Sunday, December 23, 2018

Happy Eve of Christmas Eve

I'm not sure Santa is going to find very many places to land a sleigh in these parts, but the sunny and mild weather made for a nice day on the bike. Get your biking in while you can, as its supposed to return to winter later this week.

East end of the Spur Trail where it meets the Rail Trail

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Proper Urban Planning Prevents Piss Poor Transportation Performance

Sources and credits as above in the figure.
   A bit of good news out of the City Different yesterday. The city Planning Commission approved plans for a rental complex near the Railyard for folks who don't own cars, i.e., the plans don't include parking. The advantages to this sort of infill planning are many.  We can get more property tax dollars per developed acre. We get more people into less space since we aren't building out and housing more cars and garages. We cut down on the need for crosstown car traffic and therefore we don't need more vehicle lanes. (Of course, this presumes stores will locate where the people are rather than building malls at the outskirts of town--separate planning issue.) We grow more efficient, transportation-wise, by building more housing that allows people to take short walkable and bikeable trips for their needs rather than long ones. Strong Town's Chuck Marohn would be proud. I suppose Uber, Lyft, the e-bike companies, et al are happy too.

Having coffee supplies at an easy biking distance 
is important. And fun. (and yes, this is a free and 
unsolicited plug for Iconik.)
Contrast that with the recent discussion to turn Richards Ave into a continuous arterial in order to service the outlying development to the south and southwest. That idea, i.e., to hook up the two ends of Richards, would turn a quiet set of neighborhoods into ones buzzing with car traffic, even if traffic is calmed via engineered slowing of the de facto speed limit.

"...expansion on the suburban fringe, is fiscally ruinous for our communities, largely because of the colossal mismatch between the new public infrastructure those homes on the suburban will need and the tax actually generated by new suburban construction..."--Daniel Herriges, in Strong Towns

There are a lot of problems with sprawling outward. It gets you less taxpayers per acre for  those utilities (roads, water, sewerage, electric and gas, etc) that someone has to maintain once the infrastructure gets old and the developer has left with cash in his pocket. It requires auto transportation for those long distance trips (see Albuquerque) and therefore more roads and parking. With less active transportation, you don't get the health benefits of biking or strolling to the coffee roaster's place. (With a compact city, we have quite a few of those coffee shops in the City Different including Betterday right here in Casa Solana.) And of course with more transportation requiring car travel, you get more CO2 emissions contributing to the dynamics of climate change. Surface transportation is already a major pipeline getting sequestered carbon deposits into the biosphere.

Seems the city might get this one right. I'd like to see the Bicycle and Trails Advisory Committee endorse this project.  I'm sure there will be the usual hue and cry of others claiming tenants will be finding places to dump cars in other people's neighborhoods. But given the distances involved between the Pen/Cordova location and everywhere else, I don't know if that will happen. Of course, someone could always buy some land and rent it out as car storage. That's a good thing. Rather than zoning parking minimums into the development code and forcing developers to waste space on car storage, let folks pay for it the old fashioned way: supply and demand. Maybe capitalism works.

Finally, if there is a worry, it is that since the Pen/Cordova site is hemmed in by Cerrillos Road and St. Francis Drive, getting from these apartments to the city center, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Just About Anywhere Else, etc. will be impeded by the lack of bicycle and pedestrian friendly connectivity. The Rail Trail will be a boon, but it is only one resource.  Fortunately, Cordova is manageable and with some improvements to encourage cycling across St. Francis, this could be a winner. Bottom line? A bicycle friendly city has to stop building stroads (to be fair, Santa Fe's stroads are provided courtesy of the New Mexico Dept. of Transportation) and recognize that when you build stroads like St. Michaels, Cerrillos, and St. Francis, you are working at cross purposes to a bicycle/pedestrian friendly community. My suggestion is that any time a state highway passes through a city, design authority should pass to the city.

Stay tuned.

Have the Drivers won?

Cartoon courtesy of 
Patrick O'Grady/
 I read Robert Mang's My View and had to keep my temper in check. If I gave up road riding every time some knucklehead endangered me, either deliberately or negligently, I would have bought a wind trainer in 1979. That was the year I started bicycle commuting and also the year a negligent driver tossed me over the hood of his VW, resulting in months of recovery from a traumatic brain injury and the end of my hopes for a thermodynamics-based Ph.D.

