You are here » Programs»Transportation Planning»Bicycle and Pedestrian Program»Commuting and Safety

Bicycle and Pedestrian Commuting and Safety

Get into shape. Help clean the air. Help reduce traffic congestion. Riding your bicycle to work, school or to another destination one day a week can make a difference.

The average distance that people travel to work is less than 10 miles, and more than half of these trips to work are 5 miles or less. This distance is considered ideal for bicycling commuting.

If you are new to commuting, select a route and test it; check and/or select equipment; learn basic repair techniques; at least how to change and repair a flat tire; and last, but most important, review and use proper riding skills.

You may want to take a course in bicycle maintenance and/or riding skills. Check with Pima Community College, the University of Arizona, local bicycling clubs and bicycle shops for current course offerings.

As a cyclist, you must be aware of your rights and responsibilities under the law. As a motorist, you should always be aware of these laws and how to interact with cyclists. Understanding your role in our multi-modal street system and obeying the laws will help keep our community bicycle-friendly.

Bicycling Safety Tips

  • Be Visible Always thing of how other operators see you; Wear light and/or bright colors to be seen better.
  • Be Predictable Follow the same rules motorists do. You will get along with them better and enjoy cycling more.
  • Select The Best Route Look for roadways that have less traffic, are wider and are reasonably straight. Use designated bike routes. They are planned for your safety and enjoyment as a bicyclist.
  • Watch For Hazards Regularly scan the roadway ahead and to your side for cars, pedestrians and unexpected hazards such as potholes, glass and roadside trees that limit visibility. Be prepared to yield even though you may have the right-of-way. Ride at least 2 feet from the road edge to avoid debris and allow space to maneuver.
  • Keep Control Of Your Bicycle Keeping both hands on the handlebars allows you to make quicker turns and stops. In rain, allow up to three times the normal distance to stop.
  • Always Wear A Helmet A helmet does four things for you: Makes you more visible; keeps your head cooler in the sun; helps gain motorists respect; and, most importantly, it protects your head if you fall.
  • Use Lights At Night - Be Seen! The laws requires a white headlight and red rear reflector at night. Adding a red tail light or amber reflector makes you even more visible.
  • Obey Traffic Signs, Signals, Laws Bicyclists must operate their bicycles like drivers of vehicles. Obeying laws makes you more predictable to motorists, who will then take you more seriously.
  • Lock Your Bike When You’re Gone Lock your bike with a U-shaped lock or a strong cable or hardened chain. Lock it to an immovable object such as a bike rack, putting the lock or cable through both wheels and the frame.
  • Cross Tracks With Care Ride over railroad/trolley tracks at right angles only. This prevents wheels from slipping on or getting stuck in the tracks, which can cause serious injury.
  • Use Hand Signals Hand signals tell motorists and pedestrians what you intend to do. Signal as a matter of law, courtesy and self-protection.
  • Ride On The Right With Traffic Ride with traffic. Motorists aren’t looking for bicyclists riding on the wrong side of the roadway. Bicycling on the wrong side is particularly dangerous at intersections, roadway curves and on the crests of hills.
  • Turning Left Bicyclists can make a left turn by: 1) signaling, yielding to traffic, moving into the left lane, then turning left; or 2) riding straight across, stopping, and crossing when clear.
  • Riding Through Intersections When you’re going straight through an intersection, avoid the right-turn-only lane. Don’t try to ride to the right of a right-turning motorist, even if you think you have the right-of-way.
  • Motorists, Pass With Care Motorists are required by law to pass with at least three feet clearance; please provide even more (up to five feet) whenever possible.
Call the Arizona Bicycle Club at (520) 791-4372 to ask for a free copy of the Bicycle Commuter Handbook or the Bicycle Guide.


Glossary of Bike Terms

  • Bikeway: A generic term describing any type of facility that is specifically designated for bicycle use.
  • Bike Route:  A facility that is desgnated by signing, and has no pavement striping.
  • Bike Lane:  A facility that is designated by signing, and does have pavement striping.
  • Shared-Use Path: A path that is physically separate from any road or street, and which provides for only human powered use, includes bicycles.
  • Shared Roadway:  A road or street that is open to both bicycle and motor vehicle travel.

