Category Archives: Flagstaff

Pedaler in Chief

“Bicycles will save the world.”  –Susan Handy, UC Davis Environmental Science & Policy

How poignant this Rush song is today.  It was written in 1985 when greed was being institutionalized in America.  I grew up a confused child in a troubled world.

After high school I worked as a roofer.  I started college.  At 21, I drove an 18 wheeler around America the beautiful, and epic Canada too.  But it was the bicycle–rediscovered at the age of 22 when I realized the car could not save me and was too expensive for me to operate anymore–that changed me.  It was a tool that helped me learn Emerson’s Self-Reliance from the inside by living it.  It’s not easy, and I don’t know where this journey is taking me, but it is a fun ride.


What if our next President charged the country with cycling more?  Make a difference, bike more.  We don’t need everyone to ride, we simply need to support people that are out there cycling right now and encourage people that will.  Especially our youth, and young at heart.

If you’re feeling cynical during this election cycle I recommend cycling more.  It builds us up and connects us to the greater world.  I would also recommend voting.  We have to make our effort and let go of factors beyond our control.  We can only dictate our own effort.  And it works.

2012 was a pivotal moment on my cycling journey when Joe Shannon, Flagstaff Cycling’s Pedaler in Chief, gave me an opportunity to race again, build a team and smooth out my pedal stroke.  We keep growing the movement and spreading the word.  What if the next President of the U.S.A. embraced this new title, Pedaler in Chief, and built a team with all Americans and World Leaders?   Who knows, maybe big money can help more too.  Let’s ask.

Check out Dr. Handy’s research here:
Joe’s team is linked here–
Cycling joins together disciplines:  UC Davis’s Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior

Flagstaff Days

Waterline Road, San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff Arizona

Waterline Road, San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff Arizona

during monsoon come flowers

during monsoon come flowers

the elk are the masters of the woods around Flagstaff

the elk are the masters of the woods around Flagstaff

The San Francisco Peaks towering above Flagstaff are a big draw.  We moved to Flagstaff in 2004 when Mai enrolled at Northern Arizona University.  We spent ten years there.  We were married at the Grand Canyon.  Special place.  I remember our first visit.  Aspen groves and views of the Grand Canyon from Snowbowl Road impressed us, but the forest road around the back side of the Peaks sealed the deal.  Flagstaff is a great place to raise a family on bicycling.

Hart Prairie Road in June, part of my loop around the Peaks route

Hart Prairie Road in June, part of my loop around the Peaks route

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At 7,000 feet above sea level Flagstaff is a healthy and stunningly beautiful environment.  The atmosphere shimmers with perfectly clear, distilled light.  The sun’s press on the skin is intense.  Mountain storms bring deep snows, heavy rains, crackling lightning.  The milkyway swirls in luminous bands across dark night.  The water is cold and clean and the air is delicious.  I met so many people bicycling in Flagstaff.  I met as many people through cycling as I did through working at NAU.  Those communities, work and bike, changed my life.  I met many quiet leaders in Flagstaff, remarkable people, who were not in high positions but lived extraordinary lives.  Real leaders inspire by example through the conduct of their own affairs.

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the road ride out to Wupatki National Monument is outstanding, from the painted desert to the Peaks

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on Mt. Elden, Flagstaff Arizona

The three main road bike rides are hard to beat.  The alpine climb up Snowbowl road is just seven miles out of town by Hwy 180.  I could ride out of town and be up above 9,000’ and home again in about two hours.  I liked that.  The road by Lake Mary is one of the best rides anywhere.  Take it as far as you want to go.  I rode it on my lunch break or after work and every Saturday on the group ride.  The long road north into the painted desert to Wupatki is world class and the slow undulating climb back on the Sunset Crater loop road is relaxing and beautiful.  Rides and races through that cinder marked landscape etched indelible memories.

All summer 2009 336

All summer 2009 273

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The mountain biking in Flagstaff will blow your mind, but winter limits it to six or seven months.  The city is encircled by national forest public lands and you can bike out of town in any direction in literally a few minutes, a few city blocks.  Some of the most accessible riding around.  You get into the woods and realize right away there are probably more elk than people there.

