Monday, May 24, 2021

Rail Trail Section Around South Capitol Station Completed

 If you missed Tim Roger's email, the S. Capitol section of the Rail Trail between Cordova and Alta Vista is complete. It was not my first choice as to where to spend bike facility money, but it does finish up a location that was a little confusing to newbies.

In addition, I ran into a lieutenant of a private security organization patrolling the Acequia Trail just southwest of the St. Francis underpass. Apparently in addition to the Plaza, the city has contracted private security to patrol the Rail Trail and Railyard including parts of the Acequia Trail at least as far as the underpass.

Looking south at Cordova Rd.

Looking north at Cordova Rd.

Looking north at Alta Vista

Looking south at Alta Vista. Looks like you are about to ride into a crummy little sidewalk but the trail jogs to your right after you cross the road and over the tracks and then continues south towards 2nd Street.

Closer look to the west at the jog across the tracks at Alta Vista. Complete with railroad crossing gates. The pavement needs work.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Support for cycling can keep the wheels turning, but you have to know where to point them

 

This was published in the 5/2/2021 Opinion section of the Santa Fe New Mexican.

 The New Mexican posted a pretty good article on the surge of bicycling during the pandemic in the hope that the surge would have staying power. That said, we must identify specific issues in Santa Fe needing improvement to keep those wheels turning. In anticipation of National Bike Month, here is my list.

Our trail system, while wonderful in some respects, often doesn't go where you need to go as a transportation resource. Much of retail Santa Fe is built up along major corridors such as Cerrillos Road and St. Francis Drive. But there is not dedicated bicycle accommodation along these corridors. This seriously impedes using a bicycle for local commerce.

Trails don't work by themselves. The Rail, Chamisa, River, and Acequia Trails depend on relatively safe streets knitting them together into a system in order to get from point A to point B. We also need better wayfinding so new riders or visitors can make these connections. As an example of how connections can work, I can ride the River Trail from the home in Casa Solana to Frenchy's Field and then ride Osage Ave to get to the Ace Hardware at St. Michaels and Cerrillos. But to bicycle to Rob and Charlie's bike shop or a number of stores on St. Michaels Drive, I  must negotiate a multilane urban "highway" designed to move cars as quickly and efficiently as possible; a bicyclist is an afterthought to both planners and motorists on these big, fast roads.

Which brings up a jurisdictional point. While the City has been improving conditions for cycling, the State's roadway jurisdictions (Cerrillos, St. Francis, and St. Michaels and a few other urban roads under state control) are often intimidating to a bicyclist. St. Francis Drive, rebuilt more than a decade ago with six lanes, eliminated any feasible way to include bicycle accommodation in its right of way, trading bike lanes for increased Motor Vehicle Level of Service. Meanwhile, slapping a pair of bike lanes on the rebuilt Cerrillos Road super-arterial doesn't make it bicycle-friendly. The high travel speeds ensure any crash will be gruesome and the massive number of traffic lanes ensure a bicyclist is almost sure to be overlooked by turning and crossing vehicular traffic.

But news! The City to take over four big stroads:  Santa Fe to assume responsibility for four stretches of road.

"...The agreement shifts maintenance responsibilities for more than seven miles of thoroughfares, including approximately four miles of Cerrillos Road from Beckner Road to St. Michael’s Drive; about 2½ miles of St. Michael’s Drive, from Cerrillos to St. Francis Drive and St. Francis to Old Pecos Trail; and 1.2 miles of Old Pecos Trail between St. Michael’s and Rodeo Road..."

What this points to is that the planning and design of infrastructure matters. Vision Zero principles tell us to assume operator error is inevitable. We must design our transportation infrastructure to minimize calamities when these errors happen. It makes little sense to design an entirely separate bicycle infrastructure, even if feasible, while leaving the lion's share of infrastructure inviting high consequence accidents to happen to everyone else. But redesigning infrastructure is expensive and time consuming. Meanwhile, we can lower the speed limits to a point where a crash is not gruesome. For example, Albuquerque has put in at least one "bicycle boulevard" with a speed limit of 30 kph (18 mph). But practically, you cannot control speeds with a few signs. You have to design a road so it looks like it should be driven at lower speeds; this can possibly be done in some locations using ingenuity rather than bushels of money.

Finally, if you allow urban sprawl to take root (such as Albuquerque's Santolina proposal or some development ideas closer to home), a bicycle, even an electronic-assisted bike, may become impractical. Infill is a good idea not only to ensure there is plenty of tax base per acre but to ensure that bicycling, mass transit, and walking are not untenable for someone on an actual schedule. Rather than building out, we should be building in and up. For example, zoning the Midtown Campus for residential housing at a density commensurate with the center of a city. Let's recall that the most desirable parts of the city are walkable, dense, and where it is often hard to find parking. Parts of the city that are dense but not walkable or bikeable may not be so desirable.

