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.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Around and Around We Go (Third Battle of the Roundabouts)

Note. Like the blog said, these are my own thoughts and don't represent any governmental organizations with which I am affiliated. Note that Council has approved this project.

The New Mexico DOT representative gave an update on the 4th St. roundabout,which is at the 90% design, last Thursday at the T board meeting. Unfortunately, it was all about land acquisition and nothing about design or comparative costs to other treatments. William Mead, however, handed out what I think is the latest design and he and Joel Williams critiqued it as well as asking about costs.  Here are some further, general thoughts.

First of all, I am neither pro nor anti roundabout. These are not instruments of the devil, but engineering designs meant to solve traffic problems. Whether they do is the big question. Whether a roundabout works well or poorly in a location depends on situation-specific design and traffic patterns. Several have pointed out that there are asymmetries in both the design of the proposed 4th Street roundabout, and that heavy traffic moves primarily east-west on 502 during "rush hour" in the a.m. and p.m. These are very peaky and short lived surges, as Mr. Mead showed, and would be the real test of whether the design would ease or cork heavy traffic. The rest of the day, Trinity Drive, like our massively overbuilt Diamond Drive, is quite underutilized. The question of whether the roundabout would work well during rush hour is best left to competent engineering analysis (note that the March 5, 2015 – 90% design T Board presentation by NMDOT/Souder, Miller & Associates on pg. 26 of the Agenda packet indicates an acceptable peak level of service). That said, I think building roads to provide high level of service at peak load, when peak load occurs over such a short time interval, is a massive waste of public funds. This ain't the Long Island Expressway we are talking about.

As far as an engineering analysis of the proposed roundabout, I am told the current firm is a good one. Recall that in the case of the first analysis of the multiple Trinity Drive roundabouts, the local critics nailed it and the County's consultants blew it, as was demonstrated when we finally brought in a well respected Midwestern engineering firm to re-run the numbers. We should never disparage our local brain trusts as being able to do these numerical analyses. Its not rocket science, and bomb scientists seem to be able to run the numbers quite well.

Deflection angles and other design geometries in roundabouts are critical. For example, the design that Mr. Mead showed had a lot of deflection for westbound 502 and far less for eastbound 502 One can surmise that this will result in higher eastbound and lower westbound speeds entering the roundabout. Has this been considered? The Diamond roundabout has very little deflection for Diamond Drive traffic headed for North and Barranca Mesas, as others have mentioned, with resulting high speed traffic from Diamond slowing at the last minute, if at all.

Safety is a concern. Multi-lane roundabouts are more challenging than single lane roundabouts to bicyclists and motorcyclists because of the chance the small vehicle will be overlooked and cut off during lane changes where the two wheeler is in a motorist's blind spot. Multilane roundabouts are a challenge for pedestrians and I think there are ADA compliance issues. We hear that low speeds in roundabouts cause fender benders rather than high speed intersection crashes. But a low speed crash to someone on two wheels is nothing to sneeze at. Bicyclists don't have air bags or crumple zones.Having once hit Mr. Pavement with a shoulder at low speed, I sported a brace to let an A/C separation heal.

Finally, cost. We did not get a cost comparison between total costs for a roundabout design versus using a traditional street layout. Costs for a roundabout will include demolition (including our little triangle park), land acquisition, and construction. Add to that delays due to construction. No numbers were forthcoming.

Whether we build a roundabout or a signalized intersection is a decision that should be (or presumably, was) made on the basis of all of the above considerations and a cost benefit analysis of competing designs.  Politics and preferences will obviously be included in the mix.

But the bottom line is Los Alamos, even at peak load, doesn't have a traffic problem. We will never make the Texas Transportation Institute's Top Ten of time lost to congestion. Furthermore, a lot of talk of traffic growth projections are fairy tales that keep engineering and construction firms employed on the public dole. Traffic growth needs to be calculated on the basis of real estimates of local population and economic growth coupled to single occupant vehicle growth (vehicle counts).  I've not seen any local ones that are credible. Indeed, some East Coast cities have been tearing down expensive 1960's vintage transportation projects designed for growth that never happened.

Meanwhile, Trinity Drive is still for the most part a stroad designed to get commuters back and forth to the Laboratory. Recent commercial and residential developments to the south of Trinity (and any that might materialize in the future) have to cope with crossing a street that is not designed to be an urban mixed use arterial, and whether or not we put in a roundabout, the rest of the vexing problems will remain. So much for a comprehensive plan.

Whether we really should spend tax dollars, even if it is other people's tax dollars, on a roundabout (or any other public works project) is a good question. What is the cost-benefit? Is it worth the price? What is the economic benefit? In this case, is it just a pretty entrance to town, followed by the depressing empty lots of our underutilized business district? What does it fix that is broken? The DOT representative correctly pointed out that these are mostly Federal dollars. But Uncle Sam is constantly borrowing to make ends meet. Perhaps like the late Nancy Reagan said, we should "just say no" to some projects and set an example of fiscal frugality for a change? Let's see some true critical analysis of this project, in the context of what we need to do to make this a Strong Town

Friday, March 4, 2016

God Damn The Drunken Man

Here we go again. 
Maybe this time the Greybar Hotel?
One member of Santa Fe's Seniors on Bikes (SoB) and a Tucson cyclist are dead, another SoB badly injured, and several riders left with less serious injuries after a group of SOB and Tucson cyclists were hit from behind (while in the bike lane) while stopped at a red light in Tucson, where the SOBs were vacationing. A motorist is being held on DWI, multiple manslaughter, and a host of other charges.

Recalling that old Steppenwolf song. It is certainly, to be sure, not for me to damn someone, but these stories happen all too often. Its easy to get really, really, angry...

Stories here (New Mexican) and here (Arizona Daily Star). I heard from Lynn Pickard that folks can check the SoB Blog for periodic updates.

If you drink and drive, or know someone who does. Stop it. Now.

In the bigger picture, DWI is only one form of violence people perpetrate senselessly on others. Gun violence, road design violence, distracted driving/narcissistic behavior violence, etc. Hard to know where to start pushing back on all of it. If you can't handle technology, don't own it.