Saturday, January 5, 2008

Neale nails his Vanagon

Wow. Harrowing story here. But the Picketts are all OK, apparently. I guess the Vanagon didn't do so well.


Anonymous said...

This has nothing to do with the recently deceased Vanangon. However, does any one know where Los Alamos rates in terms of being a bicycle friendly community as rated by the League of American Bicyclists? As a community, are we working towards any rating, or just hoping a few more lines get painted on the roads when they're redone?

Neale said...

LA Bikes is going to submit their Bike Friendly Community application Real Soon Now. Before 2008's Bike To Work day, at least.

Nancy Talley, who fills the role of bicycle coordinator, is interested in getting this certification. I suspect the county council also would like to pursue it but I haven't asked.

Anonymous said...

The reason I ask is that over the last 18 months I've found myself mindlessly getting on the bike to come to work 3-4 times a week. My unscientific observations is that we have a long way to go to make Los Alamos bike friendly. It would be nice to have connectivity between White Rock and LA without having to rely on employment status or doing the State Rd 4 Suicide Ride to get to the Truck Rt. Are considerations for White Rock part of the application?

Neale said...

All the roads (and land) connecting White Rock and Los Alamos are owned by either the state or DOE. I think you'd have better luck talking to the state about this.

This is definitely something LA Bikes would like to discuss. The problem is finding someone who wants to discuss it with us. Before we start pestering folks about it we need to figure out who are the right folks to pester. BikeNM might be able to help out here.

In any case, I hear about this particular issue a whole lot. The "Bike Friendly Communities" application is being made on behalf of the whole county, so we'll have to see what LAB thinks about White Rock connectivity.

Anonymous said...

How hard would it be to pester the lab to create a bicycle only badge? The user could pay the cost of it. It would have a bicycle icon on it or be green so that it couldn't be used for anything else. The DOE should encourage alternative fuel and transportation. I'm not naive, and I realize this DOE we're talking about. However, I think the place to start is locally with the lab and county to get a consensus that being able to ride a bike from WR to LA is a good thing.

I've talked with Ted Rogers, the NM Bicycle, Equestrian, and Pedestrian Coordinator about State Rd 4. It is about a five year project just getting it recognized as a need. He really didn't seem all that interested in a short, two mile stretch of state hwy tucked away in the far corner of Santa Fe county.

Khal said...

Sorry to miss this thread. I've been out of the loop.

First, the County is doing what it can with what it owns, which is why Diamond is being rebuilt with continuous bike lanes. When I was on the Transportation Board we tried to expand the bikeway system to Rt. 4 but frankly, the State DOT is a lot less bike friendly than Los Alamos.

We also tried to motivate the Laboratory to let nonbadged cyclists use Pajarito Road, but we ran into post-Nine Eleven fears and money issues: who would pay for non-LANL workers to get a badge? Frustrating as hell, and I sympathize with those who want to bike to and from White Rock without cycling the Rt. 4 suicide run. I'll keep bringing it up at the Lab, but given the state of paranoia of our country and DOE, its a tough sell.

Khal said...

Minor correction: The county considers Rt. 4 and 502 as part of our expanded bike transportation system, but it is out of our jurisdiction. We have to work with DOT and our state reps.

Anonymous said...


I think the county, from the council level, needs to make this an issue with the lab. As I said, the user could pay for the badge. They issue non cleared visitor badges all the time. They could have a limited life and require renewal on a regular basis. We're not talking splitting atoms here.

I appreciate the changes within the county's decision making in terms of bikes. However, I think it's a cop out to say, "not our jurisdiction". I know from experience that when something impacts the county, the council has been known to reach out directly to other entities. I'll be happy to do a lot of the leg work, but it's time we got started on knocking down the barriers, real or perceived to connect WR and LA for cyclists.

Khal said...

I concur. I'll try to push it on the Laboratory side with the Traffic Safety Committee. Perhaps Neale can raise it again on the county side through the T-Board.

Would be nice if the road bike community were more active, too. Seems sometimes that training takes precidence over ensuring one has a place to train.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's really a question of training. We need to type cast bicycles as regular transportation. I'm afraid that people unfamiliar with cycling see the razor thin bikes mounted by multi-colored human beings and really don't care if they have a place to ride. This is a transportation issue. I think there is little sympathy for folks that can afford all the accoutrements that modern American cycle requires and has enough time at lunch to use them. I think we will make more headway if we address this as transportation and not other things.

Khal said...

I'd prefer not to categorize cyclists by why they ride any more than categorize motorists by why they drive. If someone takes their family to the lake for a sunday outing, that's recreation, but is also a transportation issue.

