Bike-lane regs again up for discussion, possible new fines for infractions

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A cyclist in Tempe makes use of the bike lane on McClintock Drive. Wrangler News file photo

By Joyce Coronel

UPDATE: Thursday, Aug. 1; this is a developing story

The two-hour Tempe City Council meeting held July 31 had a lengthy agenda and three people came forward to address the bike-lane issue, according to TaiAnna Yee, public information officer for Tempe’s transportation department. The matter was not resolved but will now be revisited at an Aug. 15 city council meeting.

“It’s going back for revision,” Yee said in a telephone call to Wrangler News. “Basically, there will be a ‘second-second’ hearing on this.'”

Some Tempe residents had expressed concern that parents of young children would not want them using bike lanes. Yee said one of the proposals stipulates that minor children, alongside their parents or with their parents’ permission, will be allowed to ride their bikes on the sidewalk.

Another proposal deals with riding bikes where traffic is slower. “You have to ride in the street if the speed is less than 25 miles per hour,” Yee said. “So that means neighborhoods but it doesn’t include minors.”

One person who spoke out at the city council meeting urged that whatever Tempe decides to adopt, it should endeavor to make sure city ordinances align with state law. Another speaker questioned why scooters were in the same category as bikes.

“But they aren’t,” Yee said. “An electric scooter is non-human powered.”

July 31

Controversy over Tempe’s bike lanes is nothing new, but the plot thickens as the city continues to develop guidelines with an eye to the future.
At press time, TaiAnna Yee, Tempe public information officer for transportation, said the City Council was preparing for a second public hearing to repeal Chapter 7 and amend and expand Chapter 19 of the Tempe City Code.
Chapter 7 of the city code deals with bikes and light motor vehicles. Chapter 19 concerns motor vehicles and multimodal traffic. Public hearings on the two chapters in the code were held June 6 and again on June 27.“It deals with modes of transportation but
doesn’t include motor vehicles,” Yee said.
“It does include skateboards versus bikes versus e-bikes and push scooters [as well as] things that aren’t here yet like the hover boards of the future. It deals with all of that.”
Some Tempe residents expressed concern that bikes would not be allowed on sidewalks anymore following the council’s anticipated vote.
Emotions were running high on social media sites that took up the issue in the days leading to the City Council meeting with multiple comments from members with young children.
“I don’t want my kids anywhere near those bike lanes,” Lori Bastian wrote. “If bikers and the city want more people riding, this is not the way to do it.”
Other comments expressed concerns about possible fines that could be imposed if the city code changes.
Matt Lopez, a defense attorney in Tempe, said he and his kids wouldn’t be riding their bikes on the street. “If you get one of these tickets, give me a call,” Lopez said of the possible change in regulations.
“Right now bikes are allowed on sidewalks,” Yee said, but that could change depending on how the council members would vote at the July 30 meeting.

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