Saturday, June 10, 2017

Green is for thee, but not me....

Some prominent politicians, including Santa Fe Mayor Gonzales and New York City Mayor DeBlasio, have repudiated President Trump's efforts to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate accord.  But a funny thing happened on the way to the soap box. Its harder to do something than to sound impressive.

Not that I am arm-waving my way past the considerable uncertainties in climate science. Readers of this virtual fish-wrapper have been down that path of caveats before. But in the face of major, unresolved uncertainties, one should, I think, hedge one's bets and that means not adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as if we were drunken sailors on a fossil fueled shore leave binge.  Uncertainty recommends prudence.

In New York, my old friend and Vision Zero colleague Charlie Komanoff called Mayor Bill DeBlasio on his statements that the Big Apple would work to preserve the spirit and letter of the Paris Accords even as the Mayor routinely drives a hulking SUV on congested NYC roads to a gym that is eleven miles from Gracie Mansion (aka the mayor's residence).  Mayor Bill huffed back that Charlie was long on symbol and short on substance but I agree with Charlie: if our leaders think they are too important to reduce their carbon footprint, why should Joe Sixpack, who is just as busy juggling his life as the mayor, trade in his Tahoe for a bicycle? And if transit doesn't work for Mr. Mayor, why do we think it will work for anyone else?

Closer to home, Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales also promises to fight climate change through local action and I tip my hat to him. Indeed, while it would be tough for Mayor Gonzales to find a gym eleven miles from city hall in compact Santa Fe, those in the City Different are plagued with bad designs that maximize road surface, vehicle speeds, and level of service at the expense of transportation options other than the family car. Indeed, the New Mexican complains about a proposal to use privatized speed vans to slow down speeders.  The problem is, enforcement, privatized or otherwise, cannot trump bad planning because roads that look like they were designed for high speeds (wide, clear lines of sight, etc) will be driven fast. Indeed, the whole notion of the 85th percentile rule to set speed limits means that a road that looks like it should be driven fast will have its speed limit set fast. While government enforcement is a requirement for public safety, privatized enforcement has proven to generate huge amounts of public mistrust at the motives of those speeding tickets. But the bottom line is that speeding and the bad road design that encourages it go hand in glove and puts huge emotional and safety roadblocks into using biking or walking. So Mr. Gonzales and his council will have to somehow take back the city from bad state planners who think roads in a city should be urban versions of interstate highways, aka "stroads".

The bottom line is that going to a low carbon transportation future is not someone else's problem. Its everyone's problem. Even Mr. Workout, Bill deBlasio's problem. I think Mayor Gonzales gets it but like other mayors, he is somewhat held hostage not only to the current paradigm, but to those government organizations and their private sector tagalongs in the transportation industry who have a vested interest in continuing business as usual. And business as usual is moving more cars efficiently.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Los Alamos County will host a community bike ride

More than 150 public transit systems and organizations are celebrating the 12th Annual National Dump the Pump Day on Thursday, June 15th. Los Alamos County will take it one step further by asking its residents to Dump the Pump and Bike It, Walk It, or Bus it.  

Invite your family, bring your friends and join us on a three-mile Community Ride. The ride was originally scheduled for Bike to Work Day on May 19th, but was postponed due to snow.  Therefore, “Dump the Pump Day” is another a great way to celebrate bicycle transportation.  The ride will start at 11:30 am from the Ashley Pond Pavilion.  Members of the Los Alamos Fire Department and Los Alamos Police Department bike patrols will lead the ride through town.  After the ride, free hot dogs, chips and refreshments will be served to the first 100 participants.  Staff and a bus from Atomic City Transit will be on site to demonstrate use of bus mounted bike racks along with information promoting safe cycling.

A raffle will be held at the lunch time event for a 26” Roadmaster Mountain Bike that was donated by Wal-Mart, and adult bike helmets donated by the Los Alamos Heart Council.

Atomic City Transit would like to thank our customers for choosing public transportation on this and other days. 
Questions/Comments please call the Public Works Department at 505-662-8150 or send an email to
Bike safety is very important!  Please be sure your bike is in good working order prior to the ride, inflate your tires and a bike helmet is required to participate. Route Map below.

Monday, June 5, 2017

City Bike/Country Bike

A bicycle-friendly city needs to have fun rides and convenience in using a bicycle for utility purposes. The nice thing about Casa Solana, on the north side of Santa Fe, is you can ride a city bike half a mile in street clothing and do one's shopping in a bike basket at La Montanita or Albertson's. One can also hightail it outa town in two minutes on the road racer (not that I can even outsprint a jelly donut any more) and have some awesome riding north of town, which is one of the things I have been doing some rubber to the road research on lately.

