Phoenix Bike Advocates Cry Foul After City Officials Rule Out New Bike Lane in Garfield

Phoenix Bike Advocates Cry Foul After City Officials Rule Out New Bike Lane in Garfield
Phoenix Bike Advocates Cry Foul After City Officials Rule Out New Bike Lane in Garfield

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A diagram of the proposed modernizations along the Villa / Filmore “bicycle boulevard”.

Screenshot over City of Phoenix

Bicycle advocates criticize a proposal by Phoenix traffic officials to add road markings for cyclists in place of new bike lanes in the Garfield and Edison-Eastlake neighborhoods, arguing that doing so would affect the safety of cyclists.

Ryan Boyd, a spokesman for the Urban Phoenix Project, an urban development advocacy group, said the road markings and signage known as “sharrows” are not seen or respected by motorists.

“It’s kind of a second-class citizenship,” he said. “If you don’t have a car, good luck, you can’t go out on the big streets.”

In October 2020, Kini Knudson, director of the road traffic department, announced in a memo that the city had a long-term plan to build bike lanes along East Van Buren Street between the 7th for cycling advocates who supported the proposed bike lanes.

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In an effort to appease bicycle proponents, Knudson pointed out a spin-off project that would improve the “bicycle boulevard,” which runs primarily along Fillmore and Villa Streets between 7th and 24th Streets. The cycling boulevard currently consists of sparrows that mark the route. Knudson noted in his October 2020 memo that city traffic officials “understand that an east-west cycle path is desirable in this area,” and bicycle advocates took his statements as saying that the city is calling for a new cycle path project along the route an alternative to the painted bike paths on Van Buren.

However, at a virtual meeting last month, city officials made it clear that they will not build any new cycle paths as part of the modernization of the existing bicycle boulevard. They just want to add more road markings and signage to guide cyclists along the route.

“It doesn’t have a separate space for bicycles,” said Marielle Brown, program manager with the Transportation Department, at the meeting. “But it offers a high-quality, low-stress, comfortable bike route.”

“Bicycle boulevards are not just about improving cycling,” Knudson said during the meeting. “They can also improve road safety by slowing down car traffic and directing longer car journeys onto main roads.”

Stacey Champion, a consultant and activist who works on urban issues such as: B. Cycle Infrastructure, said the city’s proposed upgrades to cycle boulevard are unsafe for cyclists who would continue to be exposed to vehicular traffic.

“I’m sorry, just because there is a green arrow drawn in the middle of a lane, I won’t drive in this traffic,” she said. “I don’t trust the drivers here.”

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A representation of what East Van Buren Street could have looked like.  - SCREENSHOT ABOUT THE CITY OF PHOENIX

A representation of what East Van Buren Street could have looked like.

Screenshot over City of Phoenix

For some bike path advocates, the city’s recently revealed location felt like a slap in the face. Boyd said that while his organization supports the concept of bicycle boulevards in general, the decision not to pursue new cycle paths along Filmore and East Villa Streets is insincere.

“I’m waiting for [the city] to show that they are serious about bike infrastructure and sustainability and multimodal transportation because I don’t see that, “said Boyd.” It was a pattern. “We cannot build a cycle path here, that is not appropriate. Well, we can’t build a bike path there because it’s not appropriate. ‘ Well, where can you actually build a bike path in Phoenix? ”

During the July 21 virtual meeting, Brown argued that the streets along the boulevard cycle route were too “narrow” to add protected cycle paths.

When asked for comment by the Phoenix New Times, Ashley Patton, a spokeswoman for the road traffic authority, did not respond directly to criticism from bicycle advocates. Instead, it wrote in an email statement that the Road Traffic Department “is excited to propose a new type of high-quality infrastructure”.

“Introducing new types of infrastructure is always a challenge, especially when there are no examples in the region,” Patton wrote. “Chasing Villa / Fillmore as a cycling boulevard that meets or exceeds national design standards is a proposition that works with the neighborhood’s existing streets to make them great bike paths.”

The Department of Transportation’s decision not to propose new bike lanes as part of the bike boulevard upgrade also comes after the agency moved another bike lane map along a section of North Central Avenue. After local landowners complained that the bike lanes were disturbing motorists, city officials increased the project. Meanwhile, over 100 pedestrians and cyclists die from collisions with cars on Metro Phoenix each year, according to the Arizona Republic.

The Road Traffic Office is currently asking for feedback from the population on the project by August 29, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. You can find the agency’s online survey here.