Wednesday, September 14, 2011

(Congrats to) Santa Fe, a Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community

I was more than a little surprised to find out yesterday from State Bike/Ped Coordinator Tom Trowbridge that Santa Fe was going to be awarded the League of American Bicyclist's Bronze Level Bicycle-Friendly Community designation. That was made public today. Congrats, City Different!

I was a reviewer of The City Different's application almost exactly one year ago (I just checked) and in my final analysis, couldn't recommend anything higher than Honorable Mention to the League from an outsider's perspective. I was not told that a new application was being considered this fall (hmmm...conspiracy theorists can run with that one).
Tinfoil hats rule
Now seriously, folks. Last time around when providing my own evaluation, I spoke to several other in-state LCIs and the decision to recommend Honorable Mention was apparently not unique on my part. I'm not sure what has changed in the interim, but certainly don't begrudge Santa Fe its designation. I simply hope they live up to it. My concern is that LAB needs to keep its standards for BFC's very high and Santa Fe must live up to the award by continually improving, especially in its often dicey roadway connectivity.

As I reported to LAB last year (Sept. 2010) in my review of Santa Fe's application, and again mentioned yesterday to Andy Clarke of the League, many of Santa Fe's problems are not of its own making: the designs and changes implemented on Cerrillos Road, St. Francis Drive, and at the Railrunner crossing at the St. Francis and Cerrillos rail crossing are severe impediments to cycling which were provided by the NM Dept. of Transportation, which "owns" those State/Federal roads. That agency is infamous to NM cycling as neglecting or destroying bicycling-related infrastructure (partially paved roadway shoulders, intermittent bike lanes, etc).  Perhaps that consideration was taken into account by the Bikeleague, as well it should be. In its favor, Santa Fe has a very bicycling-friendly administration, a growing system of offroad trails and bikeways, and was one of the test cities for Sharrows. But that sharrow story has its own twist: when Santa Fe installed sharrows, the police were not briefed and had to be told after the fact what they were. Tim Rogers has also emphatically stressed to me the feverish work that is currently being done by the Santa Fe government and cycling community. Change is rapid.

For anyone thinking I'm dumping on Santa Fe and the LAB with such faint praise, rest assured, its a matter of disagreeing about details, not about principles. I've not pushed a BFC award application here in Bombtown (yet) as I thought we had too much work left to do before we were ready for prime time (added note: I've just requested that this be added to the T Board agenda). Indeed, the concept has been part of recent Transportation Board work plans (put there by a couple local LCIs who have served on the Board), which County Council, of course, has approved.  With Diamond Drive just about done, a very helpful and bike-friendly police force, and bicycling issues formally made part of any road design review by virtue of Council having approved our 2005 Bike Plan and our recently adopted formalized design guidance for streets and roads (see earlier posts and sidebar links) I think its about time we considered applying too. Now, if we can get LANL fully on board...

But let's give three cheers and lift a cold one to our cycling friends down the road in Santa Fe and to the League of American Bicyclists for recognizing Santa Fe's efforts. The City Different has definitely worked for this, even if much remains to be done. Besides, grumpy as I am as a hard grader (and I've always been a hard grader),  I'm not omniscient.

1 comment:

Steve A said...

Your loyal reader would sing praises to high heaven if you were to make a post on your perspective on the actual LAB BFC evaluation process. A process, accused by some of being little more than "bike lanes and you're in." Even your current post reveals it to be more complex and generally fascinating than is commonly realized. Might the Bike League be guilty of "doing evil too publicly and doing good too privately?" Inquiring minds want to know.