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Posts from the "Arizona" Category

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Arizonans Driving Like It’s 1994

Image: Arizona Public Interest Research Group

As in the rest of America, per capita driving in Arizona started to drop years before the Great Recession hit. Graph: Arizona Public Interest Research Group

Here’s more evidence that there’s a shift underway in how Americans get around: The Arizona Public Interest Research Group has released a new report [PDF] showing that residents of this sprawling Sun Belt state are driving less and taking transit more.

Between 2005 and 2012, the average number of miles driven by each Arizona resident declined 10.5 percent, according to PIRG. They are now driving fewer miles per capita than they did in 1994. These trends closely track national driving declines, and show the phenomenon isn’t limited to compact coastal metro areas.

In notoriously sprawling Phoenix, people are starting to ditch their cars. Between 2006 and 2011, the share of households with two or more vehicles decreased 2.9 percent, PIRG reports. And the total number of cars and trucks on the state’s roads is dropping, even as the population grows. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of registered vehicles in Arizona declined 4 percent.

The authors attribute these trends to a combination of factors, including the economic downturn, the retirement of Baby Boomers, rising gas prices, increases in telecommuting, and the changing preferences of Millennials.

“It is unknown whether this increase in carless households is the result of changing preferences or economic hardship, but it does represent a dramatic reversal of the national trend toward increased vehicle ownership since at least the 1960s,” write authors Serena Unrein and Diane E . Brown.

Meanwhile, transit ridership is on the rise in Arizona’s major cities. In Phoenix, between 2005 and 2010, total transit trips increased 16 percent. Part of the increase is certainly due to the opening of Phoenix’s light rail system in 2008. That system has been outpacing ridership projections. In the Tucson area, growth has been more dramatic. During the same period, total transit trips in metro Tucson increased 25 percent, PIRG reports.

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Arizona Police Arrest “Jaywalking” Professor in Racially-Charged Incident

Arizona earned its reputation for police excess yet again recently when an officer demanded identification of an African-American pedestrian — for the crime of walking in a campus street to avoid construction on the sidewalk — and got violent when she refused to produce it.

Arizona State University professor Ersula Ore was walking around some construction on the Tempe college campus last month when an ASU police officer stopped her. Before she could even explain why she was walking in the street, he asked her for ID. When she bristled at the request, he threatened her with arrest. Before long, he had slammed her violently to the ground, her body exposed, and his hands in all the wrong places.

“The reason I’m talking to you right now is because you’re walking in the middle of the street,” Officer Stewart Ferrin told Ore when he stopped her. “That’s called obstruction of a public thoroughfare.”

“I’ve been here for over three years and everybody walks this street,” she replied. “Everybody’s been doing this because it’s all obstructed. That’s the reason why. But you stop me in the middle of street to pull me over and you ask me, ‘Do you know what this is? This is a street — ’”

“This is a street,” Ferrin interjects.

Then he demands that she put her hands behind her back, she demands that he take his hands off her, and trigger warnings start to fly.

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Washington, Colorado, and Oregon Win Top Bike-Friendly State Honors

The League of American Bicyclists' annual bike friendly state rankings.

Congratulations are due to Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Minnesota; those four states took home top rankings this year in the League of American Bicyclists’ annual Bicycle Friendly States appraisal. The winners were announced this morning.

Washington has held the top position for six years running. But there were a few shake-ups further down the list.

Delaware was one of the main up-and-comers, jumping from number ten to number 5. The Bike League’s blog praised Governor Jack Markell, along with the state legislature and advocacy organizations.

“The benefits of biking are countless, and that’s why I’m proud to support dedicated federal funding for biking and walking infrastructure,” U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) told the Bike League.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, meanwhile, said his state is not satisfied with second place.

“An important part of making Colorado the healthiest state is encouraging people to be more active in their everyday routines,” Hickenlooper said. “We’re proud that our bicycle-friendly policies have skyrocketed Colorado’s rank up 20 places in just five years, and we are committed to being No. 1 in the near future.”

Among the other most-improved states were Illinois and Arizona.

Michael Sanders, the Arizona Department of Transportation bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, said his state has been studying bike collisions and developing ways to reduce them.

These testimonies from high-ranking political officials prove how effective the Bicycle Friendly State program is at incentivizing a little good-natured competition to make cycling easier, safer, and more convenient for everyone. 

Here’s a preview of the top 15:

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