Does Ray Road Have a Bike Lane?

Click here to jump straight to article and letters.

Here is a related article on the azbikelaw blog: Critical Width

There seems to be a rash of confusion amongst the general public -- both motorists and cyclists -- about what constitutes a bike lane. Adding to the confusion, is the term Bike Route, and compounding all of that is penchant by the City of Phoenix (and undoubtedly many other jurisdictions) to paint a solid white stripe enclosing whatever space is left over between the right hand travel lane and the gutter (the streets in question here all have an approximately 1' gutter pan and vertical curb):

"...he noticed that the lane for bikes suddenly narrowed" (Ahwatukee Foothills News, 8/27/2003, news item)

"The national standard for bike lanes is 5 feet wide, but many lanes in Phoenix are narrower." (Arizona Republic, 10/24/2003, news item)

"I've never understood why a community such as Ahwatukee must live with skinny little bike lanes" (Ahwatukee Foothills News, 9/12/2003, letter to the editor)

"An 18-inch-wide bike lane that drivers use as a turn lane isn't helpful" (Arizona Republic, 10/18/2003, letter to the editor, Adam C. Field)

All the above quotations appear to not be referring to actual bike lanes, but rather to these "leftover"/shoulder spaces.

All of this tends to create confusion as to proper lane positioning when cycling. The question for us, as cyclist's advocates, is what to do? Educate cyclists? Educate motorists? Encourage (demand?) jurisdictions to remove the confusion? All of the above? Something else?...
 

Figure 1 Sample Bike Lane. Chandler Boulevard, west of Desert Foothills Parkway, Phoenix, AZ Figure 2. Sample Bike Route w/small shoulder Chandler Boulevard, east of Desert Foothills Parkway, Phoenix, AZ
Figure 1 Sample Bike Lane
Chandler Boulevard, west of Desert Foothills Parkway, Phoenix, AZ
Figure 2. Sample Bike Route w/small shoulder 
Chandler Boulevard, east of Desert Foothills Parkway, Phoenix, AZ

Figure 1 shows a real, honest-to-goodness bikelane. It meets AASHTO guidelines as to width, and is duely marked as a bike line not only by the solid stripe, but also both by ground symbol (in this case a diamond) and the proper black and white sign noting "right lane bike only". As a rule, this is typical of bike lanes in Phoenix.

Figure 2 is NOT a bike lane. The space to the right of the solid stripe neither meets the AASHTO guidelines for width (there is approximately 2 feet of asphalt), nor is it marked on the ground as a lane, nor is it marked with a lane sign. The route happens to be a signed Bike Route (the green sign) which simply means "a shared road-way which has been designated by signing as a preferred route for bicycle use". Note that it does not refer to space between the stripe and gutter, it is still just a shoulder. The signing, I believe, is doing more harm than good.
 

Figure 3. Ray Road, near Sun Ray Park: showing 3 narrow travel lanes and a 14 inch shoulder Figure 4. Closeup, showing 14 inch shoulder
Figure 3. Ray Road, near Sun Ray Park Figure 4. Closeup, showing foot-rule

Most of Ray Road in the city of Phoenix looks similar to Figure 2 -- it is a signed Bike Route (though the picture does not show the signs) with a shoulder stripe enclosing an approximately 2 foot shoulder. However, on the specific stretch of Ray Road referred to in the article the shoulder narrows dramatically -- to perhaps 14 inches (see Figure 4 with a foot-rule in the picture).

As should be crystal-clear from the picture in Figure 3, cyclists should be riding in the lane. Again, I am perplexed as to the efficacy of the stripe -- why is it there, anyway? And, again, I believe the presence of Bike route signs simply adds confusion, encouraging everyone, cyclists and motorists alike, to think it is appropriate (or even required) that cyclists ride in the non-existent "Bike Lane".

My quotes in the article came off a little odd, some of them seem misplaced. The article prompted a letter, which in turn prompted a very peculiar, anti-cycling letter. The very peculiar letter prompted a deluge of pro-cycling letters. The entire mess is presented below, in chronological order.

Enjoy. Comments are welcomed, you can email me at:

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Bicyclists looking for room to ride

By Doug Murphy Staff Writer
Copyright 2003 Ahwatukee Foothills News

What happened to the bike route on Ray Road after it was repaved and restriped in May?

According to the city, very little.

But as Tom Stillwell rode his bike along Ray Road past Sun Ray Park at 40th Street earlier this summer, he noticed that the lane for bikes suddenly narrowed from what he had remembered.

"I've ridden on Ray for years, and that bike lane has never been that narrow," said Stillwell, who lives near Ray Road and Thunderhill Place.

But Ed Beighe said that the lane's width has always been narrow.

"It's always been substandard, in terms of the bike lane," said Beighe, an avid bicyclist who lives in Ahwatukee Foothills. [I'm not sure exactly what I said, but this is a slight mis-quote -- I am well aware this is not a bike lane]

City crews did come back on June 21, after Stillwell complained, and moved lines as much as possible to create a mostly 4-foot-wide bike lane on Ray Road west of 48th Street.

But that highlighted another problem for bicyclists.

"There is one section (of Ray Road) between 41st Place and 41st Street that was not built to the right standard," said Briiana Leon, a traffic engineer with the city of Phoenix.

"It was supposed to be 35 feet (wide), and it was actually only built 34 feet, so right there in that 200 feet there is a section (of bike path) that is only 3 feet instead of 4 feet," she said. [The term bike path is blatantly wrong: Briiana Leonard confirmed to me via private email 8/27/2003: "Thanks for pointing that out. I have the email I sent him (Doug Murphy, the reporter) defining it as a bike route. It is definitely not a path but rather a route."]

National standards say a bike lane should be at least 5-feet wide, but because Ray Road is too narrow the city calls the small lane a "bike route," according to Leon.

Beighe said a similar problem exists on Chandler Boulevard east of Desert Foothills Parkway.

"From Thunderhill there is a stretch, it's only about a mile, to Desert Foothills Parkway that's just a nightmare because it has the same nonsense," he said.

"It's got a stripe and maybe two feet of asphalt and the gutter pan. If you asked anybody they would tell you it's a bike lane, but it isn't a bike lane and it's not wide enough for a wide truck or something to pass you," Beighe said.

"What about safety?" asked Stillwell who has ridden his bicycle on Ahwatukee Foothills streets for years.

"I'm riding along (Ray Road), and I think I have this amount of space, and suddenly it narrows up on me," he said.

"This isn't a kids travel lane, this is a commuter lane. Kids shouldn't be on Ray Road at all. So this is purely about commuting, which means it's purely about the environment and about traffic congestion and quality of life," Stillwell said.

"That's really the bottom line, is this a bicycle friendly city or isn't it? If this is a city that encourages people who live in the world's largest cul-de-sac to commute, they have to give people a place to do it."

Even though the traffic lanes can't be narrowed any more to provide additional space for bicyclists, and widening the street is cost prohibitive, one city worker sees a few available improvements.

