This pothole on Mountain Avenue is just one of many repair projects across the city.

Tucson’s Director of Transportation told the Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee on Wednesday that the transportation department is “in a world of hurt and it is only going to get worse,” in respect to the city’s transportation budget.

Jim Glock said the transportation department is losing another $6 million in funds which will make street maintenance even more difficult.

He said his department, which has shrunk from 380 employees to 270, would need $13 million in funds just to catch up on street maintenance.

There also isn’t local money for bike infrastructure projects, but Glock said they would continue applying for federal grants and Regional Transportation Authority money to fund infrastructure improvements.

Glock, who is retiring in December, said the city will begin looking for his replacement. He said the BAC is one of the groups that will be involved in the hiring process.

BAC considers pulling support of modern streetcar

A motion suggesting the BAC pull their support of the the Tucson Modern Streetcar was made and seconded at the BAC meeting Wednesday night.

BAC member Steve Bresler made the motion after he said he believed the city wasn’t following through on the promises they made to make the streetcar safe for cyclists.

“We supported [the streetcar] because we were made to believe that they were going to do everything possible to make it safe,” he said. “I believe we were lied to.”

Several BAC members suggested that pulling support wouldn’t accomplish anything at this point because the streetcar is going to get built. They suggested trying to leverage their unhappiness with the project to get improved facilities.

Bresler eventually withdrew his motion and no further action was taken.

49 thoughts on “TDOT director on budget: We are in a world of hurt”
  1. I’m just a rank and file cyclist, rather than a BAC member. But I fully agree with Steve Bresler.

    We’ve already lost one cyclist on the trolley tracks. How many more must be sacrificed?

  2. Listening to the BAC Modern St Car discussion I heard the thought that Basel Switzerland has tracks and bicycles and they do not consider the mix  a problem.  The motorised bicycle rider who was killed here last summer (?) fell on the most dangerous section of tracks we currently have,  4th Ave tunnel merging on to Congress.  The bicyclist fell and was struck by a car.  The speed limit on that section of Congress is 25 mph.  It is not often obeyed.  Broadway is even worse and the same goes for that short section of what I guess is called Toole.  The question I have is what’s the automobile traffic like in Basel?  Are the drivers used to being in a mixed traffic situation?  Falling on the tracks is generally merely annoying.  It’s the being run over part that worries me.   The other question I have about Basel is are the tracks in the most prime bike route territory in the city?  They certainly are here.  

  3. European counties spend about $9.00 per gallon of gas. They have a different mindset. They haven’t been exposed to the propaganda by General Motors “See the USA in your Chevrolet ! ” or Fords ” BetterIdea”. They didn’t have the streetcar infrastructure destroyed be the major auto manufacture’s in the 1950’s ( Aprox dates and locations ?)  We have been led to believe that owning a car is a realization of the American Dream, as we sit in long lines of one car/one person.

    Basel’s infrastructure runs on bike and streetcar use. You can get anywhere without getting in a car and do so quickly. They do seem to coexist. It has been a way of life. I admire the Straws out there and their willingness to work toward changing the mind set of Americans. Getting into a more realistic future without cars. Like it or not mass transportation is a step in the right direction, getting out and riding your bike is a step in the right direction.

    Steve has a point a point well taken.I support him on this. There are also those who feel that the streetcar will end up like our bus service, with not enough people to fill the cars up. Like Linda and others would say make lemonade out of lemons.

    Anyway, we  make the change one pedal stroke at a time. I feel sometimes that it’s like making a political stance. Any Idea how much money would stay in Tucson if we weren’t pouring it into gas tanks ?

  4. If you think you are going to change mindsets then you will die of a very, very old age with that folly on your brain. I know this thought might sound ridiculous but maybe BAC could get with the various bicycle shops and impose a self~serving 1% tax on ALL sales that would then be earmarked specifically for bicycle projects throughout the city and county. I know this sounds like an addiional burden on a group of people who feel they contribute more by NOT driving but such a fund to benefit bicycle specific rojects could go a long way toward changing another public perception that bicylists never contribute a dime to what they receive from the city.

  5. To qualify, I like the Modern St. Car.  I dislike the t-rail.  Personally and subjectively I do  not have any problems with the rail as it is currently installed  ( i would perfer block rail) but I also relish riding up Congress in rush hour in the left lane on a fixed gear bicycle.  Yes I use brakes.  I do however understand that there are other  riders more timid than myself and absent their participation on a daily basis nothing is going to change.  

