January 31 2013

Tempe, Arizona Struggles to Provide Vast Bicycle Infrastructure

Urban planning officials in Tempe, Arizona are striving to keep pace with cyclists in town. According to a report by the League of American Bicyclists, an advocacy group that grants communities the title of Bicycle Friendly Community, the city is trailing behind neighboring Scottsdale in bicycle friendliness.

ASU Bike Facilities

Bicycle Facilities at ASU, Photo by James Gardner

Tempe is home to Arizona State University, and as a college town, their cycling numbers should be higher. The Tour de Fat, New Belgium’s bicycle parade, has been held in Tempe many times, and has a high-visibility in terms of bicycle advocacy. The Tempe Bicycle Advocacy Group (T.B.A.G.) hosts many events to encourage cycling, and Tempe is home to many Bicycle Friendly Businesses, as certified by the League of American Bicyclists. So why is Tempe given only a Silver rating, as compared to Scottsdale’s Gold rating?

Scottsdale’s bicycle element of its Transportation Master Plan highlights its 440 miles of bikeways, which are often multi-use paths along the edge of Central Arizona Project canals. Tempe’s Comprehensive Transportation Plan, on the other hand, points out that there are only 165 miles of bikeways in Tempe. Meanwhile, Phoenix is nowhere to be found on either list, despite their 500 miles of bikeways, which is perhaps to be blamed on their sprawling urban design. As a student at Arizona State University, I can say that Tempe is much easier to bike in than Phoenix or even Scottsdale, but Tempe may need a more comprehensive branding solution (as in Portland, Oregon), or even more online visibility through rating websites.

Bicycle Friendly Community

Bicycle Friendly Community Award

Walkscore, a popular website for rating cities on walkability, has recently added a Bikescore metric that evaluates cities based upon their bike friendliness. As of now, the top ten list of cities is the only evaluation of any cities, but they are working with urban planners to increase their database. The only Arizona city on this list is Tucson, Arizona, which is rated number 8 in the nation.

Should there be another rating tool for cycling? Will more broad rating systems help?

Credits: Photographs by James Gardner. Data linked to sources.

James Gardner

James is a graduate student in Urban and Environmental Planning at Arizona State University. Growing up in a small, sprawling town in Arizona, James became attracted to the field of planning and design by taking a critical look at his surroundings, and realizing there is a better way to live. With a Bachelors in Public Planning from Northern Arizona University, James has received extensive education in planning, and has worked as a Planner for Yavapai County, Arizona. James is currently focused on the health effects of the built environment in the Phoenix Metro area, and the integration of this focus into topics of transit, transportation, and bicycle and pedestrian planning. James hopes to become a Planner who advocates for a healthier built environment in order to make the cities we live in more vibrant and habitable. James blogged for the Grid with a focus on Phoenix, Arizona projects.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2013 at 9:57 am and is filed under Government/Politics, Infrastructure, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


2 Responses to “Tempe, Arizona Struggles to Provide Vast Bicycle Infrastructure”

  1. Cycling in Phoenix or, An Uphill Climb | Healthy Cities International Says:

    [...] with events, local groups pushing for more rights for cyclists, and the like. I recently wrote a post on Global Site Plan’s The Grid about how Tempe and Scottsdale are doing, and perhaps Phoenix [...]

  2. Link roundup: July 8 | Tucson VeloTucson Velo Says:

    [...] Tempe, Arizona Struggles to Provide Vast Bicycle Infrastructure [...]

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