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Tucson hopes to improve cyclist safety through bike boulevards

KOLD News 5-5:30 p.m. recurring
Published: May. 2, 2022 at 8:10 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Tucson hopes to have 200 miles of bike boulevards.

But what’s that?

The biggest difference between a regular street and a bike boulevard is the speed limit. Right now, along University, 25 seems pretty slow. But when it becomes a bike boulevard, this will drop to 20.

And considering Tucson is one of the riskiest places for cyclists in the country, safety should be a priority, city leaders say.

Dropping five miles an hour doesn’t seem like much, but consider this: If you get hit by a car at 20 miles an hour, you have a 95% chance of surviving. At 25 miles an hour, your chances of dying double to 10% Add another five miles an hour and your chances of dying double again to 20%

And for bicyclists who constantly bob and weave through traffic, speed makes a difference.

Right now there are 10 bike boulevards in Tucson, like the one on Fourth Avenue, but planners are hoping that increases to 64 citywide and run for 193 miles.

There’s funding for 30 more of them, and it’s hoped the new proposition 411 will finance the rest. Each needs a hawk light to stop cars when needed, signage and other impediments to slow traffic, so they can be fairly expensive.

University boulevard is slated for slower speeds. But surprisingly, not all bike riders are enthusiastic about it. Some say the reduced speed limits would only cause drivers to resent them.

But the city believes with the high number of bike and pedestrian fatalities in Tucson, which are on pace to set a record this year, slowing these roads to 20 could be a lifesaver.

The city began working on bike boulevards in 2017, but its now picking up steam. Tomorrow the city plans to pass an ordinance setting the speed limit at 20 miles an hour for all 193 miles of bike boulevards on University.

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