  6. The city is toying with a ‘Jose Rincon’  scenario happening all over again. The concerns have been well documented. We will get the kind of track that we get. The traffic count would seem to indicate another fatality. What will the city be able to demonstrate to a judge or jury that it effectively acknowledged the hazard it created and the steps taken to alleviate it. The BAC needs to be more than just fustrated with this. It’s stand and deliver time.
    Hey, how about some consultants from Basel and actually impliment what they recommend? 

  7. Why does it have to be the BAC. Ever hear of call to the public at a city council meeting?

  8. Being the group that represents all of the factions of the cycling community, it very well could send out a call to rally at a council meeting. The BAC seems to do very little communicating through the council members and supervisors that appoint the members. Just advising staff has its limitations. It needs to convince and influence the representatives through its internal position.

  9. I did not mean to focus on one group as opposed to individuals just since the real crux of my post is about how to be better partners with the city & county.

  10. Well, yes. Cars ain’t cheap. That should be sinking in on people, even people in the Old Pueblo.  Even fumbling attempts to mitigate cars, good for the local planner’s career, true, … ain’t cheap.

    Will folding bikes be allowed on the modern streetcar? Will there be integrated “safely and securely park the bike and ride the modern streetcar the rest of the way,” facilities? It doesn’t bode well:  We haven’t seen any of that in a serious, determined and widespread way at Sun Tran, so why should we expect that from modern street car given BAC’s behavior?

    Yes, the cyclist safety concerns related to the modern streetcar, it’s rails, are very serious. But when you also consider whether the modern streetcar or any other kind of mass/public transpo relates to cycling in any kind of  integrated functional way, you kind of have to wonder whether BAC has found a way to  rubber stamp silly things in the “heat” of the moment and then turn around a few years later and take it back.


  11. chuck1213,

    “I know this sounds like an addiional burden on a group of people who feel they contribute more by NOT driving…”

    I appreciate you acknowledging this perspective, but I think you downplay it a little too much.  The economic consequence of more people on bicycles is a net positive, from reduced road wear to fewer people trapped in the health care system and a whole slew of benefits in between.  There’s got to be a better way to send this message and change perception without dipping into the cycling community’s piggy bank.


  12. chuck1213,

    “I know this sounds like an addiional burden on a group of people who feel they contribute more by NOT driving…”

    I appreciate you acknowledging this perspective, but I think you downplay it a little too much.  The economic consequence of more people on bicycles is a net positive, from reduced road wear to fewer people trapped in the health care system and a whole slew of benefits in between.  There’s got to be a better way to send this message and change perception without dipping into the cycling community’s piggy bank.


  13. zz,

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to correct one of your sentences.

    “Being the group that [thinks] represents all of the factions of the cycling community, it very well could send out a call to rally at a council meeting.”

    Thanks.  Back to the conversation…


  14. zz,

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to correct one of your sentences.

    “Being the group that [thinks] represents all of the factions of the cycling community, it very well could send out a call to rally at a council meeting.”

    Thanks.  Back to the conversation…


  15. “The other question I have about Basel is are the tracks in the most
    prime bike route territory in the city?  They certainly are here.”

    This is a very good point that I don’t hear discussed often.  It seems to me that the streetcar has been given right-of-way, so to speak, over cycling in the most populated parts of our city.  Is this just some economic decision?  Are they privileging one form of transportation over another to meet the supposed future traffic needs of a revitalized downtown? 


  16. “We have been led to believe that owning a car is a realization of the
    American Dream, as we sit in long lines of one car/one person.”

    Well said, Cycovelo. 

  17. In the early Modern St Car meetings one of the things being touted was that bicycles would be allowed onto the cars and that the platform was a level platform.  Whether or not this is persistently true I do not know.  Maybe this is a question for Shellie Gin?  Try,  for more information.  

    btw that Swiss brochure was nice and all and I really dug the tunnel section but it was also pretty statistically out of date.  Most of the cited figures were about a decade old.  

  18. I don’t know about folding bikes but at the early Modern St Car meetings it was stated that bicycles would be allowed on and there is a level platform so getting them on was going to be easy.  Whether or not this is persistently true I do not know.  Maybe this is a good question for Shellie Gin the project manager?  Try for more information.

