City approves controversial bike lane trial for Roosevelt Street

Road repavement was completed on Roosevelt Street from Central to Seventh Avenue. Traffic lane striping takes place on Dec. 7.

The City of Phoenix approved a 30-day trial for the highly favored bike lane plan on Roosevelt Street, according to a statement emailed by Kini Knudson, the director of the street transportation department earlier this month.

“During the trial, we will actively monitor the new striping configuration and collect data to determine if it meets the needs of all roadway users,” Knudson said in the email.

Some Phoenix residents said the trial period was a way for the city to make the bike lane plans less permanent and not a priority for cyclists.

The plan went into effect after Phoenix residents and bicycle supporters demanded bicycle lane connectivity leading up to First/Central and after Seventh avenues.

A city survey of seven different bike plans reflected that Option A, the plan with the greatest bike lane connectivity, received by far the most support.

Sean Sweat, the president of the Urban Phoenix Project, said 91% of the responses from a city survey for bike lane placement chose Roosevelt Option A as their first choice, according to a survey conducted by the city after the bike lane meeting in October.

“If you have 91% of people agreeing on one option out of seven, that’s overwhelming,” Sweat said.

Kerry White, the leader of the Ladies Group and a board member at the Phoenix Metro Bicycle Club, said she was in favor of Roosevelt Option A because she supports the plan with the most bicycle lane connectivity.

The plan will provide complete bike lane connectivity and two travel lanes from First Street to Third Avenue, but the center turn lanes will be removed. At the traffic signal past Third and Fifth Avenue, the roads will be marked with sharrows indicating it will be a vehicle and bicycle shared street.

“I think where Phoenix fails sometimes in bike infrastructure is that you have a bike lane and then all of a sudden you don’t have a bike lane,” White said. “You are dealing with an intersection and cars would really rather you not be there in their way.”

When the road is shared by vehicles and bicycles, White said it creates a “dangerous interaction.” If there are connective bike lanes at intersections, bicycles have a dedicated place on the road and it eliminates confusion between them and vehicles.

Sweat said intersections are important places to add more bicycle safety measures. According to the Federal Highway Administration, 40% of motor-vehicle crashes occur at intersections.

Option A loses the bike lanes at the intersection of Third Street and Fifth Avenue, he said.

“It’s definitely disappointing to see [the city] still not prioritizing the safety of people on bikes at intersections,” Sweat said.

White said the 30-day trial period reflects the street transportation department’s lack of interest in making bike lane changes.

“I don’t understand the motivation behind the reversal to begin with, and then to make it temporary…I think it makes it obvious that they don’t want to do this,” White said.

White, leader of the Ladies Group, a women’s cycling club, said 24% of bicycle trips are made by women. One of the reasons for the low percentage is due to bike infrastructure.

“Women don’t tend to ride when they feel unsafe,” she said.

While leading the Ladies Group, she said she constantly hears from people in the group say they don’t want to ride by themselves and are afraid they won’t be respected on the road.

“I don’t want to drive my car, I’d rather ride my bike,” White said. “But if I don’t feel safe in doing so, I am not going to do it.”

Traffic lane striping will take place on Dec. 7 and will require full street closure, Knudson said in the email.

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