Over Killed In A Tempe Bike Lane

Tempe bike lanes

Tempe is certainly a bike-friendly city. In fact, it is an award winning city for being a place where people ride bikes to work and to play. You’ll find miles and miles of dedicated bike paths, and you’ll find tons of great bicycle friendly events where bicyclists are front and center.

Tempe bike lane striping On McClintock Drive, new bike lanes were installed in July of 2015 after “extensive study” and much “community input.” One lane of traffic was removed from McClintock to make room for the new bike lane. Now, there is a bike lane and a warning lane that acts as a buffer between cars and cyclists. There is also a barrier for the warning lane. Seems like a bit of over kill to me. Especially because there are so few people who actually ride bicycles on this stretch of roadway.

Heck, I’d be willing to bet that there’s not very many people in the city of Tempe who have ridden their bike along the stretch between Guadalupe and Southern over the past year than I have. I have personally taken at least 200 trips back and forth over that same route in the last 12 months. Before, during and after the bike lane construction. Prior to the bike lanes being installed, I would mostly ride on the sidewalks. Yes, I know that is evil, right? During construction, I rode both on the street and on the sidewalks along McClintock. Since the new bike lanes have been installed, I am certainly one of the people who use them several days a week. Honestly, I feel safer riding in the bike lanes than I did before, and it seems like the wear and tear on my bike is a bit less. Should there be such a wide lane for bikes? I’m not so sure. One thing I feel pretty strongly about is the candle sticks. They are ugly, they are overkill, they add to the traffic backups, they are bad for business owners in the area, and they are a waste of my ( taxpayer ) money.

The community input is all well and good, but average Joe doesn’t always pay attention to community input surveys until they sit at a couple of extra stop lights during their morning commute. Part of the reason for lack of community input is the fact that there seems to be a huge disconnect between North and South Tempe. Most discussions initiated by our city council members center around downtown Tempe growing upward, building “luxury apartments”, and maximizing “smart growth” in our landlocked city. Urban, urban and more urban seems to be the flavor of the year(s). While that seems to fit in the Downtown Tempe area, it doesn’t seem to sit as well with people south of downtown. Yes, people live in South Tempe, and they pay taxes. A lot of them. Many South Tempeans tune out the noise after a while, because the focus on Downtown Tempe doesn’t always directly affect them. Unfortunately, when people tune out, things like this that are not a good fit for their community get pushed through as an “experiment.”

Below is a McClintock Drive Bike Lane hand out that was provided to the public. It is said to show traffic patterns decreasing in 2014. Interestingly enough, they compare 2014 to 2004. Do you think that is the best comparison to use? People have asked if they looked at the timing of the recession – the period of time when gas prices rose to nearly double of where they are now. There’s a lot of factors that come in to play, and I suppose you can always get someone to post different ways to look at the same type of data to come up with an outcome that serves their purpose.

McClintock Drive Handouts 5.4.2015 <– There’s a link to their study. The photo below shows some of the first page of the report. Click the photo to enlarge it.

Tempe bike lane patterns

Fast forward to December 5th, 2015 and the next phase of the bike lanes were completed. This phase includes a whole bunch of “candle sticks” that act as a buffer between the buffer zone and the bicyclists. Another lane of safety if you are a serious biker. An ugly, unneeded waste of taxpayer money if you are any of the 99% of the people who travel along McClintock Drive each and every day or own a business along this stretch of roadway

Look, I get it. We are bike-friendly, and we need to be concerned for the safety of people on bikes. Many people who know me know that I’m kind of a transit fan. Yes, I’ve been to Tour de Fat, I have taken the time to meet the guys at T.B.A.G., and I think they do a lot of awesome things. While they will certainly disagree with my criticism of these stupid ballards, I am sure we’ll find things to agree on again in the future.

It seems like these ballards / candlesticks / bike lane delineators are popular in many  places in the country and maybe in other parts of the world. I would think they are rather useful in a very urban environment. In fact, I have no doubt they help bikers stay safe, but this stretch of McClintock Drive certainly is not the most urban environment in the city or the state. Heck, you’ll find a LOT more soccer moms than bicycle commuters on this stretch of road. The percentage of people that these help vs the number of people they do not help appears to be far out of line.