Its all complicated and politically fraught, but if you are trying to change the urban transportation paradigm to one of sustainability and less fossil fuel dependence, an integrated examination of urban designs, zoning plans, and multimodal equity all matter. 

Smart Cycling Videos from the League of American Bicyclists

 

Monday, April 19, 2021

URGENT: Cyclist severely injured in Los Alamos Hit and Run

 If you know anything, please contact the LAPD.

A** **** is in the LA Hospital. He sustained a fractured L2 vertebrae, bruised ribs, a deep wound on his elbow, and much road rash.

Brandon Hill and I were with A** **** today for a road ride. On Hwy 4, between mile markers 52 and 53, about 1/2 mile east of the Inter-Agency Fire Station, a pickup truck struck A** **** sending him and his bike flying through the air over 100' up the road, and knocking Brandon to the ground. The truck never hit its brakes and sped away.

It was a white pickup truck that appears to be part of some fleet, as it had writing on its tailgate and a yellow warning light on its cab. Many parts from the truck were scattered around the scene. The police have gathered all the pieces and will attempt to match numbers on some of the pieces to a VIN.

We spent a great deal of time with the LAPD. Other vehicles coming upon the scene reported seeing a damaged truck driving westbound at a very high speed and turning at the Back Gate towards town. The LANL VAP officers at Camp May Rd. were contacted and they did not see the truck come through the VAP, so it must have gone past the Ice Skating Rink. Police are checking the camera video at the intersection of Diamond Dr. and W Rd. (near the hospital) and other cameras in that area. They will issue a Press Release and are checking with many businesses that would have such a fleet vehicle.

If you hear anything, please report it to the LAPD, specifically Officer Everett Williams (everett.williams@lacnm.us; 505-662-8222). He wrote, "21-190" on his card. I assume this is the case number. 

The responding officers said this is the 3rd Hit & Run on Hwy 4. Please be vigilant and protect yourselves.
 
 

 

And You Thought The A-B-C Quick Check Was Onerous?

A gathering of the faithful at one of Santa Fe's Bicycle Friendly Community reviews


If you are a regular bicyclist, you probably are somewhat attuned to whether your bicycle is functioning properly. Or like me, you at least notice that new noise and do a quick analysis to make sure the wheels are not about to fall off or the brakes dive into the spokes. If you, however, are hauling that bike out of the back of the garage for Bike Month or are one of those folks who got back into bicycling due to the Covid restrictions on Everything Else, then its a good idea to set up some quality time thinking about bicycle safety, including whether those wheels are indeed about to fall off. Seriously, the number of crashes caused by incorrectly tightened quick releases are legendary. Hence "lawyer tabs".

 I belong to a motorcycle e-mail listserv at work. The list owner sent the message below about rider safety. Compare the essay below to the ABC Quick Check, a basic bicycle safety checklist which many bicyclists don't bother doing. Or compare the idea of motorcyclist self-reliance regarding rider safety to the point of view of many bicyclists, who think bicycle safety is someone else's problem (the city, the state, the motorist, anyone but the person in the mirror).  Indeed, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation classes down at the Harley dealership at Santa Fe Place are almost always full and that big parking lot by the Harley shop buzzing with student-riders every time I pass by the place. Try getting a bumper crop to turn out every weekend for a League of American Bicyclists Smart Cycling class. My LCI rider-coach Preston Tyree once quipped that too many people think they learned everything they need  about how to ride a bike by the fourth grade.

The best way to be safe is to own as much of your own safety as you can. Mind you, I am not opposed to bicycle facilities, at least the good ones. What I regret is that in too many bicycling circles, what cyclists are taught is that its up to the local municipality to provide for our safety. While a municipality can improve your safety with good facilities, it cannot make you a safe cyclist. That depends on the person in the mirror. My latest example of seeing a Darwin Award competitor at work was last week, when I saw a cyclist, too impatient to wait for the signal to change at the Zia/St.Francis intersection, instead rode across Zia right down the middle of the train tracks. Recall that the State put in a good deal of time and money improving that trail crossing and putting gates across the trail crossing after a cyclist was killed there. Also recall that the train is now running.

So if you have any doubts about your readiness to hop on that bike and sail down the street, sign up for a class here in Santa Fe.  Also please check out that ABC Quick Check link. Now, on to what motorcyclists worry about. Especially Point 9: Remember, you’re invisible: ride defensively. That applies to anyone on two wheels.

