Saturday, May 28, 2016

Northbound Los Alamos Canyon Bridge Sidepath Bike Diversion Finished

That bit of sidewalk connecting the sidewalk to West Road 
in the center  of the photo may encourage people to merge 
into traffic and cross to get on the northbound bike lane. 
In theory, anyway.
  As mentioned to me by several bicyclists, Public Works put in the bit of sidewalk/sidepath that will enable bicyclists headed northbound on the bridge sidewalk to merge with West Road traffic and get onto the northbound bike lanes on Diamond Drive. This is preferable to riding into the crosswalk and dodging motor traffic. It is also preferable to riding contraflow on the sidewalk or worse yet, swimming salmon in the southbound bike lane for extended distances (I've seen all three). Let's hope people use it. When you use it, please send your comments this way. We (since I am on the T-Board, I'll make this plural) would like to know how it works out.

Many thanks to DPW director Philo Shelton and his staff for pushing on this. As I have said, the devils are in the details as far as bike infrastructure. At least two people have been nailed here when riding into the crosswalk, and maybe this will add a bit of safety to the northbound cyclist.

Final note. I rode over the bridge sidewalk on my way back from a Sunday ride to check whether the traffic light triggered for me (there were no motorists on West Road or exiting from the Med Center).. It did. Secondly, I could coast northbound on the bridge sidewalk, with that nice downhill slope, at over 25 mph, admittedly on Vittoria Open Pros. That is too fast to ride on a 7 foot wide bidirectional sidepath where there is no exit strategy while on the bridge. Please keep the speed reasonable and prudent when there are other users around.My personal rule of thumb is 10 mph.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Federal (FHWA) Performance Measures Ignore Bicycling

Time to raise Hell with government again.

Here is the link to the League of American Bicyclists post on proposed FHWA rules. There is an internal link on that page to send a NastyGram to the Feds. Please do so.

What follows is my letter to Transportation Secretary Fox.

Dear Transportation Secretary Fox

I am writing to endorse the comments submitted to Docket # FHWA-2013-0020 by the League of American Bicyclists.

I believe that performance measures on our transportation system should include measures that reflect all users - including bicyclists and pedestrians. Specifically I'd like to comment on three of the performance measures in this rule.

National Highway System (NHS) Performance
In the FAST Act, Congress made clear that states must consider all modes and users in the building and reconstruction of NHS projects. However, this rule proposes to measure reliability of the system by travel time for motor vehicles ONLY.

The reliability of the NHS must include a measure for ALL users. For bicyclists and pedestrians reliability should be measured by safe access on NHS roads using metrics that use sound bicycle transportation engineering methodologies.

Congestion Mitigation
The rule proposes that congestion mitigation be measured by delay for drivers. It fails to measure people not adding to that congestion because they are biking, walking or taking transit.  Also, if congestion mitigation means building more travel lanes, this has always been shown to be a long term failure. We need to change the modes, not cater to single occupant vehicle operators.

Many states and metropolitan areas have goals to reduce congestion by reducing vehicle miles traveled and/or to increase mode share for bicycling, walking and transit use. To make this rule more compatible with these goals, a new measure should be added to account for people traveling by modes that reduce congestion: HOVs, transit, bicycling and walking.

Mobile Source Emissions
I support the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions both from tailpipes and from construction of new projects. The transportation system is responsible for 23 percent of the country's emissions, and in order to meet the goals and commitments made at the Paris COP we need to start measuring and reducing emissions. In addition, high GHG emissions will undoubtedly correlate with other emissions that are of an immediate health effect such as ground level ozone.

I appreciate the opportunity to comment on the rule, and support the move to a performance-based transportation system.

I hope the final performance measures will reflect the Secretary's leadership to serve all users of the transportation system.

Thank you very much.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Till they pry the car keys from my cold, dead, hands

 “The ultimate answer to healing and redeeming the world will not come from any government policy change—it will only come from a personal heart change,”
Dr. Joel Hunter, Pastor, Northland Church
“The ultimate answer to healing and redeeming the world will not come from any government policy change—it will only come from a personal heart change,” - See more at:
“The ultimate answer to healing and redeeming the world will not come from any government policy change—it will only come from a personal heart change,” - See more at:

Another kid shot in Albuquerque, non fatal, this time a five year old. Immediate tweet by NMTPGV about needing a Child Access Prevention Law. I wish I could say such laws would help. We have tons of laws out there and a severe shortage of common sense.

