Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Is New Mexico dropping to 50th in LAB Rankings?

From a post sent by Craig Degenhardt, past president of BikeABQ, to the BikeABQ e-list, in response to a query on cycling accommodation on the proposed Paseo del Norte/I-25 interchange.

From :
Black Tie Bicyclist   Date :  Wed, 29 Aug 2012 08:24:37 -0700 (PDT)
To :
Khalil   [+], BikeABQ BikeABQ  [+]
Subject : Re: [bikeabq] Urgent CALL TO ARMS: Open House on the Paseo Del Norte/I-25 Interchange Reconstruction Project
The New Mexico State Department of Transportation removed from office the State Bike Ped Coordinator and disbanded the New Mexico State Bicycle Pedestrian Equestrian Advisory Board.

 Jennifer Buntz (Duke City Wheelmen) adds this:

Between George Person and Tammy Schurr and myself, we have been going to NMDOT Commission meetings – 3 of the past 4.  We have been monitoring the status of the NMDOT policy that covers the BPE (bicycle, pedestrian and equestrian) advisory committee.  There was a new policy passed at the meeting in July, although I don’t know when the implementation of that policy, i.e., meetings of an advisory committee, will happen.  But the policy does mandate a BPE committee.  As far as having an NMDOT employee who is the BPE coordinator, the person who previously held that position was let-go and I have no information about hiring a replacement.  I’m not sure what is called for in the current federal transportation bill, MAP21.

One of the issues around BPE and everything else that has to do with funding projects that are for “alternative road users” is that MAP21 does not mandate funding of what use to be called “transportation enhancements’ or TEs.  Now they are “transportation alternatives” (TAs) and funding them is at States' discretion.  There is a mandate for taking public input, but I think it is rather vague in MAP21.  If TA expenditures are not strongly called for by citizens, then much of the funding for them can be diverted under MAP21 provisions, up to 2/3rds I think, without any justification (it’s all about States' rights you know).

DOTs around the country are quite busy figuring out what MAP21 means and NMDOT is no different.  Advocates for bicycles and pedestrians should be busy figuring it out too.  The three of us have been trying, but it is pretty far outside my usual knowledge base.  I’m sending this to George and Tammy so that if they have insights they can add them to the discussion.

From my recollection of GABAC meetings, a bicycle crossing was part of the plan for this interchange. 

This may be an instance where citizen requests are necessary, given MAP21’s lack of mandate for BPE infrastructure.  If I can find out any more in the next few days I will pass on that information.

And from George Pearson

RE: State Transportation Commission (STC) and Commission Policy 66 (CP-66)

Tammy and I attended the May STC meeting in Alamogordo and Jennifer attended the June STC meeting in Las Vegas where CP-66 was under discussion at the Policy Committee. Tammy and I had a good discussion with senior NMDOT staff and I believe Jennifer also had good interaction with senior staff. Unfortunately, none of us were able to attend the July STC meeting in Santa Fe where CP-66 was on the agenda for formal acceptance. The minutes of the July STC meeting are available on the NMDOT web site (available via and the minutes indicate that wording from the proposed policy was deleted. It's not clear from the minutes the extent of the deletion, but my interpretation is that CP-66 contains the minimum requirements to fulfill federal policy. It could be that the BPE Technical Committee that was proposed by staff (and that sounded like a good idea to be able to identify bicycling issues and actually get tasks accomplished) has been removed. Again, I'm not certain that this is true, but it is implied by the minutes.

I am the chair of the Las Cruces MPO Bicycle Pedestrian Facilities Advisory Committee (BPAC) which is an advisory committee, along with the Technical Advisory Committee, to the MPO Policy Committee. We have representation from NMDOT District 1 on BPAC and a good working relationship has been established with District 1. One result of this relationship is that BPAC representation has been added to the NMDOT District 1 design review committee (allowing bicyclist representation at the design level rather than trying to work with projects after design and sometimes after construction). After meeting with senior NMDOT staff last May, I was encouraged that the type of relationship we are working towards with District 1 could be established at the top levels of NMDOT. It seems like STC and perhaps other political appointees are overriding want staff proposed.

The July STC minutes say that the October STC meeting will be in Silver City, so I will plan on attending that one. The September STC meeting is scheduled for Albuquerque.

RE: MAP-21

The best graphic I've seen that describes the changes to Transportation Enhancement funds is included at the League blog at A longer analysis, and the source of the graphic, by America Bikes is at

Transportation Enhancements are know under MAP-21 as Transportation Alternatives (TA). Safe Routes to School (SRTS) was previously funded separately, but now it is under TA along with the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). The RTP is funded at 2009 levels, unless the governor opts out. I received a separate email indicating that the governor can opt out of RTP as early as September 1. TA funding is reduced from previous levels by 33%.

I am very concerned about SRTS. We have an excellent program going in Las Cruces (I just heard that we were allocated several hundreds of thousands of dollars of Phase II funding from Albuquerque since they were not prepared to spend the money). The state SRTS coordinator position is currently empty and it is not clear if it will be filled. Support for SRTS from the top levels of government is important (and why would anyone want to argue against increasing the safety and health of our children?). The Las Cruces City Council this Monday had a SRTS presentation. A side effect is that a resolution to be sent to Santa Fe (the governor, I suppose) is to be brought forward at a future city council meeting supporting SRTS (and maybe TA in general).

Being south of the Tortilla Curtain, we don't get much news about what's going on at the state level without making an extra effort (for those that don't know, we are in the El Paso television market). I have some contacts with state legislators, but it's currently silly season (that is, election time) with a different emphasis on trying to get out a message. While I am interested in advocacy and support those efforts (and sometimes find myself involved), my primary interest is in bicyclist education. My message to NMDOT has been to use me as a resource to help improve bicycling in New Mexico. This has been, I think, well received by NMDOT staff and I'm hoping this type of relationship can be continued, even as policy makers are making things more difficult.


George Pearson
Chair, Las Cruces MPO Bicycle Pedestrian Facilities Advisory Committee
League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructor #2614

P.S. The New Mexico Bicycle Education Summit is being planned for Saturday, October 27 in Santa Fe with a get together planned for Friday night and a bike ride on Sunday. Registration is still under development but will be available soon.

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