The motorcyclist version of the safe rider:

Before the ride

Most people think that the ride begins when you shift into first and ease off the clutch. Well, technically that’s right, but I like to begin my safety checks before I ride. The first 6 items on our list happen before the ride even starts: 


1. Select the right bike

Wait. What? Find a bike? What does this even mean? Well, before we start our ride we need to find a bike that suits us. In fact, for new riders selecting their first bike, the task can be as difficult as deciding on your first tattoo. But we also rent bikes when we travel or test ride bikes before we buy. Many riders decide on their next bike based on how the bike looks, when in fact this should be the second or third item you consider. It’s important to look at:

• Overall power – this is a tricky metric. Just because a bike has high displacement, it doesn’t mean it’s faster. A 700cc motorcycle can be just as fast as a 1400cc. It all depends on the weight

• Wet weight – are you about to ride a touring bike and have only been on Bonnevilles? This is okay, but make sure you’re prepared

• Power-to-weight ratio – The higher this number, the faster the bike, and if you learned to ride on a cruiser, be careful. Bikes with higher ratios will have shorter braking distances, faster acceleration, and higher top speeds

• Your judgement – sometimes we think about riding a bike and something tells us we shouldn’t Maybe the bike is too big. Maybe you haven’t ridden with a sidecar before. Or the bike is too fast. Listen to your gut. Don’t get in over your head.
2. Always wear a full-face helmet

Wear a full-face helmet, with a face shield (or eye protection). Always. My friend Jim rides, and always wears a motorcycle helmet, except “when he just needs to go to the store really quick to get something.” Really? Most accidents occur at slow speeds, and even at slow speeds, not wearing a helmet increases your risk. The helmet may save you if you hit a patch of gravel. Or an oil slick. And your head hits...something. It’s critical to safe riding. Oh - one more thing. You're probably asking whether a full-face helmet is necessary. An open-face helmet looks so much cooler and isn't nearly as hot in the summer. Right? Sure, but the most common area of impact to a motorcycle helmet is the chin at 19.4%. It's worth wearing a full-face helmet

Full-face helmets are essential.
3. Wear protective gear – always

There are a few basic rules here. Boots that cover your ankles, an abrasion resistant jacket with armor, long pants or jeans, gloves, and the full-face helmet in #2. If you want more protection, wear motorcycle pants with armor and moto boots. Just because you’ve never dropped a bike doesn’t mean you won’t horizontally park one day. You may find yourself asking “do I always need to wear all this gear? How about in the summer? When it’s 100°, sweltering, and humid?” Yes. Yes. And Yes. If it’s that unbearable, get a vented white helmet and some lighter colored or white gear.

The more protection, the better...
4. Check the weather and know your limits. Then check it again.

To be a safe rider, we need to plan. It takes time to plan a safe ride, and concessions are often made by cautious motorcyclists. Last year, I spent a week riding from Denver to Las Vegas in October. And it was lightly snowing. I was wearing rain gear and ski gloves and I wasn’t afraid of some light snow. I had spent three months planning for this ride, using the REVER app to plan the route, and Dark Sky to check the weather. But the weather changed daily. So, I needed to re-plan and reroute. Every day. Before bed each night I’d review the forecast, and plan the route. I’d repeat this in the morning. Rain and snow can move in quickly, and if we properly anticipate them, we can make safe decisions. Need to cancel a hotel? It’s worth it. Have to catch a later flight? It’s worth it. The small financial impact of these choices can save your life.
Don't be this guy. Helmets are an all-the-time accessory.
5. Stay sober

Pilots have a saying: “Eight hours from bottle to throttle.” Well, it applies to us too. Safe riding takes all of our concentration. We use all four limbs, our eyes, ears, and nose. We are always aware. I’m not going to start lecturing you on blood-alcohol content, impaired judgement and delayed response time. I’ll leave that to the 8th grade health teachers. Just don’t do it.
6. Get some rest

This kinda goes without saying, but not really. Being on a motorcycle requires a significant amount of focus; after a long ride, I’m mentally exhausted. So when you ride, make sure you’re a safe motorcyclist and get a good night’s sleep. Highway hypnosis applies to both drivers and riders, so even when you’re well rested, you may get tired during a ride. Take breaks. Stay hydrated. Stretch. And if needed, nap. A few years ago, I was riding the Blue Ridge Parkway and started getting a little tired. I turned into a scenic pullout, parked the bike, found a patch of shade, and took a nap. Just 15 minutes of rest in the grass, using my jacket as a makeshift pillow, was all I needed.

7. Pre-ride

This is easy to forget. You’re with your pals, and can’t wait to get out and ride the open road. You need to relax, get some wind therapy, and unwind. The last thing you need is to do a pre-ride check, right? Wrong.

