Driver Sentenced: Serious Injuries in Scottsdale Pedicab Crash

[1/15/2014: Man in Scottsdale pedicab crash sentenced to 4 years in prison; Joseph Paul Spano pleaded guilty to two counts aggravated assault plus one endangerment ]

Two passengers of a pedicab were very seriously injured when they were struck by an suspected drunk driver in an early morning hours crash near downtown Scottsdale 1/4/2013. The pedicab’s driver was also injured.  The crash occurred as the pedicab was traveling north on Scottsdale Road near Rose Lane.

Seriously injured Cody A. Clark and Michael D. Tysver were both Kansas state fans in town for the Fiesta Bowl. The automobile driver “Phoenix resident Joseph Paul Spano, 27, was driving the sedan that collided with the pedicab and was arrested on suspicion of DUI, endangerment and aggravated assault”. Aggravated assault, §13-1204, can be a fairly serious charge; depending on a variety of factors.

The article was somewhat breathless (though, I guess it’s sort of typical-style journalism for the topic)… If there really are “armies of pedicabs” and their passengers subject to extreme danger by plentiful  drunk drivers(“as common as sharks,” — though i wasn’t sure that metaphor works); wouldn’t there be more frequent collisions and injuries?

Pedicab crashes/injuries in the greater-Phoenix area are by my memory rare, this is the ONLY ONE I ever heard of  — though, admittedly, this is anecdotal. So this will be one crash to watch for in the ADOT traffic records (but not until mid-2014!), I will be interested to see how this gets coded, it might be possible to extract statistics by filtering on more than one person in a traffic unit that is a pedalcyclist; and making some inferences. This would also pick up, e.g. tandems, and any sort of passenger (e.g. illegally on pegs, or handlebars).

This particular pedicab device itself was somewhat confusingly described in the article — the video show it was a standard-issue mountain-style bicycle pulling a two-wheeled passenger trailer. Some pedicabs are customized tricycle creations with integrated (no trailer) passenger space; these units sometimes (perhaps often?) have helper motors attached. There is no indication (from the video, nor in the article) a helper-motor was in use.

See phoenix-pedicab-ordinance for some further discussion about pedicabs.

One other standard gripe of mine is this quote, my emphasis; it would be better if we could train these guys to drop out the word motor because it is inaccurate:

Tempe Police Sgt. Mike Pooley said pedicabs and pedicab trailers are “basically treated as motor vehicles” and are governed by the same regulations. At night, they the have to have reflectors and a front headlight, he said.

Bicycles (and pedicabs) are not motor vehicles; this important distinction explains, among some other things, why bicyclists (and pedicabists) are not by state law required to have a motor vehicle driver’s license,  or covered under mandatory insurance (technically, “financial responsiblity”) laws.

As is perhaps predictable, there will be calls for more regulation with the more obnoxious comment coming from Bill Crawford, president of the Association to Preserve Downtown Scottsdale’s Quality of Life “The association has no problem with pedicabs shuttling customers from bar to bar in the bar district. We do, however, take exception to pedicabs allowed on busy, major streets like Scottsdale Road, Indian School Road and Camelback Road. We ask, would you allow your own family members to ride in a pedicab traveling up Scottsdale Road at bar close time?”.

The problem of DUI and DUI-caused injuries and fatalities is very much a motorist’s problem, currently well over one hundred motorists killed each year in Arizona in alcohol-involved crashes. Non-motorists killed are predominantly pedestrians, along with a handful of bicyclists and an unknown number (but approximately ZERO) of pedicabists or pedicab passengers.

sources: NHTSHA data says there were a total of 215 fatalities in 2011 under the  so-called “new” (more stringent) definition of  impairment-involvement. AZ Crash Facts shows 64 peds and 5 bicyclists killed in “alcohol-involved” crashes; see table 6-4. There is no obvious category for pedicabists or their passengers; i believe there to have been ZERO fatalities.

Scottsdale Council to consider enacting pedicabs regulations

City council will consider a new ordinance to add regulations, said to be similar to Phoenix and Glendale regs, at their April 9, 2013 meeting…  Here are the proposals from the city’s website (the proposal have been moved and/or are now missing)

The codes were subsequently adopted in Spring 2013 at some point and can be found in Chap 17 Article IX of their city code.

various hot-button issues: a driver’s license is required; unless some sort of ADA thing is met. Apparently the ADA thing was some sort of sop


5 thoughts on “Driver Sentenced: Serious Injuries in Scottsdale Pedicab Crash”

  1. The passengers of a pedicab, it seems to me, should be coded as passengers, not as cyclists.
    Although I tend to think both riders of a tandem should be considered “pedalcyclists”, there is no way to code that on the crash form.
    They’ll either end up as separate units or a single unit with one passenger. This 2011 tandem fatality was coded as two pedalcyclists.

    The pedicab is ADOT incident=2701845 and, consistent with the tandem example, coded this as a 4-unit crash with 1 MV and 3 units of type pedalcycle. Other sketchy data in that record are the pedicab’s BodyStyleDesc is listed as NO DATA.

