Hardy Drive Streetscape project

new ped refuge island; Hardy Drive, Tempe

The Hardy Drive Streetscape project re-did this 30mph posted, low-speed collector street between University Dr. and Broadway Rd, more specifically, the project only affected bicycle infrastructure between 9th and 19th Street,  a distance of about 9/10ths of a mile. [google maps] The project was completed in early 2015 about the same time as the the University Drive Streetscape Project.

By way of some background for those who might not be familiar with the area: Tempe is a landlocked city which can be conceptually split into north Tempe and south Tempe, divided by US60, which a major (like 11 lanes!) freeway running east and west. The north part is home to downtown the University, and everything below US60 is south Tempe. Hardy Drive is very useful for bicyclists because it serves as the only north-south connection that doesn’t involve a high-speed, multi-laned street and doesn’t involve an inconvenient bridge (a la the bike-ped bridge on College Ave). As a bonus, where Hardy crosses US60, the freeway is depressed, so Hardy users cross at grade plus there is no interchange.

Besides bicycle infrastructure which will be discussed in great detail below, the project added various pedestrian enhancements, benches, bus stops, shade, and street art. Visit the City of Tempe’s Project page for details. “This project was funded with $1.89 million in federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant money. The city of Tempe also contributed (through the transit fund) a 5.7% match of the total grant money received” (a.k.a. CMAQ funds).

Before Conditions

“before” satellite view: standard bike lanes with tight gemometry

Hardy Drive is/was a modest speed (25mph posted, IIRC) collector road with one lane in each direction, Bike Lanes and a continous center-turn lane. The geometry north of 13th Street is very tight with BLs only about 5′ including ~ 1.5′ gutter pan, and the through lanes are 10′. This is marginally, but noticeably sub-standard width; and generally speaking wasn’t a problem as the passing vehicles just went into the center turn lane to provide adequate passing clearance. It also didn’t feel like much of a problem because the closing speed (the difference in speed between a bicyclist and an overtaking motorist) was quite small.

In terms of safety and crash history, for the five year period 2009-2013, south of University and north of Broadway there were zero pedistrian-MV crashes, and three bike-MV crashes. Two of the three were intersection of 13th and Hardy, which is signalized. The third crash has some poor coding, and supposedly happened at 9th (the very northern edge of this project) and Hardy; it supposedly involved the cyclist disregarding the signal, and there is no signal at that intersection. One wonders if anyone at the City looked at or cared about the crash history as part of the proposal?

After Conditions

Hardy Bike Lane southbound ends at Howe St. The bollards seem to be incredibly dangerous [the bollards have since been removed]
Most of the “after” conditions of bicycle infrastructure are simply normal on-street BLs (as was before; I can’t tell/remember if the slightly sub-standard width was addressed or not). Unfortunately the area between Howe Street and 16th Street, about 1,600 feet was radically altered. This area was referred to one of the design concepts as the “Pedestrian/Bicycle Pivot Zone”

  • The BL ends at Howe St southbound (pictured) and at 16th St northbound; it is implied that bicyclists should (must?) drive up onto the sidewalk area.
  • The roadway is narrowed by an amount corresponding to what used to be the on-street BL.
  • A sidewalk sidepath is created out of the space formerly occupied by the bike lane, now there are two sidewalks separated by a landscaped strip (which is where the someday to be shade trees are planted). The area is marked with an R9-7 “Shared-Use Path Restriction (Bikes Left / Peds Right)” sign.
  • At either end of the section with the sidewalk bike path, there is a speed table (see photo above for the view at Howe St), with bollards are dangerous for bicyclists. [this was written in early 2015; i was told in Fall 2016 the bollards had been removed, but I don’t know when or exactly why]
Example  bike path intersection. An MUTCD standard BL symbol is painted over a solid green square on the sidewalk periodically.

Because of the well understood, well known safety problems for bicyclists created by sidewalk sidepaths at intersections, I strongly advise bicyclists; particularly moving above, say, 10mph, to avoid using the sidewalk. Bicyclists, in accordance with best practices, are advised to ride near the center of the very narrow (10′) through lane. Motorist wishing to pass should move, when safe, entirely into the center turn lane (“change lanes to pass”) which is probably illegal due to the solid yellow strip separating the center turn lane(? but that’s another matter).