    Looking at the Swiss transportation brochure I noticed that it was largely significantly out of date.  Many of the studies and statistics being cited were a decade old.  I did really dig the many pages devoted to the engineering marvel of the tunnel.  

  19. Thanks! Looks like something for local news media to explore with Shellie Gin the project manager, or whomever it is these days…bikes on the street car (yay or nay), the rails as they they relate to bikes or don’t, secure safe bike depots that integrate with modern streetcar (and with the bus), and so on. And, of course, why BAC was asleep during the possibility of squeezing bikes into urban redevelopment at a time when there was so much funding sloshing around.

  20. Since I am only making a suggestion no piggy banks are being dipped into but that doesn’t mean something like a more punitive cycling tax cannot be dreamed up by a cash strapped city, ala the hotel, rv and restaurant taxes. Therefore, if the bicyclist consortium in Tucson comes forward and offers such a thing as a voluntary 1% “tax” {arbitray number} for bicycle specific projects then the Tucson community gets to see that bicyclists are more altruistic than they are often seen to be.
    As far as those “piggy banks” are concerned, most bicycling in Tucson is hobby oriented. On any given day you will find vehicles parked at “Fantasy Island” or Saguaro Park East and many other similar places popular with bicyclists and the owners of said vehicles are out for a ride. Each weekend mobs of bicyclists take to the streets for a long or short ride so I don’t feel what I suggest would be such a great imposition.

  21. From the streetcar site,

    Streetcar System – The fixed-guideway electric rail system will have seven ADA-compliant vehicles in operation, sharing a travel lane with other vehicles and will be compatible with street parking. The streetcars also will accommodate bicycles and have easy roll-on access for wheelchairs and strollers. The vehicles will stop at 18 points along the route.

  22. “The streetcars also will accommodate bicycles.”

    Of course there’s room. Maybe. Will bicycles be allowed on the modern streetcars? What kind of bicycles? How many? What about the onloading and offloading of bikes slowing down the modern streetcars? What about bike depots that integrate with the modern streetcar? The site doesn’t answer those questions, perhaps because they never occurred to BAC and obviously not to Arizona Daily Star, COT planners, COT Council.

    ADA compliance is not at issue in this. It is federally-mandated as it should be, especially in Arizona. Nor is parking, in and of itself.


  23. No, it definitely occurred to the COT planners because they mention it in their presentations.  I just quoted the cite because it was there.  I asked the question in the forums and I asked it again of Jim Glock. The answer I got then was bikes allowed.  It wasn’t equivocated as to type or quantity.  Things change, block rail becomes t-rail.  Hence my suggestion to ask the question again of Shellie and she was still the pm last time I checked.  

    Bike depots, good question.  I don’t know the answer to that one.  I’ll ask next time I’m at a TDOT fanboys of the trolley meet.  Of course I am a little baffled by anyone wanting to use the street car with a bike  because the total route is only 3.9 miles long.  Maybe to get to the river route and not be in traffic?  

  24. Well, the devil is in the details. There isn’t anything in ARS or COT ordinance to cover something like cyclist use of modern street car. It all seems to be a matter of policy and as you point out, “Things change…” Thanks.

    Thanks also for reminding that “… the total route is only 3.9 miles long.”  Your reminder begs the question of “well if it’s so short, why build it all?” But no matter as the thing is a given, to be for some mysterious reasons.

    Sorry to learn that you are baffled that anyone would want to couple the Old Pueblo’s modern street car’s 3.9 length with a bike ridden a trivial one or two miles to get to the modern street car, especially from the West Side. Such a coupling would extend the modern street car’s effective range in that area, at least, to 5.9 miles at a lower cost than laying dangerous iron.


    Red Star

  25. Very succinct but it sounds to me like a complaint with no recommended solution and as a businessman I expect when someone comes to me with a complaint they also have a recommended solution or the complaint gets filed accordingly because if I have to think of the solution to THEIR complaint then they will probably have to be satisfied with what satisfies ME.

  26. Chuck I take issue with your statement that “most bicycling in Tucson is hobby oriented.”  You may be right, of course, and maybe you can point to data to support your position.  But if you cannot, don’t be so quick to come to this judgment.  There are a lot of people riding around Tucson trying to actually get somewhere.  I think those people add up.

