Friday, December 30, 2016

137 Days and Finally a Bike Ride

Sheesh. Time moves slowly when you are in casts, braces, or otherwise immobilized. Between a broken foot and major shoulder surgery, I have been off the bike since mid-August. Well, that bit of enforced abstinence came to an official close today as I took the Stumpjumper, in Physical Therapy form, out for a short spin on wobbly legs and a wheezing cardiovascular system. The more upright position (I flipped the stem over to get a bigger rise angle), flat bars, and shocks on the Stumpjumper help me keep from putting too much stress on the recently rebuilt shoulder. The slicks make the bike feel more sprightly on the tarmac. In spite of my obviously terrible cardiovascular and physical form, it was nice.

I had to make one modification on the Stumpy from last post. The disks on the Salsa Delgado Cross wheelset were rubbing on the caliper pads.. Rather than messing with spacers on the calipers, I swapped the hoops out for the Speed City wheelset, which have a slightly different disk offset on the hubs for some reason. They worked fine. Last thing I needed in my present out of shape form is a drag brake. Since the Speed City set is shod with 700-28 Continental Gatorskins rather then 700-32 Panaracer Pasela Tourguards, they probably roll faster too. Right now I need all the help I can get.

As advertised, the Canyon Rim Trail was my destination from the North Mesa Estate. Nice. See you  back on the road. Finally.
DP Road crossing

New Bridge spanning DP Canyon

Bicyclist Impostor

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Canyon Rim Trail Grand Opening: Save the Date

Surprised they trusted me with those scissors!

 A Nice Way To Resume Riding After The Year From Hell

On Wednesday the 21st of December at 1 pm there will be a ribbon cutting at  the new bike/ped bridge that completes the Canyon Rim Trail, effectively bridging the West end of DP canyon. Refreshments will follow at Crossroads Bible Church.  The bridge is close to the intersection of DP Road and the trail, just east of the intersection shown in the picture here.

Properly marked crossing
This last section of trail, completed with bridgework and numerous rock cuts, fill, and rock wall installation to make room for the trail along the canyon edge, means the trail now extends from Smith's Marketplace to Pajarito Cliffs, the Holiday Inn, and food co-op. Thus, cyclists will be able to avoid riding on NM 502 if you wish. Just be careful as there will be plenty of other users sharing this trail.

There is also a plan in place to connect to an urban bikeway system in the historic district and a grant proposal submitted to construct a grade-separated crossing at the east end of the trail where it crosses the 50 mph NM 502 at the Food Co-Op. Stay tuned and stay engaged. We don't want anyone to have a nice safe passage to the east end and then get splattered by a speeding motorist.

These are the kinds of projects that should turn Honorable Mention to Bronze or better in BombTown's Bicycle Friendly Community quest. I think we are better than Honorable mention already but you already know that.

I am term limited off the Transportation Board in March, but am thrilled that I am still board chair when this is happening. Its a great way to ride off into the sunset! Don't worry though. You have not heard the last of me yet when it comes to bike stuff. Whether you like it or not...

I've been off the bike since August due to injuries and surgery. I think Canyon Rim will be my inaugural ride getting back on the bike! Well, not quite. I cheated a bit today.

A few more pics. Click to see at full resolution.

One view of the new bridge
Sharp curves marked and striped to reduce potential for conflict

I think the pavement is ten feet wide the whole length of the trail

Approaching bridge headed West

Massive ironworks. Even at my present weight I was safe
Nice views towards the Sangre de Cristos

Now, what was that I was doing before August 15th?

This was one of those years when, as my colleague Floyd Stanley reminded me, I should have wrapped myself in bubble wrap. Broke my foot (pseudo Jones fracture) in August (on the fifteenth) but back in May, I took a hard fall in the garage and as continued misery told me, I apparently tore my rotator cuff. So as soon as I was out of the foot cast it was into the hospital to let the nice surgeons at Taos Orthopaedics take a whack at my shoulder with the various saws, knives, grinding wheels, pop riveters, superglue, and other contraptions they use for reattaching rotator cuffs and other damaged parts; in my case, damaged biceps tendons as well. My personal tip of the brain bucket goes to Dr. Sean Marvil, who in addition to being an excellent surgeon is also a fellow motorcycle aficianado and outdoorsman. So it was out of the cast and into an arm immobilization device for eight more weeks followed by a deliberate healing process which is still on the steep part of the rebuilding phase.  Plays hell with one's fitness.

Well, I finally got a bike set up for next weekend, when I can officially start riding again, and took it for a short run around the block to check the setup. Basically, it is my dual suspension Stumpjumper with 700c wheels stolen from my cross bike lashed to it and 700-32 touring tires on those hoops. Between the shocks and the wide rubber, this should give my healing shoulder some shock absorption while I figure out how to turn the cranks again. Hopefully this will happen pretty soon.

Old Guy trying to look like a bicyclist again

Stumpjumper in its present "physical therapy" form

Thursday, December 8, 2016

My Letter to LAB about awarding Los Alamos Honorable Mention as a Bicycle-Friendly Community

Sent to LAB's State and Policy Manager Ken McLeod, Board President Karen Jenkins, and Exec Director Alex Doty

Hi, Ken, Alex, and Karen. I hope this finds you well and riding.