But drivers have not won and in fact, the Bicyclists Can Use Full Lane signage drive shows that if anything, the tide is turning against auto-centrism. It's not time to give up.

There will always be buttheads, whether armed with a Ford or a Fabrique Nationale. Its up to society to push back against misuse, whether we use a carrot or a stick. Keep riding, Mr. Mang. I'll be out there with you.

Related Reading: Charles Marohn, PE, "Why Do People Keep Being Killed On This Road"

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Santa Fe Open Space, Trails, and Parks Strategic Management Plan Public Review Draft

Rail Trail looking North
 Santa Fe County would like to invite you to review the Open Space, Trails and Parks Strategic Management Plan public review draft. This Plan is the culmination of input from community members, stakeholders, agencies, partners and user groups to develop a framework to move the Open Space, Trails, and Parks Program forward for the next 20 years.  This Strategic Management Plan is intended to be a guidance document from the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) to management, staff and the public for implementation of Open Space, Trails and Parks (OSTP) programs and projects. This plan also provides clear and transparent information for the public regarding the vision and goals of the County’s OSTP program. Once adopted by the BCC, this plan will serve as a policy framework and an adaptable guide for future OSTP programming.

Lovely tree/bike stand!

Public comment closes on December 1, 2018. Please send comments to Maria Lohmann, or call 505-995-2774.

Ecological diversity bank/recreational resource
  There will be a public review meeting on November 28, 2018 to give an overview of the Plan as well as answer any questions and record comments. More details will be sent out closer to the meeting date.

Touring rig on the Rail Trail just for grins

Oh, and in consideration of tomorrow being Thanksgiving...


Monday, September 24, 2018

Autumnal Equinox and More Bike Politics

Rail Trail headed back from El Dorado
 Fall arrived on schedule last week. The weather has cooled a bit and the aspen up in the Sangre de Cristos are bright yellow. There are so many rides in this town that its hard to figure out which bike to break out. This weekend, it was the off road stuff that got exercised. Well, I got exercised too.
La Tierra Trails

This morning I had to drop the old Tacoma off for some diagnostics, as it suddenly went on strike when cold starting, so I dropped it off at Aztec and rode the cross bike back home after pumping the tires to road pressures, which to me means adding 5-10 psi front and rear. The newly finished River Trail extension, which normally connects Casa Solana to Siler Road, is still closed down at Siler Rd due to damage from those massive summer rainstorms, so I took West Alameda home. Alameda was busy but pleasant, part due to the lovely fall weather. Here is a short video of that flash flood courtesy of an Albuquerque Journal article.

Which brings up the politics. What does it mean to be a good bicycling city? How good is good enough, and how comfortable is comfy enough?

 It took me a bit to get used to the busier Santa Fe after sixteen years in Los Alamos, but riding home from Aztec on Siler in rush hour traffic seemed just another day on the bike. But would our bike lanes, where they exist, count for decent infrastructure? It depends.

Last week, we got notified that Santa Fe was rated 1.6/5 by People for Bikes. No one I talked to is quite sure what that means. I took a quick look at the city rankings and Ft. Collins was tops with a 3.5. Seems Santa Fe, a silver level BFC, is in the top third. I looked at Honolulu, which I was familiar with and it got a 1.8. I'm not sure Honolulu (Bronze) is better than Santa Fe (silver) but YMMV. Albuquerque (Bronze) got a 1.7 and frankly, that place has far more ghost bikes than we do in the City Different.

Team of riders who worked with the LAB on Santa Fe's BFC evaluation
Steve Clark, the LAB representative, on lower left.

Nice to be able to ride five minutes to the grocery store
 on a casual bike. Even safe right after major shoulder surgery,
 explaining my dismal fitness in this picture.
 So from that quick comparison, I think we are looking at broadly similar rankings, if not metrics. I would appreciate if People came down to brief us in detail as to how it uses the data they use as metrics. At least when the League ranks cities, there seems to be real human interaction.

