Tuesday, August 30, 2011

More on Astonishing New Bike Lane, or, Whose Turf Is This, Anyway?

I'd like to thank Neale for his comment and picture below. Several people have sent me emails complaining that the bike lane is gone, even if temporarily.

I've publicly worried about whether adding bike lanes to this last section of Diamond Drive, south of Sandia/Orange, is a double edged sword. Too many cyclists (and motorists) use these stripes as a crutch or as some sort of political validation. The stripe will set you free.  If you are a cyclist, this is "your" turf. If you are a motorist, that is "their" turf. What is this, Sharks vs. Jets?

But white paint doesn't have magical properties. As Neale says, we should be riding and driving according to good traffic safety practice. If these stripes really did have magical properties, they would actually move with you according to the prevailing traffic situation, i.e., presence of traffic, debris, right and left turns, etc. But they don't, and therefore they sometimes send a mixed or downright hazardous message. Besides, paint doesn't deflect a car driven by someone with his nose buried in a Droid or Blackberry.

I've told LANL cyclists to be careful south of Orange/Sandia. Those stripes are invitations to right hook incidents, and we have had a few. Take Neale's advice seriously-- position your bike as though there was no stripe at all. Yes, that will require some constant observation and integrated analysis. The analysis, in turn, will keep you out of trouble more than the stripes ever will. Plus, you can watch West Side Story on TV rather than living it out while riding your bike in traffic.

Astonishing new bike lane

This new 6-inch-wide bike lane, on Diamond south of Orange, is cute (click to enlarge):

Notice where the SUV is in this photo. That driver is doing what we instruct our Road Skills 101 students to do: position your vehicle as though there were no stripe at all.

I actually thought it would have been nice not to have a designated bike lane for a few days, so people could feel what it was like: not that scary, plus motorized traffic sweeps the road surface for you.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Live Updates Will Continue

Charles F. Pelkey's signature caricature
Sketched by David Brintoni, cockroached from 
Patrick O'Grady at Maddogmedia.com
Charles Pelkey, who worked Velo News' live updates of major bike races and wrote the Explainer column until his recent...um..."involuntary downsizing" from the company, has set up his own live update site, aka "Live Update Guy". Check it out, as he is currently covering the Vuelta.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Open-Graded Friction Course Work Control in Diamond Drive Construction Zone: Please Read

From the county. Thanks for reading.

Late next week (Thurs – Sat), AS Horner will begin placing Open Graded Friction Course (OGFC) on Diamond and at the intersections between south of Sycamore and the Los Alamos Canyon Bridge abutment. Traffic control will be very fluid as the process moves relatively quickly unless there is rain. As work is done in the intersections, there will be delays and traffic will be rerouted with advance traffic control signs.  The following week, OGFC will be placed on Diamond Drive, which will mostly be accomplished with lane drops except for when the laydown machine crosses intersections – then there will be intersection delays and traffic will be rerouted depending on the intersection. We will have police officers and flaggers on site to assist travelers, but it is going to be a difficult and likely frustrating process for all users. Once we get to the mainline, we will be starting after 8:30 a.m. and will be placing OGFC in the opposite travel direction of peak volume traffic.

The reason I am asking for your help is that it will be imperative that motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians stay out of the paving operations work zones and stay off the OGFC until it has cooled and the work zone is removed. Any  shortcuts through an active work zone will likely result in some level of damage as OGFC is a 5/8” layer of very hot and sticky substance that will adhere to or stain just about everything, but will certainly stick to tires and shoes (as well as paws). If the weather cooperates, we are anticipating that the OGFC application will be completed before Sept 2.

We’ve put this information out for Sunday’s cone zone and I’ll be posting it on the web shortly; however, if you could please send this info to your LA Bike and LA Walks distribution groups I’d really appreciate it. Please copy me on what you send out for my public outreach files. If you have any questions, please let me know and thanks in advance for your help!

FYI, I will also include this info in my weekly Road Conditions distribution that includes LANL PIO, so I will ask Steve Sandoval to include something in the LANL daily newsletter as well.


Jane M. Volz
Office Manager
Public Works Department
County of Los Alamos
1925 Trinity, Suite B
Los Alamos, NM  87544
Phone: 505.662.8015
Fax: 505.662.8109
County Website: www.losalamosnm.us

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

1,000 Words Dept: Sign Obstruction Ahead.

Welcome Home and Support Multimodal Transportation. 
By the Way, Please Avoid Our Signs
 Jerry Merkey, yours truly, and perhaps others have complained to the County about county workers using county bike lanes as convenient places to put their work zone signs when they could easily be put farther off to the side, thus effectively obstructing the bike lanes. I'm pretty positive the DPW Director and Pavement Division Director care. But something is falling through the cracks.

Today on the way to our home on North Mesa and while cresting the climb/curve on South San Ildefonso, I saw it again: that work zone sign plopped in the middle of the bike lane.

Its not clear to me if county workers do this out of malice or if they just don't realize this is a traveled portion of the street,  but one of these days someone is going to get hurt. Rather than continue to complain, this time I am posting a picture for Public Works to look at.

Well, you the cyclist ought to be watching for obstructions and plan ahead to avoid this mama. But if you are hit from behind, sideswiped, or harassed by drivers playing chicken with oncoming traffic when you are riding in the lane to avoid these things, you can send this pic to your attorney. Plus, aside from the hazards, I think cyclists are justified in developing a healthy dose of cynicism about bike lanes if they are used as convenient places for plopping signs or just not maintained. That is not good as it defeats the purpose of the system.