Thank you very much for considering the Los Alamos application to be a Bicycle-Friendly Community. As a bicyclist who has made this community my home since August of 2001, I appreciate this.

I wear various hats in these parts but am speaking for myself here. Although on the board of the Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico and chair of the Los Alamos County Transportation Board, these are my thoughts, not either Board's. Now that I have that firewall out of the way, here goes.

Thanks for the feedback; we discussed this last night (12/1/16) at the monthly Transportation Board meeting. Frankly, I was a little disappointed in the League's decision to award honorable mention instead of a metal color. As former Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico President, the late Dr. Gail Ryba, once told me as we rode through Los Alamos a decade ago, Los Alamos is a great place to be a bicyclist--and it is far better today thanks to the dedication of our county government and professional staff at making improvements. The evaluation criteria on the League's application cover a small slice of reality.

Bike lanes and analogous stuff seem to be almost a litmus test. A decade ago as Vice-Chair of our County Transportation Board, I wrote and got passed the 2005 Bike Plan so that we had guidance to rebuild our major N-S arterial, Diamond Drive, with bike lanes and we did so with full support of County Council. Those lanes are great and as I said at several national meetings, connect many of our homes to many of our destinations. We looked at various designs for our E-W major arterial, Trinity Drive, for example, and adding bike lanes in most of the studied configurations would likely have made the road more dangerous to cyclists as there are numerous side streets and curbcuts that would complicate traffic. Instead, we have extensively traffic calmed the parallel street, Canyon/Central. The county has no control over the design or build of roads on the federal facility, our national lab, which is administered separately by the Dept. of Energy and its prime contractor, Los Alamos National Security. As far as urban design, we passed the 2010 Policy for the Design of Streets and Rights of Way that explicitly calls out multimodal transportation, including bicycling.

We are adding a mix of more pathways and quiet onstreet facilities. We just spent over a million dollars to bridge a canyon so that we can expand the coverage of the Canyon Rim Trail. This will add a key separate pathway to allow cyclists who are riding from downtown to new, eastern developments a safe way to avoid the 50 mph State Route 502. Ribbon cutting is not too far off. A set of bicycling facilities in our historic district is being designed as a result of a citizen initiative blessed by County Council.

The criticism of not enough Bike Month activities is a good one but will involve someone figuring out a way to get the county and the Federal facility that makes up half of town and provides many of our jobs on the same wavelength. I brought it up recently with the associate national lab director since I work at LANL.

I am perplexed by the criticism to "Improve public decision-making processes for transportation improvements, including bicycling improvements" as we have a very transparent decision making process involving a Transportation Board that holds monthly meetings, takes public comment on all planning and policy decisions, and advises Council.  The last several board chairs have either been dedicated bicyclists such as myself, who act not only as board members but as subject matter experts on cycling matters, or dedicated multimodal transportation advocates who support cycling. Bicycling improvements have been a key part of this planning process for as long as I have lived here--2001. I've been on the Transportation Board for more than a decade (with hiatus for term limits) and simply disagree, as the guy in the trenches, that this process is problematic.

Does the League still have a guy like Steve Clark on board who actually goes out and evaluates communities? I worked with Steve on the Santa Fe re-evaluation and am not aware if a League rubber meets the road staff evaluation was ever performed here as part of this application.

Once again, thank you and wish us luck. I suspect we will be back!

Khal Spencer
Chair, Los Alamos County Transportation Board
Board Member, Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico
League Cycling Instructor

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Cash: 2001-2016

Whether it was catching frisbees several feet in the air while effortlessly gliding across a field, running alongside the mountain bike, pacing my slow and agonized running, or just sitting there asking me what the hell I was thinking, this guy was a priceless gift from some higher power. Today he is gone, a victim of old age, kidney disease, and neuropathy. This should not happen to such a kind and gentle soul.

To paraphrase that bicyclist  blessing, may the dog treats always be plentiful, may the cats worship you, and may the fields open endlessly before your effortless gait. Goodbye, Cash. I've not quite figured out life without you.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

League of American Bicyclists Grants Los Alamos Honorable Mention in Bicycle Friendly Community Review

Personally, I thought we deserved Bronze or better and am not happy with the criteria, but its a start. Wait till next year!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Bridge Not Too Far

Los Alamos Daily Post Photo by Greg Kendall
As reported in the Los Alamos Daily Post, the bike-ped bridge spanning DP Canyon and thus connecting the east portion of the Canyon Rim Trail to the continuation of that trail headed east from the Smith's Marketplace was installed Friday.

This high profile, million dollar investment will provide an off road resource that will allow people to connect from Townsite to the Los Alamos Co-Op, various businesses, and the Pajarito Cliffs county offices and other facilities. Thus riding on NM 502 can be avoided.
This was one of the two biggest physical hurdles to connecting the trail sections. The other is constructing several cuts in the cliff face along the route to make room for a wide enough trail. There were other issues as well regarding acquiring land and easements. More here on the history of the project.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Future of Bicycling?

