Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cycle Central Phoenix, Part I

Me, a few minutes after we arrived.
Taking a break from my social policy paper, the Planner Guy and I set out on our bikes for City of Phoenix sponsored Cycle Central Phoenix late yesterday afternoon.  Our meet-up destination was out South Central Avenue at the Arboretum parking lot, where we were greeted by Mayor Greg Stanton's police detail, who would be escorting us along our route.  And, yes, the Mayor was our host, bike and helmet (it's safety first at City events, don't ya know) in hand.

City Bike Czar, Joe Perez, in the safety green t, explains the route and the rules of engagement before we head out. Mayor Stanton is to the right of the shot holding a helmet.
The Lycra clad and people in street clothes proved we can all get along.
John is one of the owners of Tempe's Bicycle Cellar, and hopes to bring a facility to downtown
Phoenix.  I see a really cool post on this subject sometime in the future.
I'm not one for head counts but I'd say several dozen people, all arriving on bike (ok, the Mayor did arrive by car but they are busy people almost always headed from one event to the next), which I thought was pretty impressive at similar rides I've attended in Louisville and Flagstaff quite a few participants arrive in a car with bikes loaded on a rack (sorta never made sense to me).

One of two journalism types interviewing participants.  I don't think they went along for the ride.
The press was there interviewing riders.  Good, good.  A little free publicity always helps the cause.

Guys, talking bike gear.  I've learned to stay out of these guy bonding moments.
High visibility footwear!
Some chic cyclists.
On top of City staff, there for cheerleading, technical support and fun, were riders representing all ages and styles of riding, from touring types, hipsters on single speeds, fashionistas and committed transportation cycling advocates.

I just love Marines!
All ages seemed to represented, too, including a proud Marine, proof if there ever was that bicycles on city streets really aren't a communist plot. 

Lining up to hit the streets.
Just what is he thinking about?
Catherine, aka "The Cookie Bitch" delives daily baked items to
the Royal Coffee Bar, which I will visit very soon.
Actually, whether or not it was intentional or not, there were no children in attendance so it seems adult events are just fine with CoP (a refreshing change from other places I've lived where all events must include a face painting booth and an inflatable, bouncy house as if adult cannot be trusted, left to their own devices, to behave responsibly).

A guy on a bamboo bike!  More on him later.
So, our route included two stops before our final destination, the Phoenix Arts Festival.  We pedaled down South Central back toward downtown, stopping first at The Duce, a bar-restaurant-boxing ring-boutique, and then at CityScape, a downtown pedestrian shopping and dining area equipped with an ice skating rink.  The Duce and CityScape stops are both deserving of their own posts and those will be up later in the week.

Bob and I were near the end of the pack.  A bike cop was just to the left of us.  You
can see a cop on a motorcycle several feet ahead of us.
In concluding today's post, I just can't say enough about biking with a police detail.  I have never felt so safe, and this is coming from a woman who rarely feels particularly unsafe.  On bikes and motorcycles, PD were like a team of Border Collies keeping us loosely contained within our part section of the road space and forming a protective barrier (of sorts) between us and the rest of the traffic.  I love biking around cars traveling at a safe driving speed!  Granted, I'm not suggesting I need to be allowed to just whiz through red lights but if PD is holding traffic at the intersection for us, I'm going to comply and run the light.  Naturally, in unless it's 9 3rd and Palm and the streets are relatively clear, I honor the red light.

Clever positioning of the headlight, too.

Speaking of safety, one of our fellow riders attached video camera to the front and rear of his bike.  His cameras seem to be equal part safety measure and creative endeavor.  I've been reading a lot about frustrated cyclists arming their bikes with camera to record potential bad driver behavior but I'd never met anyone who did it.

Besides, the cameras, isn't this bike so pretty?
Anyway, he's supposed to post his video later this week so if I run across it, I'll post a link here.


Dan said...

Looks like a good time.

I was fortunate to be involved in a smaller, but not less fun ride in Lafayette, IN last month, the Main Street Family Mash.

However, I would rather see these rides happen without the police escort. Having the officers cork the intersections and basically close the lane to other vehicles doesn't send the message of sharing the road. Instead, bikes are seen as needing special treatment, like a parade. (However, like you I didn't turn down the opportunity to breeze through the red lights like I owned the place!)

John Romeo Alpha said...

Nice write-up, and thanks for the pictures, particularly the close-ups of the bikes and gear. Having gone on several of these rides without escort, escort is the way to go, else the group either gets strung out, or has to continuous stop to wait for everyone. Anyway, the mayor gets an escort any time he wants, it's cool that he used it here.

She Rides a Bike said...

Dan,I agree with you about the police escort things. You are right; I don't think it sends the right message about share the road either. From the City's perspective though, at their events they might have been advised by the City Attorney and Risk Management that not having a police escort creates risk (aka public liability if anything goes wrong). In this case, it appeared to me that everyone in attendance was an experienced urban cyclist who knew more than the basics of road safety and proper signaling but you never know who you will get on these rides. At one Tweed ride that I was involved with we did have a couple of people on bikes buzz the red light, which really made me cringe, and at another we were lucky that an impatient driver didn't hit one of our cyclists making a left hand turn. You just never know . . .

She Rides a Bike said...

John, were you there last night? I would have loved to meet you.

John Romeo Alpha said...

I didn't get to go, due to previously scheduled family events. Perhaps the mayor will work around my schedule better next time.

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