I took this picture at about six p.m. tonight on my cell phone camera. Perhaps we should move these signs to the middle of the travel lanes. After all, motorists should share the joy. Besides, I strongly suspect if motor vehicle drivers complain in droves, someone will rattle some cages real good.

Guys, can we get this process fixed once and for all?

Mind you, I have a great deal of respect for all our county workers. But someone obviously has not explained bike lanes to at least some of them.

Followup comment: Partly as a result of this post, the County Dept. of Public Works sent out an advisory to its contractors and work crews to recognize and not impede bike lanes when at all possible. Supervisors will be checking work sites. Many thanks to them for that message.
Its a bike lane, as posted above 
In a location just below the nefarious sign in the distance, now moved

Chip in for Charles Pelkey

I don't normally do this, but finding out you need cancer surgery and chemo just as you lose your job sucks.

From NYVelocity.com

Charles Pelkey Chipin

Mon, 08/15/2011 - 5:31pm by Andy Shen After 17 years of working for VeloNews, corporate owners Competitor Group Inc. laid Charles Pelkey off on the same day he was diagnosed with cancer. He has gone through three surgeries and now faces 16 weeks of chemo, just as he's starting a job search. He hasn't asked for help but just imagine experiencing two immense setbacks simultaneously. Here's a Chipin page if you'd like to help him out in his time of need.
If you're not familiar with Charles, he wrote the live updates for the Tour on VeloNews, as well as the great Explainer columns (which, ironically, still occupy prime real estate on VeloNews' homepage). He's an outstanding journalist and has always been a great mentor and friend to us with our amateur attempts at writing. We wish Charles a full and quick recovery and we hope to see him covering our sport again very soon. In the meantime Charles is on Twitter here.

Or go here:

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Partial Shoulder paving continues to be business as usual for New Mexico

Speaking of Century rides (previous posting), one has to contend with the pathetic paving policies practiced in the Land of Enchantment. I wrote about this earlier this year after an eye doctor was killed outside Las Cruces on a road with unrideable shoulders. Once again, it is in the news as New Mexico Dept. of Transportation has gone back on its word on the High Road to Taos Project.



Partial shoulder paving means you have to ride in the travel lane, whether it is a wonderful idea or not. Its not neccesarily good for you as a cyclist, and its not neccesarily good for the motorist overtaking you. So why the lousy work? A few bucks saved, for what?

The partially paved shoulder shown below required Dr. Ronald Fronczak to ride in the travel lane on a 65 mph "bike route" outside Las Cruces (on US 70). He was hit from behind and killed. I wonder if he would be alive today if not for the NMDOT's choice to sacrifice his safety on a publicly defined bike route.

Support the Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico in its fight against these travesties, which save a few dollars at YOUR expense. Also, email the Los Alamos County Council (countycouncil at lacnm dot us) to ask why it has not acted on a Transportation Board motion advising Council to send an official public statement to State Government opposing this NMDOT travesty. Santa Fe already did so.

Shoulder treatment on the road where Dr. Ronald Fronczak was hit from behind and killed.
There are actually two shoulder lips here! 

Assumed impact position, picture from Ben Widmer's Facebook page

Tour of the Rio Grande Valley Lives Again!

Join the Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico on September 18 in the beautiful North Rio Grande Valley, in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, for the Tour of the Rio Grande Valley!

Go to www.TORGV.com to register, see the route, etc.

Choose the 25, 50, 65, or 100 mile routes.

Lodging and dining choices in the Village of Los Ranchos can be found at http://www.villr.com/lodging.htm and http://www.villr.com/restaurants.htm

TORGV was started by the New Mexico Wheelmen in the 1970’s and ran for over 20 years. At its height, TORGV attracted thousands of riders and was the premier bicycle tour in New Mexico. The Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico (BCNM) is proud to bring back TORGV starting in  2011. TORGV 2011 takes riders on scenic flat roads through the Rio Grande Valley. The longer routes pass through Isleta, Los Lunas, Belen and return to Los Ranchos. Money raised from TORGV 2011 will fund  BCNM staff and its successful bicycle education, promotion, and advocacy programs.

Of course, to tune up for the TORGV, you can do the Red River Century Tour on Sept. 11th.

Khal Spencer and Scott Doebling riding the 2007 Red River Century Tour
aka, Old Guys Who Get Fat in Winter Racing Team takes on Bobcat Pass!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Prosecutors Fiddle While 11-time DWI Loser Walks Free

"...A man whose own attorney once called him the "poster boy" for DWI problems in New Mexico seems to have slipped through the cracks once again...."

Cracks? Hell, I'd say these are more than cracks. Unless you consider the Rio Grande Rift "just a crack".

Its nice to know that predicate drunks who run down and maim us can be kept behind bars on felony convictions. But that only happens when the D.A.'s office has its act together and prosecutes the case. Such was not the case when John P. Chavez, an 11 time loser who at one point hit and dragged a Colorado tourist for several city blocks in Santa Fe while driving drunk, which left her in a six-week coma, got a "get out of jail free card" when the DA's office dropped the ball.

What is it about New Mexico that makes such judicial bumbling and fumbling the norm?

Be careful out there. We are obviously on our own.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Journalism at VeloNews just got a little weaker

According to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, "...John Wilcockson, along with Charles Pelkey, a senior editor at velonews.com, and Jamie Bate, editor at singletrack.com, a separate property owned by Competitor Group Inc. (CGI), were let go last week. Many longtime friends in Boulder’s closely-knit cycling community said their departures came as a surprise...Ben Delaney, the magazine’s former editor, quit last month."

Wow. When you shit-can that kind of journalistic talent, one wonders what's left.