Couple things hit the desk this morning.

And of course yet another rider hangs up the road bike rather than face brainless drivers.

I’m done

"You win, cars. I don't go for long road rides anymore because I'm scared shitless that you're going to kill me. I've got a kid now, and I can't bear the thought of leaving the Earth before he graduates from something, or whatever. You don't stop for school busses with stop signs out. You wouldn't know a crosswalk if it was licking your earlobe. Every other goddamn one of you is on your phone - talking, texting, penning masturbatory tomes - who knows? You just get bigger, too..."

(continued--go read the original so I don't get into copyright trouble)

Don't worry. I'll be less grumpy after I get outa this walking cast and back into some cleats.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Los Alamos Submits Application to be Designated a Bicycle-Friendly Community

On Tuesday, Eric Martinez in the Dept. of Public Works submitted the county's application to be designated a Bicycle-Friendly Community. Quite a few of our county staffers from various departments collaborated on the application.  Thanks go to all of them.

Wish us luck!

Monday, July 11, 2016

When police become tax collectors, and other complications

Paradise, comparatively. Now if it would just rain
 This all started, by the way, with BCNM President John Hooker sending me a link.

What My Bike Has Taught Me About White Privilege

One is fortunate to live in Los Alamos, where the most serious problems we confront are whether to put in roundabouts or signalized intersections. Or "do I pull out the road bike or the mountain bike today?" Or complaining that the bridge sidepath isn't wide enough to race across on a bicycle. Whether it is white privilege or class privilege or both, we have it in our little version of Lake Wobegon. Elsewhere, civil discourse has been reduced to shouting and shooting at each other, packing heat, occupying wildlife refuges while carrying "modern sporting rifles" and watching the bridges on interstate highways collapse as government entities declare bankruptcy.

Last week was pretty bad. The dog woke me up in the wee hours of Thursdsay and while checking my email to get back to sleep, I got to watch Philando Castile bleed out after a botched concealed carry/traffic stop (for a discussion of ccw traffic stops, try this link or this). Then Friday I woke up to the Dallas massacre. What's next?

The Dallas carnage gave the lie to the idea that we can be safer or more polite with more good guys with guns. There were dozens of police, i.e., armed good guys present and according to the NY Times, numerous protestors were open carrying.  Still, a well trained shooter lying in ambush had all the cards.  There are so many weapons around; in a nation where a lot of people are harboring grudges, whether it be disgruntled blacks, disgruntled ranchers, disgruntled "Patriots", or just garden variety gang members or drug dealers, it is inevitable that some guns will be misused. Guns have become America's Maslow's Hammer; the solution is a gun, now what was the problem? Until we change that mentality, we are screwed. Do we want Anbar Province or a community where you don't constantly have to be on your guard? I'm pretty far from anti-gun, but I am getting tired of the tone of the conversation.

But disarming or highly regulating guns for the public, even if that could be done with a change in SCOTUS composition or with carefully vetted laws, will not cure the cancer in our communities any more than a shot of morphine cures cancer in a human. It just dulls the pain. It goes after means rather than motive and without some fundamental changes in society, the motives will remain. An example:

"Essentially, these small towns in urban areas have municipal infrastructure that can't be supported by the tax base, and so they ticket everything in sight to keep the town functioning," said William Maurer, a lawyer with the Institute for Justice who has been studying the sudden rise in "nontraffic-related fines."  -- "The dangers of turning police officers into revenue generators.", by Jack Hitt

Someone needs to look beyond the idea of gun control (or its polar opposite) and ask why so many communities are becoming politically and economically toxic. I was forwarded the Mother Jones piece from last fall, excerpted above, via a Strong Towns tweet. MJ talks about the situation in many communities where taxes cannot support the local government, leading to taxation by fines. In these communities, the police are not there primarily to serve and protect but increasingly, to issue nuisance summonses to raise funds. Hence the cops are adversaries. Jack Hitt, in the MJ article argues that this situation leads to a lot of lousy cops doing the kind of work police forces just should not be doing, leading to adversity, shootings and violence. Chuck Marohn at Strong Towns has long argued that many communities have been living beyond their means, leading to these sorts of excesses as communities do some pretty unethical things to keep from admitting the wolf has long gotten through the door.

How American Cities Fine Their Black Citizens To Make Up For Budget Shortfalls

Mother Jones: African-American Gun Ownership Is Up, and So Is Wariness

Black doctor's conflict: Saving officers, distrusting police

Maybe we can put it all together some day, rather than nibbling around the edges.  Here is the MJ piece, in case you have not already read it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sweat the Small Stuff

Here, I peel back the ends of the rim 
strip, to photograph how the ends 
were directly over a spoke hole. 
I think it was already in the eighties when I headed up Camp May Road on Sunday morning. I was sweating buckets and went through two 24 oz water bottles of gatorade in a 20 mile ride, albeit part of that involved hauling my fat carcass up to a close to 10% grade.

