Cycle: A Group Ride Down Central Avenue's New Bike Lanes

Categories: Bicycle Culture
Central Ave Bike Lanes Prep.jpg
photo by Jason Franz
Central Avenue just north of Camelback Road gets prepped for the new buffered bike lanes, set to open this weekend.
Phoenix residents aren't the only ones to take on a diet as a New Year's resolution. Central Avenue near one of the city's busiest intersections is also going on a "road diet."

The City of Phoenix is creating buffered bike lanes along Central between Camelback Road and Bethany Home Road, reducing a lane from each side of traffic to accommodate the bikes but moving the city toward a Complete Streets plan and potential grant funding.

To mark the opening of these buffered bike lanes, some local cyclists led by City of Phoenix Bicycle Coordinator Joseph Perez have organized a bike crawl along Central, hitting some of the favored establishments in the area.

Central Buffered lanes.jpg
Kerry Wilcoxon, City of Phoenix
This overhead of a section of Central Avenue shows the new buffered bike lanes as proposed by the city.
The crawl will meet this Sunday at Stinkweeds, on the northwest corner of Central and Camelback at noon to decide on a specific route. Sure to be included are Postinos Central, Churn/Windsor, Sun Up Brewery and St. Francis. There's also been mention of riding the Arizona Canal to 16th Street and Glendale for a stop at the Trailhead Bike Café.

Buffered bike lanes are bike lanes than include a marked space between the bike lane and the inside lane of traffic so that bikes and cars are not riding directly next to each other. These types of lanes are common in cycling-centric cities such as Portland or New York but new to the Phoenix area, at least in high traffic areas.

Even with the new bike lanes, Central will support two lanes of traffic in each direction as well as the center turn lane. According to city traffic engineer Kerry Wilcoxon, the new bike lanes were laid in to increase bike and pedestrian traffic at this intersection and to connect local businesses to the light rail and bus transit station at Camelback and Central.

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James Donohue
James Donohue

It will make the street safer for Bicyclers, I agree. But if Motorists were more careful, and used better judgement, the bike lanes wouldn't be needed. Well, we know that's not going to happen,but what I'm saying is; if drivers just let the Bicyclers be, and let them use the rightmost lane, things would be fine, And the drivers would still have the benefit of using the rightmost lane when there are no bikes present. 
The part of the debate that most people missed is that Bicycles are NOT required to have Rear-View Mirrors. It's the drivers responsibility to watch where he/she is going. Ninety-nine percent of drivers pass bicycles with seven to ten feet of clearance. Why can't the other one percent be like everyone else? 
It seems like a small number of motorists have some kind of pent-up anger against bicyclists, I don't know why, maybe they didn't have bicycles when they were children,? maybe they only have enough money for one or the other ( a car OR a bike) , and can't afford both? I guess I like to psychoanalyze the road-rage cases. 
My advice to the bicyclers: Load you bike up with all the safety gear you can afford: headlights, tail lights, a rear-view mirror, a horn, a bell (the gong style is louder than the dingy-lingly kind) , a reflective vest and a helmet. Then put reflective tape on your bike, and then double up the lights , TWO headlights and two tail lights. Maybe some high visibility flags or pennants on your bike? Don't try to race your bike, leave that to professional bicycle racers. Keep your head up, look around you, be aware of your surroundings. Be prepared to pull over to the kerb and stop at the slightest sign of trouble. Drive your bicycle like a Vehicle, and be a defensive driver at that.

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