One place PfB hits the bullseye is on low stress connectivity. Former BCNM President Dr. Gail Ryba fought a losing war with the NMDOT over its expansion of St. Francis Drive to six lanes, thus eliminating any possibilities of bike lanes in spite of verbal commitments to multimodal transportation. So there is no direct route from Casa Solana to the shopping along St. Francis, and that's a big issue. Likewise, those bike lanes on Cerrillos leave me wondering whether any bicyclist is suicidal enough to use them. I rarely see cyclists on that mega-stroad.

There is always slop in these rankings and sometimes, a hard-boiled look at numbers is good. I'd be happy if PfB and LAB just put big error bars on their measurements and dropped by for a Q and A on how we translate their reviews into actual improvements.
And of course, that Harvest Moon

Friday, August 31, 2018

Discussion: Death of Another Bike Shop

This email chain was on the Pajarito Riders e-list, reprinted with permission. I've left off the authors. Except for my contributions.

Khal Spencer wrote...

I saw on the email list last week that Brad (DBA Fusion Multisports) was selling off bike tools. Today drove by and saw the Going Out of Business sign. Anyone know why the shop is closing?  Poor business or just moving outa here?

Bike shops in this town have a shorter half life than most fission products.


It's been a tough go and he finally decided to join the rest of us and get a stable paycheck.  The retail climate in Los Alamos is brutal.  Retail space leasing costs are expensive, margins are small, people (some, certainly not all) are kinda cheap, online shopping is a killer, and frankly, Los Alamos is not a vibrant (as in barely breathing) tourist draw for active people that would ordinarily support a shop like that.  You don't see a lot of out-of-towners coming here to hike/camp/bike/climb, etc.  The tour buses from Santa Fe sort of drop people off at Bradbury or the NPS center (to get their NPS passport book stamped) and the people don't do a lot of walking around and shopping.

Brad did participate in the County's Tourism Implementation Task Force, which commissioned and produced an interesting master plan.  A big part of that document discusses the need for the County to focus on outdoor recreation to diversify the tourism picture, and hence the economy somewhat.  Now I'm on the Task Force, and so far, we've only worked on relocating the County Visitor's Center.  But as many of you know, we're trying to put pressure on the County and the National Forest to enhance and even create some new trails that would make mountain biking a bit safer, more usable, and more appealing to a wider audience.  We have a lot of interesting trails and some are really cool, but they're not attractive to most people.  Looking around, towns like Ruidoso, Salida, Sedona, Cortez...and dare we compare to Salida, Durango, and Moab...are making a big effort to draw tourists.  Gosh, even poor 'ol Gallup is passing us up in that department.

There are other things that we should look at in town (i.e. events like softball tournaments, soccer tournaments, get our hockey tournament back, more trail and running events, etc...) that would increase our stock.  But, we're actually going the opposite direction on that front.  We seem to have fewer events.  That's a long story too, but it's easy to see that there's something choking off these events that would contribute to a bit more vitality in town.  It's like we've become a bedroom community or HOA and can't wait to leave to greener pastures every weekend for our recreation and entertainment spending.
A tourism draw is not just trails and outdoors, although that's a great start. I've never been to a town with such a concentration of wealth, and so few places to eat. A handful or so full service restaurants, and only two with a full bar, one of which is closed half the weekend. A number of the other restaurants are only weekday lunch too. To top it off, only one actual bar, and a single brewery that doesn't serve food. There is finally a single place in the town to get a good espresso and pastry, and again, not open Sunday. I've seen and heard people come up here to see Los Alamos and it's attractions, and then leave to go Espanola or Santa Fe to eat. And what's unbelievable to me, is how many people complain that the few restaurants that are here are too expensive! I've brought friends up here to ride, and had them leave hungry and angry because the only decent place open Sunday afternoon to eat still hadn't brought our meals after an hour. And if anyone thinks tourism doesn't involve food, you're absolutely wrong. So I'd totally agree that more events are in order, but if you can't feed the event goers, they won't come back. 
I know very little of the inner workings of this county but what I do know suggests xxxx is not only right but frankly being too generous. It’s too easy to simplify the problem and just pick one group to blame (horsies, county council, etc.). Fundamentally, the town/county of Los Alamos has a “cultural” problem. By this I mean the sort of institutionalized laziness and lack of creativity that the presence of the Lab and all of its inertia put on the town. This is not to say that I blame the Lab – I am proud to work here and it is vital to my own existence – rather, once people leave work (or do something other than Lab work), there is no energy or incentive to improve the TOWN. The town and its community don’t have to change because there is always the Lab. If you want to go out, well, heck, let’s get in that really nice car and leave. We have enough money, we can ignore some very basic structural problems. Said another way, the amount of income the lab injects into the community, both directly and through taxation, allows the town to stay just alive enough that it doesn’t ever NEED to improve. Much like an addict, vast parts of its life are broken but it doesn’t care because it has enough to eat and get high.