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finding some peace on snowbowl

finding some peace on snowbowl

During the winter months you can ride in Sedona and the Verde Valley.  Or you could go to Phoenix or Tucson and experience shorts weather any month of the year.  There’s no doubt about it, Arizona is a unique amalgamation of unmatched cycling and Flagstaff is about as good of a place to live and raise a family that I can think of.  We are thankful to have spent ten years there.  A secret place yet to be discovered, best revealed pedaling two wheels.

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letter to the editor published

The local newspaper the AZ Daily Sun published a letter I wrote.  Thank you!  We have such a beautiful cross section of citizens riding bicycles and it is important to care for one another and work together to make our roads healthy and safe for all.  We are the fabric of community.

Inspiring Group Rides: Assets to Our Communities

Group rides are the primary medium for the development of cycling skills and forging new friendships around bicycling.  You can visit any good bike town and walk into a bike shop and ask where the group ride meets.  There’s gotta be one.  The benefits group riding returns help towns develop greater bicycle friendliness.  Group rides increase the visibility of bicycling, encourage people to ride, and inspire bicyclists to ride more and accelerate the improvement of bicycling skills.

The Saturday morning show and go ride in Flagstaff has been the staple for my training the last ten years.  When I moved to Flagstaff in August 2004 I bought a full suspension mountain bike from Absolute Bikes.  The public lands that ring town in every direction were so enticing I spent all my time stringing rides together like spokes on a wheel emanating out from Flagstaff exploring as much open country as I could on dirt forest roads and singletrack.  I would spend all day riding carrying a backpack loaded with provisions.  I thought I was in pretty good shape.  But when I showed up for the group ride they applied some checks and balances to my perceptions.  I got dropped like an anchor weight.  The test of fitness and measure against other athletes the group ride fosters is a great way to prepare for competition.

People are social animals so riding with others adds a whole new dimension to what a bike ride can offer.  My favorite aspect of group rides is meeting new people!  That is as exhilarating as the ride!  Outside of work bicycling is one of the best social mixers.  It is like a Saturday morning dance party on a bike.  People of varying skills, backgrounds and abilities mesh and synchronize moving to the elevating rhythm of the wheels turning round and round.  Because it is an inclusive and open invitation, anyone can show and you meet college students, newly arrived families in town, visiting athletes, doctors, lawyers, engineers, hippies, public employees, you name it, it is a relatively complete cross section of the community.  The conversation is very diverse and stimulating, and since our windows are always down, you can pick up streams of words you wouldn’t otherwise be privy to.  It is very inspiring riding side by side with people from diverse backgrounds.  Anyone can ride a bike and just about everyone does.  I’ve met so many interesting people through biking and made long lasting friendships.

The support and sharing elements are what the Flagstaff group ride excels at.  If somebody gets a flat or has a mechanical we’ll try to help and often times there is a sharing of repair tools and labor (or, everyone will smilingly supervise you as you perform the labor).  The other day I saw a rider dressed out in an old Grand Canyon Racing jersey and shorts from the team I was on back around 2006.  I asked him about the uniform and he said Jim gave it to him.  The sharing of resources and assistance to new and enthusiastic riders is customary.  Jim has won so many jerseys over the years he has to make room for the new ones in his closet anyway.

The education and training a group ride delivers is second to none.  If you are training for a race or charity ride or event that involves riding with other people, the group ride is the best place for your to prepare.  You can build skills in a friendly environment and watch the master level cyclists to pick up best practices.  You may be able to download free coaching advice by asking curious questions.  Trying to follow faster wheels when the pace picks up is an excellent way to train.  Just be sure to heed your limits and don’t get in over your head.  If you can’t hang on this week then let your body rest and recover and try it again on the next ride.  You’ll be surprised how riding with other people will make you stronger.

