Monday, October 20, 2014

Alleged Drunk Driver Finally Kills

From today's Albuquerque Journal.  Not sure anyone is re-introducing HB12/68/etc.....Just as Clarence finally got his wings, hopefully Gabriella will finally get her bars.

Dead motorcyclist ID’d; car driver had prior charges

Court records identify Steve Reider, 54, as the man killed early Saturday when a speeding car slammed into his motorcycle in a suspected drunken driving crash at Montgomery and Eubank NE.

Albuquerque police arrested Gabrielle Erin Moya, 20, on charges of vehicular homicide and aggravated driving while intoxicated in connection with the 2:50 a.m. accident. Moya remained in the Metropolitan Detention Center on Sunday in lieu of $200,000 cash or surety bond, according to jail records. 

Moya also faces charges from a drunken driving arrest last month.

Moya was arrested Sept. 20 on charges of aggravated DWI and failure to yield right of way, court records show. She was released on bond after an Oct. 8 hearing.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pass or Fail, Charter Amendment 2 is no guarantee against folly

Maybe we need to put these in mailboxes
Along with all the meaningless B.S. I've been getting in the mail from various special interest political groups, there is a constant influx of mostly thoughtful letters to Carol Clark's newsblog about the Charter Amendments, particularly Amendment 2, regarding the relationship between the Board of Public Utilities and County Council.

I've not got the strong feelings others have about it although on balance, I remain skeptical, especially in light of Council trying to run around and brand our backsides with e^x. But either way, good governance is not the sole purview of Councillors, Board members, county staff, or the public alone. Good governance only happens when we are all engaged.

A while back, we went through the Second Battle of the Roundabouts on Trinity Drive.  (The Diamond roundabouts being the First Battle of the Roundabouts). The county hired a consulting firm to redesign Trinity Drive and the design focused on roundabouts. Several astute citizens with science and engineering backgrounds (I'll call them the "citizen's committee" until I look up all of their names) were skeptical and started doing their own calculations, going so far as to buy their own copies of the roundabout modelling programs. When they, and finally the Transportation Board (yep, I'll take my lumps because I was chair) repeatedly pressed the county's consultants on details, the consultants were vague on their numbers and uncertainties. Finally, consumed by our own growing doubts and the continued work of the citizen's committee, the Transportation Board insisted on an independent review from one of the two best roundabout engineering firms in the country. The firm substantially agreed with the citizens committee on key shortcomings of the plan and the proposal was given an unceremonious funeral.

So I guess my bottom line is that regardless of the vote, we all need to be engaged and be checks and balances on folly. As far as public utilities, one of my own role models in this regard is former Councilor Robert Gibson, who was arguing for community broadband when the rest of county government was building lavish governmental and golf buildings and then saying we didn't have the funds for broadband. Sigh. As Mr. Gibson says, community broadband is a key 21st Century public utility, and is part of the underlying strength this community needs to build if we are to be a strong enough economic force to support the nice perks we have here, such as beautiful public parks, nice public buildings, and excellent roads and trails to ride on.

County Branding Party?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What Most People Don’t Understand About the Cherokee Schill Case

  The story of Cherokee Schill, posted by Keri Caffrey on I Am Traffic, is worth a careful read. Be sure to listen to the interview of John Schubert by the Outspoken Cyclist, which is embedded in Keri Caffrey's story. John was an expert witness at the trial and is a long time cycling advocate and accident reconstruction expert witness.

Cherokee lost her driver's license. So this single mom has been riding her bicycle on a state route in Kentucky, 18 miles one way, to her job as a fork lift operator. She lost 90 lbs in the process. She was arrested for careless driving for riding in the travel lane, and four expert witnesses, two for the prosecution, actually agreed this was the correct course of action as the shoulder was unsafe. The judge disagreed with all four experts and convicted her. I guess its gotten worse since then.

Schubert is right. Nothing is gained if the only cyclists who have a "right" to travel by bicycle are in places like Portlandia. None of us is free unless all of us are free. That's why the Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico took issue with new Santa Fe Police Chief Eric Garcia's past comments criticizing our right to travel on public roads.
“She is the bellwether for: ‘Do we have the right to use the road[way] or not?’ Not when it’s fashionable, not when it’s yuppies in Portland, but when it is a single mom who needs to get to her job.” — John Schubert, expert witness.

