Arizona Bicycling Summit 2017 Highlights

Highlights of the Arizona bicycling summit downtown Mesa at the convention center.

Here are some of the highlights from the Arizona Bicycling Summit held in conjunction with tour event registration or packet pick-up yesterday in Mesa, AZ.  The event was sponsored by the City of Mesa, Perimeter Bicycling, Coalition of Arizona bicyclists and pedestrian and bicycling professionals.


Panel discussion regarding Arizona bicyclist involved crashes and related data collections.

Eric Post Tucson attorney: discussed pertinent cases regarding the 3 foot passing rule and sidewalk riding.  He showcased a technology device that could be of use to law enforcement in determining if a bicyclist was allowed a “safe pass” when a vehicle operator overtakes a bicyclist.  This technology could be used to more accurately reflect the facts of the case in an injury accident or a citation for unsafe passing.  Watch this space as this story unfolds.

James Schmidt of Roadsys spoke of the thousands of datapoints that are collected and available for analysis to allow for smarter road design, traffic calming, and other road design opportunities that will promote safety for all users.  They are specialists in bike and pedestrian counters that will allow stakeholders to understand trail, path, sidewalk, or road use by non-motorized transportation.  Accurate data can help drive funding and development projects.

Panel discussion on building bicycling programs for under served populations:

Matt Zoll Pima County Bike & Pedestrian Program Manager, spoke about grant funding that allows for outreach and partnership with schools that allow for bikes and biking accessories/necessities (tools, etc) to be deployed to under-served students.  Kids who would not normally have an opportunity to learn about bikes, safety, riding, rules of the road, are served in their neighborhood school.  It was stressed that there is an important educational component and that there needs to be continuation even as the program scales back or deploys to other areas.  In essence there is a two pronged approach to creating safe streets where none existed, which means physical paths and other infrastructure improvement. This is coupled with soft-skill outreach, education, training for key site personnel who will ensure program continuity into the future.

Brandee Lepak, Owner of Global Bikes, spoke about the non-profit Trips for Kids and the impact that the organization has on children in their service area which includes the greater Phoenix area.  This program has introduced mountain biking to 1,500 kids since its inception in 2013. She stressed that she would like to partner with more organizations that serve youth and that it would be beneficial to complete multiple trips with the same group of kids.  She also stated that she would like to network with partners who can pick up donated bikes that do not meet their service requirements and pass them on to other bike providers vs. bulk-drop donating to places like Goodwill.

Robert Chacon of WeCycleUSA – spoke of the work his organization is doing to provide recycled, reused, donated big box store type of bikes to help low income people have working and reliable human powered transportation.  He teaches people how to repair their ride.  He says he started with about 100 bikes in his garage years ago but his wife said he had to get them out of the garage.  He noticed that people in his community lacked transportation so he created WeCycleUSA to solve the problem.  He has operated at several locations in and around Mesa/Phoenix over the years and his shop has been closed for approximately 3 years he said.  He plans on opening shop again at a new location that will be a low income housing hub.  He needs to partner with a lawyer willing to help donate time to get a 501(c)3 set up to meet the stringent requirements of operating in the community.

To donate time, pro-bono, to this great cause contact Robert here: 602-516-0002

Bill McComas of Phoenix Spokes People and The Rusty Spoke spoke about the work that the Rusty Spoke co-op does.  It operates on a shoe-string budget of cash or donation bikes/parts.  As with all of the aforementioned grass-roots non-profits Bill stressed that they would always welcome cash donations.  Many of the people who frequent this shop are from the homeless population near the shop.  They are met with a warm welcome and can perform work in lieu of cash to “earn” a bike.  At one point Bill got choked up as he explained how important the work of this shop is to serve an often marginalized and discounted portion of the community.  He said that new bonds of trust and friendship are born out of the interactions of bikes and people.  He is clearly passionate about serving and meeting people right where they are.  The Rusty Spoke will gladly accept higher end and gently used donated bikes/parts.  The most helpful types of bikes, he said, are big box store bikes as well as parts – or cash.  Store hours are limited to Sunday & Wednesday.  Check the website for full details.

Jennifer Haroon head of business operations for Waymo, Google’s self-driving car project gave a fantastic overview of these cars with an emphasis on bicyclist safety.  The main take-away that is changing me from a skeptic to at least neutrally receptive to this concept was #1 video clip that showed that the car could “see” a bicyclist in a left blind spot and not hit the cyclist, #2 video clip that showed a nighttime scene of a bicycle rider on left zig zagging while simultaneously an unseen rider (no apparent reflective gear, etc) dart out from the right.  Honestly if I was the driver I could see myself hitting that second rider – but the car spotted it because it has lasers and other means to “see” mounted on top of the car in a 360° view that a human just doesn’t have.

Jennifer didn’t flinch when asked the “trolley” question, as she put it.  It goes like this: “What does the car do when there is a bicycle in the right bike lane and then something like a tree falls on the left.  Does the car swerve and kill the bicyclist or not swerve and kill the driver?”  Her answer was satisfactory in that there are so many variables it would be impossible to answer that question.  She did say that ultimately they would like to see their system be able to integrate fully at what they call level 5, with existing vehicles “we don’t build cars”, she said.

An audience member sitting next to me, Chris Milner, Project Engineer from T.Y. Lin International Group, discussed the new technology, importance of infrastructure to handle the potential of more cars on the road in the coming decades.  He indicated that people will likely move away from car ownership and that the sharing economy, apps, and smart electric cars, such as the Waymo prototypes, will change transportation as we have known it.  My question: do these roaming driverless cars then return to docking stations to charge up and wait to be called into action?  Will they be, in essence, huge Roomba’s?  Time will tell…

Of course all of this leads into April Fool’s Day but it ain’t no joke the 27th El Tour de Mesa taking place today, Saturday, April 1, 2017.  According to Perimeter staff there will be approximately 1,500 riders in today’s event.  Platinum riders who met Perimeter rank and timing criteria will ride out first followed by the rest of the pack depending on distance — 100K, 50K, 10 or 5 miles.

There will be plenty of excitement for adults and kids!  Stay safe, stay strong!


Sue, friendly Perimeter greeter

by Aleta Wright, editor.publisher  520-329-2022. Tips, story ideas.