"To help improve conditions, I will ask my staff to trim up the tree along the north side of the road that is encroaching into the sidewalk area and slightly encroaching the shoulder of Ray Road," Phoenix traffic engineering supervisor Mike Cynecki wrote in an e-mail.

"Furthermore, the bushes along the north curb between 41st Street and 40th Street need to be trimmed back to prevent any encroachment into the shoulder."

Finally, he said, street crews will look at landscaping all along Ray Road that may be encroaching into the street.

But, Beighe said, "It's not a bike lane and it was never built as a bike lane."

"The legal, proper thing to do, is to ride out in the street, but sometimes that affects people," Beighe said.

The reporter can be reached at (480) 898-7914 or by e-mail at
 



September 12, 2003

Support continues to lag for bicyclists, bike lanes

Dear Editor:

Thank you for your Aug. 27th article "Bicyclists Looking for Room to Ride."

I've never understood why a community such as Ahwatukee must live with skinny little bike lanes. Traffic travels at very high rates of speed (typically 50 mph or faster) on Ahwatukee roads. For years we have been encouraged to bike more and drive less to reduce traffic congestion, reduce pollution and conserve gas. Do we need more reasons to provide wider and safer routes for bicyclists to travel? While we encourage biking, we actually discourage the average biker because our roads don't support safe biking.

I've lived in Madison, Wis., with safe bike trails and wide bike lanes. I've seen bike trails in Denver, Colo., that allow citizens to travel from the city outskirts all the way to downtown on trails that are well away from busy roads. Both areas are beautiful and support active, healthy lifestyles. Ahwatukee, with beautiful South Mountain right in our back yard, should also be encouraging the outdoor, healthy and active lifestyle. The number of runners and bikers that are out every morning despite the dangerous conditions are an indication of the enormous potential if we were to provide reasonable biking accommodations.

Cactus Bike is planning on offering beginner bike rides from our shop in October, and we are busy looking at a variety of bike routes. It would be great if our riders could feel safe biking through our beautiful community without the fear of being hit by a car traveling 50 mph less than three feet away.

Cactus Bike is beginning a grass-roots campaign to get this situation improved. We have a petition at our bike shop (51st Street north of Elliot Road to Piedmont Road) that anyone can sign that will be presented to the City Council in December. We hope this small step will begin to build energy behind a change of thinking.

Improving our bike lanes is a start toward cleaning the air, reducing our dependency on fuel and improving the quality of life in Ahwatukee and Phoenix.

Brian Anciaux

President, Cactus Bike



October 8, 2003

Roads are for cars, not bikes

Dear Editor:

To all bicyclists and Brian Anciaux in particular. Please let this sink into your gray matter. Regardless of the political propaganda espoused by environmentalists (you folks included) and hypocritically supported by our elected officials, our streets and highways are not built for horses, golf carts, pedestrians, skaters or bicycles. Their primary purpose and reason for being is the orderly expeditious movement of motor vehicles. You got that?

Any mode of travel, other than by car, truck or motorcycle, takes second place or less in the pecking order. Regardless of what some bogus law or regulation may state, the simple reality is you are on the hind teat if you choose the pedal instead of the metal.

Not only do you look ridiculous in your silly helmets, spandex and prayer-rug riding style, you raise the ire of motorists who have to decelerate and swing wide around you. If you must do it, please stay on residential streets where the motor vehicle traffic is light. In my opinion and that of many others, a bicyclist on a major street or highway is a Cloud Nine dreamer just waiting to be pasted on somebody's bumper.

Yours Aye & Semper Fi,

Bob McCarthy

Department of Public Safety retired
 



October 22, 2003

Improved bike lanes 1 step to improving relations with autos

Dear Editor:

I would like to respond to Mr. Bob McCarthy's letter to the editor of October 8.

Cactus Bike is working to improve air quality, reduce fuel dependency and improve the quality of life in Ahwatukee Foothills and Phoenix. At the same time, I recognize that bikers can "raise the ire of motorists who have to decelerate and swing wide around (us)." This is the exact reason why bike lanes and bike routes in the Ahwatukee area should be improved. With properly designed bike lanes and bike routes and courteous behavior by bikers and drivers, we should all be able to enjoy our beautiful community together.

As I mentioned in my previous letter, Cactus Bike has a petition at our bike shop (51st Street north of Elliot Road to Piedmont) that anyone can sign that will be presented to the City Council in December. This petition encourages our city decision-makers to work to improve the bike lane and bike path situation in Ahwatukee. We already have more than 100 signatures. Obviously, the more signatures, the more impact we will have so I encourage everyone to swing by and sign the petition.

As to Mr. McCarthy's other complaints, everyone has a right to their opinion and I respect his difference of opinion on this matter. However, Cactus Bike remains committed to working toward improving the environment in Ahwatukee for bicyclists and hope that many others will join us in our mission.

Brian Anciaux

President, Cactus Bike
 

Anti-bike letter unfit to print

Dear Editor:

I am writing to you regarding the trash that was printed in your paper recently (Letter to Editor: Roads are for cars, not bikes, Oct. 8).

This man scares me, not just because he is so ignorant about bikes and road laws and is a prime candidate for road rage himself, but rather he is a former (thankfully former) DPS (Department of Public Safety) employee. I work with many police officers. They all know and respect the rights and laws that bicyclists deserve. It's outrageous that your paper can print such hatred, prejudice, and ignorance is unbelievable. This so-called retired "man of the law" is practically advocating motorists to run down bicyclists, and you're supporting this by printing it. Mr. Bob McCarthy should try to help get the cities to build more bike lanes if he doesn't believe in laws or regulations.

I pay taxes and I vote, so I too have a right to be on the streets.

I have been on a three-lane road with no traffic other than one idiot motorist who wanted to try and prove some kind of point by running me off the road. I was lucky he didn't kill me and the law proved that he was wrong. If any other motorist feels that slowing down a little, swinging around a cyclist is too difficult or frustrating, maybe they should get a taxi, take the bus or leave earlier because I will still obey the law and use my rights to ride on the streets of the United States of America.

Guy Bell
 

Safe driving, sharing the road not inconvenience

Dear Editor:

I am writing to voice my concern at the comments of one Bob McCarthy in your newspaper recently: "a bicyclist on a major street or highway is a Cloud Nine dreamer just waiting to be pasted on somebody's bumper" (Ahwatukee Foothills News Oct. 8, 2003).

Mr. McCarthy further informs us that "Regardless of what some bogus law or regulation may state, the simple reality is you are on the hind teat if you choose the pedal instead of the metal."

Convenient as it may be to dismiss any laws that you don't agree with as bogus, the laws still apply to you, Mr. McCarthy. Cyclists are welcome to ride in bike lanes on major streets such as Pecos Road and motorists are obliged to pass them with due caution. In your own words, "You got that?"

If the writer had confined his musings to the dangers of cycling alongside careless motorists, I might have considered his thoughts more favorably.