I realize this is basic economics and everyone knows this but it’s worth repeating because Los Alamos Town must learn to exist outside of the Lab. I grew up just south of Durango. When I was a kid, it was a pretty dumpy post-mining town with not a lot going on. Major money appeared to be modest tourism (the train – analogous to Bandelier) and various agrarian industries. The restaurants were bad and went out of business a lot. I have no idea what part was planning and what was luck, but Durango figured out that they were sitting on a veritable gold mine of outdoor stuff and that virtually their entire economy could be based on it. Admittedly, access to Durango was/is a lot easier than here, and yes, some amount of momentum was in place from Purgatory being close by. It’s still stunning to me just how incredible Durango’s success is when I go home now, particularly considering we have many of the same basic goods as Durango did in the eighties. I have to assume that the Town of Durango felt the existential pressure to (ahem) exist and realized its current state as a result of turning fully to tourism. In my conversations with people in Los Alamos, it seems that almost half don’t want to share at all. To them, “this is our special little nerd-adise and any tourists will just ruin it. Pay no attention to the fact that I go to SF to enjoy the fruits of tourism in somebody else’s back yard.” If that’s the case, and the Lab’s money enables it, there is no hope.  

I apologize for this stream-of-consciousness seconding of xxxx’s letter but I want to vent my frustration over the loss of Fusion. Brad and Rose are friends and I feel very bad about my own inability to do much to stop what has happened. I also hope to motivate a bit more honest assessment of the situation by people who are remarkably intelligent but incapable of realizing or accepting their own role in the way things happen around here. 
YYYY sort of nails it.
The elephant in the room is that tourism is hard and the payoff is tough on a good day. I lived in Honolulu for 14 years before moving here and if anyone doubts that good technical salaries from the national lab mean a lot, try living three generations under one roof because most tourist economy jobs pay shit and houses don't come cheap (now that I am home, I can relax the language rules).  Santa Fe has similar problems. There may be a lot to eat, but a lot of the service workers can't afford to live here or are living in less lavish quarters than your typical lab rat will tolerate. If we had a vibrant tourist economy in LA, folks would either have to drive up from elsewhere (and transportation costs money) or there would have to be major changes in the housing market.
Los Alamos is LANL and vice versa. I don't blame folks for liking stuff the way it is, since it is a good life. But one dimensional towns have consequences. In 2001 there were more small businesses in Bombtown. But a lot of that has died for a variety of reasons including major highway improvements making it easy to Get Out Of Dodge, the Internet, and high costs of renting commercial property. We have the Twin Towers of Middle Earth, Smith's Marketplace and LANL, with fewer and fewer small businesses hanging on for dear life. 
The county worked to try to diversify the bike plan in 2016/17 to take into account both a potentially more diverse local bicycling population and tourists but frankly, I think the county counted on people driving to Los Alamos to see 1940's Manhattan Project memorabilia (is that a good long term plan?) rather than the active living stuff they sell in Durango. Sad as it is, the big push for tourism was based on Federal largess (selling the Manhattan Project memorabilia and the two national parks).  It had less to do with individual initiative, i.e., humping the bushes to sell active living tourism. The flow trail was a start but as mentioned by others, if you can't eat and get a beer, its not going to work.
I think LA will stay as it is unless the laboratory takes a major hit and folks have to scramble to fill in the economic loss, as they did in Durango, Buffalo NY, and other places where the traditional economic rug got pulled out. Still, its too bad that a town with so much money and a lot of bicycling can't support a brick and mortar bike shop.

