Phoenix city officials to meet with cycling community after rider’s death

A Phoenix city councilman and a transportation director will host a meeting Thursday with Valley cyclists about an Ahwatukee intersection where a rider recently was killed.

Cyclists and concerned community members are invited to attend the meeting Thursday at 7:30 p.m. with Phoenix streets transportation director Ray Dovalina and District 6 councilman Sal DiCiccio, according to an email from DiCiccio’s council aide. The meeting will be housed at the Pecos Community Center multipurpose room at 17010 S. 48th St. in Ahwatukee.

Highly Falkner right turn

Dovalina and DiCiccio will “discuss the issue of traffic and cycling safety on Pecos Road” and answer questions, according to the email. DiCiccio said he has “serious concerns” about the Pecos Road-17th Avenue intersection after Falkner’s death.

“That’s why I wanted to have this meeting – to listen to the community first hand and to open a direct dialogue between the cyclists, community members, and the Phoenix streets department about the concerns and conditions they experience first hand,” DiCiccio said. “My hope is that after this meeting, the city will create a game plan to make that intersection safe.”

Pecos Road Meeting with City Officials

When: Thursday, Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Pecos Community Center multipurpose room at 17010 S. 48th St. in Ahwatukee


DiCiccio’s office reached out to Brandee Lepak, a cyclist and constituent, after Dwayne “Highly” Falkner’s death on Pecos Road near 17th Avenue, Lepak said.

Falkner, an avid cyclist and mountain bike racer, was attempting to cross a right-turn lane approaching 17th Avenue to continue westbound at around 9:10 a.m. Wednesday when a car struck him from behind.

The intersection requires riders to merge from a bike lane that breaks off and changes positions in the road just as a right-turn lane for cars appears near 17th Avenue. This can require cars and bikes to criss-cross in front or behind each other.

“Cars travel at incredible speeds down Pecos, and the way cyclists need to cross over to get back into a bike lane is incredibly dangerous,” Lepak said.

Steve Elwell, creator of SteveBay, a Facebook group for buying and selling cycling gear, said he has had several cyclist and runner friends hit on different occasions along Pecos Road.

“The odd thing about the 17th Avenue-Pecos intersection is that it’s the only uncontrolled intersection along the corridor,” Elwell said, pointing out that Desert Foothills Parkway, 24th, 32nd and 40th streets all cross Pecos and all have stoplights, but 17th Avenue does not.

Elwell said the current structure of the bike lane near the intersection “puts cyclists in triple jeapordy of fast moving traffic to the left, speeding traffic trying to go past the cyclists to turn right in front of them and fast moving traffic to their right prior to turning.”

“Couple that with splits in the road, plants hanging well into the bike lane and [sewer] covers in the bike lane and you’ve got some challenges riding Pecos Road,” Elwell said.

17th Avenue and Pecos Road

Lepak said she hopes the meeting with Dovalina and DiCiccio will create an active dialogue between the cycling community and those who can make changes to the road.

“Unfortunately, I did not know Highly personally, but this community has been rocked by his tragic death,” Lepak said. “I would like to see swift action to change this very dangerous section of Pecos Road, and I would like our elected officials to see the cycling community as a united front.”

Elwell said when he heard a cyclist had been hit and killed, he felt an “overwhelming sadness and then a desire to do something about it.”

“Highly was a brother on a bike, a kind, cool guy and an absolutely skilled and accomplished rider that was where he was supposed to be, following the rules, and he was prematurely stolen from us,” Elwell said. “He didn’t deserve this, and we as a community want to do something to make it safer so his passing has a positive impact.”

A group of cyclists held a silent ride Sunday morning in memory of Falkner.

Police said Monday that the investigation, which will determine whether the driver had planned to turn right as Falkner was continuing to go straight, is ongoing. The driver, whose name has not been released, stopped at the scene and cooperated with police, officials said.

Video from

Sarah Muench