It takes about 3 minutes. Check the lights (brake lights and turn signals), tire pressure, and fluids. Do this and you’ll greatly reduce your chances of running into an unanticipated issue.
8. On-the-bike checklist

Do you remember what you did the last time you sat on a motorcycle in a dealer’s showroom? Think about it for a minute. I’ll tell you what you did. You checked the suspension, you adjusted the mirrors, and you pictured yourself riding. Sometimes it felt comfortable, like being on a recliner, whereas other times you felt constrained, like being buckled in on a roller coaster. How does this bike feel right now? Good? Are you cramped? Are your shoulders relaxed? Back comfortable? If not, make adjustments Then check the clutch and brake levers. Do they have a proper amount of resistance with some jiggle in the handle? Great. If not, don’t ride. And if the front brake doesn’t work and the lever depresses to the grips, just get off the bike. The front brake is responsible for 80-90% of your braking power. Get the brakes fixed.
9. Remember, you’re invisible: ride defensively

Do you know what the most common phrase a driver says after a collision with a motorcyclist? “I didn’t even see him." Drivers are trained to see other cars, not bikes. And because of our narrow profile, we often find ourselves in an auto’s blind spot. The best way to ride is defensively. Pretend nobody sees you. Do your best to predict driver behavior (or at least expect the worst). Don’t stop looking, thinking, scanning your mirrors, and being alert. We are frequently invisible. So. Is this a comprehensive list on everything you need to do to stay safe? Not at all. But it’s a good start, and I’m sure that if you review this diligently before each ride, you will increase your general riding safety. And, as always, ride safe.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Free Bikes 4 Kidz New Mexico to Give Away 500 Bicycles

 

Reposting from Seniors on Bikes just to get as wide an audience as possible.

Free Bikes 4 Kidz New Mexico will be hosting three drive-thru bike collection days in April with the goal of collecting 500 bicycles to be refurbished then distributed topartner organizations around the state and placed with kids and adults in need. New Mexico is the 11th state to join a national growing movement called Free Bikes 4 Kidz (FB4K.) Since its founding in Minnesota in 2008, FB4K has given away more than 100,000 refurbished bikes. One weekend a year, volunteers collect hundreds of used bikes and over the next two months will refurbish salvageable ones. A free helmet is provided with every donated bike.
 

Bicycle Technologies Incorporated (BTI), a national bike parts distributor based in Santa Fe, has teamed with FB4K to expand the organization’s highly successful bike donation program. The new affiliate, a non-profit called Free Bikes 4 Kidz/Bicycle Harvest will focus on creating a conduit to serve partners across New Mexico and support exemplary efforts like Silver Stallion in the Navajo Nation.


“Research shows that putting kids on bikes not only impacts their health in a positive way but also improves their psychological wellbeing and inspires confidence,” says Preston Martin, Founder and President of BTI. Every year, 25 million bikes are sold in the US and a third of those are kids bikes. Once outgrown, many of those bikes collect dust. That is a potentially constant supply of bikes to ensure kids who want a bike may have the opportunity to get one.


The schedule for the three COVID-19 safe drive-thru bike collection days are:


Los Alamos Friday, April 9 2PM-6PM IHM Catholic Church Parish Hall
Saturday, April 10 9AM-Noon 3700 Canyon Rd. Los Alamos


ABQ Saturday, April 10 11AM-3PM ABQ International Balloon Fiesta Park
Sport Systems 6915 Montgomery Blvd. NE.


Santa Fe Sunday, April 11 11AM-3PM BTI 33 Velocity Way


FB4K-NM will accept used kid’s or adult’s bicycles, tricycles, balance bikes and bike accessories at these events. In addition to these events, there is an ongoing bike collection during March and April at any of the participating local bike shops (during business hours) listed on the web site. For more information on FB4K-NM or to inquire about donations or volunteering, please visit fb4knm.org.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Tom Trowbridge Rides With the Angels

 


  I was pulling into the Frank Ortiz Dog Park with the radio on when the KSFR news announced the untimely death of former KSFR News Director Tom Trowbridge. Tom was also a former New Mexico State Bicycle Coordinator. I've known Tom quite a few years and heard his sonorous voice on the radio since moving to New Mexico. He was also my friend.

Not much is known at this point but if there is some sort of memorial, I'll try to keep folks posted. Get a good ride in for Tom, and listen to KSFR News.

For old times. Tom interviews Tim Rogers and Yours Truly on bike crashes back in 2018.

 
I was going to put up a post on riding gravel bikes on the La Tierra Trails, but this kinda knocked the wind out of my sails. The bottom line is none of this good civic stuff happens unless someone is making it happen. Tom busted his ass as a newsman and a cycling advocate to make both the media and bicycling work. Let his life be an example to the rest of us. These things don't happen by themselves. They only happen if we make them happen. For example, Tim Rogers at the Santa Fe Conservation Trust and the volunteers at Trails Alliance of Santa Fe make places like La Tierra Trails happen.
 
 So long, friend.