Bicycle Culture

Cycle: The Mystery of the Green Arrows

Phoenix, like many towns of the old west, is filled with many mysteries: the Hohokam, the UFO lights, Bob Crane's murder, Mystery Castle. Now a new enigma confronts the cyclists of Phoenix: the strange appearance of green arrows marking popular cycling routes through Phoenix, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and Tempe.

I first noticed the arrows around the holidays. They were not anything too remarkable - a shade of green reminiscent of those screaming yellow jackets many cyclists are so fond of, with hash marks in the stem and an x at the base of the arrowhead.

With all of the other neon symbols and markings on the blacktop showing where utility lines run and street signs should be posted, I just figured these were more indicators for municipal personnel.

But then I realized a pattern to the arrows. They were appearing in the bike lane area of tarmac just before turns that riders regularly make. Clearly these signs were to mark a bike route for someone.

But who? And who laid them out?

I began showing them to friends. No one had really noticed them before. But we kind of liked them. Sure, we all feel protective of our favorite bike routes, but this was a kind of cool, low key way to denote what most Phoenix road riders consider a good route.

Many riding clubs and bike shops have regular rides along the streets bearing these arrows, so the numbers of suspects are many. Based on the color, many of us quickly hypothesized that these were the work of Tribe Multisport, a Scottsdale-based cycling/triathlon shop with a legion of club riders whose new kit is a color similar to the arrows. But that theory was shot down with a call to the store. Bicycle Haus, while acknowledging that they too have noticed the arrows, have also denied making them.

So who is behind these route markers? One thought was that it is the handiwork of high school running teams, but this route seems too dispersed and long to belong to them. Another unnamed bike store employee thought they could be the initial stages of where the city will paint bike lane symbols. But this route and the arrows cross through four different municipalities, so that too seems unlikely.

The most reasonable explanation so far is that they were painted by the hands of members of AZ Fixed, a group of fixed gear riders, marking their weekly PISS Ride. I have yet to get a response from AZ Fixed if the arrows are indeed their creation, and there is no mention of following arrows on the AZ Fixed website.

Regardless of who is responsible for these arrows, this route (which will be mapped soon but will likely be around 20 miles) along with the Arcadia Loop Route are the finalists for the first Jackalope Ranch Readers' Trail Ride on March 20. Be sure to vote for your choice of route in the comments section below and the winning route will be announced March 11.