However, comments such as "you look ridiculous in your silly helmets, spandex" suggest the letter is written with more than the public's safety in mind. I guess Mr. McCarthy never wore a silly football helmet or ridiculous hockey pads. A shame. He might have greater empathy for his pedal-powered companions on the road.

I am not a cyclist myself, per se. I simply don't think it is a major inconvenience to drive past my bicycling neighbors in a manner that is safe and courteous.

Eamonn Condon



October 29, 2003

Bicycles are traffic

Dear Editor:

Bob McCarthy informed us of his opinion on bicycles not being on the road in his letter to the editor on Oct. 8.

First of all, roads existed long before the motorized vehicle was invented and never have these roads been restricted only to motorized transport. There are certain laws which govern slower moving traffic (which includes bicycles).

If your car is having mechanical issues and you are only able to drive 20 mph, you too would need to follow the exact same laws that a bicyclist does. In Arizona, these include staying to the right and not entering freeways within city limits. Bicyclists must signal turns, stop at stop signs, merge with traffic when there isn't room for two vehicles to move side by side, and follow all other rules of the road. If a bicyclist is violating any of these laws then Bob is right, they shouldn't be on the road, just like many drivers who violate the same laws should not be on the road.

Bicycles only cause a few seconds of inconvenience in your day when everyone is following the same laws and paying attention to one another. A few seconds of everyone's time is worth there being one less bit of smog in our skies, one less dangerous piece of metal moving toward you at deadly speeds, and one less overweight American. Take a deep breath and remember this the next time you have to slow down for a bicycle.

Mike Benjamin



October 31, 2003

McCarthy's opinion not worth the ink

Dear Editor:

To actually print the opinion of Bob McCarthy (Oct. 8), who says that "our streets and highways are not built for horses, golf carts, pedestrians, skaters or bicycles," you are only fostering and keeping alive the negative and outdated views of people who are not aware of or too stupid to heed the state laws.

Regardless of whether it's a school bus, farm tractor, pedestrian, child, old person, bicyclist, dog or cat, it's the responsibility of the motorist to slow down. This takes a very small amount of effort and brainpower due to the excellent braking technology available in all cars today. For Bob McCarthy to say that "a bicyclist on a major street or highway is a Cloud Nine dreamer just waiting to be pasted on somebody's bumper" shows that he is not tolerant of any of the normal day-to-day traffic that must share the road, which, by the way, was not designed only for cars.

As for cyclists, they are usually well-adjusted professionals who are trying to stay in shape. I imagine that Bob is a typical overweight, ugly American with no better pastime than to spout fear and anger over all those things that he can't control.

And you really shouldn't even be printing his brand of diatribe. Shame on you.

Bryan Fox

Please, don't take anti-bicycle letter seriously

Dear Editor:

I read a letter to the editor in your publication on Oct. 8 that astonished me. It was titled "Roads are for cars, not bikes" by Robert McCarthy.

Mr. McCarthy's fundamental argument that streets are for motor vehicles is incorrect. While his letter was printed in your editorial section, it was negligent on your part to publish such misinformation as it infects readers who don't know the law and stretches the bounds of free speech through the author's "advocacy of lawless activity."

There is no second-class, road-user designation. We are sharing and paying for the same infrastructure. The fact is that bicycles are traffic and are subject to the same rules and regulations as other system users including motorists.

See Arizona Revised Statutes Title 28 articles 812 and 815:

* http://www.azleg.state.az.us/ars/28/00812.htm

* http://www.azleg.state.az.us/ars/28/00815.htm

How a former DPS (Department of Public Safety) employee can espouse this inaccuracy is difficult to determine but may explain why he was retired from the department.

Furthermore, the road system that Mr. McCarthy takes such pride and ownership in was initiated in the late 19th century by bicyclists seeking smooth surfaces on which to efficiently transport themselves. This was decades before the invention and rise of the automobile.

As a bike commuter who has pedaled across continents, around our beautiful state and by Mr. McCarthy's country club, I can happily say from experience that Mr. McCarthy's ire is the exception among motorists. The time lost by a motorist in "decelerating and swinging wide" around a bicycle driver is obviously minuscule and certainly costs less than a vehicular manslaughter charge. Residential streets are great for beginning riders but for those of us that use bikes to get from one place to another, major streets and highways were constructed for this purpose and cyclists have the right to a lane since forcing motorists to see them is often the safest method of operating a bicycle.

I respectfully plead with your readership to consider Mr. McCarthy's misinformed and dangerous comments to be the guttering last gasps of an ignorant, and outdated citizen whose only sense of power and control comes from pointing his gas-powered metal box around the city and writing editorials about how frustrating it can be.

In addition, I encourage your readers to look around their town and consider its excellent system of streets, pedestrian facilities and trails. These are the amenities that contribute to the quality of life you sought when locating here. Whether you like these systems or not, you can get involved in local and regional governments to change them rather than venting misplaced anger and unhealthy fallacies on your neighbors.

Semper pedalus.

Your body, mind and wallet will thank you.

Jonathan Reed



November 12, 2003

Guest commentary

Intolerant motorist 'out of step' with fellow man

By Robert A. Beane

It was informative of you to publish the recent letter from an apparently angry and intolerant Bob McCarthy "Department of Public Safety retired." Not only did that (Oct. 8) letter confirm the wisdom of his retirement from an organization sworn to uphold the law (something he might have difficulty with, given his letter), but it helped to confirm that those of us who support Sharing the Road still have some work to do.

Mr. McCarthy is clearly incorrect in stating that roads are not for bikes. That has never been the case in this country (with very few exceptions, specifically portions of the Interstate Highway system). Perhaps he is not aware that:

* The Legislature of our country has allocated about 3 percent of annual transportation funding for bicycling and other alternatives to motor vehicles. It isn't much, but we don't need nearly as much to be accommodated.

* The state of Arizona recently enacted a law specifically requiring motor vehicles to allow bicyclists a 3-foot "safe passing" distance when passing a bicyclist on the road.

* A number of communities in the Valley have bicycle and pedestrian coordinators, planners, active planning processes and miles of bike lanes and infrastructure.

* Tempe, Mesa and Gilbert have applied for, and received, recognition as "Bicycling Friendly Communities" as designated by the League of American Bicyclists.

* City signs in Ahwatukee and throughout Phoenix promote "Sharing the Road."

* Both the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Maricopa County Department of Transportation have processes for considering the needs of bicyclists in developing road designs and future plans and have dedicated staff to pursue those ends. This is not only for bicyclists, but to make travel safer for all road users.

As a member of the Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists, I work actively to promote ways in which bicyclists and other road users can safely Share the Road with motorists. As a member of a 350-member recreational bicycling club, I recognize that neither all cyclists nor all motorists always conduct themselves in a manner conducive to that ideal. That is why our club and the coalition continue to support and fund cyclist and motorist education, such as we are doing now by funding a video public service announcement for television that explains the 3-foot passing law and promotes Sharing the Road.

