Mesa, Arizona working to make streets safer for cyclists

Common sense key in safely sharing the roads

The bicycle victims’ assistance non-profit, Not One More, was founded by Dara Schulenberg, who was almost killed by a car while riding her bicycle five miles from her home in August of 2005. Since her accident she has been on a crusade to make streets safer for cycling and Mesa, Arizona heeding her cause.

Recently, Schulenberg’s foundation and Mesa’s Red Mountain Brumbys cycling club have joined forces with the city of Mesa in an effort to promote greater understanding between drivers and cyclists.

“I feel fortunate to have survived and recover a large portion of my life,” says Schulenberg. “It was not easy emotionally or physically.”

The Not One More foundation is now working closely with the City of Mesa to help prevent bicycling accidents, and promote a commonsense approach to the problem. Mayor Scott Smith and Mesa Chief of Police Frank Milstead were on hand this week for the launch of MesaRides!, which has the goal of helping educate bicyclists and drivers on how to safely share the road by helping to create a public service ad campaign to raise awareness.

Many of mesa's bike lanes are massive, which allows for greater separation between bikes and cars :

Many of Mesa's bike lanes are massive, which allows for greater separation between bikes and cars

“Cycling gets a bad rap because of the safety concerns,” says Schulenberg, and that common sense with both rider and driver could go a long way. “We need to learn to share the road. No one really wins in an accident.”

This campaign is already attracting attention from other cycling groups. Bob Beane of the Arizona Coalition of Bicyclists said that he believes the Mesa’s leadership is making a sincere effort to improve the climate for bicycling, primarily through motorist law enforcement awareness and safety training and education for riders.

“Mesa is already a Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community (as recognized by the League of American Bicyclists),” says Beane, “but there have been several cyclists hit by careless motorists in the last year. This support from the Mayor and Chief of Police is quite refreshing, and now puts Mesa in a league with other highly supportive East Valley communities of Scottsdale, Tempe and Chandler.”

The city has seen an explosion in cycling as it is now entering its high season when the daytime temperatures are more comfortable. The cooler weather is certainly a plus, but this also means shorter days and that can lead to accidents.

“We had some accidents lately, and luckily no one was killed but we had serious injuries,” said Mayor Scott Smith, who says this was a wakeup call to do something. Additionally cyclists he knew personally expressed a desire to make Mesa a more cycle friendly city. Smith says the next step was sitting down with the police to make sure that the rules for riders as well as motorists would be enforced.

“It was brought on by accidents, which led to a discussion and that led to action,” he said. “All those things came together — and Mesa is a better place to ride as a result.”


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