Interesting thing happened on the way down the hill. My rear tire blew out with a loud pop on one of those many steep curves coming down from the ski area. Made for an interesting way to do a controlled stop from +40 mph.

I took things apart by the proverbial side of the road to put in a new tube and was looking to figure out how the thing blew up. First I thought it was a fatigued valve stem, but no, there was a hole in the inner tube on the inside of the tube where it presses against the rim strip.

Turns out whoever put the wheel together put the ends of the rim strip directly over a spoke hole, with no overlap of the rim strip ends. Over the years the ends separated and the inner tube bulged into the sharpened spoke hole. On the way down it finally failed catastrophically.  Little things matter. Especially if you like high speed descents.

I tried to align the strip over the spoke hole as best I could and got back to the house in limp-home mode. Then I replaced the rim strip and overlapped the ends. I also checked the front wheel, which had a rim strip installed correctly. Thankfully. A front wheel blowout on a high speed descent would not be fun. I probably wouldn't be sitting here comfortably writing this today.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Albuquerque Journal Misses Major Point in Discussion of Pedestrian Risk

Editor, The Albuquerque Journal

The Journal, in its 6-15 editorial, somewhat missed the point on pedestrian safety in New Mexico. Like the recent Journal article on the same topic, it omits discussion of the relationship between road and highway design and pedestrian risk.

Substance abuse is certainly part of the problem, but not the entire picture.  Our infrastructure is designed for fast car travel. Albuquerque Councilor Pat Davis said it best:  no one would design streets this way if pedestrian safety were really crucial.

We design major arterials (i.e., Central Avenue) with wide, fast multilane features, even in dense urban areas, to facilitate motor vehicle movement with minimal delays across our ever sprawling cities. Features such as crosswalks are often not built for pedestrian convenience on the scale of walking, but at intervals that minimize loss of vehicular level of service. Speed kills: a 40 mph impact will kill most pedestrians while at 20 mph, most will live. So why are speeds (and design speeds; meant to imply that, Steve) often set at close to 40 mph? To make matters worse, wide road profiles and busy traffic mean small figures like pedestrians are hard to spot.

Vision Zero means redesigning roads so that they are forgiving to mistakes. VZ slows things down such that the inevitable crashes that result from human error are not fatal. How that works with the urge to sprawl our cities is a good question.

Finally, suggesting pedestrians be held as accountable for sobriety as motorists must be further justified. Motorists are licensed as they are driving potentially dangerous vehicles. No such requirement is put on people walking around town. Certainly remaining sober enough to cross the street is a good idea, but the comparison must include the two modes capability to do harm to others.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Negligent Entrustment? Gee, tell that to the Kalamazoo bicyclists

Patrick O'Grady sent me an article about a lawsuit currently wending its way through a Connecticut court, arising from the Newtown mass shooting. Timely, since we have had yet another, yet worse one in Orlando. The idea being pursued is that, according to the quote in the article, it is Negligent Entrustment to sell so called assault rifles to the public. The idea of negligent entrustment in this scenerio is: "...a gun is carelessly given or sold to a person posing a high risk of misusing it....". The plaintiffs want to expand on the idea and substitute the American public for "a person" and say the public as a whole has a high risk of misusing these rifles.

The technical legal question is way outside my expertise as a geologist, but I am skeptical. Besides, this is a bike blog, not a law journal. My skepticism of the Newtown lawsuit as far as the negligent entrustment angle is several-fold. One, the Feds have not banned it, so it is a lawful product sold to the public. Two, Connecticut approved the ownership of these guns and indeed, licensed Nancy Lanza to have it, so the state has some responsibility in authorizing its sale to the public. Three, Nancy was not necessarily negligent. Adam Lanza shot his mother dead and stole it. Four, statistically, there are millions out there and the number misused, in geochemical parliance, is in the low parts per million. Its hard to rationalize from that the idea that the average owner is at high risk of misusing it. Wonder how that compares to motor vehicles?  Finally, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act blocks these suits under most circumstances.

My guess is there are probably more motor vehicles used negligently in part because they are used constantly and not considered by their owners as particularly dangerous devices. Two multiple killings of bicyclists this year point to the dangers of their misuse, one happened in Kalamazoo that killed five and one in Tucson that killed two, including a Santa Fe Seniors on Bikes rider. So if Newtown is the gun manufacturer's fault, why isn't Kalamazoo the auto industry's fault? Where does corporate responsibility end and ours begin?  I go back to the Porsche analogy I used the other day: just because I once bought a car that can do 162 mph, it doesn't mean it is Ferry Porsche's fault if I do 162 mph in a school zone.

 I saw those shitty advertisements used by Bushmaster for "getting your man card", something mentioned in the Times article, but as a board member of the Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico, I once got into a metaphorical firefight with Bicycling Magazine over their running an ad for a Nissan (or might have been Acura) product that said buying that car was a way to express one's aggression on the road. Just what we bicyclists need: more aggressive drivers and more bad ads. Its not clear to me whether lousy advertising trumps individual responsibility, but we sure do see enough of those "closed course, don't try this at home" ads and so far, no one I know has sued a car company using the negligent entrustment idea.