  27. Erik, I agree that there are a lot of people who make a difference everyday by being on bicycles to & from work or just about anywhere else. I stopped riding into town a couple years ago because many of the city buildings would not allow me to bring in the tool kit I carried in my backpack so I have been riding the bus. Since then many city buildings are more accomodating so it’s back to the bicycle.
    Here are some stats which bear you out as far as volume/numbers of folks who are NOT recreating. I only glossed over this and suspect that the greater volume near the UofA is primarily for the immediate campus area.
    Until about fifteen months ago when I was hit by a truck I averaged twenty miles five days/week. I am over sixty and have bicycled all my life and still love it. I build and maintain my own bicycles and prefer mountain bikes because the road conditions are generally poor for a road bike {at least for THIS old man}.
    Which brings me back to my original posting regarding how to have better trails and how to fund them. I fervently believe gov’t cannot fix this, that it must be the bicyclists. HOW the funding takes place is of little consequence to me since my faith in anything done through the gov’t will be costly and time consuming {IOW: I will be long dead before any gov’t projects are completed}. Despite this cynicism I believe in the ability of a group of interested citizens being able to bludgeon through any morass. This forum is an excellant place for the ideas to germinate but then what?

  28. Red Star, I’m confused by your being sorry to hear etc response.  I don’t understand it.  Can you restate it?  

    Fox hunting is not cruel since the fox enjoys the chase.  

  29. ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  30. I apologize for being so oblique. 🙂 Choosing to tax myself for “bicycle specific projects” I don’t need would be silly. I have all the asphalt I need to practice my hobby of going to work each day. Happy riding!

  31. In that respect I agree with you completely but what I am trying to point out without sounding alarmist is that some sort of fee might be on the horizon anyway including the licensing of bicycles. I feel that if you wait around for gov’t to do something then it is very likely that “something” will be what is easiest and yet not cmpletely meet the needs of the bicyclist. And you would hav no control over that money.
    As a pilot and aircraft owner I pay an annual registration fee for my airplane. That money was originally supposed to be for aircraft specific projects such as airport improvement. Yep, you guessed it, that fund has been repeatedly raided and put to use elsewhere in the state. What is to stop the state or any municipality from doing the same to bicyclists?Instead, be proactive and levy this additonal amount that would not be  public money and therefore better controlled. Besides, if you are like me who does not really spend a lot of money on parts & services that extra amount would be minimal, less than $10/yr but I supect any random bicycle shop will be able to give you a rough “per annum” of what 1% of their sales would be. I might even be so glib as to recommend a flat $2 extra for each bicycle tube but that could be a thorny issue.

  32. Chuck123,

    “I build and maintain my own bicycles and prefer mountain bikes because
    the road conditions are generally poor for a road bike {at least
    for THIS old man}.”

    Wow, that’s impressive!  I are you actually molding carbon, etc?  I met a guy in Portland who was doing this; quite an operation.  Secretly, I hoping we’ll start seeing more “cottage industries” for cycling culture like we have for microbreweries.  But I digress…

    I share you cynicism of government (generally speaking), but I also take Mr. Ryberg’s point about the inherent diversity of our local cycling community.  There are a million reasons for why folks ride their bikes in this town, and, frankly, all are legitimate.  It stands to reason, then, that this diversity also extends into the realm of the socio-economic.  I just don’t know how improvements to infrastructure can take place without engaging the commons.  A fee-based system runs the risk of creating division and excluding those who simply can’t afford to participate.


  33. I put more thought and effort into the method I choose to transport myself which ends up with fewer requirements on the social structure as a whole, and  you think I should pay extra for that?  Thorny indeed! Bicycle accommodations are not extra, they are part of the whole. That needs to be driven into the government psyche and applied to the current system that is designed to work pretty well. Cyclists requirements are not ‘more’,  just different. Well, maybe more in the sense of taking the same old bumpy street and calling it a boulevard. An example of the glimmer of good happening is the ramp access onto the sidewalk at the Speedway underpass east of I-10. It allows both users to feel a little better in the use of that tiny bit of road just by a different application of what was already there. It was almost costless.  

