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The 5 E's of Bicycle Planning

Communities are asked about what is on the ground; what has been built to promote cycling in the community. For example, questions in this category inquire about the existence and content of a bicycle master plan, the accommodation of cyclists on public roads, and the existence of both well-designed bike lanes and multi-use paths in the community. Reviewers also look at the availability of secure bike parking and the condition and connectivity of both the off-road and on-road network.

Engineering Accomplishments since 2008:

  • Bicycle Boulevards – The City of Tucson established a bicycle boulevard program to help attract new bicycle riders. The City received funds to enhance the existing 3rd Street Bicycle Boulevard. The 4th Avenue/Fontana Bicycle Boulevard is currently under construction. Liberty Street has funding to convert it to a bicycle boulevard. The City has several other boulevards in design and is seeking funding for construction. 
  • Urban Loop – Pima County has made huge strides in completing the 55-mile, off-street, shared-use path loop around the City of Tucson. Where space permits, the loop will be a Divided Urban Pathway with two separate parallel paths, one paved and the other a softer surface to accomodate different types of users. The Urban Loop consists of all of the Rillito River Park and the Julian Wash Greenway, and parts of the Santa Cruz River Park, the Pantano River Park and the Houghton Greenway. Today, 63 percent of the urban loop is constructed, though by 2012, it is expected to be 81 percent completed.
  • Bicycle Parking – A proposal to reduce bicycle parking requirements in the City of Tucson was defeated through an organized bicycle advocacy effort. Instead, the update to the city code has strengthened the bicycle parking requirements in response to citizen action. All new businesses, for example, are required to provide bicycle parking and in a location nearer to the business than previously required.
  • Complete Streets Policy – In March 2011, Pima County through Communities Putting Prevention to Work funding held a Complete Streets Summit with a public presentation by Mark Fenton, a national Complete Streets expert/enthusiast. The summit included a technical Complete Streets workshop for transportation planners and engineers through the National Complete Streets Coalition. Community leaders are pursuing both a regional Complete Streets Policy and individual jurisdictions are considering adopting a Complete Streets ordinance.  


The questions in this category are designed to determine the amount of education available for both cyclists and motorists. Education includes teaching cyclists of all ages how to ride safely in any area from multi-use paths to congested city streets as well as teaching motorists how to share the road safely with cyclists. Some things that reviewers look at are the availability of cycling education for adults and children, the number of League of American Bicyclists' cycling instructors in the community, and other ways that safety information is distributed to both cyclists and motorists in the community including bike maps, tip sheets, and as a part of driver’s education manuals and courses.

Education Accomplishments since 2008:

  • Ambassador Program - Pima County launched an ambassador program that hires trained teachers to do safe riding education and outreach. In 2010, the third year of the program, ambassadors reached more than 6,500 cyclists.
  • Safe Routes to School – The Pima County/City of Tucson Safe Routes to School program continued to expand into more schools throughout the region. More schools participate in the walk/bike to school day events each semester. In 2010, more than 2,000 K-8 students were taught safe walking and biking curriculum in the schools. The Pima County Safe Routes to School program has expanded into the middle schools – reaching the population that will soon be driving cars. 
  • Bicycle Camps – Two nonprofits in the region:  BICAS and El Grupo Cycling are pairing up to offer the region’s first summer bicycle camps in summer of 2011. To learn more about the camps, visit:
  • Pima County Safe Routes to School Ordinance – In 2009, the Pima County Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance that encourages developers to meet with school district personnel in order to provide safe walking and bicycling paths for school children. This is one of the first local ordinances in the country regarding Safe Routes to School.  


This category concentrates on how the community promotes and encourages bicycling. This can be done through Bike Month and Bike to Work Week events as well as producing community bike maps, route-finding signage, community bike rides, commuter incentive programs, and having a Safe Routes to School program. In addition, some questions focus on other things that have been built to promote cycling or a cycling culture such as off-road facilities, BMX parks, velodromes, and the existence of both road and mountain bicycling clubs.