PLCAA, the law that protects gun manufacturers when individuals misuse guns, is Federal law. This case is currently in state court. Not sure what that means, but suspect an appeal would be a no-brainer if this gets much farther.

Black rifles, like Porsches, are a lot of fun, as Adam Winkler said in an NPR piece, but the public assumes the risks as well as any public benefit. Orlando is the risk. That said, any car or gun, even a workhorse pickup truck or revolver, can be misused with devastating results.  As Winkler said in the article, more mass shootings are done with handguns, as is the overwhelming amount of gun crime carried out in the US. Still, as I commented to O'Grady this morning, the AR makes someone a pretty damn effective killing machine, which in the military context, is exactly the idea. Thomas Friedman makes a good case for technological lethality outrunning human social instruments of peaceful existence in today's NY Times. We cannot afford potentially highly efficient killing machines in our midst if they are going to suddenly go off the rails. I've said what I want to say on assault rifles before, in this piece, excerpted here:

"...if lunatics continue to use (assault rifles) to deliver high velocity carnage to schools, theatres, and fire departments, some sort of regulation is inevitable on public safety grounds (and is likely permissible under Heller). Constitutional issues aside, we let just about everyone drive (and some do a bad job of it, leading to more than 30,000 traffic deaths a year). We don't let everybody drive a Freightliner..."

It is wise to carefully craft anti-violence policies rather than push ham-handed/one size fits all solutions, as sociologist Andrew Papachristos points out (and here) and as his academic work suggests. But there are so many guns and cars out there that periodic accidental or purposeful mishaps, even on a grand scale, are inevitable, barring a Vision Zero approach to both. Hence calls to further regulate both of them, and strong pushback from both owner's groups, whether it be background checks and "assault weapons" bans or red light cameras and traffic calming.

I ran into one of my colleagues yesterday as I rode my bike to the chemistry building. She is gay, as was my brother in law and as were several of our geoscience Ph.D. students at the Univ. of Hawaii who I supervised, both as a mentor and for a while as chair of our graduate studies committee. Looked at my colleague and thought about Orlando and got the shakes. Adam Winkler is right--we need to use all the tools at our disposal to stop this shit. We just have to make sure we do it right rather than ham-handedly, which is more often the knee-jerk case.

I just wish we could get the public to hold motorists to the same standard. Seems that right now, the only form of mass butchery that is treated as "just another day in the USA" is killing by automobile. We kill about a hundred people per day on the roads: that is two Orlandos. If this suit succeeds, I think the car industry needs to start thinking about a Protection of Lawful Commerce in Cars Act. Conversely, maybe we all ought to read Friedman's piece and realize that we are inside the bubble, and a lot of people are senselessly dying because of it. Orlando was an obvious atrocity. Our roads are less obvious.

And now, from Streetsblog:

What Gun Violence and Traffic Violence Have in Common

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Kalamazoo cycling community grieving after hit-and-run driver kills five, injures four.

Good grief. Just another form of mass murder.

Kalamazoo cycling community grieving after hit-and-run driver kills five, injures four.

Just a few comments from over at Maddogmedia

khal spencer Says:

Why don’t deadly drivers get as much press as the crazy guy with the AK-47? These cyclists are just as dead.

  • Patrick O'Grady Says:
    This one’s getting some traction, K. The NYT just picked it up. Ditto The Guardian. And the Chicago Tribune, which means The Los Angeles Times should have it directly.
  • Pat O'Brien Says:
    Lots of talking on gun control. No talking on truck control. Can’t win an election talking about cell phone bans. Not sexy enough I guess. Almost an instant replay of the murder by truck in Tucson a few months ago. It’s not my fault officer. My boss called my cell phone just as I was snorting some coke.
  • Patrick O'Grady Says:
    “You can have my iPhone when you pry it from my cold, dead thumbs!”
    Here in New Mexico The Fear® is a constant companion. Everybody texts, at least half of the texters are drunk, and a drunk driver can collect DUIs like a dead dog collects flies and it doesn’t seem to keep him or her from sliding behind the wheel with a tallboy and the old “smart” phone.
    Plus even the sober drivers couldn’t give a runny shit about traffic laws. “Aggressively bad” is the only way to describe them. Worst drivers I’ve ever seen, and I’ve lived in two countries, 11 states and 19 towns. There should be a no-bag-limit hunting season on the sonsabitches.

Monday, June 6, 2016

“No one would design an urban roadway like this today”--Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis

On Friday, the Albuquerque Journal ran a front page story "New Mexico is No. 1 in pedestrian deaths". Sadly, the Journal seemed to swallow the standard line that this is due to drunkenness and jaywalking. Its as if the Journal is so inside the prevailing paradigm of "car is king" that it does not even ask if there are issues other than blaming the dead. For example, infrastructure design.

