Thursday, June 18, 2009

Unacceptable bicycle lanes

The following letter was sent by the Coalition to Wylie Bearup, Street Transportation Director for the City of Phoenix concerning the bike facilities between 7th and 24th Street and the LIght Rail:

Mr. Wylie Bearup, PE, PhD
Street Transportation Director
200 West Washington Street, 6th Floor
Phoenix, Arizona 85003-1611

RE: Washington and Jefferson Street bicycle lanes and markings adjacent to Light-Rail

Dear Mr. Bearup,

The Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists (CAzBike) would like to register a formal complaint about the current design of bicycle facilities along Jefferson Street from 7th Street to 24th Street and along the same alignment of Washington Street. After serious consideration, it is our opinion that as long as this design exists there is extreme exposure to our fellow cyclists and the City of Phoenix to injuries or possibly death and resultant consequences.

We find the current design was made for the moderate to less-skilled cyclist that relies upon separation from traffic for their well being. Unfortunately, transitions from one side of the street to the other are in place without a clue as to how they could be used. This is a deterrent to these cyclists. More advanced or “vehicular” cyclists are likely to remain integrated with motorists, then find themselves embedded in high speed traffic in lanes that are too narrow to be side by side with motorists safely. Our recommendations follow. Some have been promised, but remain unfulfilled.

  1. Add instructive signage to alert the cyclist on how to safely use the lanes provided when transitioning from far-one side to far-other side at three locations. Example: On Jefferson Street at 7th and 24th Streets.
  2. Alter the paint markings at the intersection of 9th St & Jefferson, where the cyclist must transition from far-left to adjacent to the light-rail tracks, while crossing the path of motor vehicles. See appendix to this letter.
  3. Apply shared-lane paint “chevrons” to the right motor vehicle lanes between 9th and 24th Streets on both Jefferson and Washington Streets.
  4. Add traffic detectors in the pavement where business-access and bike lanes are adjacent such that cyclists will be detected when in their lane. We recognize that the default state of the lights at a number of these intersections mitigates the need of a bicycle detector. However there are automobile detectors in all cases, and cyclists have the same need.
We are very supportive of the professionals in the Phoenix Streets Department who do an amazing job with limited funding and minimal staff. Most notable are Mr. Kerry Wilcoxson, Mr. Mike Cyneki and Mr. Joseph Perez who have reached out to the bicycle community to provide valuable information and share insights. We look forward to continued communications with the Phoenix Streets Department.

Gail Hildebrant, President, Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists


The paint markings should be altered at the intersection at 9th St & Jefferson, where the cyclist must transition from far-left to adjacent to the light-rail tracks. We recommend that the cyclist be able to make the transition anywhere after 9th St., but before the next intersection to the east. This could be done by using shared-lane "chevrons" on both the left and right of the business access lane. The danger now is that motor vehicles using their left lane may proceed straight or bear right at that intersection. The painted bike lanes now direct the cyclist to cross the path of the motor vehicle within the intersection, thus putting him/herself at risk.