Spoiler alert: No. Ray Road, in Phoenix, does not now, nor has it ever had a bike lane. As I wrote in 2003 and again in 2010 Is this a Bike Lane? the answer is a flat ‘No’. Bike lanes must be marked to be a bike lane. (this also applies to portions of Chandler Blvd under discussion).
This 2020 re-hash is prompted by the City of Phoenix’s installation of BMUFL (Bikes May Use Full Lane) signs in very late 2019 along portions of Ray Road and Chandler Blvd; everything else is as it has been for over 20 years; narrow lanes with an edge line, along with Bike Route signage.
Then, as now, I disagree with the City’s use of edge lines. I don’t think the new signs make the situation any more confusing — in other words, those who are confused remain confused. In fact the signs seem to have thrown them into full-blown cognitive dissonance.
Although I wouldn’t expect lay people to know about things like the MUTCD (the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices), AASHTO (American Association of State Highway Officials) manuals, and what the ARS (Arizona Revised Statutes, i.e. state law) says about how bicyclists legally use roads including those with narrow lanes... I would expect someone who was
presented as an implied as being an expert in the news article — “retired accident investigator Mike Cummins” quoted as saying “Quite honestly, I’ve always thought it was a bike lane,” to know more about such things.
What the city has done: decades ago (as a guess sometime in the 1980’s) when the road was designed, it was designed specifically to accommodate two general purpose through lanes; and only two lanes. These lanes are what’s known in the biz as “shared lanes”, as in they are shared amongst all types of traffic including slower moving traffic, which might include bicyclists. Slower moving traffic must use the right lane and faster traffic changes lane and passes.
Someone at the city got the idea some time ago, also decades ago, at least as far back as the early 1990’s when I arrived here to shrink the two nominal width lanes to very narrow; and add an edge line creating a small shoulder out of the left-over space at the right. They seem indifferent to the fact that this creates what appears to be a bike lane, but isn’t.
Green and white “Bike Route” signs add to the idea — among the unschooled — that these are bike lanes. This is despite the fact that actual Bike Lane signs being black and white, not green, and actually saying BIKE LANE instead of bike route.
(Black and white signs are regulatory; green signs are informational, and bike route signs are nothing more than wayfinding aids)
The notion that bicyclists are better off “away from” traffic , like on a narrow shoulder is tough to shake; however you should consider that the only two adults that have been killed while bicycling in the entire history of Ahwautkee (30+ years) were both struck while riding on shoulders; Don Anselmo (2004) and Highly Falkner (2014); both along Pecos Road — which is incidentally now gone, replaced by the new and last segment of the Loop 202 freeway. A third bicyclist, a juvenile, was killed in 2007 when police say he rode out at a stop sign onto Liberty Lane.
By the way, the city chose to use the unadorned BMUFL sign, I would have preferred they use the additional “Change Lanes to Pass” placard — this reinforces the message that vehicle drivers need to change into the next lane, at least partially, in order to pass safely and legally (with a minimum of three feet).
We know that there are dangerous drivers roaming around all over the place including Ahwatukee — we see the wreckage littering streets: walls knocked down, signal poles destroyed, bus stops mangled — they even occasionally do something unbelievably, grossly negligent; like the drivers that killed not one but two joggers on the sidewalk in Ahwatukee; one in 2011 and another in 2017
What shouldn’t be done
Strangely, right around the corner from here; Mountain Parkway between Ray Road and Chandler Blvd, the city just recently added a BL; in other words, they squeezed in a BL… in my view this isn’t good either. There just isn’t enough room. Why Mountain Parkway got new BLs and the parts of Ray that seem to identically sized (I don’t have drawings but it seems to be 26′ curb-to-curb in each direction) did not isn’t clear — though it may be a volume thing. It appears Ray has relatively high volume and Mountain Parkway i quite low volume. Both are posted 40mph; as are all the multilane arterials here with bends in them (45mph for the straight ones).