    Note that there are no (zero — which seems odd??) “passenger of a pedalcyclist unit” results for 2010 thru 2014.
    But for 2009, there 52 incidents where passengers were in a unit of type pedalcycle; Six phoenix reports were located, here are notations from four of them:
    91059736 – “passenger on handlebars”
    090342001 – “bicycle w/two passengers” “front pegs facing forwards” (which it seems is meant driver plus one passenger)
    90343340 – “bicycle with a tandum (sic) passenger riding on the rear tire pegs”
    091802209 – 3 passengers in ADOT data; narrative just says “see DR#..”. injury severity 4 (incapacitating); could this be a pedicab?

    SELECT count(1) FROM 2011_person p, 2011_unit u WHERE p.UnitID=u.UnitID AND ePersonType='PASSENGER' AND eUnitType='PEDALCYCLIST';
    SELECT ePersonType, count(1) FROM 2011_person WHERE UnitID IN
     (SELECT UnitID FROM 2011_unit WHERE eUnitType='PEDALCYCLIST') GROUP BY 1;
  2. a correspondent writes:

    I anticipate legislation addressing pedicabs very quickly. And I base this hypothesis in part on a law review article I recently read . The long and short of it is that cities that are suitable to pedicabs (like Scottsdale) typically see a birth and dramatic rise in pedicab business. At some point thereafter a serious collision occurs (fatal or not), followed by legislation and regulation.

  3. Below is a copy of input i sent to the city of Scottsdale regarding proposed rules, and a reply from city-staffer Walt Brodzinski:

    —– Forwarded Message —–

    From:Ed Beighe
    Sent: Friday, March 08, 2013 12:30 PM
    To: Brodzinski, Walt
    Subject: training for pedicab operators

    From what I gathered about the Scottsdale’s proposed pedicab regulations, the requirement for pedicab operators to hold a valid motor vehicle drivers license is/was a sticking point; and perhaps that was why the alternative with respect to disability/ADA was added. In both those cases, the operator has to pass the written test for motor vehicle drivers. With the presumable goal of “proving” they know the rules of the road.

    As you know, under state law, pedicabs typically meet the definition of a bicycle; and therefore applicable Arizona state laws applying to bicyclists apply to pedicab operators.
    Unfortunately, the MVD preparation (the AZ driver’s manual) and test for a motor vehicle license barely touches on the safe, proper, lawful operation of a bicycle.

    I would like to suggest that both of those do little to address the education that bicyclists (and thus pedicab operators) need.

    I would urge you to *replace* the requirement to pass a motor vehicle license test altogether — or, 2nd best, to add a third alternative — with a demonstration of knowledge of safe, legal operation of a bicycle/pedicab.

    The Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists (CAzBike) offers a couple of existing bicyclist safety/education programs; please see and
    The first is a ~4 hour brief class; and is currently being offered under a grant/contract with MAG.
    The second is national-standard LAB (League of American Bicyclists; with suplements for AZ law) 1 day class.
    Both are taught by LAB-certified instructors (“LCI”).

    Neither, of course, is targeted to pedicab operators; but there are any number of imaginable uses or modifications.

    If you should be interested in further discussions with CAzBike; please contact


    Ed Beighe
    (I’m also a member of the board of directors of CAzBike)

    —– Forwarded Message —–
    From: “Brodzinski, Walt”
    To: ‘Ed Beighe’
    Sent: Monday, March 11, 2013 10:14 AM
    Subject: RE: training for pedicab operators

    Hello Mr. Beighe,

    Thank you for your comments/suggestions.

    While technically Pedicabs are bicycles, the intention of state law was not to mean a vehicle that is used to transport passengers for a fare. It even mentions the singular “person” in the definition. The bottom line is they are “for hire” and are transporting passengers, and those passengers trust their safety with the pedicab operator. The pedicab operator has a much higher level of responsibility than a person on a bicycle. As such, the pedicab operator needs to know and respect the rules of the road, and be accountable for their actions. The requirement for an ADL accomplishes both.

    I am familiar with the courses you mention below, and I would encourage any pedicab operator or prospective operator to take either or both of the classes…but it will not be a requirement in the ordinance.

    Thank you again for your interest,

    Walt Brodzinski
    City of Scottsdale
    Traffic Engineering
    Phone: (480) 312-7757

  4. (I can’t find it online, (yet?) but the following ran as a “Brief”:

    Pedicab-rule plan Divisive. the Arizona Republic p.B2 3/30/2013
    …but a city comission and staff are divided over whether operartors should have a valid Arizona driver’s license. Last week the Transportation Commission recommended coucil approval of the ordinance WITH THE FOLLOWING REVISIONS … REMOVING THE DRIVER’S LICENCSE REQUIREMENT.

    So in short “staff” (e.g. Walt Brodzinski, see comment immediately above this one) is dead-set on having the motorized vehicle license requirement, whereas the (citizen’s, i assume?) commission wants to get rid of it.
    The commission also recommends adding a side reflector requirement. I can’t imagine that being useful; from an engineering perspective.

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