Friday, October 31, 2008

Central Ave. Challenge

Due to some concerns about cycling amongst the combination of bulbouts and cars, Neale and I will be riding Central after work to see if we have problems with traffic. I will report any negatives here. Neale has a blog just for commuting issues.

Last two nights were completely uneventful.

My closest call in the last week was actually on the section of Central between the Catholic church and the Aquatic Center, where a bike lane exists. An ancient motorist in an SUV was weaving in and out of the bikelane and I had to dodge her.

Feel free to add any relevant comments here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Omega Bridge crash, Central Avenue bulbouts, and safety

Interesting week it was.

On Monday, there was the long awaited bike vs. car crash at the north end of the bridge. Apparently, a cyclist riding northbound on the bridge sidewalk collided with a MV making a right on red onto Diamond from West Road as both reached the West/Diamond intersection at the same time. The good news is the cyclist suffered only minor injuries. The bicycle, on the other hand, didn't fare too well.

Neale, Scott, and I have long predicted this crash. Rideout crashes are one of the most common bike/MV accidents, as this page by Wayne Pein notes. It is more prudent for cyclists crossing roads in crosswalks to slow to ped speed and make eye contact with motorists in order to avoid this. Obviously, it is also incumbant on motorists to look both ways for peds and cyclists who have the right of way in a marked crosswalk with the WALK light on.

Better yet, ride on the road as a vehicle.

Now, what can we do to keep it from happening again?

I also received a somewhat strident email about the traffic calming on Central. A cyclist said his wife was nearly sideswiped by a motorist who passed into oncoming traffic and then cut back abruptly rather than encroach on an oncoming vehicle. The fault was with the bulbouts. Right? If we had the old wide profile, this would not have happened. Probably it would not have. Then again, the road was narrowed to slow traffic and aid crossing the street. Kinda meant to be the great equalizer.

I'd be tempted to give credibility to this blaming of the new road design except I've had similar experiences with kamakaze motorists doing incredibly stupid things elsewhere such as on NM 4, which is not traffic calmed, and in the Mountain School zone where a driver passed me at speed, less than a foot away, over a double line in a marked, flashing 15 mph zone. He then had to rapidly slow down as he careened towards a crosswalk with kids and crossing guards in it.

I am tempted to say the problem is with impatient, obnoxious drivers more than road design. Its always the fault of the cyclist or the road design, correct? Even when the motorist doesn't wait a seemingly arduous ten seconds till the way is clear and then pass. Yeah, sure. In my opinion, its not just about doing any damn thing you want any more. Its about restoring civility to our community. Unfortunately, it seems to take a blunt instrument such as traffic calming to do that.

If you want to pick this bone, show up on Thursday the 6th of November at 5:30 at the Transportation Board meeting and air your views under the public comment period at 5:30.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Central Ave: Ride on the sidewalk?

Neale Pickett noticed this interesting Central Ave. (by the Reel Deal) paint work yesterday and posted it onto his blog. This seems to indicate that cyclists are being diverted onto the sidewalk.

Not a particularly good idea, esp. given the heavy pedestrian use here. Not to mention completely contrary to vehicular cycling and the county bike plan. I'm certain its a goof.

Neale and I have emailed a question in to Kyle Zimmerman and Nancy Talley asking when they will fix this.

Caballo caput?

According to Neale Pickett, Caballo rolled up the tent and left.

This town has always been tough on small business, but a bike shop competing with the big dogs in Santa Fe has been a tough order, at least in the seven years I've lived here. A bike shop needs a lot of (expensive) floor space and good location to show their wares. And this is a small market quite willing to flee the hill on weekends just for a change in scenery.

Wonder how the Trinity Site will fare on startup businesses with bank loans being harder to find than hen's teeth.

Aloha, Joel, and good luck.

Speaking of small businesses, gotta pick up some coffee today over at our own microroaster, The Coffee Booth.

Early voting

In case you couldn't find it on the county web site, early voting info is here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Riding Single File?

One of the most common questions I get is whether cyclists have to ride single file. Here is the law:

State Law: 66-3-705. Riding on roadways and bicycle paths.

A. Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.
B. Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

county code 38:545

(c) Persons riding bicycles upon a street shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of streets set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.

Normal and reasonable movement of traffic is one of those things that gets hard to define. I'd challenge a judge to tell me I was impeding traffic if I was riding two-up at or above the legal, posted speed limit or at the same speed as a line of cars in the Conoco Hill construction zone. But other than that, I'd not play the wise guy.

The punch line is that a lot of NM-4 is posted single file, due to narrow pavement, lack of shoulders, and curves. So the guy beeping at you might have a legal point.

Be careful on NM4. Not everyone else is so you have to be.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Bike To Work Week/Day

LA Bikes will be coordinating Bike to Work Day on Thursday May 14, 2009. Events we're looking at for that day and the week leading up to it include a Commuter Challenge (where businesses compete for the highest percentage of bike commuters), the commuter convoys (like we've had in the past), breakfast burrito handouts to people who show up on their bikes (probably near Hot Rocks), an ABC Quick Check station (manned by one of the LCI's in town), and an education campaign (classes hopefully sponsored by the lab and the county). We'll also be looking at banners to put up around town and the lab and PSA's. If you're interested in volunteering for it in any capacity please contact me ( We could use ride leaders for the commuter convoys, people to approach businesses about the commuter challenge, hotshot bike mechanics to assist an LCI in quick tuneups at the ABC Quick Check station - that sort of thing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A more bicycling-friendly New Mexico?

