Friday, November 23, 2012

Winter Geezer Ride Times

From now until some undetermined time in the spring, there will be two start times for the Wheezers and Geezers ride on Saturday: a faster group at 7:30 a.m. and a group that will ride at a more leisurely pace at 8:30. Usually the early group does a longer ride either by tacking on the Thompson Peak Parkway and Bell Road loops or by doing the shorter ride and then doubling back to join the slower group and then riding out again.

On Wednesday, there is only one start time at 8:30 a.m.

Jack Quinn

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ride Time Change

The Wednesday and Saturday Wheezer and Geezer rides start times change to 7:30 a.m. on October 1. For those of you who do the Arizona Bicycle Club's Sunday breakfast ride from Granada Park, that ride's start time also changes to 7:30 on October 1. -- Jack Quinn

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Police Stop Hasseling Cyclists in Biltmore

Off-duty police officers, hired by a small group of wealthy Biltmore residents, have apparently stopped harassing cyclists and others. As I reported a few weeks ago in an email sent out to email list subscribers of the Arizona Road Cyclist News newsletter (, and posted on this blog (see below) at least one police officer had been stopping cyclists, walkers, and runners on the streets of the Phoenix Biltmore and implying that they were trespassing if they were not in the company of a Biltmore resident. Worse yet, some of the people who were stopped and questioned were ordinary Biltmore residents who were harassed for engaging in such suspicious activity as walking the dog in their own neighborhood. 

The implication that the people stopped and questioned for walking, jogging or cycling on the streets of the Biltmore were trespassing was false. I have checked with various sources, and although it is true that the streets in the Biltmore are private, outsiders have permission to use those private streets for recreational purposes.

I had heard stories of walkers being intercepted by police officers on the streets of the Biltmore, but I was not aware of the extent of the harassment until I found myself in a group of riders from the Arizona Bicycle Club (ABC) that was pulled over by officer Benjamin Carro of the Mountain View (formerly Squaw Peak) Phoenix Police precinct. 

Officer Carro stood in front of the group and delivered a long harangue in which he implied, although he did not directly state, that we were trespassing. He said that he was not "going to take names this time" or write us tickets, implying that he could legitimately do so. He pointed to one of the cyclists in the group and said that he had stopped him before. "I never forget a face." The implication was that the cyclist had not learned his lesson the first time he was stopped for being in the Biltmore, and here he was back again!

Two members of the cycling group promptly identified themselves as Biltmore residents. If Officer Carro had been using common sense, he would have stopped there rather than anger some of the Biltmore residents he was claiming to protect, but he wasn't. He continued to harangue us in disconnected sentences in a loud and authoritative voice, thereby harassing two of the people he was claiming to protect. When one of the cyclists started to ride off, Officer Carro stopped him, yelling that he did not have permission to leave yet.

When Officer Carro finally permitted our group to leave, cyclist Paul Klusman and I stayed behind to ask for the officer's name and badge number. We had independently decided to file a complaint. Officer Carro wrote down the information and gave it to Paul, who then rode off. I was left alone with the officer who once again began to harangue me, presumably with the intention of intimidating me into leaving without the information, but I interrupted him, stated that I had done nothing wrong, and politely reminded him that I wanted his name and badge number, at which point he stopped his harangue, wrote down the information, and handed it to me with seeming reluctance.

Our group was not the only one that Officer Carro stopped. Reader Dave McMeechan wrote that he was with a different ABC group that the officer stopped [see the "Feedback" section below]. I also have reports of joggers and walkers being stopped, although in those cases, the officer involved was not identified. I do not know if several police officers have been hassling  people cycling, walking, and jogging in the Biltmore, or if Officer Carro is the only culprit. 

Paul telephoned Commander Gardner to set up a meeting who declined to meet with us and referred Paul to Officer Carro's supervisor, Sergeant Amy Breitzman, who wanted to resolve the matter over the phone. Paul insisted on a meeting.