Certainly substance abuse is endemic in some parts of the Duke City and is a major problem as inebriated people walk or drive into each others paths. Likewise so-called jaywalking is a problem, but in part because we have built the infrastructure on the scale of fast cross city car travel rather than on the measure of where people live and where they may want to walk to their nearby destinations. We might as well post No Trespassing signs for those on foot on our urban rights of way. Albuquerque Councilor Pat Davis, quoted in the LA Monitor, nails the elephant in the room: no one would design streets this way if pedestrian (or bicyclist) safety were really crucial. I am sure that James Anderson, Roy Sekreta, Matt Trujillo, and others would agree, if they were alive to comment.

Indeed, anyone who has spent any time in the Duke City, Santa Fe, or even Los Alamos knows that we design major arterials, including  Central Avenue in Albuquerque, Trinity Drive in Los Alamos, and Cerrillos, St. Michaels, or St. Francis in Santa Fe with wide, fast multilane features to facilitate motor vehicle movement with minimal delays--even in dense urban areas. Furthermore, the pedestrian safety features that the DOT adds to the design are often built at intervals that do not interfere with the vehicular level of service measures that are so critical to ensure that motorists can scurry back and forth between destinations in the ever sprawling American cityscape. NMDOT's refusal to add a crosswalk to NM 502 by the swimming pool on the east side of Los Alamos is an example. Likewise, fast speed limits ensure that anyone hit is likely to die while the wide "Stroad" profiles ensure small figures like bikers and peds are hard to see. See figure below for lethality vs speed.

From Literature Review on Vehicle Travel Speeds and Pedestrian Injuries, NHTSA
True human safety in our cities will only result from major changes in urban design. We cannot count on people slowing down when the roads beckon for speed. Instead, we need to engage in traffic calming so the road defines the speed rather than hanging useless signs that conflict with design. Vision Zero, if it is to be implemented, means redesigning roads so that they slow things down so that the inevitable crashes that result from human nature are not fatal. How that works with the ever present urge to sprawl our cities and pander to Level of Service is a good question.

Ain't it nice to ride in the Country?
Finally, months after surgery, I am actually getting my hind end out on the road again.
Nice, quiet roads. Fortunately.

Excerpted from Streetsblog, where  Bill Lindeke talks about St. Paul, MN:
Finding the Political Will to Fix “Four-Lane Death Roads” 

"...The key to a “vision zero” policy will be in making exactly the kinds of trade-off decisions that I’ve described here. A commitment to the safety of urban streets needs to say that no amount of automobile efficiency is worth the lives of people like Elizabeth Dunham, who was simply trying to cross the street. No amount of increased speeds are worth running over a kid like 11-year-old Bikram Phuyel, who was hit by a driver while crossing Rice Street to get to school in 2014. No amount of LOS improvement is worth the life of Kunlek Wangmo, hit by a turning driver while crossing St. Clair Avenue with her husband by West 7th Street last year. Or Shelby Kokesch, who was killed while walking her mother from the History Center across Kellogg Boulevard earlier this year. The list goes on… “Vision Zero” needs to start focusing on these kinds of difficult street design changes, and road diets are the least expensive, most effective option on the table..."

Saturday, June 4, 2016

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.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Hostile Driver Alert

From Reid Priedhorsky

Hi folks,

I encountered a particularly hostile and unsafe driver on Friday morning: near the top of the 38th St. hill, I was using the full lane, preparing to turn left onto Diamond, when I was passed at high speed despite “don’t pass” hand signals and upcoming blind corner. Subsequently, I was able to enjoy a profanity-laden tirade.

It was a silver VW sedan, turquoise NM plates, male driver, booster seat in the back. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a plate number. I suspect he lives in the Aspen School neighborhood and/or drops off a child at one of the two schools here.

I raise this here because I had a similar issue on Central a month or so ago, and I think it might be the same person: also a silver sedan, also a very unsafe high-speed pass. That is, there might be a pattern with this individual.

Could folks keep a look-out for this vehicle and take particular care to call the police if they witness any problematic behavior, and also share anything they learn so others (like me!) can help build a case that it’s a pattern. I’m not sure if this is the correct venue, but it’s what I could think of. Maybe we can get a handle on this guy before someone gets hurt.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Celebrate Earth Day By Riding Your Bike to PEEC and Leaving the Freakin' Car Home

Carol Clark reminds us that PEEC is once again hosting an Earth Day Celebration. It will be Saturday, the 23rd.  I've gotten quite jaded by the number of cars I see parked at our major destinations on Earth Day, proving once again that cognitive dissonance is alive and well. (examples here and here)..

If anyone is interested in getting a minimum of 20-30 or more people on bikes, preferrably commuter-style bikes, to meet somewhere downtown and do a parade run through PEEC, I'm game. A commuter bike, for present purposes, is anything on two wheels you can use to ride to a physical destination that you have to go to (work, shopping, home, the dentist, somewhere other than where you are, etc). So if all you have is a pure racing steed, hang a flashlight on the handlebars for the day. I think I have a spare headlight I can loan someone.

Any bike is potentially a commuter bike rather than a car rooftop trophy. Just add human and backpack, if needed.

From a past Bike to Work Day

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Feeling Blue?