Had a short conversation with State Bike-Ped coordinator Tom Trowbridge this morning. With a sixty day session of the legislature coming up, we have a chance to try to improve cycling in New Mexico. During the next few weeks, we should come up with an agenda we can pass on to our state reps in hopes of improving our status from one of the most bicycling-unfriendly states in the union, according to LAB:

State Rank: 45 out of 50.

Reasons for Ranking: While New Mexico has a bicycle advisory council that has meetings scheduled every quarter, the state still has discriminatory mandatory sidepath and mandatory bike lane laws, no bike master plan or accommodation policy, and no League Bike Ed classes have been taught in New Mexico within the last year.

Well, they got part of that wrong. There have been several Bike Ed classes taught in Los Alamos alone. But otherwise, we have some issues.

So let's think of some ideas. The session starts in January. What do we want to change? Better shoulders and more bikelanes on complete streets? A better "buzzing" law? Using the right arm to make right turn signals? Some better review before more bicycling-unfriendly streets such as South St. Francis are constructed?

I'll open the blog to comments and suggestions as long as it remains civil.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

The good news? Bicycle Commuter Act becomes law

The good news? Hard to believe there is any these days.

Well, the Bicycle Commuter Act has finally been passed into law, riding on the coattails of the Wall St. Bailout Bill ! Scroll down to Sec. 211. A detailed FAQ on the nuts and bolts of implementation is available at the League's web site.

I've sent an email to LANL Benefits asking how they will implement the law. They are working on it. Stay tuned.

Kudos to the League of American Bicylists as well as Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). Quoting League of American Bicyclists Exec. Dir. Andy Clarke in a LAB email: “Bicycle commuters will now be extended similar benefits to people who take transit and drive to work – it’s an equitable and sensible incentive to encourage greater energy independence, improve air quality and health, and even help tackle climate change. Thanks to everyone who has helped reach this milestone, especially Walter Finch and Mele Williams, our government relations staff over the years who have worked tirelessly with Congressman Blumenauer, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and many others in Congress.”

The bad news is that the Bicycle Commuter Act was one of the many sideshows, albeit some like this one laudable, attached to the hastily passed and so far ineffectual 700 billion dollar Wall Street bailout. With the stock market having dropped like a gravity bomb and long term trouble ahead, I hope we have enough money left in this country when the smoke clears to keep the bike shops in business. Not to mention to spend on a few other essentials such as schools, roads, beer, and libraries.

Bicycling to work has several economic advantages to the U.S. These include not sending 80 or more bucks we don't even have overseas for every barrel of dino juice we import. (We might all be on bikes if we can't afford gasoline due to high unemployment or if the Chinese lose confidence in lending us the money we use to buy oil from Saudi Arabia.) Aside from saving money on gasoline, riding a bike improves one's health, thus potentially saving on the nation's staggering health care costs arising from obesity, poor cardiovascular health, and Type II diabetes. It also cuts down on carbon emissions. Finally, we would not need such huge, expensive roads such as the Diamond Superhighway if we left a few of those single-occupant cars and trucks out of the game.

There is no silver bullet for our national malaise. Just a lot of normal bullets we are currently not using. Americans need to step up to the plate and become self-confident as individuals and as a nation. Get on your bike.

Thanks and a tip of the bike cap to Patrick O'Grady for the photo, which summarizes many of the public's views of the bailout: a seemingly necessary but bad tasting and undoubtedly insufficient attempt to cure what ails us.

Friday, October 3, 2008

What exactly is a bus system?

During the last few weeks, I've seen two people hurt seriously while trying to use the Atomic City Bus system. One person was decked by an inattentive motorist while crossing the street in a marked crosswalk, and one person was stung by yellowjackets while walking to the bus stop along foliage-festooned sidewalks showing serious neglect by their homeowners. Both people required medical treatment.

As I said to our Traffic and Transit managers Nancy Talley and Mike Davis , our County Engineer Kyle Zimmerman, Pavement Manager Tom Roach, to several Councilors, and to you, my Blog Reader, a bus system doesn't work optimally without a viable way for people to get to and from the bus from their destinations. If our community is not bus and pedestrian friendly and thus support all the parts of the system, we will not see as many riders as we should. Well marked crosswalks, alert and cooperative drivers, and neighbors who care about keeping their sidewalks clear of obstructions are as crucial to the system as the riders, buses and drivers. Seems to me that in an auto-centric world, we have forgotten that sidewalks are as crucial as streets.

Thanks go out to Pavement Manager Tom Roach for inspecting our neighborhood and sending out notices to folks who need to take out the weed whacker and pruning hooks. Thanks to those homeowners who are acting on the notices--and even more to those who don't need notices in the first place.

Bike Commute blarg

I just created my own go-by-bike challenge blog:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

New LCI Coach in town

Congrats also to Neale Pickett for being promoted to LCI Coach, which enables him to teach the course which qualifies others as LCIs.

New LCI in town

Congratulations to Amy, LCI-3 #2103.