I am proud to be associated with a diverse group of people who have some environmental, health and fitness concerns, and I find it sad that Mr. McCarthy takes issue with these positive attributes. And, I'll keep wearing my "silly" helmet and bright-colored cycling attire (and recommend that parents of children who bicycle in his neighborhood have their children do the same), so that if he decides to "paste me (or one of your children) on his bumper" that we have a chance to survive that assault, and so neither the DPS or other officers upholding the law, the jury, nor the judge will believe that he didn't see us.

In a year when American athletes proudly finished first and fourth in Le Tour de France, I believe that the USA is as much a cycling nation as we have been in a hundred years. Bicycling on the road, when done safely and properly, is a legally protected and enjoyable form of transportation, recreation and fitness. Mr. McCarthy is sadly just wrong and out of step with his fellow man.

Robert A. Beane, a resident of Ahwatukee Foothills since 1992, is the 2003 president of the Phoenix Metro Bicycle Club and proud member of the Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists.
 

Anti-cyclist letter found offensive

Dear Editor:

As a cyclist that lives in the Ahwatukee area, I must say I was extremely offended by Bob McCarthy's letter to the editor, "Roads are for cars, not bikes" that you ran in your newspaper (Oct. 8.).

It truly angered many of us. I am too angry to elaborate or stoop to his level, but would like an apology from your newspaper to the large ever-growing bike community that lives in the Ahwatukee area.

Biking is why most of us live in the "tookes," so yes we will fight for it ... when blatantly provoked.

Angry,
Chris Capages



November 14, 2003
 

Sharing in hot water

Dear Editor:

Thank God for Bob McCarthy! Now there's someone else to take the heat.

Jim Thompson



November 19, 2003

Attack on bicycles goes too far

Dear Editor:

Regarding the Oct. 8 letter to the editor from Bob McCarthy.

I was very surprised and disappointed in the irrational and inhumane ramblings of one individual (who claims to be speaking for many others, but I still like to believe most humans are of kind heart and respect one another). This was based on no facts, but rather one person's emotions.

This shows how bitter and uncaring people are becoming. I have noticed this in many areas other than cycling. It is people like this (those who need anger management counseling) that also end up in road rage. Human life is precious and we all need to get along.

Environmentally, I know of no recent research that states motor vehicles are less polluting than golf carts, skates or bicycles. So maybe it is propaganda, but don't you think if we really paid attention to it, we could make this a better world?

In some countries, bicycles are the primary form of transportation. Also in those countries, obesity is not such a problem. Have you paid any attention to how overweight our country is becoming? This is definitely a major health crisis coming to a head.

One last comment on that statement that includes "silly helmets." This does not help at all to promote safety and getting our kids to wear helmets as they ride to school. This is extremely surprising and also supports the irrationalness of someone who claims to be retired from the Department of Public Safety.

I would hope in the future, that the Ahwatukee Foothills News editors would pay more attention to what they allow to go to print and that the content of the articles do more good than harm for our society.

Debbie Fox
 

Letter writer raises pertinent issue regarding cyclists, motorists on roads

Dear Editor:

I appreciate Bob McCarthy's (Oct. 8) letter concerning bicycles on our roads as it brings up a very pertinent and charged issue.

First off, though, I would dare say that McCarthy's aggressive ad hominim attack of cyclists greatly devaluates his argument. I will avoid using such tactics, as I view this tactic to be petty and trivial ultimately it gets us nowhere. For the sake of our community, I would like to ask Mr. McCarthy, and those who share his views, to keep an open mind while reading my response.

Increased traffic and larger vehicles make cycling on our roads a dangerous proposition. I agree with McCarthy's suggestion; bicyclists should attempt to ride on residential streets where motor traffic is light. Often, though, this is entirely impractical. For instance, some individuals rely on their bicycles for daily transportation and use major streets to conduct their affairs.

Other cyclists use our roads for recreational purposes, riding on city roads to access more rural routes. For these people, roads are gateways to see some of the most spectacular scenery this country has to offer. Unfortunately, to access these areas, often one must ride across a sprawl of high-traffic streets.

In spite of your personal opinion, I must point out that bicyclists have the legal right to ride on roads, so long as they observe certain guidelines (most highways excluded). For this reason, law-abiding motorists are required to recognize and observe this right. Plain and simple: automobiles must share the road with bicycles.

In the best of situations, a motorist gives appropriate room while passing a cyclist. (What is appropriate? Imagine it's your child because, remember, he or she is someone's child.) When oncoming traffic makes passing a problem, the motorist should wait patiently for a few moments, until the appropriate time.

In the worst cases, as Mr. McCarthy states, the cyclist is "pasted on somebody's bumper." Honestly, the way McCarthy arrogantly alludes to vehicular manslaughter disturbs me.

It must also be said that cyclists should also strive to use our roads better after all, sharing the road is a two-way street (forgive the pun). To cyclists: I challenge you to ride more responsibly. Ride no more than double file (yes, this is the law), and keep to the right as much as possible.

By showing a little compassion to our fellow citizens both motorist and cyclist we can more safely share our roads.

Cody Harple
 

McCarthy's letter breaks rules

Dear Editor:

I am the Bicycle Safety and Education Committee Chair and Certified Safety Course Instructor for the Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists. We teach cyclists to obey all traffic laws and rules of the road, to safely be part of the overall street traffic, and give to, and be accorded, respect by motorists.

I am in receipt of a news item attributed to your Ahwatukee Foothills News, Letter to the Editor, from a Robert O. McCarthy wherein he called laws and regulations as being "Bogus." He (or you) even seemed to relish the thought of harming cyclists by them getting "pasted on somebody's bumper." Is this your "community's standards?"

The media seems to like to promote controversy, even when the information is from an obviously less-than-knowledgeable source. To say the media appears to use uncaring tactics to get attention, even when it is hurtful to our community as a whole, is a sad commentary about the ethics of journalists. The Clear Channel radio network has had to make some serious apologies lately from many shows in several states that thought it great sport to have mean-spirited programs about motorists wanting to harm cyclists.

I would also recommend that this letter writer (and the editor) look up the bicycle (and pedestrian) traffic laws in the United States at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/bike/resourceguide/. You will find that cyclists must abide by all motor vehicle laws and specific laws related to bicycles. Cyclists have full rights to the road, and the traffic laws in the USA and each and every state grants that.

Richard Lorance
Education chairman
Coalition of AZ Bicyclists
 

Community's growth causes road troubles

Dear Editor:

I was discouraged, though not surprised to read Mr. Bob McCarthy's recent letter to the editor (Oct. 8) regarding cyclists and pedestrians on our neighborhood streets. I think that most people in this area are aware of the increasing problems with traffic congestion that have come as a result of Ahwatukee's growth.

We can all agree that there are not enough roads to keep the traffic flowing smoothly, especially during peak hours. However, Mr. McCarthy was misdirecting his anger by blaming cyclists and pedestrians for this problem.

The problem is that streets in our neighborhood are required to carry many times the number of motorized vehicles that they were designed for. The unfortunate fact is that this problem will probably continue to worsen as development in our neighborhood increases.

