Chazmier Tyler has personal reasons to want better road conditions for commuter cyclists in Tempe. While riding home from work on the night of July 15, she was hit by a car and had to be taken to the hospital.
“I don’t remember anything. I just woke up in the hospital half-naked,” Tyler recalled. “As soon as I started crossing this car pulled out and I guess he didn’t see. He just pulled out and hit me.”
Despite her compelling story, Tyler said she didn’t get justice. “According to the police report, I guess it was my fault,” she said.
But recent actions taken by the city might change conditions for the better for people who use bicycles to get around in Tempe.
The City Council unanimously approved the acquisition of federal grant money last week to cover the construction of a 2,000-square-foot facility that provides a forum for bicycle safety and advocacy.
The city approved the grant money acquisition for a project called the BikeStation, an ultra-modern business facility that will also serve as a transportation hub.
The facility, near Fifth Street and Mill Avenue, is in its final stages of construction and is expected to open later this year.
Carlos DeLeon, Tempe’s deputy public works manager of the transit division, said the Bike-Station will be a great option for those hesitant to park a bike out in the open.
“I used to ride an expensive bike when I went to ASU,” he said. “And it got stolen.”
DeLeon said the facility will also provide services other than its intended purpose of secure bicycle parking.
“We are asking bike vendors to help run the station,” DeLeon said. “We want to do educational outreach and we hope to get someone who has a good feel for the community.”
The station will provide bicycle repairs, supplies, refreshments, volunteer assistance, transportation information, showers, and restrooms for members.
The building itself is looking to be the second certified “green” building in Tempe, carrying the message of environmentally friendly living and sustainability .
Though DeLeon said he doesn’t know if the BikeStation will vastly reduce traffic, he said providing means of transportation other than cars will help the process.
“We see it as part of the solution for transportation in Tempe,” DeLeon said. “We need to encourage residents to use alternatives.”
According to the Tempe In Motion Web site, the city’s objective is to “provide a balanced transportation system that is environmentally sustainable, accessible, preserves neighborhoods, promotes transit-oriented development and involves citizens in the process.”
DeLeon said he sees the BikeStation as a compliment to that objective.
Tempe is already listed as a nationally recognized bicycle-friendly community. In 2005, the city earned silver-level status from the League of American Bicyclists.
“We are advocates,” DeLeon said. “When I started with the transportation department there were 10 miles of bikeways in Tempe. Now there are 160 miles and plans for more.”
However, with increased ridership, comes an increased probability of incidents.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a major problem, but we’re trying to eliminate it entirely,” DeLeon said of crashes involving cars and cyclists. “There is a very strong interest in bicycles in the community.”
In 2005, Phoenix’s Traffic Safety Section released a study that said there were 436 bicycle incidents that resulted in injury and 11 fatalities in the Valley.
According to the study, of those incidents, three were in Tempe.
DeLeon said accident prevention is a top priority. “We certainly can do more,” he said.
Mark Neff, President of the Tempe Bicycle Action Group, said the city is taking steps in the right direction.
“There is always more that can be done,” he said. “But the BikeStation is a great step and it’ll be a great boost for biking in general.”
Tyler said she thinks her hit-and-run incident was caused by an overall lack of attentiveness. But with the number of cyclists steadily growing in Tempe because of students and soaring gas prices, the extra attention comes at a needed time.
“Drivers and cyclists both need to be more cautious,” she said, and “cyclists should be more aware and safe.”