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Best Bike Advocacy Group Phoenix 2013 - Phoenix Spokes People

If you've ever ridden a bike around downtown Phoenix, you know the conditions are hostile and bumpy, at best. The city has few bike lanes, and those that do exist sporadically end and restart without warning. Drivers in the city often are unaware of cyclists, which results in a lot of close calls or worse. Not to throw around the title "hero" lightly, but earlier this year, the Phoenix Spokes People proved commitment to the cycling cause, which resulted in a budget increase for cycling infrastructure 30 times the previous years' allotment. Though tireless and dedicated attendance at 19 city budget hearings, the PSP proved that cycling exists in Phoenix and needs to be protected and encouraged to burgeon everything from local business spending to healthy living. Thus, in a heroic show of devotion to bicycles, Phoenix Spokes People, in part, got the City of Phoenix's cycling infrastructure budget raised from $50,000 to $1.5 million. Hats off to the PSP for making Phoenix that much more livable.

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I'm assuming NT will be doing an evaluation in this category for 2014, so I have some suggestions on your evaluations.  Yes PSP is the most visibly active cycling group in the Valley and they have made a name for themselves.  Sadly, their perspective on sharing the roads is less than helpful to the responsible cyclists that should be the dominant part of the cycling community.  

Responsible cyclists recognize the importance of Visibility and Predictability when sharing the roads with motorists.  Yes, there are badly designed facilities that might be attended to in a decade or two, but the knowledge and skills to deal with what is there now can be learned in a one-day class and become assimilated into one's behavior in a matter of a week or two.

Visibility means wearing bright clothes (lime yellow is best) during the day and reflective clothes and powerful lights at night.  Predictability means following the rules of the road such that other users of the roads don't have to use extra-ordinary powers of perception and anticipation when errant cyclists pop out of now-where.  Responsible cycling is rare in Phoenix and is expressly excluded from consideration by PSP leadership.

As a cycling instructor, I have personally witnessed two very bad cases of cycling behavior by the defacto leader of PSP.  One case was approaching and passing a motorist on the right when the motorist was attempting a legal right turn at an intersection. My critique was answered with something to the effect that they were looking out for me.  Another time this same person was cycling at night on the sidewalk, against traffic, wearing only black clothes with only a feeble headlight.  I must note here that riding against traffic leads you into places where even well-meaning motorists are not looking, most critically at driveways and intersections.  That kind of behavior by a cyclist is equivalent to trying to hike Piestewa Peak in July at noon without water, flimsy sandals on your feet and no shade on your head.  We're talking self-inflicted consequences here.

I am making the case that nearly all motorists in the Valley are pretty good at sharing the roads with cyclists otherwise based on the amount of bad cycling behavior every day, there would be many times the crashes and injuries than do occur.  Yes, there are a few motorists, for more than one reason, do not share well and they should called out to the full extent of the law, just like cyclists that don't share well.

As for PSP, they seem to be driven by desire for social events (usually involving booze) and narcissism towards the City for not instantly building facilities.  Although many intersections and other facilities badly need improvement, PSP has turned a blind eye to, for example, the fact that many protected bike lanes have been built that actually increase dangers to cyclists.

There are other cycling groups in the Valley that promote fun AND responsible cycling.  I hope you will include what is really needed in the cycling community when you make your next selection for "Best".


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