These two photos show a couple of examples of why people seem to dislike the ballards in the road. 1, They appear to create a barricade in many places that is less than business friendly. 2. They seem to get in the way of traffic. YES, that is the idea but…

I know there are a lot of people who think these barricade things are an awesome idea. In fact, I’ve seen reactions from people like:

These are a great addition. Someone get Phoenix to step into the 21st Century, too, please.”

“These are a positive development and should be encouraged. They send a clear message that the bike lane is not to be used for parking or right turns.”

“So glad Tempe is taking steps to make the city safer for cyclists. Change is hard. These barriers can be literally mean life or death for cyclists.”

It has now been a few weeks, and I’ve tried to have a wait and see attitude about the ballards in the bike lanes. While I do enjoy riding my bike in the bike lanes, I still feel like this experiment is overkill for the area. It just doesn’t seem to make $ense to provide so much for so few. While I understand that my vote doesn’t always count, I hope that any future expense is relegated to a true need in an area where it might make more sense, instead of some feel good experiment by a city council member who thinks that it is “just a small part of the budget.”

Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell:

I’ve seen some of the broken ballards and have reached out to let Mr. Granville know about them. While I asked how much it would cost to replace them, I was just told that “staff” would be notified.

Less than two weeks later, I saw two more broken poles in the same place as where the others had been replaced, and I was told the exact same thing. “Staff” will be notified. I guess Mr. Granville doesn’t want me to bother with details.

Tempe bike lane ballard

 

Here’s the text of a letter sent to one of our city council members. I thought it was reasonable. I’d be curious to know what you think of these candlesticks that have been installed in Tempe. Feel free to leave a comment. Yes, I know people have differences in opinion, so please be civil with your remarks or they will be deleted.

In a future post, maybe we can discuss the traffic issues caused by the removal of lanes due to the additional bike lanes…

 

** Update: 1/5/15 ** Third Strike on McClintock:

So, less than a month after the first photo of the broken ballard on McClintock and the EXACT SAME ONE has been run over again. That’s ( at least ) three replacements of the exact same “candle stick” within a month. It makes you wonder how many extras we have and how much is being spent or being done to replace these. I know, I know… It’s a small piece of the budget.

Tempe bike lane casualty

3rd Bike Lane Casualty

January 22nd, 2016 bike lane casualty number FOUR for the exact same ballard. Heck, this one lasted a lot longer than the first three. Things are getting better! Maybe someone should take a look at the safety of drivers when trying to drive northbound on McClintock as they attempt to head east on US60. I’m no expert but I’d be willing to guess that these candle sticks are causing a lot more damage to vehicles than they were “expected” to do. The following photos shows a piece of the ballard still hanging on by a thread. I’d be willing to bet a LOT of money that this piece will be hit again very soon and will be gone before we know it. As you can see from the black tire marks, it has probably been struck several times. Good thing the city ordered more. Right?

Tempe bike lane fiasco

4th casualty – 1/22/16

After Four Strikes, Battered Ballards Removed from the bike lane:

Just a couple of weeks after the fourth time these candlesticks / ballards had been replaced they have been removed from this section of the bicycle lane. It make us wonder if they will remove more in the future? Here’s a pic of the section of road that is now ballard free.

Tempe bike lane candlestick

Tempe’s First Crush Charity Gala

I remember my first Crush. She was fun, elegant, had great taste in food and always looked to give back to others. Thankfully, that has never changed. If you’ve never been to the First Crush Charity Gala in Tempe, you really are missing out.

There is a NEW venue for First Crush this year! The 2016 First Crush Charity Gala will be held at the Arizona Historical Society Museum at Papago Park. The museum is located at 1300 N College Ave Tempe, AZ 85281.  The event will feature Four Peaks brews, local wines, and tasty food from local Tempe restaurants, including Four Peaks Brewing Company and Snooze. For music, they will have the one and only Walt Richardson! Yes, really!