Unfortunately, I doubt these kids would be saved by laws alone. We still kill about ten times as many kids via car accidents than we do with gun accidents--with roughly the same number of cars and guns in circulation, cars seem ten times more likely to cause an accident killing a kid. Probably because they are used more often in the public space. That is in spite of licensing and registering cars, licensing and testing drivers, with myriads of laws regulating driving, and with tons and tons of public service announcements about driving safety. You can put a kid in a car seat, but that doesn't do shit to save the kid crossing the street or riding his bike when some speeding moron runs a red light. Driving while oblivious should be a crime.

Unfortunately, with both these instruments of the devil, we get mixed messages. We hear a lot about the 2A right to bear arms, but that doesn't mean common sense gun safety sinks in, i.e., if your kids are home alone, are the guns secured so they will not become inadvertent toys?  Have you taken a basic gun safety class? Are your kids trained to be wary of firearms? Is that gun under the pillow more likely to kill your kid than shoot an intruder? Is that AR locked up and if so, who has the keys?  In the case of cars, the public fights red light cameras and lower speed limits as hotly as the NRA fights gun laws. We build roads to handle high capacity at high level of service (i.e., Diamond Drive, Trinity Drive) even if this encourages speeding and puts vulnerable users at risk. We sell ponderous SUVs with high capacity engines that allow you to drive at double the speed limit, and then load them up with distraction devices. (For anyone asking why anyone needs an AR-15 with a 30 rd clip, why does anyone need a 420 HP Cadillac Escalade?) Traffic violation penalties are a laugh compared to those in parts of Europe. We put schools at the outskirts of town and design towns with arterial and cul de sac development that encourages congestion and speeding. Kids get obesity related disease because after we screw up the infrastructure, we are worried about them riding or walking to school.

I don't think laws will help much unless the underlying culture changes. Not sure what will drive that culture change. Perhaps as more upscale younger people move back to higher density development and start walking and biking, there will be a political sea change to safer communities. Until then, go to hell with your cold, dead, hands.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Madeleine LeBeau, Good Night, and Good Luck

Checked out at 92. Her "Vive la France!" in CASABLANCA never fails to move me.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Happy May Day, Comrades! With Gates Carbon Belt, You Have Nothing To Lose But Your Chains!

Our own Little Red Book
(original can be found here)

Political discourse, by John Allen

And of course a little music

Note. On a sombre note and a loss to humanity, Father Daniel J. Berrigan has checked out.

“This is the worst time of my long life,” Berrigan said in an interview with The Nation in 2008. “I have never had such meager expectations of the system.”

Monday, April 25, 2016

Living inside the motorist bubble

Sent two letters before work this morning. Will reprint here.

Editor, Santa Fe New Mexican

Patrick Walker, in his 24 April letter, correctly points out that the Cerrillos Road/St. Francis Drive intersection is not only in serious need of pavement maintenance, but its very design is dangerous. Indeed, its not the only arterial in Santa Fe whose design is inappropriate for mixed use city transportation.

Where Mr. Walker missed the target is in blaming city government for this situation. Cerrillos, St. Francis, and the Railrunner that crosses it are State Dept. of Transportation facilities. The correct targets of criticism are the Governor, her Transportation Secretary, the District 5 engineering and design staff, and the City Different state legislative delegation.

Santa Fe may be striving for sustainability, but if it is to reduce its carbon footprint due to over-reliance on motor vehicles, it is important to design transportation infrastructure that encourages something else. The city government may be on board, but it is absolutely critical to change the mentality of the NMDOT, which puts motor vehicular level of service on a pedestal far above all other considerations. Or, simply transfer all roads within city limits to city jurisdiction.

Dear Ms. Westphal, Albuquerque Journal "Road Warrior"

I found it rather interesting that you would note that bicyclists have the right to take a lane on Albuquerque's busy, fast arterials without noting that the very design of these roads makes such an activity a high risk endeavor. As Chuck Marohn has often pointed out, when you design urban roads like highways (i.e., "stroads"), people behave as though they are on a highway. Albuquerque's high arterial speeds, coupled with their multilane design, ensures that a bicyclist will be hard to spot in traffic and if hit, will be hit at high speed. Hence Albuquerque's profligate use of Ghost Bikes and the city and state's reputation for being an unsafe place for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Aside from that, I suspect a planner would note that for a bicycle to be anything other than a toy, ie., if it is to be used as real transportation, distances in an urban area have to be conducive to bicycling. Albuquerque's sheer girth, including the planned Santolina development, means that someone depending on a bicycle will have a hard time getting to all destinations. Indeed, when we briefly thought of relocating to the SE Heights, my first thought was whether I could get to food, medical care, and the UNM campus efficiently and safely, i.e., without having to bicycle on Central or other fast, wide arterials.

Finally, does anyone know how many miles of regular travel lanes exist in the city? 170 miles of paths and 540 miles of bike lanes may sound like a large number, but could be lost in a city that currently spans 190 square miles.