Over the last few months, the City of Tucson has upgraded its first “crossbike” (read the original post here) intersection at Swan Road and Third Street to make it safer for cyclists.

The city improved the approaches on both sides of the intersection to protect cyclists from cars turning right off of Swan Road.

Crossing signs telling cyclists when it is safe to cross have also been added.

Lastly, the city added additional pavement markings and improved the signal activations for cyclists.

Cyclist Alan Solot, who rides through the intersection said in an email alerting me to the changes that the intersection works really well and removes the concerns he had when the original installation went in.

Check out the video above to see the how the intersection looks now and compare it to the original video below.

18 thoughts on “City upgrades ‘crossbike’ on 3rd Street”
  1. All in all, this is an intersection where someone has applied thought and execution to make it safe for bikes.
    I continue to be amazed and grateful for the amount of bike infrastructure that Tucson has provided.

  2. Pavement indicators guide riders onto the sidewalk, which is expanded to permit cyclists’ use. It’s like the sidewalk at the intersection of the Third Street Bikeway and Alvernon where one rides on the sidewalk on the west side of Alevernon.

  3. Is this a carry-over project from Tom Thivener?  Who is determining what gets done currently?

  4. Hey Mike- Is there any video of what the signal does when the pedestrian light is the walk signal?  I can only make out the flashing red “Bikes Wait.”

  5. I am concerned about how the rider gets to the crossing.  Both approaches either eastbound or westbound require the rider to cross over into head-on traffic before entering the green riding zone.  The problem is the location where a driver would have made a turn, crossed the crosswalk, and then begins to accelerate not realizing there will be head-on riders coming at them. 

    The better way to design this intersection would be to bring the rider up to the intersection and make the north/south crosswalk green.  This is like the Copenhagen crossings.  Drivers are accustomed to looking for hazards in crosswalks, not 30 feet beyond where they are accelerating. 

    Of special concern is the left turn driver going north on Swan turning left to go west on 3rd.  They are going to turn fast and with speed to avoid southbound Swan hazards.  They are going to look at the crosswalk and see that it is clear.  They are not going to see a rider 5o feet down the road that is about to cross over and there’s going to be an impact.

    Please, rethink this issue of putting riders head-on into vehicular lanes in the acceleration zone.  Put them were drivers expect to see hazards, which is the crosswalk.


    Eric Post
    Bicycle Attorney

  6. The signal says, “Bikes OK” when it’s time for cyclists to cross. 

  7. Eric, I agree that this is a significant issue.  

    I originally thought it a terrible design, but I use this intersection daily now and it seems to work.  

    We always need to be careful riding on our streets, but the city has really done quite a bit with this intersection to improve its safety:

    There are bollards separating cyclists from traffic as cyclists enter and exit the area.

    There’s green pavement on Swan, and on the Hawthorne and 3rd Streets’ entry and exits from the intersection.

    There’s double white lines to mark the bike lane on Swan in both the north and south directions.  I assume this is to emphasize to motor vehicle traffic that the bike lane is for bikes. 

    “Both approaches either eastbound or westbound require the rider to cross over into head-on traffic before entering the green riding zone. ”

    Yes, there’s a continuing issue with this.  My own approach is to be very cautious when making these maneuvers, which are obviously risky.

  8. Riders are similarly directed into on-coming traffic from the sidewalk at the Fontana-Ft. Lowell crossing on the 4th Ave. Bike Boulevard. This seems to be a trade-off to providing a safer (or at least safer looking) crossing. Maybe facilities of this nature shouldn’t be attempted ‘on the cheap’.

    The addition of the bollards at the Swan crossing may cue cyclists to make the ‘on-coming’ move farther from the intersection, but Eric’s legal concern is right-on. Who would win in that situation: The driver stating the cyclist was riding the wrong way into trafiic or the cyclist claiming he was directed to do so by the ‘pie plate’?

    How about crosswalks for each direction with these:

    marking the crosswalk away from the red signal. Bikes could activate the whole business by  ‘pucks’  located on the side opposite the buttons.
    It’s just short of a Toucan and would keep everyone on the correct side.

  9. (Replying to Alan Solot and Eric Post) Agree that there is an “abruptness” issue there for cyclists and motorists,  in theory. But how much turning motor vehicle traffic is there, really on that little segment of 3rd and that little segment of Hawthorne?

    The crossing is better than the nothing that was there  before, but has it created a false sense of security overall at the intersection? Don’t think so.

    What can be learned from this execution to guide design of the next big crossings: Craycroft and the Mother F of all Crossings, Wilmot?

  10. I prefer the design of the bike crossings at 3rd Street and Country Club or University Boulevard and Stone Avenue.  There the riders merge with traffic before going to a crossing in the center of the intersection – no issue of head-on traffic as you are always with the correct flow of traffic.  Seems like the same could have been done at this crossing.  Didn’t those crossings pre-date this one?  So why would this be the first “crossbike?”

  11.  There are two things going on here: first is the “cross bike” aspect of
    this crossing, which is a great new treatment that piggy-backs bikes
    onto existing Hawk lights by providing the “bikes wait” signal. This
    solves a really difficult problem of how bikes can know when it’s safe
    to enter the crosswalk and when it’s not safe — because the light
    starts blinking at some point and cars start moving.

    The other two signals you mention are “toucans” which are a much more robust signal that provides a “full stop.” They’re a lot more expensive, so in our current economic climate it’s hard to get more of those.


    The other thing happening here is that this is an offset intersection — third is maybe 50 feet to the north on the east side of the intersection, so it’s a tricky one to design for.

    I think Eric has a somewhat of  a point about the crossing movement, but I disagree on the severity; how is the crossing he describes any different than if a bicyclist was just crossing traffic to get to a driveway? I don’t see a difference. My opinion is that any bicyclist on the road would be cautious crossing oncoming traffic, so this doesn’t seem like a big deal. I also don’t see this as being a huge issue because the traffic volumes seem pretty low out there and the speed is posted at 25mph.

    I think we should thank the city’s engineers for pioneering new intersection treatments that expand our options — they could just do nothing and tell us there’s no money for toucans. According to the article below, bike hawks are $100k cheaper than toucans. Which means we can get more of them!


  12. I really do believe that it is worth the effort to work on a design that eliminates the ‘riding into traffic’ maneuver. Riding into traffic is just different enough from making a left turn across traffic to infuse confusion among users and is not in keeping with traffic safety instruction. This intersection is too unique to try to push the point, but before any more bike-crossings are implimented, a meeting of engineering and user minds could result in something really effective, simpler and still cheaper than a toucan.

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