The inspiration may be what draws me the most.  Flagstaff attracts riders from all over and many high level folks come here specifically for the benefits of the altitude since we are at 7,000 feet above sea level.  And the riding courses are world class as well.  You can ride for sixty miles out Lake Mary without encountering a traffic control signal, though you may have to slow down for elk herds bounding across the road.  You can meet and ride shoulder to shoulder with Olympians, pro cyclists, world class triathletes, world class mountain bikers, accomplished riders from other parts of Arizona coming up for diverse training, and local super stars.  The favorite part of it for me is the diverse mix and never knowing who my dance partners will be for any given Saturday!  I love riding with my Flagstaff neighbors who happen to be excellent bicyclists.  They’re superstars to their community, top performers at work, and after they finish the Saturday morning carbon free vacation from their front doorstep, they’ll return to that same doorstep changed having traveled substantially but without having driven  a mile.  They’ll return to the home where they belong reenergized, and  they’ll light up the life of their sons and daughters and spouses, and be recharged for work.  I find the group ride very inspiring, and  owe all my successes since I moved here to the road, the people, and the strength I draw from riding on that magical threshold where things come together, people know you and say just the right things for that day, and somehow little by little you become a better bicyclist, and a happier one.

Mt. Evans race report, aka, community group ride!

Confused looks greeted me at the mailboxes this morning on the Flagstaff community group ride.  Wasn’t I supposed to be racing today at Mt. Evans in Colorado?  Yes, I was.  But why was I here?  First let me sing praises to the Mt. Evans race, and second I’ll tell you why it was good that I was in Flagstaff today.

Mt. Evans is the highest paved road in America, and they run a race up it!  You begin in Idaho Springs, Colorado off of I-70 just west of Denver, and over 26 miles climb through various life zones, past high conifer forests, skirt beautiful alpine lakes, leave the gnarly bristlecone pine trees–the oldest living tree species on earth, some individual trees were alive when Jesus walked the earth–in your wake, go past where trees can’t grow anymore, and summit around 14,200′ with a herd of mountain goats chomping on tundra casually observing all the strange spandex visitors on a fine July morning.  It is an awesome race, the pilgrimage for passionate hill climbers.  The views from the top, oh my!  You should do it at least once.  They also have a citizen’s ride, a non-race, but no matter what event you do it is a guaranteed challenge just to make it to the top.

I’ve done it four times.  The first year as a category 3 (bicyclists enter racing as a category 5 and progress one category by one category, cat 1 being the most “advanced”) I was beaten in a sprint at the finish by an Australian junior rider who took the inside line on the last hairpin curve.  If I had only developed craft in addition to my strength.  But such was my state as a strong Cat 3.  The second time I raced as a category 1 or 2 but did not improve upon the time I had posted as a category 3.  What is all this hard work for I wondered?  I did however get to start the race with Tom Danielson and Scott Moninger that year and be on the wheels of greatness.  I think Moninger did his best time ever at the age of 42.  The third time I finished fourth and posted an improved time.  Yey.  The fourth time, last year, I was just coming off a vacation to Montana so my performance stunk.  But I had an awesome road trip with my hero Drew and received a solid grounding in the school of high altitude racing.  Plus last year the Pikes Peak hill climb was the day after Mt. Evans, and we did that one too.  Back to back 14’ers.  Always fun to do new courses.  Every trip has been worth it.

But this year I simply had too much work to do and need to keep my racing in balance with my other life objectives.  That’s OK because the community group ride in Flagstaff was just spectacular.  The US national champion was with us again fresh off a pro race and more victories and teaching us all how to focus on quality training while riding for camaraderie and good fun with an eye for helping each other learn and grow.  The local community guys were inspirational and uplifting, and super strong.  It doesn’t get any better than today.  All this without driving a mile.  Plus, Jim says I have two more years left.  I’m thinking three.  Mt. Evans, I’ll be back.  In the nearer term the race focus is on the next goal, Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs on August 24th.  That is another incredible hill climb that begins at 9,000′ and goes to the top of America’s Mountain to over 14,000′ in around 12 miles.  It is very steep.  Today was a great day of preparation.  I belong to the best bicycling community in the United States.  Thank you Arizona!


