Written by Charles Mosley, Public Works Director/City Engineer, Dave Singer, Bicycle Program Coordinator and Doug Copp, Verde Valley Cyclist Coordinator
Sedona AZ (December 11, 2012) – They are finally here! The new bikes lanes on SR 89A in West Sedona mark the culmination of a long process of cooperation between the Verde Valley Cyclists Coalition, the City of Sedona and the Arizona Department of Transportation. A similar process occurred a few years earlier with SR 179 between Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek. These bike lanes, along with recently signed bike routes in West Sedona, and paved shoulders throughout the city, show Sedona’s commitment to multimodal transportation infrastructure.
Some may be wondering how the new SR 89A bike lanes should be used. Arizona law treats bicycles as vehicles, so cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers, and they are expected to obey the rules of the road. Experienced cyclists should use the bike lanes instead of the sidewalk. Sidewalks are designed for pedestrian traffic, not fast moving wheeled traffic. Cyclists should always ride with the flow of traffic, not against traffic flow. Drivers should also recognize the rights of cyclists and yield to bicycles just as they would yield to another automobile.
The bike route along SR 89A may be intimidating to some because of the speed and volume of traffic along SR 89A. Some riders may prefer the bike route along Sanborn and Thunder Mountain Road in West Sedona. Signed bike routes along Mountain Shadows Drive, Rodeo Drive, Andante Drive, and Dry Creek Road provide a connection between SR 89A and the Sanborn/Thunder Mountain bike route.
While riding, you will notice several types of bike-related roadway signs. Roadway signage designating bike lanes, bicycle routes, bikeways and shared roadways is a part of bicycle facility infrastructure. But what do these signs mean?
A bike lane is a portion of a roadway which has been designated by striping, signing and pavement markings for the preferential or exclusive use of bicyclists. A.R.S. 28-815D states that, “A person shall not operate, stop, park or leave standing a vehicle in a path or lane designated as a bicycle path or lane by a state or local authority”.
Bicycle routes comprise a combination of various types of bikeways and are used to create transportation links throughout the city.
A bikeway is a generic term for any road, street, path or way which in some manner is specifically designated for bicycle travel, regardless of whether such facilities are designated for the exclusive use of bicycles or are to be shared with other transportation modes.
Share The Road signs are used to alert drivers that bicyclists are present on the roadway and the travel lanes are shared by both automobiles and bicycles.
A frequent question is why all bike routes don’t have bike lanes. In Sedona, although we are working toward marking bike lanes when feasible along bike routes, there are several situations when marking is not practical or needed. Sometimes the road is too narrow. A bike lane should be 5 feet wide and on both sides of the road. When this width is added to the 24 feet generally desired for vehicular traffic, the typical 50 foot wide right-of-way cannot accommodate the motor vehicle lanes, the bike lanes, a shoulder, and roadside drainage ditches. On roads with low volume, the expense of widening the road for a bike lane is not warranted, and motor vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists can all safely share the road without significantly interfering with the others travel.
When riding on roads, practice vehicular cycling. This means riding in a manner that is in accordance with the principles for driving in traffic. For instance, move to the right side of the road if traffic is backing up behind you. Other principles include: yield to crossing traffic at junctions with larger roads, yield to traffic in a lane you are moving to, use turn lanes and hand signals properly and merge with automobiles before entering roundabouts. Many streets in Sedona are shared by pedestrians as well as bicyclists and motorists. Cyclists on a shared-use bikeway should always slow down when approaching pedestrians and give a verbal greeting before passing.
Since Arizona law treats bicycles as vehicles, bicyclists may use any of Sedona’s roadways. The real issue is how our streets are perceived by cyclists and motorists. If drivers and cyclists obey the rules of the road, our streets will become safer and more efficient for all users, and hopefully more people will choose to adopt the bicycle as a form of transit and recreation.