Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thompson Peak instead of Hidden Hills?

July 31, 2008 -- Jerry Bell and I recently received the following E-mail from Pat Ventura.

Jack and Jerry,

I suggest that we change the route of the Geezer and Extreme Geezer Rides to incorporate the Thompson Peak loop and the Taliesin loop and skip the problem area of Scottsdale near the Hidden Hills. Why should we expose ourselves needlessly to tickets when we can simply avoid that section of Via Linda and replace it with a darned good alternate route?


In a second E-mail Pat added:

I remember when we started the Geezer ride there was almost no bicycles at the end of Via Linda. At that time the “Hidden Hills” subdivision didn’t even exist. It is so different now, and the residents complain so much that we will definitely get tickets if we keep going there. Since Bell/Thompson Peak/Taliesin seems like an OK alternative, I hope we can make it happen. I really don’t need any bike tickets counting against my insurance and auto record.

I haven’t had a chance to discuss this with our esteemed leader, the right honorable Jerry Bell, but I think changing the route to Thompson Peak, at least for the time being, is a good idea. The distance freaks can always risk the wrath of the SUV-hugging Scottsdale upper crust and also add Hidden Hills to the ride, as we have often done in the past.

You can comment on this to Jerry (and me) by responding to this E-mail, or better yet, you can post your thoughts on the Geezer blog where all can read them.

Jack Quinn

Monday, July 21, 2008

Crackdown on Cyclists in Northeast Scottsdale

Monday, July 21, 2008 – Last Saturday, July 19, several members of the Geezers and Tribe cycling groups were pulled over by a Scottsdale police officer and lectured about an upcoming crackdown on cyclists. I was not part of the group, but I was told that the police officer said he would be writing tickets in the future for running stop signs, riding more than two abreast, and speeding. The crackdown is supposedly a result of area resident complaints. My guess is that most of the enforcement will be concentrated on Via Linda between the gate to Hidden Hills and 124th Street.

Of the three supposed infractions, the one most likely to result in a ticket that will hold up in court is running a stop sign. I think we all know that the law technically requires us to come to a complete stop at all stop signs. It is not necessary to put a foot down, however. If you are able to come to a complete halt and do a track stand long enough to look both ways and make sure that it is safe to proceed, you have complied with the law. As a practical matter, cyclists riding alone who almost come to a complete halt are unlikely to be ticketed, even though they have technically violated the law. Please remember, however, that cyclists riding in groups tend to anger not only residents but also some police officers. If you are riding with a group and some members of the group run the stop sign, you would be well advised to make a complete stop, even if it means getting dropped, so as to have a defense if the group is pulled over and ticketed. Groups are more likely to be pulled over and held to the highest standards than are individual riders.

I have heard cyclists debate whether or not traffic tickets issued to cyclists count against their driving records and thereby affect their car-insurance rates. I don’t know the legal answer to that question, but one cyclist who was ticketed for running a stop sign on Via Linda says that the magistrate who decided his case did count points against his driver’s license.

Many police officers believe that there is a law that states that cyclists are supposed to ride as close to the right side of the road as possible. That’s incorrect. However, it is true that cyclists may not ride more than two abreast unless they are riding “on paths or parts of roadway set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.” If you’re riding more than two abreast and a police officer tickets you, you may have a hard time fighting that ticket in court.

Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) paragraph 28-815 states: “A person riding a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway….” First, the law says that cyclists must ride “as close as practicable” to the right side of the road. The difference between the meaning of the words “possible” and “practicable” means that there is a lot of room for interpretation. Some experts in bicycle law feel that three feet from the curb or five feet from parked cars (because of the danger of someone suddenly opening a door) is a reasonable and practicable distance. Secondly, it implies that if you are riding at the speed of traffic or if there is no traffic present, you are not required to ride to the right. A police officer has no legal right to yell at you to get over to the right if there is no traffic behind you.

There are also four exceptions to the “as far to the right as practicable” rule:

  1. If overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
  2. If preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
  3. If reasonably necessary to avoid conditions, including fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals or surface hazards.
  4. If the lane in which the person is operating the bicycle is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.

Exceptions 1 and 4 should be especially noted. It’s OK to move out from the right side of the lane to pass another bicycle, and it’s also OK to move out from the right if the lane is too narrow for a cyclist to safely share with a car (as is the case on the four-lane sections of Doubletree, Via Linda, and Mountain View). I don’t believe that a police officer could write a ticket that would hold up in court if we take over the entire right lane on either of these two streets, as long as we’re not riding more than two abreast.

However, on the sections of Doubletree, Mountain View, and Via Linda where there is a marked bicycle lane, cyclists are highly advised to ride in the bike lane; otherwise, the three-foot law doesn’t apply. According to ARS 28-735, motorists are required to give bicycles at least three feet of clearance when passing. If they don’t and a collision results the motorist is subject to a fine unless there is a bicycle lane present and the cyclist isn’t using it.

As to speeding, it is my understanding that the 20 mph speed limit inside the gates at Hidden Hills is not legally enforceable, as this is a private road. Nevertheless, if cyclists would descend inside the gates at a speed somewhere in the vicinity of 20 mph, that might lessen resident hostility towards us. Below the gates, if my memory serves me, the speed limit is 30 mph on the two-lane section of Via Linda and 40 mph on the four-lane section. I’m sure that some of us exceed the 30 mph speed limit, although not by as much as most motor vehicles. You have to crank a 53x11 pretty hard to exceed the 40 mph speed limit farther down the hill except for the short, steeper stretch just after crossing the freeway. (I believe my record is 39.7 mph.)

An annotated copy of the ARS as they apply to bicycles can be found on the Web at:

The main page,, has many links to pages about the legal issues that affect cyclists.

The Arizona State Legislature Web page of the ARS that apply to transportation can be found at:

A good tutorial on bike riding in traffic can be found on an ADOT Website. Much of the information is basic, but there's probably something in there for even most traffic-wise cyclists. The URL is:

Jack Quinn

Friday, July 11, 2008

Speed Controls for Cyclists at Hidden Hills

July 11, 2008 The Scottsdale City Council voted Tuesday to give $70,000 to the Hidden Hills Homeowners’ Association (HOA) for the construction of speed-control devices. The HOA claims that after an initial period of riding slowly, some cyclists are still speeding down the hill. I can testify from personal observation that some of the cyclists bombing down the hill at full speed are Geezers.

Here’s a link to an article in the Arizona Republic Web site.

Jack Quinn