City Council approves new Pedestrian and Biking Task Force

(Windsor Smith/DD)
As completion nears on the Bicycle Master Plan, the City Council has approved a new pedestrian and bicyclist task force to help accomplish the plan’s goals of safety increases and bike route expansion. (Windsor Smith/DD)

Phoenix’s citywide 20-year Bicycle Master Plan will get a boost thanks to a new Pedestrian and Biking Ad Hoc Task Force, approved by the City Council Wednesday.

The task force will be in charge of reviewing the past bike system and helping prepare the new Bicycle Master Plan. Right now, the city is working with residents to document all existing bicycling infrastructure and propose a set of projects to expand the system.

“I think there are a lot of really fractured bike lanes in the city. You’ll be riding and the lane will all of a sudden stop,” said Libby Coyner, one of 10 nominees appointed to the committee at Wednesday’s meeting. “I hope the master plan can weave it all together and make it a safer city to ride in.”

Bob Pane, Leslie Dornfeld, Haley Tilden Ritter, Susan Bookspan, Gene Holmerud, Bob Boschee, Erika Keenan, Edward Jensen and Feliciano Vera will serve alongside Coyner on the task force, according to city documents. The task force committee members applied for the position in August and are expected to serve five to six hours per week for up to nine months.

Phoenix held public meetings for community input on the plan during October where residents were encouraged to use a Wikimap to outline their current bicycling routes, show where routes need improvements and where they would like to see new routes.

The task force will also be in charge of developing bike safety education as a way of preventing injuries.

“I think cyclists here are really aware of what’s going on, but drivers, especially with their phones, can get distracted,” avid cyclist Rebecca Wininger said. “Education to drivers to be more aware of the bicyclists is going to be critical.”

The task force hopes to make riding in Phoenix safer for both the cyclists and the drivers in the city.

“I am glad they are making this task force,” ASU design senior Hannah Haas said. “I hate driving in downtown because of how unorganized the bike lanes are. I am always on alert looking out for cyclists.”

“It is dangerous. It’s terrifying to ride in,” Coyner added. “I’ve been harassed, everyone I know has. You get honked at, yelled at and nearly run down.”

The task force will also be advising city staff on different ways to improve pedestrian safety throughout downtown.

“I hope they come up with a better way to get cyclists in and around the city, that way we don’t have to rely on our cars day in and day out,” Wininger said.

The city estimates it will complete the Bicycle Master Plan in June 2014.

Contact the reporter vcohen1@asu.edu.