At the meeting, Paul, Biltmore resident and cyclist Lou Morgan, Sergeant Breitzman, and I were joined by Sergeant Lynn Butcher of the precinct's Community Relations Bureau. I was permitted to attend only on condition that I not write about anything discussed at the meeting with one exception: I was given permission to write that cyclists may ride through the Biltmore under the condition that they stay to the right and ride no more than two abreast. I don't think I'm violating my promise by adding that I inquired several times why Officer Carro tried to make us believe that we did not have that permission when it wasn't true, but I couldn't get a straight answer to that question.

The Biltmore complex is not monolithic. It is controlled by several organizations including the Arizona Biltmore Hotel and various home owners' associations. Most of those organizations have no connection with and no influence over the off-duty police officers who patrol the Biltmore.

As mentioned earlier, a small group of (presumably wealthy) residents pays for the the patrols, allegedly because of a rash of break-ins, although in my checks of online crime statistics, I found no evidence of such break-ins. If the crime statistics available on the Internet are accurate, the Biltmore complex seems to be one of the safest places in the world to live, and the situation seems to be driven by paranoia.

The Arizona Biltmore Hotel, which maintains the Arizona Canal path and the Thunderbird Trail, as the street from the 24th Street entrance to the hotel is called, "welcomes cyclists, walker & joggers on its property" according to Becky Blane, the Hotel's public relations and marketing manager. Biltmore resident Scott Schirmer, who is one of the residents who hired the police officers to patrol the area, reluctantly admitted to me during a phone conversation that cyclists do indeed have permission to ride through the Biltmore, although he gave me the impression that he would take away that permission if he had the ability to do so.

Since Paul Klusman, Lou Morgan, and I had our meeting at the Mountain View precinct, I have had no more reports of cyclists, runners, and walkers being harassed by the police within the Biltmore. I ride thorough the Biltmore several times a week, and although I see a police car about half the time, I have not been stopped. If any readers have been stopped in the past several weeks, I would be grateful for the details.

In my view, the Mountain View Precinct and its commander Glen Gardner should admit the mistake and publicly apologize for the fact that at least one of its police officers was harassing citizens who were legitimately present within the Biltmore complex. By not openly acknowledging and apologizing for the unwise conduct, the Precinct and its commander give the impression that they are indifferent to the concerns of the public. Should Commander Gardner chose to make a public, written apology, I would not only be more than happy to publish it, I would applaud his good judgement.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Phoenix Police Hassling Cyclists in Biltmore in Phoenix

A group or residents of the Biltmore have hired off-duty Phoenix police officers to patrol their neighborhood, ostensibly in response to a rash of burglaries. However, the police officers (or at least one of them) have also been stopping cyclists, joggers, and walkers and telling them that they do not have the right to enter the Biltmore. That information appears to be a blatant lie and not condoned by the Phoenix Police Department

It is true that the streets inside the Biltmore are private. To the best of my knowledge, the largest section of street, from the entrance at 24th Street to the Biltmore Hotel, is owned by the hotel. Other sections are the property of various home owners’ associations. However, just because a street is private does not necessarily mean that non-residents are forbidden to use them. If they wanted, perhaps the Biltmore residents could persuade the City of Phoenix to ban cyclists from their private streets, but at least so far, they have not done so. As has been the case for decades, cyclists, runners, and walkers have just as much right to use the streets of the Biltmore as do motorists.

A group of us riding with the Arizona Bicycle Club was stopped inside the Biltmore by Officer Benjamin Carro, himself a cyclist, on Sunday morning July 1 and informed that we had no right to be there unless we were accompanied by a Biltmore resident. Two of the cyclists promptly identified themselves as Biltmore residents, which should have ended the situation if what Officer Carro said had been true, but nevertheless, Officer Carro continued to berate us. He said he wasn’t going to take names this time and indicated that he could write us all traffic tickets if he wished to. (On what grounds?) Officer Benjamin Carro was shouting loudly, making little sense, and seemed to be out of control. Paradoxically, Officer Carro, who appeared to us to have no sense of how to deal with the public, is a Community Action Officer and also a cyclist.

