Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Let's talk positively: How can we best improve cycling in Los Alamos?

OK, let's talk positives:

I love cycling. I love riding quickly, I love riding slowly, I love riding to get somewhere, I love riding in the dark, in the light, in the cold, and in the heat. Would I could I on a bike? I would, could on a bike.

I think the inclusion of regulation bike lanes on the Diamond project is a huge victory for cyclists in Los Alamos.

Now let's get down to it: What else could LABikes be promoting to help improve cycling in Los Alamos?

- How do we get paved shoulders on NM4 between White Rock and the truck route?
- Where in Los Alamos County would off-street paved bike paths be appropriate?
- Can we connect North Mesa more directly to downtown via some paved paths in combination with bridges?
- Should we build a new bike/ped bridge on the site of the old Peggy Sue bridge?
- Is there any way to provide a safe off-street paved route from White Rock to Los Alamos that the Lab would find acceptable?
- Can we provide a better route across Los Alamos Canyon?
- Is there any way to fight the problem of horn-honkers?
- How can we get the County, local businesses, and the Lab to provide bike lockers or covered bike racks for widespread use?

So speak out, cyclists, what should the prorities be for LABikes?

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hooray for bike lanes! I would love a pedestrian/bike crossing light at the golf course on Diamond. One of the smaller traffic lights that only changes when someone is crossing. Not sure if LABikes works with LANL, but they sure need one or two where the traffic goes in and out of Hot Rocks. Just ideas...

Scott said...

Hey thanks for the comment, and these are good suggestions.

Regarding the golf course, isn't there a tunnel crossing there now?

Also there is a traffic light at the Casa Grande / W Jemez intersection right in front of the research park.

Maybe I'm misinterpreting your descriptions of the locations.

Jimbo said...

Scott,

there's a crossing tunnel at the main entrance, but the other crossing, near the 15th green (near Diamond/35th Street) is an old fashioned crosswalk where you literally take your life into your own hands if you attempt to cross, no matter the mode (feet, bike, golf cart, whatever).

Since I use that crosswalk frequently, I have seen it all there: near misses, rear-end collisions, pedestrians dodging screaming vehicles, burnt rubber from locked-up brakes, sideways power skids, you name it.

Frankly I am surprised no one has died there yet. Knock on wood.

About a year ago, some adrenaline-soaked moron wanted to hop out of his huge truck and engage in some spirited pugilism after I hollered at him for trying to run over Mrs. Jimbo.

Frankly I am surprised no one has died there yet. Knock on wood.

And I was surprised that the traffic folks didn't put a crossing tunnel there since they were digging up the whole place anyway.

That crossing, by the way, not only services golfers, but also trail crossings from Walnut Canyon to Perimeter.

Of course, attempting to cross Trinity Drive anywhere between Oppenheimer and 15th is, well ... don't get me started ...

Anonymous said...

I think one of the single most important improvements would be a bike friendly route between the town site and WR that is not dependant on employment status. Can we get a critical mass of people together to approach the lab about issuing "bike only". Make the users pay for them. Make them green so they can't be mistaken for anything else. Give them a short expiration date. Does lab management have any structure in place to raise this issue?

Khal said...

Jimbo cleared up some confusion I had.

In addition to infrastructure, I'd like to see a stronger driver-distraction law and some increased enforcement. I've seen three motor vehicles in the last week that were weaving all over the road in broad daylight. I doubt it was DWI due to the time of day. Cell phones or text-messaging?

Coming back from shopping in Santa Fe on saturday, we saw one vehicle that was all the way onto the bike lane in front of the golf course, nearly hitting the northbound curbing. I thought of flooring it to 55 or 60 to get a plate number, but figured I would be the one getting cited.

We need all four E's in this town: Education, Enforcement, Engineering, and Encouragement.

Scott said...

Jimbo - I know the crossing you are talking about. That section of Diamond will be included in the Phase II work which is scheduled to start in March. Here are the design drawings from the County web site:
http://www.lac-nm.us/vertical/Sites/%7B845D0DAE-A374-48AD-926F-F850E019F2CD%7D/uploads/%7BB8C35EAE-19C1-49DC-B623-BCB7F7E69A7F%7D.PDF

You can see that crossing clearly on page 7. Looks like the only planned improvement is a pedestrian refuge in the center of the road.