Go read the story, and don't get mad, get active.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Better Living, Exponentially

Since Council just approved a contract with Atlas Advertising, LLC to create a strapline "Living Exponentially", perhaps we should actually live by this slogan. I have two suggestions. These might address the flood of sarcastic letters headed to the Los Alamos Daily Post aimed at this $225,000 expenditure and also may remedy the recent upheaval directed at barking dogs.

Indeed, an exponent can be less than one, so living exponentially doesn't necessarily mean living extravagantly but can also mean living with less. Radioactive decay, for example, results in an exponential decrease in the remaining amount of a radionuclide in the future because the decay constant is less than one. The decay constant for Pu-239 for example, is ~0.0000287.

So lets solve two problems of excesses by living exponentially. Decrease the carbon emissions of Los Alamos County and decrease the number of barking dog complaints. Let's agree to set the half life of of the county wide CO2 emissions at 20 years and of county wide dog complaints at 10 years. That results in decay constants of 0.0347 and 0.0693, respectively. So looking 20 years out, this is what Living Exponentially can mean for carbon emissions and dog complaints.  Aren't we feeling better already?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Duke City Police Blame Cyclist for Crash That Cost Her a Leg

From KRQE 13. 

"KRQE News 13 tracked down the long-awaited police report from the Albuquerque Police Department investigators chalked up the June collision to inattentiveness and a failure to yield on the part of the bicyclist. The woman was on her way to work when the garbage truck driver made a right turn in front of her as she rode alongside the truck."

We don't get details from KRQE that would help a knowledgeable cyclist unravel this crash and decide who was overtaking whom. One has to see the full police report.

Two things. One, never ignore an overtaking motorist when approaching a potential right turn--the motorist WILL sometimes neglect to see you, properly judge your relative speed, or yield to you. Two, if you are riding into an intersection to the right of a vehicle and if right turns are allowed, be alert because that motorist could turn into you--if you can soft pedal and slow down and watch, or merge safely into traffic in advance of the intersection and out of the bike lane, i.e., move left to control the travel lane; those are two possibilities (also see Steve Avery's comment below). Remember the P in AFRAP means As Far Right As is  Practicable, not possible, regardless of what anyone else tells you. Also, practice your instant turns, which John Allen uses below to steer away from trouble.

That advice especially goes for potential conflicts with large trucks, which have "wide right turn" problems. Never, ever, EVER go into an intersection on the right of a large truck. If you cannot safely overtake it well in advance, fall in behind. During a right turn, the trailing wheels of a truck track to the right of the cab, and will override a cyclist riding alongside--cyclists riding to the right of trucks, or overtaking them, in bike lanes have died in resulting right hook crashes. Also, a truck driver will sometimes pull the cab to the left and then make a right turn so the trailer wheels don't hit the curb. Don't be fooled.

The station itself mistakenly refers to the cyclist as a pedestrian, which is neither legally or operationally true.

John Allen's video is worth a thousand more words, so I'll repost it here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Careless Drivers Who Kill: Carnage Without Consequence in New Mexico

With acknowledgements/apologies to
Patrick O'Grady/
Bicycle Coalition of NM Vice President Diane Albert was interviewed on Albuquerque's Channel 13 regarding our (BCNM's) distress at recent incidents of careless drivers who have killed and walked away with minimal penalties, thanks to New Mexico's weak careless driving laws and too-forgiving juries. The Albuquerque Journal's Joline Krueger also wrote a very good article on this topic over the weekend.

I'm not sure the usual suspects (New Mexico Motorcycle Rights Organization and Duke City Wheelmen) and reinvigorated allies (The Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico) will try to get an enhanced penalty bill aimed at careless drivers who kill (modelled on the old HB 12) reintroduced during the upcoming 2015 legislative session, given that we have gotten it to sail through the House each year since 2011 and each time, the Senate Judiciary Committee kills it for reasons unknown. We need to figure out a way to get this on the Governor's desk, once and for all. But as one fellow cycling advocate tells me, the Senate Majority Leader, an attorney, does not like the idea of this law, and it always seems to meet a dead end in the SJC.

Maybe now is a good time to push again, given the recent stories of carnage without consequences on our roads. I've appended jpegs of the 2012 bill below. Click to enlarge. Thank so much to Rick Miera for his dogged support, but Rick is retiring.

Note. Thanks to Jennifer Buntz, here is the 2013 bill.

Here are some previous posts on this blog regarding this issue.