 Encouragement Accomplishment since 2008:

  • Living Streets Alliance – Living Streets Alliance is a nonprofit, advocacy group that was formed in early 2011 to promote healthy communities by empowering people to transform our streets into vibrant places for walking, bicycling, socializing and play. LSA hit the ground running in its first few months by hosting nationally renowned bike/pedestrian planner Mia Birk for a series of events, coordinating Bike Fest 2011, spearheadeding significant improvements for bicycle parking in the City’s new Sustainable Land Use Code, and significantly contributing to the second annual Cyclovia Tucson. 
  • BikeFest - Bike Fest is Tucson's annual celebration of bicycling that occurs each spring and includes Bike to Work Week. The event first began in the 1980s and each year continues to grow. In 2011, there were dozens of events that encouraged Tucsonans to get out and ride including Cyclovia, Bike to Work commuter stations, Tour of the Tucson Mountains and many more!
  • Cyclovia - Cyclovia Tucson is an annual car-free event that opens selected streets to people so that they can walk, skate, run, bicycle and socialize with their neighbors. Modeled after other events around the world and in the United States, Cyclovia Tucson closes off streets to cars along a specified route and includes different activities along the route such as bicycle rodeos, bicycle decorating, jumping castles, zumba, live music, etc. The first two years of Cyclovia have been so successful, organizers are trying to figure out how to make it happen more often.
  • – is a bicycle blog dedicated to all things bicycle-related in the Tucson region. was created by Michael McKisson and launched in 2010. The goal of is to keep readers informed about news, advocacy issues, events and people important to Tucson’s cycling community. New articles and the calendar of events is updated daily and as a result has improved both awareness and transparency of cycling issues. 


The enforcement category contains questions that measure the connections between the cycling and law enforcement communities. Questions address whether or not the law enforcement community has a liaison with the cycling community, if there are bicycle divisions of the law enforcement or public safety communities, if the community uses targeted enforcement to encourage cyclists and motorists to share the road safely, and the existence of bicycling related laws, such as those requiring helmet or the use of sidepaths.

Enforcement Accomplishments since 2008:

  • Bicycle and Pedestrian Enforcement Grant - The Tucson Police Department received a grant in 2010 to promote bicycle and pedestrian safety through education and enforcement. TPD conducted deployments with special attention to violations that involve bicycles. They first issued warnings and education information to cyclists doing illegal cycling behavior. The grant also was used to warn and cite motorists for illegal behaviors that endanger cyclists such as driving in the bicycle lane and the three-foot law.  
  • Bicycle Rapid Response Team - TPD began using a Bicycle Rapid Response Team in 2009 to manage and control crowds. The officers are trained in escort, blocking, diversionary and dispersal techniques and are used for events such as demonstrations, sporting events, parades, etc.  The Rapid Response Team has been used for several Tucson events including SB1070 protests and May Day peace demonstrations. 
  • Officer Education Advancements - In the past few years, regional law enforcement officers have received more information regarding bicycling laws. TPD disseminated six training scenarios regarding bike laws, enforcement techniques and investigation including scenarios entitled, “Bicyclist vs. Motorist Collision” and “Overtaking Bicycles.”   In addition, 3 TPD officers have successfully completed the League of American Bicyclist’s League Certified Instructor program. 
  • Citation Evaluation - The Bicycle Advisory Committee Enforcement Subcommittee receives City of Tucson and Pima County crash reports involving cyclists. The Subcommittee analyzes each report to determine if they feel the incident was adequately reported and cited. They developed a database so that the information is well organized and easily searchable. The Subcommittee hopes the information will be used to raise awareness and education for the officers and will result in both better reporting and more accurate citations.   

Evaluation & Planning

Here the community is judged on the systems that they have in place to evaluate current programs and plan for the future. Questions are focused on measuring the amount of cycling taking place in the community, the crash and fatality rates, and ways that the community works to improve these numbers. Communities are asked about whether or not they have a bike plan, how much of it has been implemented and what the next steps for improvement are.

Evaluation Accomplishments since 2008:

  • Bike Count Program – In 2008, PAG kicked off an annual bicycle count program to better evaluate the number of people currently bicycling, track how this number is changing over time, record characteristics of cyclists such as helmet usage and to identify locations needing improvements. In 2010, the third year of the program, volunteers and jurisdictional staff counted over 20,000 cyclists at 98 locations across the region. 
  • Bike Crash Analysis – PAG updates a regional bicycle crash analysis annually with data dating back to 2001. The Bicycle Crash Analysis quantifies the number of crashes, general conditions such as jurisdiction and whether alcohol was a factor, and both the bicyclist and motorist actions that resulted in the crash. This information is used to help identify mitigation strategies such as wrong way signs and pavement markings, as well as to help identify enforcement education that is needed.
  • Bicycle Master Plans - The Regional Plan for Bicycling was last updated in 2009. The University of Arizona is currently developing a bicycle and pedestrian plan for the campus and surrounding areas to encourage active transportation modes and to improve safety in high volume areas on campus.  

Automated Counters – In order to supplement the bicycle count program and record cycling behavior at key locations, the region is piloting automated bicycle counters. One of the counters is a mobile device that will be moved to count at various locations across the region. A permanent counter will be placed in the bike lanes of a busy Tucson corridor. Expected date of installation is July 2011.


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