Where Los Alamos excels is that one can ride a bike on any of our streets and not be in mortal danger. That is due to low traffic, generally high levels of motorist compliance (when half the town has a security clearance, there is less overt violence), and adequate capacity even at rush hour. Where it has shortcomings is that due to the topography (narrow mesas with deep canyons in between), the food co-op that is a mile from my house as the crow flies is on the other side of a deep canyon, and is seven and a half miles by bike or car. Short of a multi-million dollar suspension bridge or a catapult, it is a serious haul on the utility bike. Santa Fe is more compact, as I said above. Furthermore, it is working madly to create bypass urban trails for bikes because many of its roads do put one in real and perceived mortal danger, thanks to bad "stroad" design (well, that is redundant: is there such a thing as "good" stroad design?) by the State Dept. of Transportation and its car-centric friends in the City Not All That Different.

When designing a bike friendly community, one has to play the cards one is dealt and I think both Bombtown and The City Sorta Different are trying to do that, given that politics constrains the options. But the bottom line is that the riding, as well as utility bicycling, don't get much better than this, as shown in the pics below.

Looking west towards the Rio Grande Rift on Tano West Road
I suspect these rollers are downdropped fault blocks

Looking kinda north on Tano Norte road, riding into rift features
Riding the half mile to the La Montanita food co-op by way
of Rio Vista.  Helmet optional

Friday, June 2, 2017

2017 County Bike Plan Next Heads to County Council

The Transportation Board endorsed the Draft Bicycle Plan last night unanimously. After last night it heads to Council Chambers for a hearing and hopefully, a vote to adopt. Its not on the agenda yet so stay tuned. It might make it onto the June agenda but if not, July.  Meanwhile, here is a semifinal version. I don't expect too many changes (mostly polishing up the prose) so if you have not looked at it yet, here is your chance.

Note that no one showed up to testify or offer comment last night except a couple of us who are on the bicycle plan subcommittee. I don't know if that means everyone is happy with the draft or if there is just massive indifference.

This is a massive upgrade compared to the more rudimentary 2005 edition and I'm pretty happy with it. The document hits all the E's but does so on policy, leaving engineering details to what will be best practice when stuff gets done.

Stay tuned, and please show up in Council Chambers when this is being discussed and debated.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Recreation Bond Craters at the Polls

According to the Daily Post, the Rec Bond crashed and burned. But its not like we don't have options up here. Just walk out the door and find them. Its hard to live in a house in Los Alamos that doesn't let you trip and fall over a trail as soon as you walk out the door. Plus, there are ball fields, tennis courts, multiple swimming pools, mountains to hike, a wonderful equestrian facility, and other stuff.

That doesn't mean we can't still develop more recreational resources and those are good things as long as we have the means to take care of what we have. It just means we need to do so in a normal budgetary manner based on normal revenue streams, rather than borrowing twenty million bucks for non-essential projects.  Stay tuned.

Back when Richard Hannemann had an active political blog, he often said that some in Los Alamos always want us to be something we are not rather than something we are. I think he was right. We are so goddamn spoiled up here.  We gotta keep up with (or more likely, we have to out-do in honor of our Uncle Sam generated wealth) the Joneses and every other Tom, Dick, and Harry community as far as recreational facilities even though most or all of those communities can't hold a candle to our natural recreational resources.

As far as one of those trails one can trip over, here, below, is one of my favorites: The trail out to the end of Kwage Mesa, which I can get to by riding out the front door and enduring a couple minutes of Mr. Pavement as I struggle mightily to get to singletrack.

So, go ride your bike.

End of Kwage Mesa Trail. Pic taken recently, once I got my arm (and ass) out of their respective slings. Life is pretty darn good up here on The Hill.

Friday, May 19, 2017

County Bike To Work Day - POSTPONED

Bike to Snow Day....


Due to the weather the event is cancelled for today and Postponed for a future date TBD.  We’ll get together in the next week to discuss.  Thanks for everyone’s help today.


Dianne M. Marquez, CPRE, CIRM
Los Alamos County Parks, Recreation & Open Space Division
Recreation Programs Manager / Ice Rink Manager

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Elderly Los Alamos Woman Beaten And Robbed

Where is Detective Mick Belker when you need him?
Credit: Getty Images/NBC
 In an incredibly pissed off state, I'm taking the liberty to post this off of Carol's newsblog in its entirety to give it more exposure. If anyone has information on the two fucktard thugs in question, please contact LAPD. And if you are on your bicycle (or not), keep an eye on the well being of our older folks.

And, watch out for each other out there.

