Phoenix media blitz addresses wrong-way riding

Phoenix last week rolled out a major media blitz to target wrong-way riding

bike-sign-2-tipsThey all struggle with the fact that the direction of riding on sidewalks, in Phoenix, is not regulated. In other words, it’s not illegal to ride counter-flow on Phoenix sidewalks. But they didn’t do a scrupulous job of noting the difference between legal counter-flow sidewalk riding, and the (always) illegal counter-flow street riding. Since the State of Arizona has chosen not to regulate riding on the sidewalk at all, and individual cites do, the topic is voluminous —  for much much more about sidewalk riding see sidewalk-cycling-in-arizona.

So some of the stories take odd turns, like the the notion that “…because riding a short distance against traffic sometimes might be safer, Wilcoxon says”.  Oh my.

Then there’s the stats. Phoenix issues a Bicyclist Collision Summary from time to time. The 2007 version did list the direction of flow of all bicyclists involved in crashes, the 2013 version, however did not. I spoke with the bike/ped coordinator and he said the data was inadvertently not collected — so it’s not completely clear what is meant by the stats quoted. In any event it’s clear that the wrong-way riding is associated with a large percentage of crashes. E.g. in 2007, 60% of all Bike-MV were bicyclist against the flow of traffic (5 + 18 + 15+ 27+37 + 82+6 + 77 = 267 of 440 total), the large majority of these on the sidewalk (i.e. at cross walks and driveways), and not in the road.

The Headline / Messaging

I do really like the headline:

  • Phoenix Pushes Bicyclists to Avoid Death and Injury by Riding With Traffic Flow

A lot of people would have written something like:

  • Phoenix Pushes Bicyclists to Avoid Accidents by Riding on the Right.  Or even worse:
  • Phoenix Pushes Bicyclists to Avoid Accidents by Sharing the Road

The a-word should never be used, traffic crashes are not accidents.  “Death and Injury” is a very apt description, though maybe a little to overwrought, “Collisions” would be a good substitute.

The phrase “riding on the right” is often misconstrued to mean “out of the way”. Bicyclists are encouraged to ride “in the way” (that is near the center of the lane) under many common situations. We see the bad “Ride on the right” meme in the title of the City of Phoenix Youtube above.

This sort of misconstruction  is the root of why Share the Road signs and slogans have fallen out of favor, and rightly so. They are simply misunderstood and mean different things to different people. People who already tend to think bicyclists must or should be “out of the way” simply think that’s what StR means.

For a good bad example of a news story that contains many of these bad cues, check out this recent story which appeared in the AZ Daily Sun


Both the R5-1b and R9-3cP are available Arizona’s Manual of Approved Signs. The signs are coverd in MUTCD Section 9B.07

R5-1b (top) with R9-3cP plaque (bottom)
R5-1b (top) with R9-3cP plaque (bottom)

Bicycle Wrong Way Sign and RIDE WITH TRAFFIC Plaque (R5-1b, R9-3cP)
The Bicycle WRONG WAY (R5-1b) sign and RIDE WITH TRAFFIC (R9-3cP) plaque (see Figure 9B-2) may be placed facing wrong-way bicycle traffic, such as on the left side of a roadway.
This sign and plaque may be mounted back-to-back with other signs to minimize visibility to other traffic.
The RIDE WITH TRAFFIC plaque should be used only in conjunction with the Bicycle WRONG WAY sign, and should be mounted directly below the Bicycle WRONG WAY sign.

Bike Safe Phoenix Launches October 2015

Phoenix Safety Campaign Reminds Motorists and Bicyclists to Share the Road Responsibly – The city of Phoenix Street Transportation Department today launched Bike Safe Phoenix – a multi-media public awareness campaign to encourage motorists and bicyclists to share the road responsibly.

Look Twice for Bikes and Follow the Rules of the Road are some of the key mbike-sign-3-essages featured in the Bike Safe Phoenix campaign to emphasize that both bicyclists and motorists share responsibility when it comes to roadway safety. The campaign reminds motorists that bicyclists also have the right to operate on the road and urges motorists to respect and drive with caution near people on bicycles. As part of the campaign, bicyclists are reminded to always follow the rules of the road for their safety and those around them.

“Biking is becoming more and more popular in Phoenix,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “As that popularity grows, it’s important that both riders and drivers become hyper aware of one another. That means looking twice for bikes and following the rules of the road.”

The campaign includes public service announcement videos, local radio announcements, bus billboards, social media and print collateral pieces that were conceptualized and developed in-house by the city’s Street Transportation Traffic Services division.

As part of the campaign, residents, pedestrians, commuters and bicyclists are encouraged to make a personal commitment to help make Phoenix’s streets safer for all users of the roadway by taking the Bike Safe Phoenix pledge. Those that make the pledge will be eligible to receive a 20-percent discount on a single Grid Bikeshare annual membership purchase.

“By showing common courtesy and respect when sharing the road with motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, we encourage a safe transportation environment for all,” said Councilwoman Thelda Williams, chair of the City Council’s Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee.

“With miles of new bike lanes in the works citywide and in District 3, this is a great time for a new, more comprehensive bike safety campaign,” Councilman Bill Gates said. “As more bicyclists use city streets, this is a great reminder that everyone has to work together to share the road.”

“As a first responder myself, I know that making roads safe for bicycles can be a matter of life and death,” said Vice Mayor Daniel Valenzuela. “This campaign encourages everyone who uses our roads to know and observe the rules, look out for one another, and make public safety a shared responsibility.”

“With the bicycle master plan and the walkable urban code, the city has shown it understands the importance of bike transportation to connected, dynamic neighborhoods,” Councilwoman Kate Gallego said. “This campaign encourages cooperation between all road users and ensures that as more cyclists take to the streets, they can do so safely.”

In addition to the campaign, the Street Transportation Department continues to focus on improving and expanding the city’s bicycling infrastructure. Recently the department installed wrong-way signs, along popular bicycling corridors, to discourage bicyclists from riding against traffic and made some significant changes to the lane markings at the intersections on 15th Avenue, in central Phoenix, to reduce conflicts between bicyclists and turning motorists.

For information about the city’s bicycle program and the Bike Safe Phoenix campaign visit


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