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ADOT proposing new bike, pedestrian safety plan for state highways

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PHOENIX – A proposed update of Arizona’s plan for protecting bicyclists and pedestrians on state highways calls for shoulders 4 feet or wider and more sidewalks and paths that can be shared by those pedaling or walking.

The Arizona Department of Transportation‘s revised Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan proposes signs reminding bicyclists to ride with traffic and urging motorists to share the road. ADOT’s Arizona Driver License Manual would have more tips on avoiding accidents with bicyclists.

The agency submitted the plan for public review through Feb. 8.

The original plan was developed in 2003. Ten years later, population growth has prompted the update, according to the draft final report.

“It’s really about learning how to watch out for each other because we certainly don’t want to see any accidents,” ADOT spokeswoman Laura Douglas said.

The plan’s stated goals include doubling the number of bicycle and pedestrian trips in Arizona in the next decade as well as reducing accidents involving motorists.

While the plan applies to the state highway system, Ken St. John, a Phoenix Metro Bicycle Club board member, said he’s optimistic that it will make all roads safer by educating bicyclists and motorists.

“One of the best things they can do statewide is improve the education of both motorists and bicyclists to understand that bicycles do belong and how they belong and what the responsibilities are,” St. John said.

Sun Lakes resident Robert Prochaska said he wants more education for motorists about paying attention to bicyclists. He was left temporarily paralyzed in 1997 when a driver turned left in front of him while Prochaska cycled through an intersection.

“He probably just looked right through me because a lot of time drivers are looking for cars and things of that nature and they overlook bikes,” said Prochaska, who recovered enough to be able to bike about twice a week today.

Lois Judd, a Payson resident who joined the Sun Lakes Bicycle Club recently for a 10-mile ride, said drivers often come too close to bicyclists. By Arizona law, vehicles are required to remain 3 feet from a cyclist in a bike lane.

“I stay away from main roads with high traffic areas,” Judd said. “I try to go to more gentle roads without a lot of traffic.”