Because of that, it is more important than ever that all individuals using these roads are respectful of each other and that they obey the laws. According to those laws, cyclists are allowed to ride in the bike lanes. All people using the roads, be they pedestrians (including children), cyclists or motorists, need to be respectful of each other and obey regulations regarding vehicle speeds, right of way and traffic signals. Individuals who fail to do so risk causing personal injury to other members of this community, as well as considerable damage to personal property.

Thank you.

Nina Russin



November 26, 2003 (click for link to originals)

Bicycle critic might relax through cycling

Dear Editor:

I am saddened that as a former DPS (Department of Public Safety) employee, Mr. Bob McCarthy (Letters to editor, Oct. 8) chooses not to respect his fellow taxpayers who ride bicycles for recreation or transportation.

Bicycles, cars and trucks all share the same legal rights and responsibilities on the roads. Fortunately, most motorists recognize this fact, and most do not mind giving a bicycle the three feet of space which Arizona law requires as they pass by. Most cyclists also try very hard not to disrupt the flow of traffic; the cyclist has no desire to endanger him or herself by straying into the paths of motor vehicles.

Cyclists set positive examples of fitness for others, and also help their employers by requiring fewer sick days and less insurance costs for obesity and heart-related illnesses. The decreased car emissions and reduction of traffic are just extra benefits. Perhaps the next time Mr. McCarthy is stuck in traffic, he will be glad that a few cyclists are not in their cars in the traffic jam with him, further increasing his driving time.

Mr. McCarthy, I invite you to try cycling. Stay off busy roads until you learn to ride alongside motor traffic comfortably. After a few rides, your stress level will drop, you will feel better, and you won't mind giving bikes a few feet of space when driving your vehicle.

Don't forget to wear a helmet, as it will protect your gray matter in case a pothole or, God forbid, a car causes you to suddenly depart your bike. You will also find that spandex cycling shorts and jerseys are much more comfortable than normal clothes for cycling, and that you can store food and tire repair supplies in the convenient jersey pockets.

Plenty of your fellow Marines are cyclists. Maybe you'd enjoy joining them!

Anne E. C. Johnson
 

Cyclists need to obey traffic laws

Dear Editor:

I have been a resident of Ahwatukee for 18 years and have seen this community grow greatly.

I have recently begun to continually encounter a problem that is becoming more and more of an issue, with a simple solution that never seems to be implemented. I am talking about the infestation of swarms of bicyclists into our streets. They do not obey traffic laws, nor seem to care about anyone else on the road, worse they believe that they have some right above anyone else to be on our roads.

All of these problems could be solved with the local police taking the corrective steps and ticketing these individuals for violations of traffic laws. Some small fraction of these cyclists are, of course, members of our own community; however, what makes this situation worse, is that many of them are not.

I understand about riding a bike in the streets. I ride my bike to work (about 12 miles each way) two or three times a week. Working in downtown Tempe, I have noticed that the Tempe Police do spend time pulling over and ticketing bike riders, fines which are as equally expensive as if you were driving a car when breaking the law. The amazing thing about this is that when you are in the high traffic downtown Tempe area, you do not have as many problems with bicyclists. It is a simple rule, if people know they can get away with doing things, they will do it.

Now I am not asking that the police go insane in cracking down on cyclists for every little thing; however, I would truly like to see them do something productive and at least go after those who are running stop signs and riding in swarms that are clearly, and unnecessarily, causing traffic obstructions. This will not only be protecting the drivers, but the cyclists themselves.

Jeremy Piwowarczyk



December 3, 2003 (click here and here for link to originals)

Editorial

Letters to editor take proper spot in society

This opinion page has seen its share of viewpoints expressed this year through letters to the editor in colorful, thoughtful and oftentimes emotional words.

Columnist Linda Turley-Hansen took her share of knocks as did health writer Agi Oblas.

However, the one opinion that has attracted the most attention in 2003 is Bob McCarthy's letter to bicycle riders. His take on the incompatibility of vehicles and bicycles sharing the road so riled people that the responses are still coming in, long after his letter appeared on Oct. 8.

A few people agreed with him. Most did not. Many attacked him personally, although, in fairness, he came out swinging. Some expressed astonishment that the newspaper would print such a letter.

But neither McCarthy nor his viewpoint is the message of this editorial. Rather it is addressed to those folks who believe newspapers should refrain from spreading ink for gritty opinion.

Few probably remember that McCarthy was writing in response to a Sept. 12 letter by Brian Anciaux, who was commenting on an Aug. 27 article in the Ahwatukee Foothills News about narrow bicycle lanes on roadways. Anciaux encouraged people to stop by his business and sign a petition he plans to present to the Phoenix City Council asking for safer bicycle lanes.

It may come as little surprise to readers that both Anciaux and McCarthy were taking advantage of the last bully pulpit in America the letters to the editor page. Anciaux took his cause to the public, and McCarthy responded. It's unfortunate that some of those who followed McCarthy's letter focused on the man himself and not on the issue, but such is the nature of public debate and of politics. The conversation sometimes drifts and sometimes offends.

To the more sensitive readers, we ask: How much should a newspaper edit a letter to the editor? Should all offensive words be removed? How does a newspaper know what is offensive and what is not?

The staff at this newspaper struggles with these questions with every issue. This newspaper works diligently at printing as many letters as possible and editing them as little as possible because heavy editing threatens to stifle the flavor and fullness of the writer's message. Speech goes on all the time on the streets, in the office, in restaurants, in movie lines and in the schoolyard that offends people, but it's all part of the way people express themselves. Why should only those who use the Queen's English be published?

Newspapers invite letters and print them because in an age of chat rooms, e-mail and instant messaging, newspapers remain the best place for community issues to be knocked about as part of the open debate that is structural to free societies. It is the place for public issues to be brought to light and to attract the attention of elected officials and the community at large.

Anciaux and McCarthy have unearthed a popular issue with many components here in Ahwatukee Foothills, regardless of the outcome on whether bike lanes get widened, the community has profited from the debate these men sparked.

-- John Conway, editor
 

Anti-bike letter makes a point, but is still harsh

Dear Editor:

I am writing about the roads-are-for-cars guy, Bob McCarthy. I am a cyclist here in the area, and at first I thought Bob's letter was a little harsh and somewhat callous.

Upon further observation, I realized that Bob is a Marine and that Bob is somewhat opinionated. I tried to put my personal feelings aside and this is what I came up with.

Bob talks about the roads only being for cars. He has a point that the main purpose for the roads is car travel. The other side of that is the fact that there are bike lanes made wider to accommodate cyclists (and other alternate travel). I think that Bob has also missed the fact that some people cannot afford any type of transportation other than a bicycle and he has no regard for their problem either. Now I am not asking for Bob to start caring about the problems of others but maybe a little understanding of other people's situations could be given.

My next point of view for Bob would be the fact that he is an ex-Marine. (I am guessing on the ex part.) Anyway, the fact is that Bob went off to defend a country of people who he now feels he has earned the right to pick and choose how they get around from place to place. Obviously, Bob feels he has earned his place in the surrounding community to the point of some type of leadership role.