Your Love for Lake Mary Counts

The next two weeks Coconino County is counting bicycle traffic on Lake Mary Road.  The data will be used as part of a grant application for funds to resurface and widen sections of Lake Mary Road and Mormon Lake Road so that they are better accommodating for bicycle traffic.  You’ll see the strips cast across the bike lane just north of Lower Lake Mary.  Make sure you ride over the strip and be counted!

I ran into the county transportation planner, Tim, on my Lake Mary bike ride yesterday while he was placing the counting strips in the bike lane.  Tim has had past success receiving grant funds to resurface and widen Lake Mary Road from Stoneman Lake Road to the junction with Hwy 87 at Clints Wells.  It is a smooth and safe shoulder out that way if you get a chance to do a longer ride and travel further away from town.  With the section from Stoneman Lake north to Lake Mary improved, and the Mormon Lake Road loop improved, the Flagstaff region will be further along the way to providing the facilities deserved by the world class health-minded community that resides here, and will better serve Olympic, professional, and local masters and recreational athletes that currently recognize this as one of the best places to live, train, and vacation to in the nation.  Thank you!

Thinking about Bike Lanes!

Bicycling is sustainability in motion, and bike lanes are designed to encourage people to choose bike riding by making it more comfortable.   There is more to bike lanes than casually meets the eye, however.  All road users benefit from increased mindfulness of how bike lanes impact the interactions of different kinds of transit modes on the shared road.

The most dangerous interpretation of bike lanes is viewing them as separating out bicycles from motor vehicle traffic.  Bicyclists are still part of traffic when a bike lane is present, and the lane doesn’t protect them from a conflict, especially from a distracted, impaired, or emotionally disturbed driver.  Bike lanes sometimes accentuate conflicts stemming from traffic flow at intersections, from adjoining driveways, and can lower visibility.  Motor vehicle drivers can be lulled into thinking they don’t have to be on the lookout for bicyclists as much when bike lanes are present, but safe passing laws and share the road guidelines still fully apply.  It is convenient for motorists to believe that bike lanes segregate out slower moving bicyclists from due considerations from traffic moving in the general travel lanes, but bicyclists still have full access to the general lanes and often times their safety depends on maneuverability and access to general travel lanes.  Thinking that bicyclists are limited to the bike lane would be like thinking multiple passenger vehicles are locked into a “High Occupancy Vehicle” or HOV lane—another type of preferential use lane specified in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)—which would be totally absurd.  Multi passenger vehicles can use any lane depending on their needs, and so can bicyclists when circumstances necessitate.

Bicyclists can’t assume that if they stay in a bike lane it guarantees their safety.  For instance, the bike lanes on San Francisco St. and Beaver St. north of downtown Flagstaff are adjacent to parking zones.  Bicyclists should not ride in the bike lane if it subjects them to the possibility of an opening car door.  These parking spots have high turnover, doors open all the time, and no one looks back until they are ready to climb out of the car!  Around intersections and driveways bicyclists should be extra careful to be visible.  Butler Avenue is a great example of a busy road that includes a bike lane with lots of driveways and intersections where bicyclists and motorists should be on heightened alert for one another’s safety.  Another area of conflict occurs when a right hand turn lane is engineered to the left of a through bicycle lane. This practice was prohibited by the MUTCD in 2003 but Flagstaff still has several of them.  The one I notice all the time is on the university campus where northbound University Drive intersects with West University Drive.  Bikes can go straight but cars have to turn right, as University Drive becomes a dedicated bike, bus and service vehicle route.  Bicycles going straight should not remain in the bike lane, but should merge left into the general lane well before the intersection to prevent conflict.  Here’s a picture of this intersection.  Markings on the road must be coupled with careful thinking and education as well as adaptive, cooperative, real-time interpretive skills to make the road a safe and healthy driving environment.