Having said that, if a subset of cyclists wishes to be seen only as lycra-clad gods and goddesses out on a noon ride, that certainly might limit their effectiveness as champions for broader cycling rights. It also leads to the comment that I've seen "go do your training rides on NM502". My "training rides" are, from Monday through Friday, my rides to work and back, usually via some out of the way place. During the summer, I like to ride from TA-3 to North Mesa via White Rock. So I am quite familiar with the NM-4 situation from the standpoint of a saddle during rush hour. Basically, I consider any "training ride" which requires me to throw a bike in a car to be a waste of gas.

Anonymous said...

I did not intend to categorize cyclists. I'm thinking of the intended audience. I doubt seriously that the council and lab management really see bicycles as equal to cars in terms of transportation. As we begin to pester folks to take down barriers, we need to see things from their point of view and not exacerbate any pre-existing bias they may have. I think the moment you start trying to sell lab management that is important because it will help with training, you've lost the argument before it started. The community needs a safe and comfortable connection for those that choose a bicycle as transportation. Period.

I agree that any time you put a bike on a car to go for a ride you've wasted gas.

Khal said...

Correct. Its not about training but about transportation. When I was in Hawaii, we encouraged members of the Hawaii Bicycling League to present themselves as doctors, dentists, office clerks, etc. who ride bikes, not as cyclists in search of a training ride. The personal health and green transportation issues need to be pushed.

Anonymous said...

So, how do we link election year politics of the council and get commitments from the candidates to pursue an agreement with the lab and lab management that seems to be unresponsive to anything outside the top floor?

Scott said...

Hi Anonymous - Welcome to the LABikes blog! Please feel free de-cloak if you wish; but either way please continue to contribute to this dicussion.

And congrats on your bike commuting - you are correct, we have a long way to go to make Los Alamos more cyclist friendly.

On the Rt 4 widening issue - I remember several years ago Jeanette Wallace was pushing to get the state to widen SR4 between WR and the Y but one of the local landowners absolutely refused to allow the required increase in right-of-way through their property. Someone please verify if you remember this or can find documentation.

The transportation vs recreation thing is a valid distinction that we need to understand. I know some cyclists who ride 100+ miles a week training for bike racing and/or triathlon who would very rarely if ever use their bicycle in place of their car for getting to work. For them the bicycle is always a piece of training/recreational equipment and never a vehicle. Clearly such a person benefits from more cyclist friendly laws and infrastructure, but I would not expect such a person to become actively involved in advocacy, e.g. attending public hearings, paying to join a local org like BCNM, etc.

However, we should recognize that just riding a lot on the public roadways is in itself a very important form of advocacy. In fact, it might be the most important form. So all those "training-only" riders are helping the cause in great ways by simply demonstrating how many cyclists there are who use the public roads.

Regarding the Lab: We need to find an advocate at a high enough level who can leverage LANS into taking a public stand that the laboratory is interested in actively promoting alternatives to the single-occupant-vehicle commute. Things like the park-and-ride facility are a good start, but look how long it took to get a wait-shelter installed over there (it is finished now, by the way). Such a policy statement may provide a leverage point for a bicyclist/pedestrian access badge, better bicycle parking facilities, better on-road facilities, etc.

By the way, to give credit where due, Atomic City Transit is GREAT and will be even better when the bike racks are installed on the buses. That Downtown circulator with 20-minute frequency is absolutely fantastic. I use it all the time to get from the lab to downtown to run errands.

Scott said...

One more comment regarding giving credit where due, sparked by the comment "just hoping a few more lines get painted on the roads when they're redone".

The Diamond reconstruction project has had integrated bike facilities as a design requirement for quite a long time. The bike lanes are an integral part of the design, and are not being added as an afterthought. The key aspect of this is that the pavement cross-section design is sufficient to support all of the necessary travel lanes, turn lanes, curbs & gutters, AND a standards-compliant bike lane along the entire length of the road. This is a much more cyclist-friendly and safer approach than just putting in a shoulder of inconsistent quality and assuming cyclists will be able to use it, which is what the Lab seems to do.

This is BIG progress in improving the feasability of bicycle-based transportation in Los Alamos. Kudos to the County and the transportation board for making this happen. Definitely a quality-of-life improvement all around (for both motorists and cyclists).

I would like to see the Lab adopt such a design approach for the main roads around LANL.

Anonymous said...

If I de-cloak, it may set your goals back a few years. :) Any way, the right of way from WR to the truck route is across San Ildefonso. The agreement reached by LAC and other entities and passed into law by Congress that settled the last native land claims case involved that section of St Rd 4. It explicitly gives the state the right to widen the paved portion. It's stated this way so that it does not necessarily include more lanes, but the shoulders can be widened. All that is needed now is enough critical mass to get the funds and action to at least pave the shoulders much like what was done on Pajarito Rd.

Jimbo said...

I'd be happy with a mountain bike trail from the top of Pajarito road to White Rock.

Glad to hear Neale and his brood are okay, by the way.