Thursday, December 29, 2011

Durango's Silver, Door-Zone Bike Lanes, Haven't Changed

But world events may make them quite heavily used.

We got out of Dodge for a couple days, sneaking off to our usual hideaway in Durango, CO.  Durango is a Bicycle Friendly Community (silver), and for a lot of good reasons, although our penchant for heading up there with our tandem is probably not officially on the list. Durango, in addition to being thick with cyclists and cycling friendly destinations, will be hosting the U.S. Pro Cycling Challenge this coming year in addition to the annual Iron Horse Classic. Its newspaper was quite excited about its newly acquired pro-level exposure today.
Carver Brewpub on Main Ave, where I'm
likely to be having lunch and a pint,
reserves the best parking spots for bikes
pic from Acorn to Oak, acknowledged
But Durango, like any real world place, has its warts. Its door zone bike lanes, found on quite a few of its urban arterials, are not its strong suit and that's the stuff on which your local, non-racing beginner or journeyman cyclist trudging off to work or school depends. Nothing seems to have changed since last summer except those lanes are really dirty this time of year from road grunge being swept into them by passing cars and trucks. I found a few hardy cyclists using them, too, riding in cramped space not fit for man or beast. I wish them well. 

If it were up to me, I'd downgrade Durango to Bronze. The level of official cynicism and disregard to the everyday cyclist's safety and legal equity these lanes indicate is depressing. After all, it is these everyday cyclists who do the real work that helps Durango support those high profile races that bring in the big bucks to the hotels and restaurants. If any place on earth should do better, its Durango, given how important cycling is to its economy. I hope they rise to the occasion. I'll keep bugging them till they do so. 

In an age when international sabre-rattling (see link to NY Times story) could drive people out of their motor vehicles via oil interruptions or price instability, not to mention ongoing climate worries, sedentary lifestyle health issues, and the American customer's choices to be increasingly oil-frugal, let's not marginalize utilitarian cycling through bad design. Provide safe, not marginalized, accommodations for Joe and Jane Sixpack. That's what Silver-level BFC status should be about.

Well, that's not all I thought about. This was, after all, a vacation. This eagle in the picture below, sitting on the Animus River by Durango's dog park last night, was really cool. Interestingly, and of course leading back into the interaction of politics and human activity, the dog park occupies a breathtakingly beautiful riverside location on the West bank of the Animus R right across from the heart of town. An older local who has lived in the region much of his life said the reason it is a dog park and not the locus of million dollar riverside McMansions or yet another luxury hotel is because it was the site of an old Manhattan Project era uranium milling operation, and before that a lead smelter. You can see the numerous monitoring/venting pipes sitting in the park. Some interesting pictures and history of the town's mining and industrial past are here and here

The dogs and dog owners of the community, not to mention visitors like us with dogs, are beneficiaries of that bit of industrial history. Sometimes a little pollution can be a good thing for the 99%, eh?
An apparently healthy eagle trying to eat, if not for me pestering it. 
Note: No patriotic overtones are expressed or implied by the photo of this bird.
Taken with a Canon T1i, 18-200mm lens, fully zoomed out.


Steve A said...

When a city values taxpayer-funded parking over safety of road users, that says a lot about priorities. As a "small government guy," I can't say I'm in favor of getting government into the private property (cars) storage business. Most of the dooring problem goes away if those doors are stored on private property instead of the public roads.

Khal said...

I've met a lot of people who believe in small government, until they find out their on-street parking would be at risk.