The raffle and silent auction items are going to be awesome! We’ll update the page with 2016 information but 2015 had items such as:
Corey Woods offered to make dinner for you and 5 of your friends. We had a 4 course chef prepared dinner for 10 at Pedal House Brewery and a private tour of the Sam Adams Brewery!!! Yes, in Boston. This trip had a $3000 value! We’ll have dozens and dozens of other awesome items available for 2016. This really is a can’t miss event!

For more information, please visit www.tempeaction.org or contact them at 480-858-6525. Tickets for First Crush will be $100.00 per person. Early bird pricing will be available soon so watch for the pricing info!

Surround yourself with hundreds of great people, enjoy great food and drink, a super-fun charity auction and awesome entertainment while helping some of the least fortunate people in our communities. This is truly a wonderful event that Lori and I look forward to attending each year.

 

Great Food and a Great Cause: Give Back by attending the First Crush Charity Gala!

What: 12th annual First Crush Charity Gala & Silent Auction

When: Friday, October 21, 2016 from 6:00-10:00PM

Where: Arizona Historical Society Museum at Papago Park – 1300 N College Ave Tempe, AZ 85281

Dress for the event is casual. But nice.

The First Crush Charity Gala supports the mission of Tempe Community Action Agency, a nonprofit leader in providing human services to East Valley residents since 1966. First Crush features one of the best silent auctions around a delicious array of menu items, Wine and there will be a LOT of Four Peaks beer along with some great musical entertainment . Did I mention the pie bar? Yeah, there’s a pie bar! Proceeds support the programs and services of TCAA, a nonprofit leader in providing human services to East Valley residents since 1966.

Tempe Community Action Agency (TCAA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that serves low-income families, children, seniors and the homeless for more than 40 years in the East Valley. The mission is to improve the quality of life for the under served in our community.
Check out the TCAA on Facebook.

I look forward to seeing all of you there!

A very special thanks also goes out to all of our friends at the TCAA for all of the work they put in to this great event.

Tempe Community Action Agency

 

 

 

 

 

Tempe Happy To Welcome Zenefits – Many Others

It seems like the jobs just keep coming to Arizona and that is certainly welcomed news in Tempe. Companies like GoDaddy, Northern Trust, DriveTime Automotive, Reputation.com, Shutterfly and, of course, State Farm are some of the companies hiring and expanding in Tempe.

Zenefits Expanding in Tempe:

Zenefits at Hayden Ferry Tempe

Zenefits – Hayden Ferry

This past week, it was announced that Zenefits is expanding their operations in Tempe at the super-cool 3rd and final Hayden Ferry tower that is currently under construction. They signed a lease for 5 floors of the Class A tower and will occupy 135,000 square feet of space. Zenefits plans to hire 700 people by the end of the year, which will bring their number of employees to 1300 after adding to the 600 employees they already have at their Old Town Scottsdale location.

Zenefits will be joined by a lot more new faces along Rio Salado Parkway in the very near future. The new Hayden Ferry Tower is already 92% leased before being completed, and Marina Heights is not far behind with their addition of thousands of jobs. Yes, thousands. Depending on where you get your information, we’ve heard 6000, 8000, 10,000 and 12,000 jobs being added at the massive Marina Heights development. I am not sure exactly how many they are bringing, but I am sure that the area will be forever changed by the tremendous amount of development we are currently seeing.

Zenefits will benefit by this awesome location, the large talent pool of employees and the proximity to the airport, Mill Avenue and all that the super-cool 85281 zip code has to offer.

We’ve found a great talent pool in the greater Phoenix area. We’ve been able to hire a lot of ambitious, smart people and we want to keep tapping into that market. This Tempe location is great, too.” – Mark Woolway, Zenefits VP of corporate development and business operations

The City of Tempe seems pretty pleased with the amount of new jobs coming to the area. From the Tempe city council to the Chamber of Commerce, there has been a lot of talk about the expansion that is occurring. Of course, we’d be happy to help Mr. Woolway and his crew find new homes for Zenefits employees in the area. We can think of some pretty cool lakeside communities near their offices. Of course, another nice thing about the area is the fact that MANY choices are available within a short commute from their new offices. Scottsdale, Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe all have a ton of options for people wanting to be close to their shiny new building on Mill and Rio Salado.