As can be seen in photo, bicyclists riding on the sidewalk sidepath must do a sharp zig to the right, and zag to the left at each intersection, all while dodging vehicles turning from Hardy or arriving at the cross-streets. Another drawback is certain lefts cannot be made from the path, because of offset cross streets, i.e.

I would say state law is quite muddled for bicyclists riding on this bike path (because it’s similar to the sidewalk situation), but Tempe’s city code is very clear that bicyclists on a bike path must yield to all traffic (the bicyclist is always at fault rule; Is this bike-friendly, by the way, just asking?):

Sec. 7-52(d) Any person riding a bicycle on a bikeway, sidewalk or bicycle path that is about to enter or cross a roadway shall yield the right-of-way to all traffic on such roadway.


I would not support this project (or other sidewalk sidepath projects) unless I got satisfactory answers to these questions; from someone in an official capacity:

  1. Does the City Planning / Streets Dept consider this path to be a mandatory use facility for bicyclists?
  2. Does the City Planning / Streets Dept consider the general purpose travel lanes to be “too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane”?
  3. Does the City Police Dept consider this path to be a mandatory use facility for bicyclists?
  4. Does the City Police Dept consider the general purpose travel lanes there to be “too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane”? Under what conditions is a bicyclist  in violation of  §28-815A  (the bicyclists must keep right rule)?
  5. Under what conditions does the City Police Dept consider §28-704A (motor vehicle drivers must not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic) and  §28-701E (motor vehicle driver must not drive slower than R&P) applicable to bicyclists?
  6. What must a bicyclist using the general purpose travel lane do to be in compliance with  §28-704C (duty to pull off a two-lane highway when traveling slower than normal speed of traffic)?
  7. Does the City Police Dept consider this facility to be a  “designated bicycle lane or path” that “is present and passable” pursuant to  §28-735C?

Answer Key — although getting answers from gov’t people is nearly impossible here is what I would look for:

  1. I have no idea what the Planners know or think; so I would love to hear
  2. I have no idea what the Planners know or think; so I would love to hear
  3. HB2302 repealed Arizona’s mandatory sidepath law in 1989. Use of sidewalk facilities is not mandatory. To put it another way, bicyclists have every right to use the general purpose lane. Here is the language of the repealed law:
    28-815C Wherever a usable path for bicycles has been provided and adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders shall use the path and shall not use the roadway.
  4. At ~ 10′ these lanes are plainly too narrow to safely share side-by-side; bicyclists riding anywhere in a narrow lane cannot be in violation of 28-815A because of exception #4. Side-note: police often confuse 28-815A with riding the wrong way, the correct citation for a bicyclist riding the wrong way in the roadway is §28-721A, not 28-815A, see ride-with-traffic.
  5. This is a bit of a trick questions, both these statutes only apply to motor vehicle drivers; so bicyclists cannot be in violation. See bicycles-are-not-motor-vehicles-and-why-it-matters
  6. Also sort of a trick question, this road has 3 lanes, so this statute cannot apply; so there cannot be a 28-704C violation.
  7. The most important point is that 28-735A always applies — i.e 3 foot minimum separation is required for overtaking motorists. However, as to the actual question posed:  If police believe it is the case there is a passable bike lane or path, then a driver who seriously injures a bicyclist in the roadway while overtaking cannot be assessed the enhanced fines. Despite AZ’s not having a mandatory bike lane use law; this, 28-735C, is a bit of a booby trap.

Related: also see the University Drive Streetscape Project which was completed around the same time.

photo from City presentation about LAB “platinum”

See more pics in the gallery azbikelaw.org/images/innovative. Also here’s an interesting pic that was in a staff presentation to the Tempe Transportation Commission 11/2019; regarding the city’s desire to achieve “platinum” Bike friendly status

5 thoughts on “Hardy Drive Streetscape project”

  1. better pic here (but possibly not public?) https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152302549922395&set=a.28082807394.35624.694317394&type=1&theater&notif_t=photo_reply