Three of us cyclists including a Biltmore resident met with representatives of the Mountain View (formerly Squaw Peak) Precinct to discuss the situation. Because no one at the meeting was an official Police Department spokesperson, I had to agree not to report on the meeting with one exception. I was given permission to convey to cyclists and others that they do have a right to use the streets of the Biltmore. The police officials, both sergeants, requested however that cyclists ride to the right and no more than two abreast.

If the position of the Phoenix Police Department is that cyclists have the right to ride through the Biltmore, why are the officers on site (or perhaps it is just one officer) out of step with their superiors’ position? I have no answer to that question. I have attempted to get an answer to that question from someone at the Phoenix Police Department who has the authority to speak for the organization, but I have received no response to my inquiry.

What to do if you are stopped? First, according to the officer’s boss, you have every right to ride on the streets of the Biltmore. However, there is no sense arguing with the officer, because the very fact that you were stopped while doing nothing wrong indicates that the officer is not interested in facts. Instead, politely insist that the officer give you a card or write down his or her name and badge number. (I had to undergo a second round of abuse after I asked Officer Carro for his name and badge number, but when I politely persisted, he finally gave them to me.) Then either call or write the Mountain View Precinct and complain. Although whoever receives the complaint is unlikely to admit it to you, that person will know that the officer was out of line. The more complaints that the precinct receives about an officer or officers who are not following proper police procedure, the more likely it is that someone in charge is going to take corrective action.

The Mountain View Precinct’s address is 2075 East Maryland Avenue, Phoenix, and the telephone number is (602) 495-5007. The precinct commander is Glen Gardner, although unless you are someone important, he will probably fob you off to a lower official.

Jack Quinn

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Apologies to Judge Robert (Bob) Dorfman

In both the April 24th edition of Arizona Road Cyclist News ( and on the Geezers' Blog (, I published a letter written by a cyclist identified as Teri. In her letter, she described an incident that occurred on April 21st in which an automobile passed dangerously close to her and several other cyclists who she says were riding in the bike lane on Mockingbird Lane, a street which wends through the Town of Paradise Valley.

One member of the last group of cyclists that the automobile passed in this manner made an obscene gesture, upon which the car's driver pulled into the bicycle lane, blocking the cyclists, jumped out, and demanded to know what gave them the right to ride there. When one of the cyclists tried to explain the three-foot law to him (probably not very politely), several witnesses say that the driver loudly proclaimed that he was Judge Dorfman, an expert on the law, and to make sure the cyclists did not forget his name, he spelled it in a loud voice, letter by letter.

The cyclists involved and others, including me, have been carrying a grudge against Judge Robert Dorfman ever since, but I recently learned that we have done him a grave injustice. The man who claimed to be Judge Dorfman was an imposter, a long-time acquaintance of (now retired) Judge Dorfman's named Spencer Goldsen of Phoenix.

Mr. Goldsen has since admitted to being the driver in question, although he disputes the statements of multiple witnesses that he claimed to be Judge Dorfman. He claims to have said that according to his friend Judge Dorfman, cyclists are required to ride in the bike lane (although that wouldn't explain why he passed dangerously close to at least once cyclist who was riding well within the bike lane and is one of several of his statements that do not jibe with witness accounts.)

Judge Dorfman's account of how he discovered his impersonator follows, but before you read it, I want to extend my sincere apologies and those of the cyclists involved for taking Mr. Goldsen at his word. We have done Judge Dorfman a grave injustice, which we can never completely atone for. The best we can do is to publish this retraction.

I wish to add that I have exchanged several emails and had several telephone conversations with Judge Dorfman, and he comes across as a genteel, polite person. That makes the fact that we have wronged him even more painful.

Here is Judge Dorfman's statement:

 I was in NO WAY involved in the described incident. I was not even in Paradise Valley or the Phoenix area on the dates in question, but was in fact in Flagstaff, Arizona when this incident occurred. Additionally, I have identified the individual who was involved in the incident who used my name without any authority to do so.

