Just a couple of weeks ago I enjoyed the opportunity to attend the League of American Bicyclists National Summit in Washington D.C. The entire town is full of would be movers and shakers in just about every identifiable political cause. With the National Bike Summit underway there were plenty of politically minded advocates ready to go to war with their state senators and representatives to help advance the cycling legislative issues of the day.
After several days of various cycling related topics and guest speakers all of us as attendees split up into groups based on our different states we represent. We formulated a game plan and then went to “the hill” (that’s capitol hill) armed with brochures, questions, and statistics to try and get support for some new legislation coming up for debate (i.e. the transportation bill among others).
It didn’t take long to note that we were politely accepted and welcomed into the legislative offices, but that our agenda was more like a request to save some sort of spotted squirrel that no one really cared about. At all times we were treated with professionalism and were absolutely listened to. Yet, there was a definite feeling of disinterest or at least minimal concern for the cycling issues.
I for one was not surprised and expected as much. These are very busy and powerful individuals with very complicated and tangled political agendas that didn’t necessarily include cyclists and our roadways, protective laws, and infrastructure funding. By the end of the day I was amazed at what I had learned about the process of “advocating” as an individual and how effective or ineffective it can be.
Fast forward to a week and half later and I found myself sitting in the office Arizona Senator (and president of the senate) Andy Biggs. My appointment with him had been changed and rescheduled by both of us for a period of a couple of months. Finally we were able to sit down face to face and have a chat about our very specific Arizona laws. I had heard from several in the bicycle community that Andy Biggs was no friend to cyclists and that he absolutely doesn’t care about cycling safety as he feels the laws on the books already are good enough. In fact, he has been quoted as saying that several times before.
Somewhat apprehensive and very eager to get to the bottom of it I went into this appointment full of hope and optimism. I left full of disappointment. Here is what I learned about Arizona Cycling Laws from our very own local legislators:
- 1) Cycling safety is very important. I was told in the very beginning how important cycling safety is to Andy Biggs. Yet, when it came down to it who would ever say that they are not concerned for the safety of the cyclists? My short and effective response would be: Prove it. Show me. Show us. The statement of cycling safety being very important really felt hollow. I know he meant well and I don’t fault him for saying it, but I couldn’t help but feel short of any support for the statement. Andy Biggs has certainly been very vocal and adamant against passing any cycling safety laws in our recent history.
- 2) Cyclists shouldn’t get any special treatment. “There are relatively few cyclists compared to the mass amount of motorists – so why should they get any special treatment?” No joke – this is almost word for word what he said to me! At first ear shot it sounds a bit appalling. And in the past when this statement was made to some local cycling advocates there was nothing short of a verbal brawl that ensued and ended badly. The “blood” from that battle still seems strewn everywhere and the wounds are not yet healed. Satire aside, Andy Biggs definitely feels like the majority of the people should get special treatment and not the minority – in this example that means that Arizona cyclists will continue to suffer from his lack of legislative support in part, simply because there are more drivers than cyclists. Wow. That is a tough pill to swallow.
- 3) The general traffic laws we currently have are good enough. To further support his position Senator Biggs explained that its not just that there are more motorists than cyclists; but also that He is more of an “old school” mindset. He believes that fundamentally law makers should not make laws that carve out special exceptions to just a few people. He feels that our law books are full of too many carved out niches of law, and that in general we as a people have too many laws already. Senator Biggs said that we should use the laws already on the books – especially if they already address the problems that are we are seeking new laws for. My thought is that he has not ridden a bicycle and doesn’t comprehend the very large difference (literally) between a car and a bicycle. Both motorists and cyclists are definitely bound by the traffic code. However, the traffic code was written for users of the roadway that are motorists. Bicycles are by nature very different and more vulnerable than motor vehicles. To blindly assume that general traffic laws that apply to motor vehicles also somehow adequately cover the many differences of cyclists is a bit naive and or ignorant. I get what he is saying about not clogging up our system with new laws if the current laws address the problems. But it seems pretty clear that a more defined set of rules and ordinances should apply to cyclists (pedestrians, and other vulnerable users of the roadways). The differences are too great to ignore. So my answer Andy Biggs is: No, our current laws are not enough. There needs to be more defined and specific provisions that apply to situations involving vulnerable users of the roadways such as cyclists.