Bicycle lanes sometimes decrease sight lines for other traffic to see bicycles, and create a wider visual span for drivers to scan.  As a bicyclist, moving left into an open general purpose travel lane increases visibility and can provide a safer berth away from vehicles looking to drive out onto the busy street from intersecting driveways.  Be extra cautious when a vehicle from the opposite direction is turning left across your path.  If you are in a bike lane they may have a harder time seeing you.  Sometimes we scan for car traffic but forget to look for people.   Bicyclists traveling in a bike lane need to watch for adjacent cars traveling in the same direction that want to turn right.  Cars often times pass a bicyclist before wanting to turn right, but did not anticipate the speed of the bicyclist to make the turn without cutting the bicyclist off.  This is referred to as a “right hook” and is common crash type in city driving, and is very dangerous.  Never position yourself as a bicyclist in the danger zone adjacent to a car turning right at an intersection or into a driveway.  If a car passes you then turns the right blinker on, yield and let the car turn right, and forgive them for misjudging and for failing to yield the right of way.  Be adaptive, avoid danger zones, and carry a diplomatic poise.  It is challenging for everyone on busy streets. Be prepared to maneuver for safety, including sharing the bike lane, and leaving the bike lane when a situation calls for it.  Bicyclists can feel comfortable using the general purpose travel lane when it is safer knowing confidently that you are a regular part of traffic and your needs are fully included and respected.

Bike lanes can work against a cooperative atmosphere if they are seen as lessening the requirement for sharing and respect, decreasing the need for good judgment, used to insist upon a rigid territorial mind set, or viewed as a justification for the attitude that faster traffic has priority on roads.  The best way to maximize the benefits of bike lanes for all is to recognize their limitations, use them with caution and active critical thinking, and to be considerate to the different needs of all types of traffic on the roads.  Bike lanes are designed for better including bicyclists in the road environment, not for marginalizing or prohibiting them from being legitimate traffic.  The solidarity all users feel to cooperate to create a safe and healthy environment on our shared roads remains a total commitment and one requiring our complete attention.  A bike lane does not change that.



Where to Ride on Arizona Street Smarts

Check out the League of American Bicyclist’s position on right to the road for bicyclists

The Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety urges bicyclists to prioritize safety when making lane decision choices:

Bicycle lanes are one type of “preferential use lane” described in the MUTCD.  Other examples are HOV lanes and bus lanes.

A special thanks to Justin P. and all the work he did to improve bicycling in Flagstaff

Lone Tree road update

I’ve been corresponding with local planners in Flagstaff regarding summer construction and bicycling improvements, and am writing this post to provide an update on developments on Lone Tree Road.  On northbound Lone Tree Road just north of Zuni, and on southbound Lone Tree Road just south of Pine Knoll, a bicycle symbol was set by the markings contractor in the shoulder after the pavement was preserved with a chip seal coat, but the shoulder is too narrow to qualify as an official bike lane.  The City of Flagstaff emailed me yesterday indicating this marking was a mistake.  They are not intending on widening the shoulders into bike lanes.  And the bike lane marking was deemed too difficult to remove without damaging the pavement, so they are just going to let it deteriorate over time I guess.  Sounds subversive, but we should assume our City is genuinely encouraging bike friendliness.  The City has installed nice “share the road” signs up and down Lone Tree road which help raise driver awareness that the lane is too narrow to be safely shared by a car and bicycle side by side.  So overtaking drivers must slow down and wait until there is no oncoming traffic to move over into the adjacent lane to safely pass bicyclists with the recommended passing distance of five feet from the outermost point of a vehicle, including mirrors and wide trailer tires, to the outermost left point on a bicyclist.