Self Portrait With Bike

I've had these Richey Speedmax Pro Alpha and Omega WCS tires with the blue sidewalls for probably a decade. Every once in a while I toss them on the Stumpjumper wheelset but usually they sit in a box waiting to be mounted on a set of the Long Haul Trucker wheels for occasional snow duty.  But their real home is in the dirt, albeit part time.

On fairly hardpacked trails, they are way too much fun. Very fast with a shallow diamond tread and good side lugs. With their slightly smaller diameter, compared to modern 2.3 inch balloon tires, they make for very quick steering. I wonder if that is because they change the steering geometry slightly, resulting in less trail. But on sandy or muddy terrane, they tend to wallow due to the lack of deep lugs. Its nice to have options.

So last weekend at the Santa Fe Bike Swap, I picked up a set of used wheels in primo condition for almost a song: a Mavic 317 Disk (front) and 717 (rear). Yesterday I found a couple used brake rotors for another song. So the Richeys now have a home, and they went for a very fast and engaging test ride back on the North Mesa trails. Blue tires to shake the blues away.

Aside from that, some recent surgery has resulted in me not feeling quite comfortable on the road bikes in a typical racing tuck. Finally, I capitulated and put on a seventeen degree rise stem on the road bike. Better to ride upright than not ride at all.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Tuff Riders Annual Bike Swap--Volunteers Needed

From Chris Collord

Hi all,

This is just a heads-up.  The annual Tuff Riders Bike & Gear Swap will be held June 4th this year.  Put it on your calendar!  The Bike & Gear Swap is a great place to sell any and all bike-related stuff.  Clothing, complete bikes (mountain, road, commuter, it doesn't matter), bike parts, bike accessories, kid's bikes, you name it!  We have a new and improved location this year and we're hoping this will be the best event ever.

What we're looking for now is volunteers.  We need as many volunteers as possible to run the event.  Time commitments will be fairly minimal - most likely the evening of June 3rd and/or the morning of June 4th.  If you can help either day it would be very much appreciated.  Remember, volunteers get the first look over the merchandise!  :)
If you can help out, please send me an email directly or call me at 505-663-6633.  Also, if you have a specific skill that you think would be valuable on the planning committee, please get in touch!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Roundabout Petition

Joel Williams asked if I would provide this link, which goes to a petition critical of the roundabout, to bike folks, should you want to express an opinion.

have many of your LABikes blog people signed the petition?

Here is the access point with those signing so far shown, unless requesting their name not be shown.
To sign the on-line petition. click here

Meanwhile, John Hooker, President of BCNM, sends this.

Note that my objections are less with the roundabout but with the piecemeal way we throw large amounts of money at things with little evidence of comprehensive planning or prioritization. For example, has anyone looked at the condition of the pavement on Diamond lately? That the old Smith's is an empty hulk while Smith's/Kroeger has gotten a virtual monopoly on the east side of town? That much of Trinity is an eyesore?

Los Alamos seems to be more about short term stovepiped thinking and opportunistically spending "Other People's Money" (i.e., state and Fed funds, which is, of course someone's tax money or bond) than making sure the town works.  I don't think a roundabout on the entrance to town will be a bad thing. I do think what people see afterwards will be a bit of a let-down.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

There's Gotta Be A Better Way Than Shooting Our Way Outa This

"Concerning nonviolence: It is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself, when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks. It is legal and lawful to own a shotgun or a rifle. We believe in obeying the law."--Malcolm X

New Mexicans To Prevent Gun Violence co-President and First Presbyterian Church of Santa Fe Pastor (Rev. Dr.) Harry Eberts told us today that gun violence is all about too many people having too many guns. No doubt there are too many guns in the hands of people misusing them, whether gang bangers, drug dealers, unglued people with a grudge against their mate or boss, or people with voices in their heads.  That said, many of our problems go much deeper than that. I guess Pastor Eberts never heard Tracy Chapman's song, "Fast Car" (and for the occasional literalist reading this, the car is a metaphor).

Having spent my early years, during the early nineteen-sixties, in the soon to be burned out and blighted old East Side of Buffalo, NY (Johnson Street between Genesee and Sycamore; School #39), I worry that if we don't provide some better options than now exist in our blighted cities (not to mention elsewhere in America), we can't expect much better than gunfights and despair, not only in our inner cities but more broadly in society. If not guns, maybe bricks? Sure, we need to keep people from blasting away at each other for no good reason other than to prove who owns the street corner or Walmart parking lot. But is there something better than claiming ownership over a street corner or parking lot? Like Tracy Chapman, St. Sabina's Father Mike Pfleger gets it. Although one cannot avoid agreeing on their lethality and the need to restrict guns from some, its not all about guns, but the path that leads some to solve their issues with guns. As if gunfire solves the issue...