My final point is the one about the "Bogus Laws." Now Bob used the word "hypocritically" which shows him to be the biggest hypocrite of us all. He talks about "laws" which he defended at some point and time, but now chooses to live life in the world according to Bob.

The only point to this letter is to hopefully get Bob to realize that he is not the only person who needs to get from point A to point B and maybe people have reasons for why they do what they do. Maybe they should not have to explain their position in life because Bob feels he has some leadership role that he has found his way into.

Thanks for your time, and best luck to Bob.

One of Bob's sheep,

Trip Clayton


Motorist Fatalities and Speeding Along Pecos Road

There were two, unrelated, motorist fatalities along Pecos; November 28th and December 2nd. See stories: City rushes ahead with Pecos safety work 12/19/03 , Pecos Road accident kills teen, injures 1, Safe motoring begins with attitude 12/17/03, Deaths raise questions about Pecos Road, Push accelerates to slow speeders:

"People are going entirely too fast," said Officer Tom Craig, who has stopped drivers traveling as much as 120 mph on Pecos Road, where the speed limit is 50 mph. "This just has to stop," he said.

Assistant police Chief Debora Byers Black stressed that officers "expect people to adhere to the traffic laws," and will issue citations to violators.

My [Phoenix Police Lt. Michael J. Cecchini] observations and the recent fatal accidents on Pecos Road have strengthened my resolve to continue traffic speed enforcement in the Ahwatukee Foothills community. ...You might be wondering why we focus our efforts on speeding enforcement. According to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA), the research arm for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding is one of the most prevalent factors contributing to traffic crashes.

Monday morning, police wrote 11 speeding tickets in an hour, according to Phoenix police Sgt. Sean Connolly. All of the drivers were traveling faster than 75 mph with the fastest going 89 mph

"High speeds are inexcusable," said Phoenix Police Chief Harold Hurtt. "When you exit the freeway, slow down -- that's the bottom line."

As a result by mid-January we have: More police equals fewer speeders on Pecos Road..."The average speed is dropping and the number of citations is decreasing," said Lt. Wayne Lorch of the department's traffic bureau. And: Enforcement slows Pecos traffic 02/13/04 ..."In other words, people have slowed down," police Lt. Mike Cecchini said.

In any event, there were many, many letters to the editor regarding speeding -- which I do not reproduce here. Most interstingly, our intrepid letter writer, retired DPS officer Bob McCarthy again weighs in on March 3, an interesting read...

December 10, 2003 (click here for link to originals)

McCarthy maintains position regarding on bicycles on road

Dear Editor:

Hey, we sure got the fur flying ... my writing the piece and you printing it. The response to my Oct. 8 letter seems to verify that highway bicyclists don't live in the real world.

Forty years in law enforcement convinced me that some have a repressed death wish, while others pedal along in glorious flights of fancy as drunk drivers, fatigued drivers, inattentive drivers, ad infinitum rapidly overtake them from the rear. Dumb, dumb, dumb!

When a collision occurs, as it has and will again, they lose . . . Period!

Yours, aye and Semper Fi.

P.S. Couldn't say these things when I was working. Had to bite my lip. But not now . . .

Bob McCarthy

Department of Public Safety retired
 

Maybe cyclists should be licensed

Dear Editor:

I would like to take a few minutes to respond to the ongoing war between motorists and cyclists in the Ahwatukee area.

I don't ride a bike for leisure, or exercise, because I prefer to run. During one of my four days of the week that I'm running, I witness more cyclists ignoring the rules of the road than I see motorists. I also witness this same behavior when I'm driving my vehicle. Many times I have witnessed groups of cyclists, or an individual, who run the lights or stop signs, because they don't want to have to slow down in fear of cooling off, or losing time. I usually witness this during the early morning time when traffic isn't as heavy. The most frequent violation that I witness is running the stop signs to merge into traffic.

My impression is that cyclists feel they don't have stop even though the motorist is in the right of way. I see this more and more especially when I'm driving. A few times I've had to brake because a cyclist ran the stop sign on my right side to merge into traffic, and took me by surprise. I'm a very conscious driver when I see cyclists or children in or near the street and become more defensive just in case of the unknown. However, when they violate the basic laws of the road, one of these days I might not see this person in their silly helmet, wearing their bright-colored attire and not stop in time before he/she becomes pasted to my bumper.

I have no dispute on who should use or have access to our streets. However, let's be honest. Some of the articles that I have read concerning this subject have stretched the truth to some degree.

Very, very few people who live in Ahwatukee use their bike as their main source of transportation. I would venture to say that not one person who responded using this viewpoint could name 10 people in Ahwatukee who do. And for those who responded making the environment an issue? The truth is the numbers are so low it doesn't have an impact. I'm not downplaying either one of these important viewpoints, but the facts speak for themselves. The majority of cyclists we see in our community are recreational riders only and should be restricted to certain times of the day to use the streets.

If they want to have the same rights as a motorist and be treated as an equal, they should be licensed. Just think what another source of tax revenue this could be for our community? Perhaps then cyclists would adhere to the basic rules of the road.

Bobby Mota


December 24, 2003 (click here for link to originals)

Bicycle critic makes valuable point

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to the letters recently published in the Ahwatukee Foothills News concerning the bicyclists in the foothills area.

Mr. Bob McCarthy may be a bit pointed and overzealous in making his case, but I agree to the point he makes that the roads are built primarily for the purpose of automobiles. Bicyclers are the beneficiaries of having a lane provided in a road when it is established. The road was not added to a bicycle trail to then accommodate cars.

The laws may favor the cyclist, but knowing you were in the "right" while recovering from some auto-bicycle accident doesn't seem like a worthwhile situation to me.

What I perceive as the problem is a lack of respect by cyclists to drivers. The bicycle lanes are one-lane wide for a reason, just as car lanes are one car width it's meant to be used one wide. Too often, bicyclists are riding four and five bikes wide down very busy streets such as Ray Road or Chandler Boulevard. When there is traffic, this is nothing but self-centeredness and disrespect. If police can give drivers citations for driving into the bike lane, then why can't they issue one for bikers riding as I just described?

When I drive around, if there is someone jogging, biking, skating or whatever, I will give him or her all the room I can so the person can enjoy the activity and be as safe as possible while doing so. Provided they are sharing and respectful to the others of the community. If they are not, they get the absolute bare minimums of room and courtesy. I would not intentionally hurt or do something to one of them, but I won't allow their "I'm the only one who matters" attitude to garner the same respect of those who do not act in this manner.

In the end, it's mutual respect that allows us all to do whatever activity we wish, in the most enjoyable way.

Thank you.

Vince Barron


December 26, 2003 (click here for link to originals)

Cyclists disrespect motorists on the road

Dear Editor:

I have been following the letters to the editor in the Ahwatukee Foothills News regarding the bicycle riders' dispute with Bob McCarthy's (Oct. 8) letter.