On the afternoon of Thursday, April 19, 2012, I traveled to Flagstaff, Arizona where I remained at our summer home with my wife until Monday, April 23, 2012 when we returned to our home in the Valley. If necessary, I can produce credit card statements to show my presence in Flagstaff during this period of time.

I was able to identify the individual who improperly used my name by reviewing the statement of one of the cyclists in which she describes a “grey Volvo station wagon” precipitating the incident. I have never owned or driven a grey Volvo station wagon in my life. However, since this incident occurred near the Camelback Golf Course where I belong, and occurred on a Saturday, (when our Men’s Club plays on a regular basis), and because I know an individual, who is also a member of the club and who drives a grey Volvo station wagon, I was able to surmise what had happened.

The individual in question is Spencer Goldsen. Mr Goldsen has been an acquaintance of mine since our days in college dating back to 1965. He owns a grey Volvo station wagon and unfortunately at times has a quick temper.

Upon reading the allegations of the complaint, I immediately phoned Mr. Goldsen who readily admitted being involved in the incident, but vehemently denied claiming that he had represented to be me. I have attached a notarized letter from Mr. Goldsen with his recitation of the facts.

Needless to say, I am deeply troubled by the allegations of the complaint as well as the alleged conduct of Mr. Goldsen. I look forward to a prompt resolution of this matter.

Bob Dorfman

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cycling without a License Charges Dropped

March 23, 2012 -- As noted below, I was recently ticketed in the Town of Paradise Valley, Arizona for riding my bike without carrying my driver's license. Today I received a letter stating that the Paradise Valle Town Attorney has moved to have the citation dismissed "with prejudice," which means that charges cannot be re-filed. The argument in the motion reads as follows: "Citation was issued in error. Issuing officer believed defendant needed a driver's license to ride a bicycle, and a driver's license is not required for a bicyclist." 

I also received a phone call from Paradise Valley Police Commander Alan Laitsch. He agreed that there is a longstanding problem between cyclists and his police officers caused in part by the fact that his officers do not know what is and what is not legal cycling behavior. He as promised to institute a training program to make his officers more familiar with the law in the hopes of reducing that friction.

Monday, March 19, 2012

New Sign at Hidden Hills says Closure Temporary

In the February 29 edition of Arizona Road Cyclist News, I reported that a sign had been erected at the entrance to Hidden Hills that reads: "Non-Resident Bicycle Use Prohibited Beyond This Point". The gated community of Hidden Hills in Northeast Scottsdale had previously been open to cyclists by virtue of an easement held by the City of Scottsdale. The easement was envisioned as part of a cyclist transportation corridor between Scottsdale and Fountain Hills that would serve as an alternative to heavily-trafficked Shea Boulevard. However, a final short link in the corridor through an undeveloped section of Fountain Hills has not yet been paved.

In response to a long-fought effort to get the easement relinquished, the City's Transportation Committee came up with a compromise solution. The Committee agreed to temporarily suspend the easement until the connection to Fountain Hills is built. In exchange, the Committee stipulated and the Hidden Hills Homeowners' Association agreed that it would actively support a an expected Committee decision to reopen the easement and to post a sign at the community's entrance advising prospective residents that cyclists will at some future date have the right to ride their bikes on the community's principal street. 

That sign has now been erected as shown in the Figure and reads: "The public bicycle easement on 145th Way in Hidden Hills II has been temporarily closed pending completion of a connection to Fountain Hills.

