A "crossbike" is a bicycle-friendly crosswalk. Tucson's first is located at Third Street and Swan Road.

Cyclists using the Third Street Bikeway now have a better way to cross Swan Road. (See the video of the crossbike in action at the end of the post)

The City of Tucson activated the region’s first “crossbike” — a combination of a bicycle crossing and a crosswalk.

The crossing utilizes a traditional HAWK crossing, but adds features to make it more usable by bikes. The city added green pavement markings on either side of a traditional crosswalk to illustrate that cyclists will be present.

“Typically when you have just two white stripes it is insinuated that it is a pedestrian crossing only,” Tom Thivener, the city’s bicycle and pedestrian program manager said. “We wanted to make a conscious attempt to make it obvious to users and motorists that bikes are to be expected as well.”

In addition to the pavement markings, the sign motorists see says “crossing” and shows a picture of a pedestrian and a bicycle.

Tucson Velo reader Alan Solot said in an email that he rides the route every day and that the intersection is an improvement.

He said now that he has ridden it a few times, it’s more clear how it is supposed to function. Here are his observations about the intersection.

The crossing is designed, as one is westbound, to be approached by going on the sidewalk from Hawthorne and NOT from 3rd St.  They have the sidewalk marked with indicators to show that it’s OK to ride on the sidewalk.  There are signs on Hawthorne to inform riders it’s OK to go on the sidewalk. I actually think they’ve designed a reasonable solution to the intersection for westbound riders. The problem I now see is that the bike route is signed to have westbound riders go to 3rd and not to Hawthorne. It needs to be re-signed and to make it clear that Hawthorne is now the way to go. (See the map)

(Editor’s note: I used Third Street instead of Hawthorne while shooting the video. I didn’t notice that Hawthorne appears to be the preferred route. 

As for eastbound cyclists, Solot said it’s less comfortable because it requires cyclists to cross from the right side of the road to the left side and get onto the the sidewalk area in order to reach the crossing. His concern is that there may be cars turning right onto Third Street that could create a conflict with cyclists.

Thivener said he is working with the intersection designers and contrators to clean up that part of the intersection to make it easier to use.

Additionally the city is planning to create signals to tell cyclists when it is OK to cross and when they should stop. Cyclists will have a green crossing light when the HAWK is a solid red, but once the light begins to flash indicating the motorists can treat the intersection like a four-way stop, the cyclists’ light will be red.

Thivener said the crossbike didn’t cost much more than a regular HAWK. The additional expenses came from reengineering the sidewalks on either side of the signal and adding the green markings.

Similar treatments are in the works for a crossing along the El Paso Greenway at Granada and Cushing Street. The city is also investigating adding crossbikes to all the major intersections along the Aviation Bikeway.

8 thoughts on “‘Crossbike’: Tucson’s newest bicycle amenity for crossing streets”
  1. Agree with Alan Solot that the eastbound approach on 3rd to the sidewalk to the crossing is abrupt and too close to Swan. That was the first thing that struck eastbound Red Star.  Perhaps eastbound cyclists will learn to veer to the north side of 3rd well before they get there, like before they get to Party Carousel and thereby stay out of trouble.

    As of Sunday morning there were still tree branches from the property at 800 N. Swan hanging down into the sidewalk on Hawthorn…perhaps someone will come along in the dead of night with little pruning shears and do the self-help thing…snip, snip and snip. Or this will get worse in the summer.

    The sidewalk on the Hawthorn side seems very tight and possibly unsafe if it gets significant volume of ped and bike traffic. It seems to Red Star that sensible cyclists (esp eastbound) will just bypass the bike/ped sidewalk and use Swan NB for twenty feet to get to Hawthorn.

    When you hit the request crossing button, it chirps.

    The effort seems shoe-horned but a pretty good fix of the thinking of 40 or 50 years ago. Understandable.

    And then there’s Craycroft and things get really bad at Wilmot and east of there.

  2. I’ve ridden that route so often, that even now on my eastbound route, by habit  I still go on 3rd St. rather than Hawthorne, despite the new “crossbike.”  From 3rd/Hawthorne, I wait for a break in traffic, ride north across the two lanes into the left turn bay and then left onto 3rd St. west of Swan.   

    I don’t think the new light & “crossbike” are the perfect solution to the Bikeway’s intersection w/ Swan, but they are clearly a vast and welcome improvement.

    I continue to be amazed at how much bike infrastructure Tucson has.  It’s a great place to ride a bike!Yes, it’ll be nice if they do something where the Bikeway intersects Craycroft and Wilmot.  I travel through those frequently as well. 

  3. I don’t like the idea of having to cross to the wrong side of the road to get to the crossing.  I’ll continue to take 3rd to Swan to 4th for eastbound travel, while for westbound travel I’ll continue crossing Swan via 3rd to, uhm, 3rd.  Neither option requires me to get off my bike or,cross to the wrong side, or use a sidewalk.  I think the solution that’s implmented at this intersection is sub-optimal.

  4. It’s a very, very tough intersection that was built many years ago. The remediation, though not perfect and indeed sub-optimal, welcomes PsiSquared to the world, this date.

  5. There are 2 good options to make that intersection safer for cyclists and the way they did it isn’t either one. 
    A) Close the median for cars at West side 3rd St. but leave a narrow turn lane for bikes going West.  Then put in a bike only turn lane in the median at East side 3rd street for bikes going East.  No light required or purchasing of property.  
    B) Buy the North most 12 feet of the Party Carousel property and route bikes up the alley and East to Swan, then have a crossing w/ a light that lines up with Hawthorne. 

  6. Is this the design solution for our long awaited Bike Boulevard on Treat Street at Speedway? Anyone have a WAG when? The existing  hawk light is used (abused?) by many cyclists.  Along not-a-treat street, someone has outlined in white the rim busting potholes for night riders, thanks!

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