I keep pissing off the Comment Police at NPR by reminding us that its not just guns that are misused as weapons of mass destruction in the U.S. As we bicyclists learned yet again in Tucson, an inept, reckless, impaired, or clueless fellow citizen with a car or truck is just as capable of launching mass mayhem. But I doubt we will get anywhere by declaring, to paraphrase Pastor Eberts, "...there are too many cars. Most people should not have them..." and then ask to start a conversation with motorists.  I agree there are a a fair number of people who, in my opinion, should not be trusted with either car or gun. Just as gun violence exerts direct (casualties) and indirect costs (fear, overuse of criminal justice system to solve social problems, etc), car overuse exacts both direct (crashes) and indirect (urban air and nonpoint source water pollution, poor choices in urban development patterns, stroads, suburban flight, etc) social tolls on society.  Getting society to cooperate, whether to reduce gun violence or car violence, takes more than throwing a pie in the other guy's face as means of introduction. That's where Pastor Eberts disappoints: if the pastor really wants a conversation that is outside his own bubble, he should keep the pie intact 'till later, if he really needs it. At least on this topic.

Cars and guns, if owned and used responsibly, are a manageable and low risk to others (as are a lot of things in modern, industrialized society) and a measurable asset to personal mobility and security. When owned and used irresponsibly, they (like many things in modern industrial society) and their owners are nothing but trouble, cost, and risk.There is definitely a tendency towards the Law of the Instrument (Maslow's Hammer) with both of these potentially misused devices. Maybe attacking that problem, rather than scattering blame far and wide, is a good place to start.

"If the fundamental right of self-defense does not protect Caetano, then the safety of all Americans is left to the mercy of state authorities who may be more concerned about disarming the people than about keeping them safe."  
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, in concurrence with the Per Curiam opinion in Jamie Caetano v. Massachusetts. 

Note added later: some Jihadist loons just blew buildings and people up in Brussels. Trump and Cruz would make many predominately Muslim enclaves in the U.S.a model of efficiency in creating terrorists, just as the Belgians have done. Go figure.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Memorial Ride for Those Killed in Tucson

Clair Rhoades of the Santa Fe Seniors on Bikes, and Ken Viera, a Tucson rider, was killed when hit from behind in Tucson. Another SoB was severely injured.  The motorist has been charged with multiple felonies.

There will be a memorial ride. SOB site has the announcement, and I am reposting it here. We should show our support. Unfortunately, those of us who are seniors and still working may not all be able to attend!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Daylight Savings

Still lights on that thing 'cuz you just never know 
when you will have to work late
 In honor of Daylight Savings, I pulled the faster commuter off of its hook and rode that to work. Just remember, if it was dusk when you rode home last week, it will be dawn when you ride in this week. Remember the Law of the Shadows (i.e., your shadow points to the guy in the car whose sun is in his eyes) and be careful out there.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Costs of Violence Are High, Regardless of the Implement

I got a tweet via Mark Follman of Mother Jones, telling a specific story about a pair of martial artists senselessly shot and badly injured in Arizona, destroying their lives as they knew them. Moving from the specific to the general, MJ tells us that the costs of gun violence to Americans is about 230 billion dollars a year.

Likewise if you look up numbers on the costs of car crashes, you get very similar results. A NHTSA article puts the 2010 cost of car crashes at about 242 billion dollars. A USA Today source extrapolates on the basis of economic and social costs, about 870 billion dollars for the same year. One can mess with either sets of numbers, depending on what you include in direct or indirect costs to the public, but they are pretty big ones.

I won't quibble with numbers.  These two examples of violence include deliberate acts done to others, accidents, and self-destructive acts. Therefore these numbers conflate homicides and other crimes committed with firearms, DWI, reckless and careless driving and other acts performed with autos, suicides using guns and "traffic accidents" not due to deliberate misbehavior.  What is important is we end up with broadly similar costs, whether expressed in greenbacks or grief. People who have been affected by gun violence tend to concentrate on reducing gun violence. People who have been impacted by car violence are motivated to reduce car violence. Vested interests such as the NRA or National Motorists Association protect their sacred cows and push back on controls. That said, not all suggestions for controls are bright ideas or politically feasible.

Seems to me we need to bring ourselves together and push back on society's acceptance of low standards of citizenship, lack of concern for others, and high tolerance for violence, whether caused by gunpowder or gasoline. I fail to be persuaded that there is much of a difference in violent death between the two after seeing, firsthand, the people represented by those two crosses below die on the road in front of me. I gave up hunting (and eating meat) when I took a bad shot and had to finish off at close range a terrified and struggling deer with a shattered pelvis.  Cars are meant as lawful transportation. Guns are meant to shoot bullets at lawful targets. Bottom line is that neither guns nor cars are sold to Americans so they can be be misused to endanger the public.

With both cars and guns, we have higher unintended death rates than a fair number of other first world countries. I think it is time to take a time out and figure out if we really need to be competing for that honor, stop shouting past each other with excuses, and find workable and legally defensible means of harm reduction.

Two crosses by the NM-4 and 502 interchange. I watched the two motorcyclists memorialized by these crosses die after being hit head on by a wrong way driver at an impact speed of about 100 mph. (I drove off the road to avoid a crash but the motorist hit the motorcyclists on a curve).

Neil Allen Smith, minimum wage dishwasher at a seafood restaurant. An Invisible Rider killed by a hit and run motorist

Former Tucson US House Rep. Gabby Giffords before being shot and badly injured by a lunatic.
"After" picture is here.