Definitions are based on the Guide For the Development of Bicycle Facilities, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, 1999.

Arizona State Pedestrian Laws

Arizona Revised Statutes
28-791. Pedestrians subject to traffic rules
A. Pedestrians are subject to traffic control signals at intersections as provided in section 28-645 unless required by local ordinance to comply strictly with the signals. At all places other than intersections, pedestrians are accorded the privileges and are subject to the restrictions stated in this article.
B. A local authority may require by ordinance that pedestrians strictly comply with the directions of an official traffic control signal and may prohibit by ordinance pedestrians from crossing a roadway in a business district or crossing a designated highway except in a crosswalk.

28-792. Right-of-way at crosswalk
A. Except as provided in section 28-793, subsection B, if traffic control signals are not in place or are not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be in order to yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is on the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger. A pedestrian shall not suddenly leave any curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.

B. If a vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of another vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle.

28-793. Crossing at other than crosswalk
A. A pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.

B. A pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.

C. Between adjacent intersections at which traffic control signals are in operation, pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.

28-794. Drivers to exercise due care
Notwithstanding the provisions of this chapter every driver of a vehicle shall:
1. Exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian on any roadway.
2. Give warning by sounding the horn when necessary.
3. Exercise proper precaution on observing a child or a confused or incapacitated person on a roadway.

28-795. Pedestrians to use right half of crosswalk
Pedestrians shall move expeditiously, when practicable, on the right half of crosswalks.

28-796. Pedestrian on roadways
A. If sidewalks are provided, a pedestrian shall not walk along and on an adjacent roadway.
B. If sidewalks are not provided, a pedestrian walking along and on a highway shall walk when practicable only on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic that may approach from the opposite direction.
C. A person shall not stand in a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride from the driver of a vehicle.

28-797. School crossings; civil penalty; assessment; definition
A. The director, with respect to state highways, or the officer, board or commission of the appropriate jurisdiction, with respect to county highways or city or town streets, by and with the advice of the school district governing board or county school superintendent may mark or cause to be marked by the department or local authorities crosswalks in front of each school building or school grounds abutting the crosswalks where children are required to cross the highway or street.

B. The department or local authorities may approve additional crossings across highways not abutting on school grounds on application of school authorities and with written satisfactory assurance given the department or local authorities that guards will be maintained by the school district at the crossings to enforce the proper use of the crossing by school children.

C. The manual prescribed in section 28-641 shall provide for yellow marking of the school crossing, yellow marking of the center line of the roadway and the erection of portable signs indicating that vehicles must stop when persons are in the crossing. The manual shall also provide the type and wording of portable signs indicating that school is in session and that the civil penalty for a violation of this section will be doubled when the signs are present and permanent signs that warn of the approach to school crossings.

D. When the school crossings are established, school authorities shall place within the highway the portable signs indicating that school is in session. This placement shall be not more than three hundred feet from each side of the school crossing. In addition, portable "stop when children are in crosswalk" signs shall be placed at school crossings. School authorities shall maintain these signs when school is in session and shall cause them to be removed immediately when school is not in session.

E. A vehicle approaching the crosswalk shall not proceed at a speed of more than fifteen miles per hour between the portable signs placed on the highway indicating "school in session" and "stop when children are in crosswalk".

F. Notwithstanding any other law:

1. An agency of appropriate jurisdiction may establish a school crossing on an unpaved highway or street adjacent to a school when the agency determines the need for the school crossing on the basis of a traffic study. School crossings on unpaved highways and streets shall be marked by the use of signs as prescribed in the manual prescribed in section 28-641.

2. A local authority may establish a school crossing at an intersection containing a traffic control signal if the local authority determines the need for a school crossing on the basis of a traffic study.

