Imagine this classified ad:
"Six hundred thousand bicycles desire mostly flat city. Year-round sunshine preferable. Safe and numerous bicycle routes required."
Face it, Phoenix. You can't apply. You've made it unsafe to ride bicycles. State transportation officials estimate there are 600,000 bicycles in Maricopa County homes. We estimate that only three or four of them ever venture out onto Indian School Road. If we're trying to curb air pollution and gridlocked streets, let's build bikeways. You say we have to get 10 percent of the cars off our roads if we want to clean up the air? Bicycles are one answer. A commute of five to eight miles is a snap on a bike--if it's safe.
It's easier to ride a bike in congested San Diego than it is here. That's because there are bike lanes all over San Diego. You ask why snowbound Minneapolis and soggy Seattle are considered livable? One reason is bike routes.
Some suggestions for Phoenix officials:
Create a separate city department in charge of bicycle-route planning. You say that's foolish? What other major American city is as dry, flat and overcrowded with cars? What other city has a bicycle nut like Terry Goddard for a mayor? A separate agency can have some clout. Besides, we already have a state law requiring cities larger than 50,000 in population to consider bikeway-planning. Don't leave something this important as an afterthought in the streets and parks departments.
Publish an up-to-date and complete map of bicycle routes. At the present time, you can't get one.
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While you're figuring out which streets to widen, include bike routes as either striped lanes on the street or separate off-road paths. Sidewalks are no place for bicyclists.
You've put bike paths along the Squaw Peak Parkway. Now figure out a safe way for bicyclists to cross the parkway at Osborn Road.
Create more one-way streets with marked bike lanes.
Look at the bikepath system in Scottsdale's Indian Bend Wash. Make it come true in Phoenix.