After recent experiences of my own, I have come to realize the bicycle riders feel the road is their own.

I am not referring to the family that goes for a bike ride together, but rather to the spandex lovers who ride in packs of 100 or more.

They ride in packs taking one-third or more of the driving lane. The bike lane is clearly marked but the entire pack rides completely outside the lane, forcing drivers to swerve into the oncoming traffic lane to pass the herd. When a vehicle approaches they don't even consider moving toward the bike lane. Instead they hold their ground in the driver's lane forcing the motorist to accommodate to them.

My experience with the Ahwatukee bike riders has shown they refuse to ride anywhere near their bike lane. The road can be shared. I do not drive in the bike lane, in return I expect the bike riders to obey all traffic laws of the road and to concede the driver's portion of a lane when a vehicle approaches.

Steve Dietrich


January 2, 2004 (click here for link to original letter)

Cyclists not community's greatest traffic problem

Dear Editor:

I found it ironic that Bobby Mota's letter, claiming that cyclists in the Foothills ignore the rules of the road more than motorists, appeared in the same issue of the Ahwatukee Foothills News where Phoenix police Officer Tom Craig is quoted as saying that they can't write speeding tickets fast enough on Pecos (Road), and that "We can't stop hundreds of cars." Minimum violation speed noted was 75 mph, which is 25 mph over the limit. I noted this evening on Pecos that after I set my cruise control at 50 mph, I was passed by 26 cars between 40th (Street) and Desert Foothills Parkway. However, I did note two other cars that seemed to be going 50 mph with me, so, not everyone is speeding on Pecos.

Are cyclists really the biggest problem with traffic safety in the Foothills?

Paul B. Anders



January 2, 2004

Cartoon from the East Valley section of Arizona Republic.  It's a little hard to see, but the sign is a take-off on the city of Phoenix's villiage sign with the reworked caption "Welcome to Ahwatukee Foothills Villiage... warm people, bright future (plenty of targets)" with a drawing of 4 cyclists with targets on them:
 




January 9, 2004 (click here for link to original letter)
 

McCarthy knows of what he speaks

Dear Editor:

I happened to pick up a copy of the Ahwatukee Foothills News while at the doctor's office. I read the rather defensive letters that were directed at my old friend and mentor, Bob McCarthy. For those of you that don't know him, Bob McCarthy holds the arrest and conviction records for the DUI's in the United States. As far as I know, Bob never lost a case. And when it comes to arrests, Bob wasn't out there booking every poor fool who had a couple of draft beers on the way home from work.

After leaving "the road," Bob took over the search and location of Arizona's registered sex offenders. Bob seemed to be the guy who cared more about the community than his own career and self-elevation. The man has done Arizona's dirty work for more than half his life. He is truly one person who has made the world a better place to be.

As for the cyclists who love to adorn themselves as though they were peacocks instead of grown men, I've seen your conga line packs as though you were the Hell's Angels on Pecos Road. Folks are in cars whizzing by at 65-75 miles per hour and you all are playing a combination of follow the leader and chicken. You've got a bike lane, use it. Arguing about your rights as a vehicle while playing chicken with a 4,000-pound car is like taking a knife to a gunfight.

You all need to pay attention to what Bobby Mac has to say. He raced with the devil since the Marines during Korea. The man ain't just lucky, he knows what he's talking about.

Bill Richardson
Master police officer, retired



January 21, 2004 (click here for link to original letter)

Pecos Road dangerous to cyclists as well

Dear Editor:

After reading Doug Murphy's (Dec. 24, 2003) article regarding the city of Phoenix's response to the recent fatalities on Pecos Road, I agree the connection of Pecos Road to Interstate 10 and the Loop 202 has essentially created an extended on/off ramp to the freeway and something needs to be done to slow the traffic. Why didn't the engineers realize this before they connected Pecos to the freeway, or was this always the plan to eliminate Pecos Road and just extend the 202 around the residential area?

I have two primary concerns: 1) Where are the bicycle lanes in this new drawing? and 2) How many cyclists' fatalities will it take to make changes that will address the safety of cyclists on Pecos Road?

I am a resident who travels approximately 8,000 miles a year on my bicycle in the Ahwatukee area, and Pecos Road has been part of my route and hundreds of other cyclists' route for years. I am frustrated in seeing the drawing without bike lanes.

Obviously Mr. Bob McCarthy was right in that cyclists are second-class citizens and an accident waiting to happen. I hope he can explain that to the loved ones of every cyclist that is killed by a useless motorist rushing to the shopping mall!

As a cyclist, Pecos Road has become too dangerous and essentially useless. I just wish the city planners would have let the residents know this was the plan years ago. I would not have moved here in the first place. I, like many other cyclists, chose to live here (because of all the bike lanes and the quiet Pecos Road) above many other choices. Obviously I was wrong! I will be calling my realtor!

I just hope the city planners can live with the deaths of cyclists and their families better than they can live with the death of motorists.

James Jewell
 

Plenty of blame to go around for traffic safety problems

Dear Editor:

Many recent letters to the Ahwatukee Foothills News regarding bicycling and continuing traffic safety problems attempt to affix the blame for problems to one group or the other. It's easy, as there is plenty of blame to go around.

First, blame the design of roads in the Foothills. While we have more bike lanes than most of Phoenix, they come and go for no reason on major roads (e.g. Desert Foothills Parkway). The ones that do exist are often substandard in width.

Next, blame those cyclists who disobey traffic laws and safe riding practices and blame the local police for doing very little to enforce the law. Assuming there were even remotely enough police in the Foothills to cover it, in the first place.

And blame the motorists. A police officer recently quoted in the AFN said he's never seen such poor driving in his career until he started patrolling here. We had to spend over $1 million for a bridge because drivers were unwilling to slow down in a school zone. Two fatalities in a single week on Pecos Road. Constant speeding, red-light running, lack of signaling and inattentiveness due to cell phone use while driving are commonplace. Add in the penchant for driving enormous vehicles that barely fit in a lane and there isn't much room for anything else on the road.

Blame the pressure and bustle. It breeds intolerance, road rage and a get-out-of-my-way attitude that comes when you stop thinking of other road users as people and instead as things that are in your way.

How do we fix our problems? By getting past blaming and taking personal responsibility. If you're a cyclist, obey traffic laws and set an example for others. If you're a motorist, obey all traffic laws, be courteous, signal and respect other road users. Stop letting personal pressures affect your driving habits. If you're a public safety officer, enforce all traffic laws, independently of the type of road user. Vote for politicians who actually deliver on police services for our community. Fight against developers and city officials who provide substandard roads that do not serve all road users.

Paul B. Anders



January 23, 2004 (click here for link to original letter)
 

Thank cyclists for paved roads

Dear Editor:

There are a couple of issues that Bob McCarthy has missed while cruising through the highways and byways of Ahwatukee.

First, and most ironic, it is impossible to enter Ahwatukee from any direction without passing blue, purple and yellow signs that welcome you to Ahwatukee and show a group of bicyclists pedaling over the hills of "our fair city." These signs clearly project that bicycles play an important and acknowledged part in the local recreational scene.