G. When a school authority places and maintains the required portable "school in session" signs and "stop when children are in crosswalk" signs, all vehicles shall come to a complete stop at the school crossing when the crosswalk is occupied by a person.

H. If a person is found responsible for a violation of this section, the person is subject to a civil penalty for the violation and, if the violation occurs during the time portable signs have been erected pursuant to this section, the person shall pay an additional assessment equal to the amount of that civil penalty. This assessment is not subject to any surcharge.

I. The court shall collect the additional assessment at the same time the court collects the civil penalty. Partial payments of the total amount due pursuant to this subsection shall be divided according to the proportion that the civil penalty, the penalty assessments levied pursuant to sections 12-116.01 and 12-116.02 and the additional assessment imposed pursuant to this section represent of the total amount due. The court and the department shall treat failure to pay the additional assessment imposed pursuant to this subsection in the same manner as failure to pay a civil penalty, including taking action against the person's driver license or permit or privilege to drive pursuant to sections 28-1601, 28-3153 and 28-3305.

J. If a person is found responsible for a violation of subsection H of this section in a justice court or superior court, the court shall transmit monies received to pay the additional assessment to the county treasurer. If a person is found responsible for a violation of subsection H of this section in a municipal court, the court shall transmit the monies received to pay the additional assessment to the city treasurer. The city or county treasurer shall deposit the monies received to pay the additional assessment in a fund to pay for costs related to enforcement of this section.

K. For the purposes of this section, "school in session", when used either in reference to the period of time or to signs, means during school hours or while children are going to or leaving school during opening or closing hours. 

Bicycle Traffic Laws

City of Tucson Bicycle Laws

SEC. 5-1. Bicycles parked on a public sidewalk or street must not hinder either pedestrian or vehicles, and must allow access to adjacent property. It shall be unlawful to park a bicycle upon any public sidewalk or street in a manner that substantially impedes pedestrian or vehicular traffic or obstructs access to public or private facilities.

SEC.-2. Riding on sidewalks, pedestrian paths, and through underpasses.

  • (A) It is unlawful to ride a bicycle on a sidewalk or pedestrian path unless a sign says it is permitted.

    (B) It is unlawful to ride a bicycle through an underpass, when a sign is posted, prohibiting bicycle riding there.

SEC. 5-3. Enforcement. Violation of these City ordinances is a civil infraction, subject to a fine of up to $25.00 (twenty-five dollars).

SEC. 20-29. (1) Bicycle helmets. Every person under the age of 18 riding a bicycle as an operator or a passenger, or riding in a trailer towed by a bicycle must wear an approved bicycle helmet.

Please refer to City of Tucson Code for exact wording.

State of Arizona Bicycle Laws

ARS 28-735: When passing a bicyclist, drivers must come no closer than three feet.

ARS 28-756: Bicyclists may signal right turns with their right arm and hand extended to the right.

ARS 28-813:. Every person on a bicycle must have a regular seat to sit on.

ARS 28-814: Bicyclists must not hold on to, or attach their bicycles to another vehicle.

ARS 28-815: (A) Bicycles, the same as all slow moving vehicles, must be as far to the right of the road as is practical and safe. Bicyclists may move away from the right side of the road:

  • 1) to pass other vehicles,
    2) to avoid parked cars, debris, and other obstacles,
    3) to make left hand turns, and
    4) to allow only safe overtaking by other vehicles (when a lane is too narrow to safely share with another vehicle.)

(B) Bicyclists may ride no more than two side-by-side, except in locations exclusively for bicycle use.

ARS 28-816: Bicyclists must always have at least one hand on the handlebars.

ARS 28-817: A) Any bicycle used at night must have at least a white headlight visible up to 500 feet away and a red reflector visible up to 300 feet away. (B) Bicycles may not be equipped with sirens or whistles. (C) Every bicycle must have at least one brake in good working order.

Please refer to Arizona Revised Statues for exact wording.


©Pima Association of Governments | 1 E Broadway Blvd, Suite 401, Tucson, AZ 85701 | Telephone (520) 792-1093, FAX (520) 620-6981