Arizona Officials Respond to Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents

Arizona Officials Respond to Bicycle and Pedestrian AccidentsTowns across Arizona are noticing an uptick in bicycle and pedestrian accidents, prompting some officials to review safety standards and cyclists to push for more pedestrian-focused laws.

According to the Tucson Citizen, the city of Surprise, Arizona, is currently reviewing the safety of town roads for bicyclists and pedestrians after an accident injured two children.

The town has started a public awareness campaign aimed at students and has conducted a survey inquiring residents about the perceived safety of pedestrians and cyclists. The efforts were spurred by an accident involving two 13-year-olds who were riding their bikes near the corner of Cotton Lane and Greenway Road.

Police Department spokesman Sergeant Bert Anzini stated the teens attempted to cross the street where no crosswalk had been painted, and were struck by a truck. One child was taken to Phoenix Children’s Hospital for treatment of head, chest and leg injuries, while the other was treated at the scene for minor injuries and released shortly after to his family.

The accident was one of eight collisions involving a bicycle and a vehicle that occurred in 2011 in Surprise, compared to the two that were reported in 2009.

Peoria also reported more bike accidents last year, rising from 14 in 2009 to 21 in 2011.

“Is it concerning? Absolutely,” Anzini said of the trend. “Obviously it’s something that we need to stay after.”

In Payson, police are urging all citizens to pedal through the streets carefully, as the city has nearly five times the rate of bike-car crashes as Prescott, which is much larger, the Payson Roundup reports.

Payson Police Chief Don Engler says he has heard from many motorists who claim to have barely missed bikers that pull out of driveways or onto highways, and both bikers and motorists blame each other.

Engler stated that overall, the accidents that have taken place in Payson “have gone both ways.”

“There’s been bicyclists that have hit vehicles that are stopped and there have also been vehicles that are starting to pull out that have collided with bicycles, so I think it is a two-way street and both need to be cognizant and aware of the other one,” he stated.

According to the Tucson Citizen, police in the Dysart Unified School District are addressing the problem by visiting schools to give presentations on bike and pedestrian safety. Officers have been visiting schools discussing the importance of wearing helmets, using crosswalks and always looking both ways before entering traffic.

Councilman John Williams stated the October accident in Surprise has also led many parents to become vocal about how pedestrian-friendly the city is. Surprise has received many complaints about intersections and sidewalks at crossroads around the town. Currently, the city’s biggest problem areas are being identified, and will be discussed in a report to the council on January 17.

The Payson Roundup reports that a 2010 Bicycle Safety Action Plan by the Arizona Department of Transportation found that Payson accounts for 3.62 percent of the 1,089 crashes involving bikes and cars that occurred on state roads between 2004 and 2008. AZDOT compared the rate to other communities, such as Prescott, at 0.8 percent and Pinetop at .54 percent.

The Bicycle Safety Action Plan was established to look for ways to add more bike lanes to roads and create additional improvements, as nearly all crashes occurred on streets that were not constructed with shoulders or bike lanes.