When will that connection to completed? I don't know. The company that is to develop the land in Fountain Hills has decided to reroute one of the planned streets, and some utility infrastructure is must also be relocated. In theory, the connection could be completed before the end of this year, but in a period of depressed property values and home sales, it could take much longer before we are riding our bikes through Hidden Hills to Fountain Hills.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Open Letter to Paradise Valley Police Chief John Bennett

Police Chief John Bennett --
6433 East Lincoln Drive
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253 
Cc:       Police Commander Alan Latsch --
            Mayor Scott LeMarr --
            Vice Mayor Mary Hamway --
            Town Manager James C. Bacon Jr. --
            Town Attorney Andrew M. Miller --
            Paradise Valley Town Council Members
                   Lisa Trueblood --
                   Michael Collins --
                   Pam Kirby --
                   Paul E. Dembow --
                   Vernon B. Parker --

             Arizona Road Cyclist News Website
             Wheezers & Geezers Mail Blog

Subject: Police harassment of cyclists in Paradise Valley.
Ref: Officer #157 and traffic complaint #37502, DR# 2012-3791
Dear Chief Bennett,
Please excuse the long missive, but I cannot find a way to make it shorter.
I am writing about a longstanding complaint that Paradise Valley police officers harass cyclists who are cycling in full compliance with the law. I have had several experiences in the past of riding in groups who were harassed by Paradise Valley police officers. My latest experience involves one of your officers who, in my opinion, misused his authority as a police officer by writing a bogus traffic ticket to get revenge on me when I accused him of endangering my life and violating ARS 28-735 in his unmarked police car. I request in the interest of justice that the officer be issued a traffic citation for his infraction. The evidence to support the citation should be found in the video recorded by the camera mounted in the windshield of his patrol car.
I cannot make out the officer’s name on the citation, but his ID# is listed as 157, and I have since learned that that ID# belongs to Corporal Nigel Williams. 
On Saturday, March 10 at approximately 11:45 a.m., I was cycling eastbound on McDonald Drive, which is a narrow street with a median. I was wearing a mirror on my glasses, and I was therefore very aware of traffic approaching from behind. Although under ARS 28-735 the street is too narrow for a motor vehicle to legally overtake a bicycle in the sections where there is a median, each time a car approached from behind, I pulled over onto the concrete shoulder to allow it to pass.
As the officer approached me from behind in his unmarked patrol car, I would have pulled onto the narrow concrete shoulder to allow him to pass also, but the shoulder and part of the traffic lane were occupied by pedestrians, forcing me to remain in the traffic lane, as was my legal right. If I remember correctly, I put out my left hand to signal to the driver not to pass until it was safe to do so.
According to ARS 28-815, I had a right to move away from the right side of the lane according to two sub-paragraphs: “If reasonably necessary to avoid conditions including…pedestrians…” and “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.” I was cycling in full compliance with that law. The officer would have only had to wait a few seconds for me to be able to pull off the street and allow him to pass, but he chose not to wait.
ARS 28-735 reads in part “When overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction, a person driving a motor vehicle shall exercise due care by leaving a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three feet….”
The officer attempted to overtake me, even though there was obviously no room for him to do so. At the last moment and touched his brakes when his bumper was much closer to my bike than the legally required three feet. He came very close to striking the rear of my bicycle.
After I passed the pedestrians and moved out of street and onto the narrow shoulder, I yelled at the driver of the car (I did not yet realize that the scofflaw driver was a police officer) “That was really stupid!” At that point, the officer sounded his klaxon, and I pulled off the road to the right onto Cameldale Way and stopped. As the uniformed officer got out of his car, he asked me what I had said, and I repeated “That was really stupid!”
Admittedly, pointing out to a uniformed police officer that he’s done something stupid is not wise, especially when it is true, but it is not against the law, and I was understandable angry at the officer’s disregard for the law and for my safety.