A Los Alamos woman in her 80s was followed home from Smith’s Marketplace Saturday afternoon, May 13, by two women and beaten and robbed outside her garage. She has asked to remain anonymous.

In an interview with the Los Alamos Daily Post, the victim said that while she was getting ready to put her purchases into the trunk of her car in the Smith’s parking lot, a young woman asked if she could help her. The victim said she declined the help but the young woman insisted.

After the young woman left, the victim said got into her car, stowed her cane and placed her purse on the passenger’s seat. Soon after, she said the young woman tapped on the passenger side window and asked if she could have 50 cents. The victim opened her purse in full view of the young woman, took out her billfold and gave the young woman 50 cents from the coin pocket.

The victim drove home and parked in her driveway. As she began to unload her purchases, a different woman appeared beside her and asked for help in finding Taos Street. The victim said she tried to explain how to get to Taos Street and the woman left. Shortly thereafter the victim said she saw a reflection in her glasses of a woman lunging toward her. When she turned around, she said the woman slammed her head against the lid of the trunk. The victim said she screamed and kicked her attacker repeatedly in the crotch area.
“Then she hauled off and slugged me in the face with her fist,” the victim said. “This weakened me and allowed her to get my large heavy purse off my arm. Then she ran off down my driveway.”

The victim said she slid to the ground and was unable to get up, so she screamed for about 20 minutes until a teenage girl who was walking a dog in the area heard her and ran to render assistance. The teen helped the victim up and took her inside her home. The teen had found the victim’s billfold on the sidewalk near the victim’s home. None of her bank cards were missing, but some $300 in cash was missing along with her social security card. Police and medical personnel arrived at her home, attended to her and began an investigation.

The next morning, a woman walking on Venado Street found the victim’s purse and some items from the purse and returned them to her. The victim said she has extensive bruising on her face and that the inside of her mouth is cut.

“There are lots of nice people in this town,” she said. “Two people who didn’t know me helped me. The police officer who investigated the situation came back to check on me later with his wife and family and they had baked cookies for me.”

Los Alamos Police Det. Sgt. James Rodriguez said today that the case is still under investigation. He said he believes there were two suspects who followed the victim to her home, because the woman who struck her, got into the passenger side of the vehicle on the street and that she called out to someone, “I got it, I got it,” as she moved away from the victim. Rodriguez said he is working with the Smith’s loss prevention department and viewing video of people of interest.

Rodriguez recommends that senior make friends with neighbors who can watch out for them as they come and go. He said seniors allow Smith’s employees to accompany them to their vehicles and assist them with loading their purchases. He said everyone should look around before exiting their vehicle and be aware of their surroundings. 
Anyone with any information on this incident should call the Los Alamos Police Department at 505.662.8222.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Bike To Work Day Is On In Los Alamos County

 As noted on the flyer the County plans on having Coffee and other refreshments at the Municipal Building for the commute to work. LANL is also on board and will have an event at the Oppenheimer Study Center. See the flyer below for details.

Over lunch the County staff supporting this are gathering at Ashley Pond for a community bike ride and will  have tables set-up for the local bike shop to hand out information, one regarding the proposed flow trail and Urban Bike paths, as well as bike safety literature.  County will be serving lunch after the ride.

If you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to contact Parks and Open Space Division 662-8170
Here you go if you want a flyer to print out. Click to enlarge.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Robert Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Checks Out

"The truth knocks on the door and you say, ‘Go away, I’m looking for the truth,’ and so it goes away. Puzzling." -- Robert M. Pirsig

Robert Pirsig is off to his next long ride over the horizon, as reported in the New York Times.

I was finishing up a master's thesis and writing my Ph.D. proposals when a colleague, Dr. Marty Fisk, also working in Don Lindsley's Experimental Petrology Lab, suggested I read Pirsig's book as a great explanation of the scientific method. It was a great description, as was Pirsig's description of the inner struggles he had with finding himself after electroshock therapy and his single-minded passion of understanding Quality.

“The Buddha, the Godhead,” Pirsig writes, “resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain or in the petals of a flower.”

 I had my own brain dysfunction back then, in part due to being launched over a Volkswagen Beetle, sans bicycle helmet, by a wayward motorist and finding myself unable to know whether I was looking at equations upside down or right-side up. There were preexisting conditions as well. So perhaps reading Pirsig's novel was therapy for me as I rewired my mental facilities and started a new dissertation topic. All the while noting, as I do now, that the scientific method is present as Pretty Damn Good Guidance whether one is studying rocks, thinking about transportation planning, unraveling the secrets driving one's own mental demons, or tearing down a motorcycle engine.  I still have Pirsig's book and am sorry to see him check out. Way smarter than me and a great role model.