    TBAG’s thread sparked some f.b. discussion
    Many people confuse the feeling of safety with safety. They are not the same thing; not by a long shot, perhaps especially when dealing with bicyclist traffic safety. The Hardy segment had a *nearly* perfect ped and bike traffic safety record for *five* years previous.
    Overtaking collisions are exceedingly rare in Tempe (as they are in all urban environments); it has nothing in particular to do with narrow vs. wide. BL vs. no BL, whatever. In terms of serious collisions, the most two recent fatalities both occured when a cyclist was going the wrong way from a sidewalk entering a crosswalk and subsequently struck and killed by a right-turning motorst. The two before that were both angle collisions at signalized intersections — that covers *six* years.
    — quote —
    In terms of (Hardy Dr project) safety and crash history, for the five year period 2009-2013, south of University and north of Broadway there were zero pedistrian-MV crashes, and three bike-MV crashes. Two of the three were intersection of 13th and Hardy

  2. Incident with Valley Metro Bus Saturday, July 2, 2016;
    NB on Hardy by University. Bus # 6639 ~ 7:02 AM

    This is all third-hand info that I have no way to verify, but here goes:
    The incident as related by the involved bicyclists was a VM bus driver was driving aggressively, (horn honking?), etc. and climaxed in the driver passing the cyclists too closely, then pulling over, stopping, and getting out of the bus and screaming at them.
    Initial calls to VM customer service sounded fishy, like maybe VM knows (did the driver already report something? It is a common trick of hostile motorists to “get ahead” by ginning up some story about aggressive bicyclists, or something, see e.g. Dennis Reed) something is wrong but won’t let on. The cyclists were told the only way for anyone to view video was for police to request it. They also hinted/implied the video would be erased (even though a timely complaint was made to VM; what are they hiding?).
    So getting no satisfaction from VM, the cyclists called Tempe police. At first they were told “there’s nothing they (the police) can do” and ended the call. So they had to call back and (politely) demand a report be taken.
    One of the involved persons said: “I finally received a call back from Tempe police. It seems with some reluctance, they have opened case #16-77082 and accepted my complaint against the bus driver after a series of many questions”

    So there it sits, I called Tempe Records (480)350-8598 again today (11/16/2016) and was told that #16-77082 is STILL OPEN… over 4 months later.
    Police reports are public record (and quite reasonably priced at only $5 for the first 20 pages), but they won’t release a copy while the case is open. What’s the procedure? / why is this case still open?
    It is my surmise that the incident is exacerbated by the shoehorned in bike lanes on Hardy near University; see, e.g. the picture of the pickup near the ped island, above.
    On 2/7/2017 I checked again, the case is still open but was advised I can request the report anyway, here is the full text of the report, I redacted the name of the complainant, the only thing redacted in my copy of the report were the complainant’s contact information:

    [the text of the police report is moved; it will be published in another article]

  3. Priest Drive Project

    Let me start by saying that Priest Drive, say from 202 all the way south to the city line (Ray Road) is quite gross [the part thru Guadalupe is fine]. That’s a total distance of about 8 miles including the about 1.5 that belongs to the Town of Guadalupe. It’s got lots of lanes, and lots of high-speed driving, lots of un-memorable, bland, streetscape that seems good for nothing besides speeding through. It gets a lot of spill-over traffic from motorists who don’t want to use I-10 for whatever reason (because it’s slow. duh) so they use Priest to make-up time. Great.

    CoT has some proposals for improving Priest Drive between Elliot & Ray Road (the city line), that would be two miles.
    One of them calls for a Hardy-like treatment with a new raised bike path. A problem with such innovative designs, as always, is trouble at every intersection, and driveway; of which there are many.
    full presentation as of July 2020: https://www.tempe.gov/Home/ShowDocument?id=84379
    [ for original presented to Transpo Commission, See pages 11-34 at
    https://www.tempe.gov/Home/ShowDocument?id=83059 but the diagrams are fuzzy ]

    The presentation includes recent (but before covid!) traffic volumes, and crash history, which is good to see.
    Unfortunately, slides with a lot of detail are fuzzy, I mean no matter how much I magnify the .pdf, I can’t see details like in the many inset street mix diagrams. In any event the road is quite ridiculous, the widths seem to vary a lot; the road also tends to be too wide.

    Oh, quick update, regarding fuzziness, Chase got right back with the following update:

    Thank you for your email regarding the Priest Drive project. These graphics are being updated prior to our first public meeting on July 15th. The updated, higher resolution graphics and the rest of the public meeting materials will be made available on July 15th at http://www.tempe.gov/priestdrive

    [forwards to: https://www.tempe.gov/government/engineering-and-transportation/transportation/streetscape-projects/priest-drive ]
    as Chase said, the updated presentation for the July virtual meeting is clear (can read the little markings):

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