Second, I will grant Bob the fact that our roads are primarily used for automotive transportation. However, it was the bicycle that gave America the impetus to start paving its streets in the first place.

In 1880, the Rochester, New York, Bicycle Club formed and got 15,000 people to petition against poor road conditions that caused accidents at Genesee Valley Park. A 25-cent tax on bicycles was raised to improve road conditions. Similar movements among cyclist all over the East Coast began a trend in highway paving. Even by 1893, the bike was still king of the road. In fact, Rochester, New York, police formed a bicycle squad to catch speeding motorists. So, bicycles and public safety workers do have a long history of cooperation, which we see reflected today with more and more police on bikes in crowded urban areas.

I admit that I might look more ridiculous in spandex than most, but a regular bicycling regimen has done more for my chronic high-blood pressure/hypertension than all my pills and doctors combined. Actually, Bob sounds like he could use a similarly therapeutic activity.

If Bob has to decelerate to avoid bicyclists, he clearly can't drive or is in the bicycle lane where he does not belong.

So Bob, look up and see the signs, and remember that most of the people you see on bikes are also motorists and are well aware of the need to share the road and use proper highway safety procedures. Roads simply are not just for cars. So, Bob, if you bump into my mass of bulging spandex, you are never going to pass the eye test at the Motor Vehicle Department and shouldn't be on the road.

Roger Hawkins



January 28, 2004 (click here for link to original letter)

McCarthy is right

Dear Editor:

Mr. Bob McCarthy is right; his critics are wrong

Preaching the law and righteousness of the cause will not change the fact that there are those that hate cyclists and that otherwise cycling on the road is inherently dangerous. For bringing that undeniable reality to the forefront, I thank Mr. McCarthy. But beware of those that hold a subtle intolerance for cyclists and subversively threaten our lives at almost any encounter.

One particularly bipolar letter truly illustrates this very real threat. Published Dec. 24, 2003, Ahwatukee Foothills News reader Vince Barron shares this outrageous admission, "When I drive around, if there is someone jogging, biking, skating or whatever, I will give him or her all the room I can so the person can enjoy the activity and be as safe as possible while doing so. Provided they are sharing and respectful to the others of the community. If they are not, they get the absolute bare minimums of room and courtesy. I would not intentionally hurt or do something to one of them, but I won't allow their 'I'm the only one who matters' attitude to garner the same respect of those who do not act in this matter."

So there you have it ladies and gentlemen, drivers like Mr. Barron who casually admit to threaten others with the "absolute bare minimums of room and courtesy" when they aren't "sharing and respectful to others of the community." Absolute. Bare. Minimums. That is the summary of a cyclist's exposure when pedaling on the road. Absolute is the certainty of injury or death when encountering an automobile. Bare is the protection a cyclist has against an automobile. Minimum is the level of tolerance a cyclist has against the whims of Mr. Barron in his automobile.

Fellow pedal-cyclists, please do not be offended by Mr. McCarthy's straightforward comments: Is he an anti-cyclist? I think not. He merely is trying to preserve lives by bluntly sharing his experience as a 40-year veteran of the Department of Public Safety. And to perfectly illustrate Mr. McCarthy's point, along comes Mr. Barron. He gladly shares the road with others, "Provided they are sharing and respectful to the others of the community."

Don Hake
 

Cyclists and motorists: Know the law and be respectful

Dear Editor:

As a fellow driver and cyclist, I'm disheartened by the ongoing banter in Ahwatukee Foothills News between motorists and cyclists. Some drivers act like they own the road, and anything that gets in their way is fair game. I doubt those drivers care if the victims of their ignorance are in another motor vehicle or on a bicycle. Remember, bicycles move much slower than cars and often must avoid glass and other debris give them some room. Some cyclists seem to forget their actions can affect a driver's attitude toward all cyclists. Even if you're right, be courteous.

Arizona bicycle laws to keep in mind:

* Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists.

* Bicycles must be as far to the right of the road as is practical and safe but may move to make left-hand turns, pass other vehicles, avoid debris and other obstacles and hazardous conditions.

* Bicyclists may take the lane when too narrow to safely share with another vehicle.

* Bicyclists may ride no more than two abreast, except in locations exclusively for bicycle use.

Try obeying laws and treating others as you'd like to be treated. Share the road!

Keith Waldrup


March 3, 2004 (click here for link to original letter)

[ For some background, be sure and see the box about Pecos motorist fatalities and speeding, above]

Guest commentary

Progress brings share of dangerous roadways for all

By Bob McCarthy

Although Melissa Keane did not intend for her (Jan. 28 issue) drawing of Pecos Road Then and Now as an endorsement of my position, that is exactly what she unconsciously has done.

Bicycling, skating, walking, horseback riding and other delightful pursuits were not only acceptable on our roads in the 19th century, they were essential in many cases for just plain survival. The advent of the motor vehicle changed all that.

Modern high-speed trafficways are designed for the safe and orderly expeditious movement of people and commerce. They are one of the major reasons that America is a superpower on the world scene. Using these fast tracks for physical exercise, regardless of what the statutes say ... a holdover from a time long gone ... is strictly a secondary use that should not be encouraged in this day and age. American taxpayers do not shell out billions of dollars for modes of transportation that have gone the way of the dodo. Enjoy those activities, but do not compete in the same arena with metal monsters that can swallow you whole.

Pecos Road is a great example of politically correct disasters. If the traffic engineers had set the speed limit without interference from the bureaucrats and/or politicians, it would most likely be 55-60 mph. The professionals use what is known as the 85th percentile to regulate speed zones. The percentile is based on a statistical truth that 85 percent of motorists will travel at a safe speed. The other 15 percent will always violate by going too slow or too fast. A 50 mph limit on Pecos is not realistic. Look at places on Interstate 10 and U.S. 60 where speed studies showed that Arizonans routinely disregarded the old "double nickel" and safely drove at an average of 68 mph. Thankfully, the Feds and ADOT (Arizona Department of Transportation) got the message in part; however, some stretches of highway are still mandated at 55 mph due to population density.

The city of Phoenix has long been questioned about setting realistic speed limits on its roadways. Speeds in school zones and residential areas are set by state law at 15 mph and 25 mph, respectively, and nobody argues with those limits. Outside of that, the cities are pretty much on their own as to how fast you can drive in other locales. Take 48th Street, for example, from Elliot to Warner. The limit is still 40 mph on a roadway that is wide enough to handle four semi-tractor trailers and a car sitting in the middle two-way turn lane. Ridiculous! Motorists regularly violate that limit because they know it is not unsafe to exceed it. Traffic officers and photo radar should be able to concentrate on the unsafe 15 percent that create the grand majority of our road problems.

Yes, Melissa, "... this is progress ..." You may not like it, but people and commerce have to M-O-V-E !

Ahwatukee Foothills resident Bob McCarthy is a retired Department of Public Safety officer.



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