I won’t go though the entire discussion that ensued, but suffice it to say that the officer was very angry and self-righteous about being accused of wrongdoing. Out of anger, he adopted the attitude that it had been me and not he who had just committed a traffic infraction, although he was unable to name which infraction I might have committed until he asked me for my driver’s license, and I replied that I was not required to carry a driver’s license while cycling. He alleged that I was breaking the law by cycling without carrying a driver’s license. I pointed out that Arizona Law [ARS 28-3151] requires a person who operates “a motor vehicle” to have a driver’s license and does not apply to self-propelled means of transportation. As he was unable to come up with any specific statute that I had violated (although he continued to insist that a driver's license is required to ride a bicycle) he wrote me a ticket for supposedly violating ARS 28-812, which reads:
A person riding a bicycle on a roadway or on a shoulder adjoining a roadway is granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter and chapters 4 and 5 of this title, except special rules in this article and except provisions of this chapter and chapters 4 and 5 of this title that by their nature can have no application.
He claimed that that citation would cover my riding a bicycle without carrying a driver's license.
I think this is plain silly. First, as the statute above states, not all laws apply to both bicycles and motor vehicles. Some laws apply specifically to bicycles, and others apply specifically to motor vehicles. The requirement to have a driver’s license applies specifically to motor vehicles. If bicycle riders were required to have a driver’s license, the police could pull over and ticket every kid cycling to school. Additionally, ARS28-812 states that it applies only to Chapters 3, 4, and 5 of the Arizona Revised Statutes. ARS 28-3151 is in Chapter 8.
Second, if I had not been in compliance with ARS 28-812, I must have violated some statute that applies to both bicycles and motor vehicles, and I should have been cited for violating that statute, but I was not and for good reason: There was no such violation. By writing such a generic citation that could cover the violation of any number of statutes in Chapters 3, 4, and 5 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, Corporal Williams may believe that he has the flexibility to accuse me of almost anything in the civil traffic hearing, but according to Arizona's Civil Traffic Rules and Procedure, that is not the case. Rule 8 reads: "A complaint is legally sufficient if it contains either a written description or the statutory designation of the alleged violation." There is no written indication of what I am alleged to have done wrong.
My case is not unique. You may be aware that cyclists’ complaints about Paradise Valley Police harassment go back years and predate your position as Chief of Police. Let me be clear: The Paradise Valley Police Department has every right to stop, warn and/or ticket any cyclist who violates a traffic law such as running a stop sign, but it has no right to continue to harass cyclists who are in full compliance with the law, and its officers have no right to endanger cyclists by violating the laws themselves.
I plan to use my traffic ticket as a means of bringing the problem of police harassment of cyclists in Paradise Valley to public attention in the hope of generating pressure for reform. I don’t know if the problem that some of your police officers have with cyclists is caused by a poor attitude or if it due to a lack of training. I suspect it is a combination of both. Only you can change the attitude part by indicating to your officers that scofflaw behavior towards cyclists will not be tolerated. As mentioned above, a good start would be to cite the officer who endangered me for violation of the three-foot law, ARS 28-735.
The second step is to educate your officers as to what is and what is not legal cycling behavior. Many of them do not know that now, especially when ARS 28-815 is concerned. The Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists offers a course in traffic law pertaining to bicycles, a course that is especially designed for law-enforcement officers. It might be a good idea to arrange such a course for your officers with a special emphasis on ARS 28-815.
Returning to this particular officer, I once again beg you to review the video from the camera in the unmarked patrol car that Corporal Nigel Williams was driving that day. If the video substantiates my claim that the officer violated ARS 28-735, I request that he be issued a traffic citation, not for my sake, but to send a message to all cyclists that the Paradise Valley Police Department is finally going to adopt a zero-tolerance policy when it come to officers' misusing their authority to harass law-abiding cyclists.
In summary, although I have related a personal experience, my experience is indicitive of the problems that many cyclists have been having with the Paradise Valley Police Department for years. I do not understand why the Town of Paradise Valley, through its police department, continues to alienate a large segment of the population including people who are in full compliance with the law.
Best regards,
Jack Quinn, editor
Arizona Road Cyclist News
PS/ This e-mail and any replies from any representative of the Town of Paradise Valley will be published unless otherwise agreed in advance.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Hidden HIlls Easement is Closed

The cyclist easement to Hidden Hills is now closed. Only residents may ride their bikes beyond the gates. This sign has been placed just outside the gates. Click on the picture to view it in a larger format.