- 4) Cycling advocates are a nuisance. In short, it was clear that as gracious as Andy Biggs was in accepting my request for an appointment, I was nothing more than a nuisance. The sooner my appointment ended with him the better in his mind. I was and am grateful for the opportunity to have met with him personally in a one on one setting. However, I invited him to come and speak to a large group of cyclists to explain his position on Arizona cycling laws and the Arizona traffic code, but he didn’t want anything further to do with the topic and counted it complete upon concluding my appointment. In his mind, he had done his duty by meeting with me and nothing more was needed. My thought: Its not over – its just beginning.
Clearly cycling advocacy must take a much different approach. Both nationally and locally it seems that there are some common themes as outlined above. No one wants to be the guy that is wasting someone’s time and is just politely listened to so as to put an end to the conversation. There must be a better way to unify the cycling community and create a larger voice for cycling advocacy. I know that the Coalition of Arizona Cyclists (locally) and the League of American Bicyclists (nationally) are two organizations attempting to do just that. I for one will jump in head first and hope to contribute in an effective manner.
In short, the individual meetings with local and national legislators is important in my opinion, but I admit that I think it is not always (if at all) very effective. Perhaps if done in mass such appointments may have greater impact. I also feel like there is another way out there just beyond the horizon and I look forward to seeking it out. When we find our Arizona voice I’ll call you up and you can join us in making cycling a better priority and a safer venture here in Arizona. Until then – keep up the good fight the best way you know how.
Arizona bicycle accident attorney Ben Dodge
If you, or someone you know were injured in a bicycle accident caused by road debris, hire a personal injury attorney who is experienced and has a successful track record. Ben dodge, a licensed bicycle accident lawyer in Arizona, has dedicated his entire firm to one purpose: representing cyclists. Bicycle accident cases are the only cases Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC handles.
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A consultation with experienced Arizona bicycle accident attorney Ben Dodge is free
In recent years there has been approximately 700 bicycle fatalities in the united states every single year. Approximately 2,000 bicycle accidents are reported in Arizona every year. approximately 30 fatal bicycle accidents are reported in Arizona every year. Bicycle fatalities are terrible and horrific tragedies that affect the lives of too many families and friends to count. Understanding your rights and obligations as a cyclist can bring clarity to your specific accident situation. It will always be in your best interest to be represented by an attorney who knows the bicycle laws and has a successful track record of winning bicycle accident cases. The negotiation tactics and strategies of winning a case are extremely important but should always take a back row seat to the litigation experience and knowledge of court room rules, local, state, and federal rules of civil procedure that can have significant impact on your bicycle accident case. It is wise to be represented by someone well versed in bicycle accident law, local and state bicycle ordinances, rules, regulations, policies, and laws. You should hire someone very familiar with negligence and tort law, civil procedure, and the rules of evidence as they all relate specifically to bicycle accident cases.
Ben dodge always offers a complimentary in person consultation to all local cyclists and a complimentary phone consultation to any cyclist injured in a bike accident. Typically the consultations are schedule from 30-60 minutes depending on the severity of the accident. You can expect to get answers to questions, clarity, information, and reassurance of your personal bike accident liability and potential for recovery. In your free consultation you can generally expect to discuss such topics as:
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You can call Arizona bicycle lawyer Ben Dodge of bike accident attorneys, PLC at 1.855.663.3922 (855.one.ez.call). Mr. dodge’s staff is standing and ready to accept your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every single day of the year. Ben will personally return your call within 24 hours. there is never an obligation for a complimentary consultation with Mr. dodge. His passion is in representing cyclists and his entire office stands ready to serve with kindness and patience.
Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC
Call Ben Dodge, the Arizona Bicycle Lawyer today at 1.855.663.3922. Reach him by fax at 480.656.8334.
Mr. Dodge can also be reached by email at email@example.com
His main offices are located at:
Mesa Arizona (home base office)
4824 e. baseline rd., suite 124
mesa, Arizona 85206
Phoenix Arizona office
2415 e. Camelback rd., suite 700
phoenix, Arizona 85016
Mr. Dodge represents cyclists in the entire state of Arizona including but not limited to mesa, phoenix, tucson, yuma, gilbert, peoria, glendale, scottsdale, ahwatukee, tempe, chandler, prescott, sedona, flagstaff, surprise, kingman, page, lake havasu city, payson, goodyear, buckeye, queen creek, paradise valley, show low, winslow, maricopa, nogales, globe, avondale, cave creek, fountain hills, apache junction, carefree, wickenburg, pinetop-lakeside, strawberry, anthem, safford, and more. Ben dodge is currently involved with bicycle accident cases all over the country and can assist in representation in all 50 states.