Saturday, June 09, 2007

Bike Arizona

Now that we've passed into New Mexico, I've got to give my assessment of Arizona. The tail winds more than made up for the heat, though I might not say that later in the year. Besides our wonderful hosts, two things stand out in my memories of the Grand Canyon State. There are some filthy shoulders on I-10 and Phoenix needs bike advocacy.

Semi trucks blow retreads in every state of the union, but I've never seen such a concentration of shredded rubber as we found all along Interstate 10. Of course, that rubber usually encases steel belts, which reduce into thousands of sharp little wires that penetrate bike tires. I've pulled dozens of those wires out of our tires in the last couple weeks.

Phoenix drivers are an even greater hazard, although our extra wide bikes got enough leeway. We noticed that most local cyclists ride on the sidewalks most of the time. After riding about on my bike without the trailer, I could see why. I've never been passed so closely and quickly by so many cars. It was terrifying.

Phoenix could learn from Missoula, Montana. The smaller, more northern of these western cities has found that encouraging bikes reduces infrastructure costs. They hire a full-time bike advocate to remove the obstacles for bicyclists. Phoenix has occasional discontinuous bike lanes. Even with a map, it can be challenging to get anywhere safely. In Missoula, virtually every street is bike-able.

I don't believe drivers are inherently more rude in Phoenix, but bikes on the streets are still the exception, rather than the rule. It will take a dedicated effort to train drivers and change the culture. Arizona laws defend bicycles as well as the law elsewhere, as far as I can tell.


Anonymous Crete said...

Well said.

Monday, November 10, 2008 at 1:52:00 PM PST  

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