Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Spring Day on the Pima Road Path in Scottsdale


Looking north: to the left is Scottsdale, to the right is reservation land, and a ginormous new baseball facility for Spring training called "Salt River Fields at Talking Stick." The road is Pima, and it has recently undergone some improvements which include widening, and striped bike lanes. So, for several miles including the zone in front of the new sports complex, you can choose bike lane or multi-use path for cycling. I'm interested enough in why cyclists would choose one or the other that I may look for a good spot to set up shop one day to try to ask them about their riding choice. Some factors: the multi-use path is wide and sparsely populated (this photo is unusual in my experience), while that new asphalt along the road is sweet and smooth. Personally, I would prefer a bike lane to be wider than the one on this road, but it was painted on a road sandwiched between existing properties on the west and reservation / baseball stadium complex on the east, and I expect there were complex calculations and trade-offs to land on this particular configuration for the project.

The renovation of Pima Road also included some fairly subtle changes along the multi-use path, too. This path is well designed, and connects with the Arizona Canal and the Scottsdale greenbelt. And now it also can take you to a spankin new Spring training stadium. A game was just letting out as I was riding along here, and while the bicycle traffic was rocking right along, the automobile traffic was rather stuffed up, congested, suffering from a bit of post-nasal drip. Police from the tribe were directing traffic at the intersection to the south of this one, and they had their hands full. I waited at the MUP/street transition, and in due time one of them pointed at me and directed me across.

On a normal traffic day here, my perception is that automobile drivers usually see cyclists waiting at a red light to cross on the path, and will yield when the light changes and the cyclist has the GO signal, however: a cyclist who shows any sign of hesitation in heading across is taken as a signal for turning traffic to proceed. You have to be assertive. Which I am, so it works for me, but I do wonder about the less assertive rider waiting to cross here. It's the kind of quandary which arises at MUP-street transitions like this one. This path is straight, long enough, and empty enough that if you feel like it, and sometimes I do, speed is an option. But, while my confidence is high on hitting this intersection when riding on the road at speed on a green light and proceeding through the intersection with only a normal level of caution to check for cross-traffic, a green on the multi-use path intersection with the street still means SLOW DOWN. The alternative is dedicated tunnels, which Scottsdale continues to add at other similar crossings, but they are admittedly expensive. I took some photos at a new one going in along the greenbelt south of here, which are coming up in a future post. But, I will add that the advantages to a need-for-speed cyclist of a dedicated path tunnel are mitigated by the design features of these tunnels, like the new one at Goldwater Boulevard, which result in blind corners where you have to slow down anyway. Regular readers of this blog know that I have no problem with slowing down, and in fact advocate it in many different contexts for many different reasons. Impatience and needless speed are doubtless contributing factors to many a mishap. But I do wonder at the design decisions when millions of dollars are spent for dedicated tunnels so that path users do not have to wait to cross or be assertive when the light changes to get across, and then have to slow down anyway to check a blind corner or in case you discover suddenly as you emerge that you need to negotiate around a chatty group waiting to cross the other way. Connecting pedestrian paths could easily switchback to a place of mutual visibility rather than connecting at a right angle at the end of a blind wall, like in this photo (sidewalk coming in from the left). Which is not really how I intended to end this post but just go with it. Get up. Go ride.



  1. Assertive is good.
    I was just thinking, boy, with all those paths and MUPs, how come I never see anyone using them?
    Except you, of course.

  2. I love the paths you have around you. I wish Tempe was more like that. Though I have been taking advantage of the bike canal paths which are pretty decent.

  3. sorry, I tried to read this and got stuck on the phrase "Spring training." I would so love to be down there (or at the Florida camps) watching Spring training baseball.

    love the composition of that second shot.

  4. This raises an interesting point. Since Limon lives in Hawaii, how come he sees you using these MUPs - IN ARIZONA?

    Almost all my crashes have been on MUPs, except the worst one...

  5. limom sometimes the paths and MUPs around here can feel pretty underutilized, particularly in the hot summer months, which is OK by me, because it reminds me a lot of this blog: visited by a small, select, elite group of highly discerning and skilled cyclists from around the world.

    jamesjay, I like what they have done in the Tempe Town Lake area in terms of bicycle paths and signage. It would be great if the Rio Salado path could connect all the way from Downtown Tempe to Downtown Phoenix, though, wouldn't it?

    Clowncar, thanks! I'm hoping to catch a game or two, got to go check the schedules and see which ones I could ride to.

    Steve, mr. limom sees all, knows all, considers all...
    seriously, MUPs with anyone else on them put me on red alert. And now that the new access rulings have gone into effect, I can't wait to see all the motorized vehicles that are going to be on them, too.

  6. Steve A., The Flat Tire OSS.
    They're everywhere.

  7. Oh and we got segewes(segues aka Segways) over here.
    With tourists on em.

  8. Segways, otherwise known as "path lice", are motorized. So unless the rider qualifies as disabled, they need to get the heck off the non-motorized paths.


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