Cities must encourage greater bicycle use; Editorial


Local time
3:09 PM
Apr 17, 2008
Mesa, Arizona
I just sent this to a local paper in Chandler Arizona that put out a call for more bike paths for bike use. I have a few ideas about commuting and felt I needed to add to the debate. I bet others have valid input that can help shape our safer inclusion into the local roads......


This is a response to the opinion published on pg 38 of the May 28 edition of the Chandler Republic. I speak with some experience and knowledge in the area of discussion. I have worked at Pat's Cyclery, Dominic's Cycling, Tempe Bicycles and Bike Chalet as well as made bike frames and trailers from scratch for commuting and racing.

I started commuting in 1973 in San Fernando Valley California when gas shot up in price from $.33 to $1.00 overnight. The press and government said I should blame the Arab Oil Embargo but I could see oil being pumped and stored in Southern California. I did know I was held hostage to someones profiteering as I watched the stores empty of food in 3 days of no trucking. Gas was only available every other day in 5 gallon amounts. Lines were long and your liscence needed to be odd or even to match the odd or even date to purchase even 5 gallons. My solution was a $100.00 bicycle and I have never regretted that move.

Since I was a dedicated commuter who rode every day rain or shine and distances up to 45 miles each way I was asked to teach others. I also raced some but was not quite fast enough to be competetive, but I had fun anyhow. This gave me some opportunities to share with others thru Central Arizona Bicycle Association and Greater Arizona Bicycle Association.

The general consensus of active cyclists was that if you were going any distance you needed to use the roads that all others use. I still use that philosophy in choosing roads to travel. I will look for a well used road like Country Club, Guadalupe, Rural and Dobson to name a few. Those roads are wide and well maintained leaving space on the right for a slow moving vehicle to use. If I ride on the right side of the road as the law requires I still have the gutter to bail out into. The law does not require me to ride in the gutter so I do not and save that for emergency, just as a car does. The law gives a bicyclist the rights and responsibilities of an automobile.

I am not a big fan of bike paths because they generally are poorly maintained and go nowhere. Also government has a limited amount of funds to build and maintain transportation corridors. They have chosen to waste a lot on a still unused few miles of light rail lines so I know I will get next to none to help me ride a non taxed bicycle. I do pay taxes but I am about out of money for the government to take for pet projects. I use my bike to save and to get places even if it takes me longer.

I took a 10 year break from commuting because of health issues. I am back at it with a motor assisted bicycle. A bicycle with a 48CC or less motor that travels 20 MPH (I used to ride a bike at speeds well in excess of 20 MPH) or less is pretty much treated by Arizona State law as a bicycle. I ride to work in Chandler from Mesa a round trip of about 32 miles. I do hope that all city and state governments do recognize the positives of allowing unrestricted (except for current Freeway restrictions, which do make sense) bicycle use. Arizona House Bill 2796 gives some info on a motorized bicycle so this is considered part of a solution to commuting woes in Arizona.

I am writing to add a bit of experience to this needed discussion as well as encourage all to try doing it. Alternative transportation is needed and a wise move for personal health and environmental health. Bike paths are ok but to truly commute you need to be able to use the same roads everyone is using. I have collected about 100,000 miles since 1973 when I started commuting and most are on city streets with some miles on bike paths, country roads and desert or mountain trails.
I follow Bicycle laws in my state in Colorado. No one has bothered me.
I think that rules.
It is a good thing to follow the laws as they exist. It is a good thing to help make good laws, ones that help the community. Here I am advocating both things, obeying laws that exist and encouraging better laws to follow. An example I gave of following the law is I ride to the right side as any slow moving vehicle must by law do. I would also like to see more realistic speeds be written into our Arizona laws. Bicycles often cruise at 30 MPH and this is 50% higher speeds than allowed a motor assisted bike, by law.