  34. Let me be clear, I have no intention of standing anywhere to advocate fees for bicyclists exclusively. I feel what I say here is in the context of this forum and represents a point of view based upon experiences elsewhere. I make no claim to any learnedness other than through my advanced age and how I got to be here.
    To further clarify, I use the term “build” in the context of building up a group of parts such as the frame, forks, spokes, rim and a lot of other similar non~moving parts into something that moves to my satisfaction. It is likewise true I have skinned animals and cured the hides for my bicycle seats and made my own leather lacing for the holes I have personally drilled into the seat base to be more true to bicycle building. I suppose if I felt the desire to do so I could work with carbon and graphite but I like the manly heft of plain metal.
    With all that said I will continue my original thought about fees. Make no mistake that you already pay for something you don’t receive, a ride worthy road. By having your own money through a voluntary fee you might have better control over that which you really have little control over now.
    Why is the city so enthusiastic about the El Tour? Because they make money from the other taxes collected through the hotels & restaurants. How much of that money goes back to the bicycle community ovr the next twelve months?
    The crux of the above article is that there is no money for road repair. But wait, haven’t you already paid for that road repair through the sales taxes collected when you buy bicycle parts? I’m not telling anyone they MUST pay an additional fee, simply pointing out that by creating this particular fee makes for better control of at least some money.

  35. so how’s that work?  We pay sales tax and property tax which funds roads and maintenance of roads, roads being really the broader category of transportation infrastructure and now we’re supposed to pay an additional tax to fund bicycle specific projects?  Which might be fine except that the money we’ve already paid in under the umbrella of transportation projects isn’t being spent on us so why would we believe specific set asides will be honoured.  Especially when Chuck is pointing out that his aviation funding is being misappropriated.  

    btw what Tucson needs is a bicycle forum that’s populated by a broad community seowe can stop using Mike’s comments section to host these conversations.  Not that I’m not entertained

  36. I could support that, Chuck, if doing so wouldn’t validate the improper allocation of funds that occurs in the city. The city has tried to beg, borrow, steal, scrape and diverted funds to a project for a few (even fewer than bike numbers) while the streets are left to hang for all users. So, it’s just deciding whether to address the real problem or bypass it. Bypasses seem to work for only a while.

    And I add, the mountain bike comment by Jim Glock did nothing for the bike community and would better have been left unsaid. He would have never talked down to motorists like that. Being a short-timer may be affecting his filtering processes a bit. He has been a good advocate for bikes in this town during his career and I’ve never envied his position.

  37. Q: “Can you restate it? ”

    A: At this time, probably not to your satisfaction 😉


    The complex rail type *safety* issues involved in the Old Pueblo’s modern streetcar are covered very well elsewhere in these pages.  Whether the modern streetcar (regardless of rail type)  integrates effectively and efficiently with other transpo modes doesn’t seem to have been explored by government, quasi-government organizations, or media.

    “City will likely reject recommended streetcar rail type, choose more dangerous option for cyclists”


  38. Years ago when I first thought something like this would be a good thing for bicyclists control of the money was always at the fore. First of all, the tax/fee I am proposing is a voluntary collection something like the offer I receieve to donate to something when I use my credit card at the grocery checkout counter. I know when I press “yes” that an extra amount equal to my donation will be automatically deducted from my overall payment at that moment and the deduction is shown on my receipt along with all the other itemizations.  When I look at my bank statement I will again see that deduction. In the same manner this fee could also be collected but the difference is the fee would go directly to a buiness type account controlled by local bicycle representatives.
    As mentioned previously in another part of this thread; “the devil is in the details”. A group could be formed and business account opened. Business type metings can be held that follow the same type rules as public board meetings, projects considered an money disbursed to the city or county. I realize this is the simplistic thought and that the real “doing” will take greater effort but that does not mean it cannot be done. Who knos, something like this may already exist in another community.
    This URL { } shows mechanisms are already in place to provide money to the city for a specific project so working with city/county gov’t is not a complete impssibility.

  39. Chuck: I can’t speak for those with skinny tires, but I already receive a ride-worthy road — perhaps by virtue of my bike having a “manly heft.” If you’d ever like to abandon the suggestion that my LBS be required to pass on a tax for projects you haven’t yet identified, I’d be OK with that. Happy riding!

  40. Hey, just enjoying a place for the healthy exchange of ideas. See you on the trails.

  41. To Red Star,

    Ok that makes more sense, thanks.  

    The answer to your question about bicycles on the Modern Street Car is yes definitely with no time restrictions etc.  They may use hooks for the bikes or an area where bicyclist stand with the bikes or maybe fold down seats for extra room. Joan Beckim who does all of the PR work for the project stated this unequivocally at tonight’s downtown links CAC meeting.  

    Oregon Iron Works is who is making the cars,   It’s actually a subsidiary called United Streetcar

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