By Adam Wolfe
After public backlash, the Maricopa City Council’s Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) re-examined the speed limit change and decided to leave the current limits in place.
In early August, the city posted signs stating the speed limit on Honeycutt Road would change from various 35, 45 and 25 mph zones to 35 mph all the way through. However, after the public lashed out against the idea, the Maricopa City Council took the issue under advisement.
After nearly a month of consideration, the council’s TAC chose to approve staff recommendation and leave the speed limit as it is now, and remove the bike lanes east of White and Parker Road.
“Bike lanes were recently added to Honeycutt Road during routine maintenance,” Assistant City Manager Jennifer Brown said in a statement. “Due to the width of the road on the bridge over the Faqua Wash the bike lanes became very narrow. Based on safety standards, Honeycutt Road in the area of the Faqua Wash would have required the speed limit to be reduced from 45 mph to 35 mph. After researching the issue and hearing from residents, TAC and staff made the final decision to remove the bike lanes.”
The development of the bike lanes was part of the city’s 2040 Vision. According to the 2040 Vision, the plan is to eventually have bike lanes on all possible roadways throughout Maricopa to “create safe and functional pedestrian ways and bicycle routes throughout the City of Maricopa.” However, the initial installation of the bike lanes was not received well by the Tortosa and Sorrento communities. Members were concerned about the safety of both drivers and bikers in the area.
“While Honeycutt is a large road and a large path, some of it has been widened to accommodate a bike lane specifically, while a bike lane from White & Parker down to the Tortosa subdivision would not necessarily be safe for the bikers or the motorists because of how narrow the road is,” Sorrento resident Joshua Babb said during the City Council meeting on Aug. 4. “I don’t believe a bike lane is safe for anyone on that stretch of road until the road is widened.”
The changes to the speed limit were also thought to be beneficial for the residents. City officials made the decision to lower the speed limit in order to create safer driving conditions and speed limit consistency for residents who use Honeycutt Road. Since the road changes from four lanes to two lanes in some areas, the addition of the bicycle lane further narrowed the drivable area, and a speed reduction was deemed necessary.
However, the removal of the bike lanes also removes the need to lower the speed limit in certain areas.
“As we continue maintenance projects on our city roads we will evaluate if a bike lane makes sense for that particular roadway and will make the appropriate changes,” Public Works Director Bill Fay said in a statement. “When constructing, maintaining and improving our roadways we always strive to follow best practices and the industry standards to keep all those using our roads as safe as possible.”