they don’t build one car park in a centralized location- because it is inconvenient). With better infrastructure, such as the green pod, we hope to make cycling as a transport mode easy.
The Green Pod has also been created with environmental sustainability in mind, being powered by solar panels on the roof, containing LED lighting activated by motion sensors, grey water treatment units, and timed showers. It operates a self-cleaning system, meaning maintenance costs are reduced.
[Source: Taz Loomans, BloomingRock.com]
The Bicycle Boulevard is planned to start at the northeast part of the Gateway Community College campus. One entry point is the Grand Canal at 40th Street and Van Buren. The nearest Light Rail stops are 38th St. and Washington and 44th Street and Washington. Once you get on the Grand Canal, proceed northwest. A foot bridge will be built to get from the canal to Roosevelt Street. The path then heads west on Roosevelt all the way to 19th St, then south on 19th Street to either McKinley or Fillmore.
There are three choices of where the Bike Boulevard can go in the Garfield neighborhood and through Downtown, one is straight west on McKinley, another is Pierce (at 14th Street) and the third option is Fillmore. Currently, the McKinley route gained most traction at the last Bike Boulevard meeting. Any of these three routes would take the biker west to 11th Avenue and cross the pedestrian bridge over I-10 and then west to 15thAvenue. Going north on 15th Ave will take you to Encanto Park, Phoenix College, Christown Mall and the Arizona Canal just north of Dunlap Ave. A foot bridge is planned for the Arizona Canal as well.
Essentially, the bike boulevard would be connecting Gateway Community College to Downtown, to northwest Phoenix. The Light Rail stop at Gateway connects Tempe and part of Mesa to the bike boulevard as well, extending the reach even further. Plus, let’s not forget that the bike boulevard will also serve those who ride to Sky Harbor Airport, like the employees.
The bicycle boulevard would consist of new bicycle lanes, take advantage of existing bicycle lanes, and where bicycle lanes can’t go in, there will be 24” bike dot markings every 250’ or less. Bike dots will go on local (neighborhood) streets where there is no room for bicycle lanes. Depending on which of the three Downtown routes is chosen, there will be 1 to 3 special pedestrian or bicyclist activated signals known as HAWKS (High-intensity Activated crosswalks) added at busy road crossings.
Since this project is relatively inexpensive to implement, funding for the bicycle boulevard will likely come from the normal capital improvement program or CIP. The bicycle boulevard is projected to be in place by early 2011.
If you have questions or comments or want to give your two cents on where the boulevard should go, contact Joseph Perez, the City of Phoenix Traffic Safety & Bicycle Coordinator at 602-534-9529 or firstname.lastname@example.org