Thursday, January 16, 2014

Commuter Trails, More

The Monitor just posted two articles on "commuter trails", quoting this blog and County Trails Expert Craig Martin extensively. That's good.

I think its worth having a get together of cyclists (both road and mountain varieties), Craig, someone representing cyclists to the county, Dan Pava (LANL Trail Specialist), and County Public Works Director Philo Shelton to look at possibilities.

Here is my quick $0.02.

Trails should in no way replace a commitment that all of our roads are or will be bike-friendly and that cyclists will be EXPECTED and RESPECTED on all of them.

Most trails would probably be left alone, as they are loved by the trail community for being exactly what they are. There would have to be a good reason and broad consensus to "improve" a trail to use for transportation. To paraphrase Craig in the Monitor article, we probably don't want to see our trails become asphalt ribbons through the canyons.

My view? If you can't ride it with this, 
it ain't transportation.
(Surly Long Haul Trucker, 
26" x 2.1" cross tires, 
48-36-24 crank, 11-34 cassette) 
Trails developed as useful transportation alternatives should be reasonably direct and reasonably level (anyone wanting to do a technical commute can already do so and should continue, if they wish, to do so).

If trails are improved and we expect people to use them as transportation, they should be rideable by reasonably proficient cyclists with non-extreme bikes, such as hardtails, cyclecross, touring bikes capable of mounting off road rubber (700-40, 26-1.9, etc).  Such trails should not put offroad newbies at high risk.

Trails developed as alternative commuter routes should be examined by both transportation and trail knowledgeable people with considerable cycling experience. We need to ensure there are no high risk sections where a crash is likely, especially if the route becomes popular; signage and rules should be posted. That's not to say that trails don't have their own risks. Non-cyclists who advocate for trails because there are no cars on them are welcome to do a fast endo to find out what trail riding can entail. Maybe trails can be marked "blue diamond"/"black diamond"? Risks will remain.

No one should expect Pavement Division levels of maintenance. Trails ain't roads.

Perhaps the county should sponsor periodic off road bike riding clinics, taught by volunteers (Tuff Riders?)

Trail resources should, if possible, include both County and Dept. of Energy land and if needed, National Forest (I just don't know what routes we would want to look at).

My vision is NOT to turn trails into urban multiuse paths (i.e., Canyon Rim Trail) but some urban trails could be developed in such a way, i.e., extend Canyon Rim as far west as possible if there is space.

I'll post this here to mull over and send to Philo, Pajarito Riders, Tuff Riders, Dan, and Craig after a chance at some feedback.

If there is interest and no show stoppers, I'll see if I can get the T Board or perhaps Parks and Open Space to sponsor something.



Anonymous said...

I see you succumbed the 24T inner ring.

Khal said...

Yep. I am a convert to the Frank Berto School of Gearing: If you can go lower, go lower, and learn to turn really low gears.