…that Arizona Bicyclists Should Follow
By Bob Beane, President, Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists
Until about two years ago, when I became president of the Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists, the portions of ADOT activity that affected bicyclists were a mystery to me. Well, at times, they are still a mystery. But, I can honestly say that the CAzB has been invited to the table to provide input in several meaningful efforts in the last few years. And, that participation has lifted the curtain on some aspects of how things happen in our state. What I have found is that, if we stay engaged and active, we can make a difference.
But, there are only so many of us with so much time to review, discuss and comment. And, we only live in certain places and are aware of a certain basket of issues as a result. So, I am reaching out to the AZ bicycling community asking some of you to become more involved…represent your club, your community, your riding buddies or just yourself as a commuting or touring bicyclist. Get a bit more involved. Get up to speed on a few active programs that are in progress, think about the issues and concerns you have and provide some ideas and constructive input.
There are two planning projects currently in progress that Arizona Bicyclists should follow. Via these projects, every AZ bicyclist has some potential opportunity to affect access and safety on state roads and highways in Arizona. So, if you have contributions to make, your first step is to know about these programs, what they are trying to accomplish, who is working on them and how to register your input.
· First, the ADOT Bicycle Safety Action Plan (Recommendations and Next Steps to Improve Bicycle Safety in Arizona) – This plan is partly in response to the fact that in 2008 Arizona ranked 9th highest in the nation for bicyclist fatalities per million residents. Also, between January 1, 2004 and December 31, 2008, there were 1,089 recorded bicycle-motor vehicle crashes. This plan is very data-driven in that it will emphasize addressing locations and causes identified from the above statistics/incidents. Potential improvements are expected to come from the following: (1) engineering solutions, (2) education of bicyclists and motorists, (3) improving enforcement of laws and regulations. The goal is to reduce the number of crashes by 12% by 2018. How ambitious this goal is depends on what happens with population, development and numbers of bicyclists riding on state roads in that period, but it is never-the-less a goal of reducing crashes by 26 per year. As background information, a location analysis indicates that most of the high-frequency spot locations are freeway ramp intersections or frontage roads. However, three of four segment locations (stretches of road) where crash frequencies are high are in Flagstaff. Only 2 of the top 15 segments (rated by crashes per mile per year) are in Maricopa County, and only 5 of the top 15 are Maricopa or Pima County…most are in the mid-sized communities around the state. The plan seeks to strengthen accommodation requirements when engineering projects, recommends a Complete Streets policy and more bike-friendly freeway interchange designs and stresses both education and enforcement improvements with respect to both motorists and bicyclists. People working on this plan include ADOT staff, a consulting firm (Kimley-Horn and Associates), FHWA staff and a few selected advocates (CAzB being one) around the state.
· Second, the ADOT Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan Update – This plan review and update is intended to continue guidance for the ADOT Bicycle and Pedestrian program. The current update is likely to set a tone for more equal footing for bicyclists and pedestrians in roadway design and construction. It will approach that goal, in part, by seeking input from bicyclists and pedestrians as to wants, desires and unmet needs related to use of those modes instead of motor vehicles. There may be specific recommendations regarding changes to AZ laws, ADOT policies, design guidelines and other challenges to the “status quo”. And, education and enforcement recommendations will almost certainly be included. People working on this plan include ADOT staff, a consulting firm (Kimley-Horn and Associates), FHWA staff and a number of bicycling, walking, health, livable community, law enforcement, transportation and other advocates (including the CAzB).
As opportunities for public input are scheduled, ADOT will be communicating those to a variety of constituent representatives, one of which is the Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists. The CAzB will, in turn, make a best effort to inform the Arizona bicycling community of those times and means of providing input.
But, you don’t have to wait.
For more information on these programs, as it becomes available, you may visit ADOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian program web site at www.azbikeped.org and/or contact Michael Sanders atMSanders@azdot.gov.
If you want to support the ongoing efforts, but don’t feel that you have the time or expertise to comment, rest assured that the CAzB will be deeply involved in both of these projects. Your memberships and donations help us maintain our overall ongoing efforts (note that we are a non-profit 501 c 3…board members and officers are unpaid volunteers…but, we do have a paid Executive Director who works 30+ hours per week and we have other expenses to support our advocacy and education efforts on your behalf).