State Representative Steve Farley spoke at the Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting about the future of Tucson’s transportation on Wednesday night.

Farley said he got into politics because of Tucson’s transportation issues. He touched on several different subjects including: cycling, distracted driving, the street car, and buses during his presentation.

As for the street car, Farley is disappointed the city chose to use T-rail instead of block rail, which is generally considered to be safer for cyclists, but he said the street car is a critical to change Tucson’s transportation mix.

“The streetcar is a gateway drug to a lot of alt modes,” he said.

Many people won’t even consider riding a bus, but will ride the streetcar because it’s fun he said. Additionally, bikes become more popular because you can ride from the streetcar stops to increase the travel distance.

Farley was asked about whether the state legislature was working on a texting ban. He said in January 2007 he was the first legislator in the country to introduce a texting ban — which failed to get support in the state legislature. Since then, 44 states have adopted a ban on texting, but Arizona still hasn’t adopted one. According to Farley, the City of Phoenix adopted their own texting ban.

He said he is working with the Department of Public Safety to get a generic distracted driving law passed that would allow officers to pull motorists over and cite them if they are driving in an erratic way, but wasn’t encouraged it would be passed. He suggested advocates work with city and county officials to get a local ban in place.

Lastly, he said he was encouraged by the number of people who are starting to make their voices in transportation heard. He said if people continue working together, Tucson can become a model for how to convert an auto-centric city into a model of alternate transportation.

I’ve included the audio recording of his talk. The first few minutes are a bit dry even for a public meeting, but it picks up.

Farley by user9792052

Bicycling advocates to be involved in transportation director replacement

BAC Chair Ian Johnson will be involved in the search committee to replace outgoing City of Tucson Transportation Director Jim Glock.

Johnson said Living Streets Alliance will also have a seat on the search committee.

Counting bikes

In addition to the Pima Association of Governments bicycle count, which has it’s first volunteer info session tonight, the Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists will be out at various trailheads around the region starting this weekend to count mountain bikers.

Learning from Minneapolis

Matt Zoll, the county’s bicycle and pedestrian program manager presented information about his summer trip to Minneapolis, which was recently named the top biking city by Bicycling Magazine.

He said the city of Minneapolis committed to spend $25 million over 5 years to help vault them into one of the top biking cities in the country. He also touched on their bike share program, which cost $5 million to get started, but is completely self sustaining and has only encountered one theft and $5,000 in vandalism.

He said surveys suggest 23 percent of people using the bike share system don’t own bikes and 20 percent of the trips replaced car trips.

Check out the rest of his presentation here.

12 thoughts on “State Rep: Streetcar is gateway drug to public transit”
  1. In looking at Matt’s PowerPoint slides – I’d love to see the giant “BLVD” markings used here!

  2. Farley says that people who’d never ride a bus will ride the trolley because it’s fun.  If people knew how much money it cost them to have a bus that’s “fun”, they’d be so ticked off they’d never ride the trolley either.  Are any of you, fine readers, of the ilk that Farley is refering to?  Do you drool over the prospects of riding a bus on rails yet you’d never stoop to ride a rubber tired bus w/ all those stinky people on it?  Are we supposed to take that group seriously?  Of course we are!  In fact, we have, they’re the ones who voted to spend our tax money, lots and lots of tax money, on this boondogle.   Thank you, Mr. Farley, for making my point for me.  

  3. Don’t stop there.  All public transportation is subsidised.  Include the interstates in your rant.  The RTA was a package, which part do you like?  The Modern St Car is part of the RTA.  By the way don’t blame me, I voted against the RTA because it was so inflexible once it was set into motion.  I like regular buses just fine.  Just watch out for the hidden costs of transit oriented development.  We already have one beginning to loom on the southern edge of West University.  The District at UA which was made possible by the desperation of the City of Tucson to have something, anything built somewhere downtown.  When selling the 5th Ave right away wan’t enough of an enticement to develop the city quietly created the Infill Incentive district.  The IID allowed the District to be built by creating an administrative process that bypassed a rezoning.  I’m hoping we don’t see more of the same in the 4th Ave. business district as TOD gains momentum.  Speaking of 4th ave and the bicycle tripping trolley, St Fair looks to be displaced at least temporarily after this winter’s event.  I guess I should look at the bright side, Chuck Huckelberry has been visionary enough to push the river paths towards completion.  

  4. That’s a nice political rant, but there’s no objectivity in it.  For the record, he could be right, partially right, or wrong.  I don’t have the data to say which will be the result, and neither do you.  

  5. Did Farley say anything about the Grand Canyon State adopting an Idaho stop law? What is that effort’s status? DOA?

    Anyway, perhaps Tucson Pima BAC in conjunction with other committees (are there any?) could host a candidate forum (all levels of gov’t) on transpo issues separate from it’s monthly meeting…

  6. The person at the meeting who wanted to make use of the bus but had problems with that because of coordinated scheduling made sense with his point. Increased ridership will require more efficient connections and scheduling. Trying to increase ridership by building a four-mile long fun-to ride-train makes sense to the political mind – probably one that doesn’t use the bus. Minneapolis took a fraction of what the streetcar will cost and did some really neat things for the bike transportation system and got real, observable results in ridership. Of course the difference in culture was mentioned more than once as to maybe why that worked. We had  many times that amount of money once and did… something…. with it. I’m not saying the city’s corrupt, but I’m wincing when I’m not saying it.
    The bike-share system at the city government building seems to be waning. Started with 3 or 4 bikes, now not much sign of activity and just one bike with one or two flat tires.
    Too bad there was not a slide of that spectacular bike bridge they built over an INTERSECTION in Matt Zoll’s powerpoint. The suggestion of a bike/ped underpass of Grant  as part of that road’s improvment project was brow-beated to the floor.
    Sorry, maybe I should stop going to BAC meetings and just ride more. It really is a gorgeous day!

  7. That wasn’t brought up, but he did mention that is is hard to accomplish anything with the current leadership.

  8. Eventually there were several questions that strayed from the streetcar. It got to be a little long. I can post that audio if you are interested, though.

  9. It’s alright. I’m not that interested personally. I’m just reflecting back on the Advocacy Advanced conference. His speech to a room full of bike/ped people was 60% “AZ Republicans in the Legislature suck and I can’t do anything” and 40% “I love Streetcars”, with a sentence about biking and walking integrating into that. It goes together, but, yeah. I think he likes bikes?

  10. Farley sells it like it’s gospel. That evokes a rant. I’ve always wondered about rants. Do they have to be totally objective? Hard to have impassioned expression without some subjectivity. And does that necessarily exclude truth? Sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s ranting. I need to study this more…maybe on C-Span. 

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