Do you think it is worth pushing for a pedestrian signal here? I have a feeling it's too late in the process to add a tunnel at that location.

Khal said...

Even without a signal, a refuge is a huge improvement. It breaks up the ped travel into two sections with a refuge in between. Also, peds only have to look for and wait for traffic to clear in one direction at a time.

A light might be best from a safety perspective, assuming people don't jaywalk or run the red, but only with a refuge as well.

Jimbo said...

I'm not so sure about the refuge, unless we really get some commitment for Enforcement and Education. The main problem with the Golf Course crosswalk is getting people to stop. Having seen so many near misses and having almost been the victim in a couple myself, I now will no longer set foot out into that crosswalk until all four lanes have stopped.

I have seen cases where both westbound or eastbound lanes were stopped only to see some yahoo in the other lane come blowing through the crosswalk when pedestrians (or cyclists or golf carts) were present.

I can easily see people getting stranded out in the "refuge" through an entire lunar cycle based on what I've seen at that crossing.

A tunnel would be much better. The one underneath the main Golf Course entrance is excellent!

I figure it's worth pushing the County for a tunnel. The Diamond drive project is tens of millions. In the general scheme of things, adding a tunnel is not going to significantly change the overall cost.

Scott said...

jimbo- I agree with you that a tunnel may be worthwhile, but your comment < adding a tunnel is not going to significantly change the overall cost> is flat wrong. Tunnels are expensive, and any change is expensive the later in the design phase that you wait. Adding a couple of hundred $k to a $10M project is a big deal.

Sounds like part of the problem is that motorists don't realize that they are SUPPOSED to stop when someone is waiting to cross at that crosswalk. Is there a sign there to that effect? If so, do you think making it bigger and futher upstream might help?

Scott said...

Steering back to the original question, what cycling-related advocacy priorities are out there?

Scott said...

"I'd like to see a stronger driver-distraction law and some increased enforcement."

Khal - problem is, the police cannot be everywhere at every time. Waiting for the bus this morning, I saw three cars in a row commit rolling stop violations. Of course there was no police car around so nobody is there to enforce anything.

So by "increased enforcement" do you mean more police watching more parts of the road, or do you mean more severe penalties, and how do we go about convincing the county to spend more money on such?

OR... if we assume that the PD will not or can not step up enforcement, what can the cyclist do to maximize his own safety under such circumstances ?

Khal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Khal said...

Let's try that again.
link text

Mesa Mike said...

> - Should we build a new bike/ped
> bridge on the site of the old Peggy
> Sue bridge?

Just curious as to why that's needed, given that there is an existing directly adjacent bridge used for that purpose already?

Scott said...



Just curious as to why that's needed, given that there is an existing directly adjacent bridge used for that purpose already?


Mike - where do you mean? Maybe I am misunderstanding the location of the Peggy Sue?

Mesa Mike said...

> Mike - where do you mean? Maybe I
> am misunderstanding the location of
> the Peggy Sue?

Or maybe I am.

I always thought Peggy Sue was that now abandoned pipeline trestle across Pueblo Canyon coming into the old sewer plant. There is a footbridge right next to it.

Where are you talking about?

Scott said...

ah, I know the one you mean. That is not the PS bridge. The PS bridge was the same sort of construction, but was much longer, I'm estimating maybe 5x the span length. It stretched from the park at end of walnut street over to the end of an access road off of Canyon Rd (behind the Jewish Center). I'll build a google map illustration when I get the chance, and enter it as a separate post. (I'll also fact-check the above info.)

Scott said...

Here is a quick diagram of the former location of the Peggy Sue Bridge (anyone who knows whether this location is correct or not please post)

http://tinyurl.com/22dqfl

Mesa Mike said...

OK, I stand corrected on the Peggy Sue bridge. I guess it was probably removed before I moved here in 2002, because I don't remember any bridge like you describe. I think I'm not the only one confused. because I've heard people refer to the footbridge as the "new Peggy Sue", and the adjacent pipeline trestle as the "old Peggy Sue."

Thanks for the clarification.