As a bicyclist, where should you ride on Lone Tree?  Bicycles are a regular part of traffic when riding on the road.  Anybody can ride this way and be confident.   For the driver of a car it takes increased concentration to negotiate around slower moving vehicles.  One may understandably therefore desire for bicyclists to be riding as far onto the shoulder as possible, but this is not the safest way for bicyclists to ride.  Riding too far right can be hazardous to bicyclists.  Plus squeezing yourself right as a bicyclist can open up the option to a passing motorist of trying to squeeze by you even if there is oncoming traffic, which can result in a sideswipe or a scary too close pass.  Generally bicycling curriculums teach one to ride where the pavement is good and the road is swept clear of hazards such as sand, cinders, dirt, gravel, and free of other surface irregularities.  The law instructs bicyclists to ride as far to the right as practicable, not possible.  Most of the bicyclists I see error on the side of riding too far right because they are afraid safe riding behavior including proper lane positioning will be interpreted as discourteous by passing motorists.  Ride where you feel comfortable and safe adapting to the conditions around you, and don’t compromise your safety for the convenience of speeding traffic.  You are an equally legitimate part of traffic.  You are not required to rush or go faster to be respected.  Bicyclists are allowed to use the general travel lane in the direction they are traveling in.

We all feel proud when seeing our neighbors out riding a bicycle and accomplishing things in life with pure human power.  It isn’t an easy pleasure but it is a deeply rewarding one, a super fun one, that is deserving of much respect, garners the admiration of our healthy minded community, and inspires others to bicycle!  It is a satisfying feeling knowing that you can connect parts of your life together by bicycle, work and home, home and school, errands and trips for fun.  Further resources on “where to ride” on the road include our own Arizona Bicycle Street Smarts publication, which is truly excellent.  Another excellent instructional site is Cyclingsavvy.  Enjoy your bicycling, Flagstaff!  You deserve it!  Many thanks and huge kudos for the city and county planning, engineering, law enforcement and maintenance teams that keep our roads safe and accomodating for all the diverse types of transportation modes people choose.

when cars turn against people

Yesterday on the Saturday community bicycle ride down Lake Mary Road south of Flagstaff, a chevy pickup driver steered his vehicle into two bicyclists, hitting them with his truck, while screaming “get out of the road!”.  Unfortunately during the summer tourist season bicyclists receive low level harassment and are endangered by motorists regularly.  This is not the first incident I’ve been present at when a motorist forcefully used her/his vehicle to “teach us a lesson”.  The kind Sheriff responding to our 911 call yesterday must have been wondering, why would we keep coming out to do this ride when our safety continually is threatened?  First, it is an appropriate road to do a group bicycle ride on (more on that in an upcoming post!).  Second, well, we are Americans, and Americans don’t compromise their passions for living just because hate criminals and people willing to take advantage of power differentials are out there on the prowl.  We are a courageous not cowardly people.  Third, intolerance is antithetical to American values, and we stand up for those values, not run away from attacks on our common bond of civility.  Hostile traffic and road rage is not unique to bicycling, it is a problem for everybody.  We believe in equality and justice, the sanctity of human dignity in every individual, the right to pursue happiness, and recognizing our common humanity beyond the labels that describe our differences.  There is no better place than the United States for these ideals to thrive.  We need to support victims, not reprimand them, and teach vehicle operators that escalating a misunderstanding or trying to punish someone, or even being rude to a fellow road user, is a non-starter.

Law abiding bicyclists riding with consideration for others have no need to apologize.  After repeatedly being treated like they are doing something wrong, most cyclists I know end up thinking from someplace deep inside themselves that can’t quite be pinpointed that there is something wrong with riding a bicycle on the road, that there is something wrong with them.  These are symptoms of being a recipient of continual abuse.  This is a rather traumatic “normalized” state for people to be functioning in.  It is a drain on society, the families and children of bicyclists, for our employers, for reaping the full service potential from our citizenship.  The most common reaction is for people to turn away from road biking and retreat to mountain biking, or some other calming activity.  The closing of opportunities is a huge problem we can reverse with a concerted, unified, sustained effort.  Often times law abiding bicyclists’ safe and predicable road manners are misinterpreted by motorists who don’t understand other points of view exist on the road besides the one from their own windshield.  I sent a letter to the editor to the Arizona Daily Sun knowing this educational component was not universally understood.  The Pima County Sheriff’s Office put out a nice memo clarifying the commonly misunderstood rights of bicyclists.  It would be beneficial for Flagstaff Police and the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office to jointly develop a uniform enforcement policy confirming the same rights, and for the motor vehicle department to initialize educational campaigns and training modules informing the public of the shared road guidelines.  Check out the “Bicycle Law Enforcement: Enforce Laws with Mutual Respect” article on Flagstaff Cycling.  There are more good resources for bicyclists on where to ride in the “Street Smarts” publication, and it is ok for motorists to cross train in this realm too, even if you don’t ride, perhaps especially if you don’t ride.  The law is on the side of bicyclists, but the public perception needs to come around so differences are better understood from our shared common ground as legitimate citizens on the shared road:

We have a big mountain to climb in front of us to put these principles into motion as normalized best practices on the road, and to stop the discrimination against bicyclists.  The best thing we can do is to understand why these crimes are happening and make sure drivers have the tools, knowledge and support they need to make peaceful decisions going forward.  We can forgive, warm up our hearts with compassion and move forward, recommitting to relating to each other on equal, mutually respectful terms.  I hope the riders that were hit yesterday are healing up OK, in their bodies (they appeared OK, they were very lucky, and highly skilled to stay upright), but equally so in their psyches, where post traumatic stress syndrome can sneak in and start strangulating the state of feeling well.  Keep riding, be rolling ambassadors, take care of each other, come forward and voice your concerns so everyone hears from you, and never stop working to make the shared road a microcosm for the democratic values we formed this wonderful nation to preserve.  We can do better than bashing each other around.  Let’s give hope some legs.  Time to go for a ride!

When People are Around, Slow Down

I sent this letter to the editor to our local newspaper the Arizona Daily Sun a few weeks ago but never heard back from them.  I resent it this morning.  The main thing I was trying to accomplish was to build understanding and basic respect for the rights of bicyclists on the road.  It is funny to think you have to remind people not to use their motor vehicles as instruments of intimidation or as weapons against co-citizens, but unfortunately our experience tells us much progress is yet to be made in this realm of society where violent tendencies still reign.



Letter to the Editor, Arizona Daily Sun Newspaper, Flagstaff, Arizona

When People are Around, Slow Down:  Bicyclists in Consideration

Bicycling season is in full swing in Arizona’s high country, and the Arizona Governor’s Office for Highway Safety reminds us that “bicyclists may occupy any part of a lane when their safety warrants it”.  Bicyclists have full legal access to the travel lane including when a bicycle lane is present.  Bicyclists are trained to ride as far to the right as practical, not possible.  When bicyclists are in the travel lane as part of traffic, they may be passing other cyclists or road users, avoiding deteriorated road surfaces, or navigating obstacles such as broken glass and dangerous debris.  Slow down, wait to pass until it is safe to do so, and provide the recommended passing distance of at least five feet (three feet is the absolute minimum) from the furthest point of your vehicle, including mirrors and trailers, and the bicyclists’ left elbow and leg.

The Federal DOT considers “bicycling equal with other transportation modes” and bicyclists have equal access to our roads.  When passing groups of bicyclists be especially prepared to wait until it is safe to pass.  “By law, cyclists always have the right of first come, first served in the lane that they are occupying.  Vehicles can’t legally intrude into their path, or pass them, unless it is safe to do so” according to Peace Officer Kirby Beck in Law and Order magazine.  This means drivers may have to be patient and wait to pass bicyclists until the oncoming lane is completely clear of traffic, especially when passing groups of bicyclists.  Never use your vehicle as a weapon to threaten, harass, intimidate or endanger the safety of your neighbors on Arizona’s beautiful roads.  We need everyone on board to help Arizona actualize our full potential in welcoming and encouraging active and renewable transportation so that we may keep reaching towards our full potential as healthy citizens with a diverse array of good transportation choices.  Thank you!

Mark Aasmundstad, Flagstaff Cycling member.  Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists, Flagstaff Representative. Former over-the-road 18-wheeler commercial driver.  Current Arizona State Time Trial, Team Time Trial, and Hill Climb Champion.  USA Cycling license # 210273