KINGMAN - Arizona has polished off its 2003 to-do list for bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements, but increased interest in seeing Arizona's natural beauty by foot or bike has the Arizona Department of Transportation seeking public comment on potential new projects.
"Arizona is a destination state when it comes to bicycling and walking. (It) ranks No. 14 as a bicycle-friendly state and has nine bicycle-friendly communities," said Laura Douglas, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Transportation. "The ranking comes out annually from the League of American Bicyclists."
The increase in cyclists and pedestrians touring the state means more money in the state's tourism coffers. It also means a possible increase in the number of car vs. bicycle or car vs. pedestrian accidents.
According to ADOT's latest Motor Vehicle Crash Fact Report, more than 1,200 pedestrians were injured and 154 were killed in 2011 and more than 1,600 cyclists were injured and
23 were killed.
In 2010, nearly the same number of pedestrians were killed (155) or injured (1,236), but fewer cyclists were injured (1,583) or killed (19).
Accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists in Mohave County are rare, according to the Mohave County Sheriff's Office. Last year, there were four bicycle vs. car and three pedestrian vs. car injury accidents and there were no fatal accidents involving bicycles or pedestrians.
Accident numbers for the city of Kingman were not immediately available.
"We want to reduce the number of crashes involving bicyclists and pedestrians," Douglas said. "Both the 2003 plan and the updated plan have shoulder widening opportunities and plans for sidewalk construction to increase the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists along our state highway system."
Only one proposal in the plan includes the Kingman area. It adds on to an existing sidewalk located on both sides of Route 66 between Castle Rock Road and Gordon Avenue.
The plan also includes updates to ADOT's safety pamphlets for drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and law enforcement officers; a statewide safety campaign; better designed streets with bike lane markings and wider shoulders; traffic signals that can be triggered by a bike; rest stops for cyclists; clarifying the rules of sidewalk use for bicycles; providing incentives for state workers to bike or walk to work and keeping better track of the number of cycling and pedestrian accidents.
Local cyclist Kevin Davidson has already given ADOT his two cents' worth of suggestions, which included many of the ideas above and a request for ADOT to sweep the roads and pick up the dead animals from the shoulders more frequently.
He said his experiences with area motorists have been fairly uneventful. He can only think of one time where he had to take evasive action in order to avoid a van.
He was riding along Hualapai Mountain Road near the Gas N Grub when the van pulled out in front of him.
"I had to stick my arm out to fend off his bumper," Davidson said.
A similar incident in 2005 ended in the death of local tri-athlete Dick Tomlin after an RV struck him from behind while he was riding his bike on Route 66. Law enforcement officers found the driver, who fled the scene, two days later. She was sentenced to two years in prison.
However, not all bicycle vs. car accidents are the fault of motorists, Davidson said. Cyclists can just as easily be distracted as drivers.
According to MCSO, five out the seven accidents in 2012 could have been avoided if the cyclist or the pedestrian had followed state laws.
"It's that last stretch of road, when you're almost home from work and you're thinking about what you're going to do when you get there, where most accidents occur," Davidson said.