I believe the City of Phoenix needs a
Bicycling Advisory Committee. There are currently several groups
that play a roll in achieving the goal of Phoenix being a safe, fun
and desired location for our favorite mode of recreation and
transportation. But, first some background.
There is the Bicycle Initiatives
Sub-Committee of the Environmental Quality Commission. It is led by
Jeremy Stapleton and has two more sitting members. They promote a
strategic plan and the meetings, when they do occur, have become the
closest we have to an advisory committee. The few regular attendees
from the public are listened to.
Joseph Perez is the Transportation
Departments Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator and has been full time in
this position for about a year now. He reports to Kerry Wilcoxon.
They have a budget for five miles of Bike Lanes to be added per year.
I will point out that Phoenix is way too large and has too many
bicyclists for that level of staffing, despite the good they have
Kerry and Joe have conducted two
Bicycle Summits to involve the Phoenix cyclists in the process. The
summits have been attended by a good number of supporters and
enthusiasts. During these Summits data has been collected on
projects and problems to be solved. They are also implementing a web
process for collecting more such data, quickly and efficiently. I
submit that the data collected already is much more than what one
traffic engineer, with the above mentioned management support and
budget can process in a reasonable time-frame.
Various cycling groups have, on
occasion, voiced support or opposition to projects. The most notable
was regarding the multi-use bridge over 19th Avenue near
Greenway Road. Arizona Bicycle Club has a committee known as Phoenix
Political Pedal Power, “P4” for short, that is a voice for that
large group of cyclists. P4 members usually are the largest group at
Mr. Stapelton's meetings. The Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists is
involved in MAG planning and is about to do safety education for MAG.
Not One More has lobbied for improvements in State laws. Several
people provide the Traffic Skills 101 cycling safety classes under
the League of American Bicyclists here in the Valley.
The people involved that I have
mentioned, while supportive of cycling in general, are not cohesive
when it comes to the continuous effort needed to make judgments for
the scope of roads and cyclists in Phoenix. For example, with the
problems we had with the Bike Lanes adjacent to Light-Rail, east of
7th Street, when the subject of the northwest extension to
Light-Rail came up in the last Bicycle Initiatives meeting, I
specifically asked to see engineering drawings before concrete is
laid. Kerry agreed to this proposal.
There are two more cases that I have
reported to Traffic Engineering, which, while not bicycling specific,
have resulted in road conditions that are quite poor for cyclists.
Both of these cases were planned and constructed since we have had a
full-time coordinator. They are the intersections of 16th
Street and South Mountain Avenue and of 24th Street and
Old Tower Road (immediately north of I-17 freeway). These, I submit,
are the result of not enough staff and/or oversight that an advisory
committee could provide.
The reworked road markings now along
Washington and Jefferson Streets are the result of a collaboration
between City Traffic Engineers and knowledgeable cyclists, most of
whom have engineering credentials. This is what I am proposing, but
in a pro-active fashion. Reviews of designs by an advisory board
before they are literally cast in concrete is the best approach.