ZZZZ, I agree with you that it's not all about trails and outdoors.  A diverse mix of activities and events are what make a place interesting.  However, we don't visit Vail for the chamber orchestra events, nor do we visit Moab for the Irish dances and little theater.  Sure, we catch a show now and then when we're ski or mountain bike, or both (we enjoy attending orchestra and theater shows in Crested Butte and Durango).

I've lived here long enough (20 yrs now), and I grew up in Ruidoso, so I've seen the difference between a blue collar town that pulls itself up by the bootstraps to make things happen because they have to, and an affluent town that can afford to drive 45 minutes away to spend the day shopping for a few items and go to nicer restaurants.  Putting this bluntly, the lack of restaurants is not the reason we do not have people coming to visit (or staying in town for that matter), but rather the result of people not coming to visit (other than for work) and staying to shop and eat here.  

As a comparison, Ruidoso, a town of about 7,000 year-round residents, can host events like a motorcycle festival, a horse race, etc., and draw upwards of 50,000 to 60,000 people on a weekend.  They have a LOT of restaurants and bars...that stay open.  Of course, we will not be hosting motorcycle rallies or horse races, but you get the point.  It is interesting to see that Ruidoso can now draw a lot of money-spending Texans who like to mountain bike too.  And to add to what Khal was saying, Ruidoso has hosted a nice century bike ride that also drew a lot of interest...although it appears that road rides are not as popular as they once were, likely due to incidents with cars.  Red River's century is still a pretty solid draw.

I'm not saying Los Alamos doesn't have some nice events and activities, but they're either more the types of things that we folks with families enjoy here at home, or what older folks who are on a bit of a sojourn in tour buses from Santa Fe appreciate as part of their guided experience.  The point is, despite our wonderful outdoor assets, we seem to be missing something.  We don't really have something that stands out or captivates people's attention for outdoor (or indoor) recreation and entertainment.  

I would venture to say that if we developed a wicked-cool trail like Moab's "Whole Enchilada," taking off from the top of Pajarito and ending up either at the Y (NM-502/NM-4), or even better, down at Totavi, it would attract visitors...repeat visitors, who would want food and a beer, probably past 6pm even.

Inevitably the conversation came around to it... one more or less trail won’t change anything about this town. But cutting into the canyon will leave a new scar! Like a bad tattoo, flow trail = tramp stamp. 
1- there’s never been any concerted effort to advertise what LA already has. That’d be step 1, duh
2- real reason nobody visits is ‘cause the place looks like an industrial park and is full of nerds, churches, and way too many cops
3- I like it quiet the way it is. Trails are clear, yard is quiet, kids are safe. Tourists are a terrible pain in the ass and my wife cooks better than PF Chang and Mr Applebee combined. 

People find out about this place I’ll have to move again. 

Yeah, I often wonder if we could sell the trails we have.
Final thought. I wonder if some of LA's problem of people rolling up the sidewalks is topography-driven. You live out on the mesas and even Townsite is a trip in the car. Down in Fanta Se, I can walk to several restaurants and a mall. XYZ, has anyone ever done a survey to find out if people who live on the South Mesa (is that where all the business is?) go out more than people who live on North or Barranca mesa or White Rock?
Yep, LA has very low crime and other signs of those distressful things that happen in communities with low wage/low education jobs. But its all due to the largess of Uncle Sam and Uncle's addiction to nuclear weapons. That's paid my salary for 17 years but I don't think any of us who work in the Land of Coneheads should forget who we work for--all those other people who live in those more distressed communities and whose taxes pay our salaries.

Yep, you all need a sour-faced and crass lady to ring in on this....(sorry TTTT, this won't make you proud of your wife)....Los Alamos, I think has some wonderfully close and varied trails, some really great individuals, and magical wildlife.  But as far as the "town" goes....I think it has been choking on something for a long time....and it ain't a hot dog if you know what I mean ;)

Khal, who knew your original email would open a Pandora's Box of issues... 

First off, you all might find it enlightening to reach out to Brad and Rose themselves, along with other retailers and restaurant owners, to learn what challenges small business owners have in this town...or even private developers for that matter.  I remember coming here for the first time in 1982 for a school ski race (I'm getting old) - there were actually far more retail and service businesses here than there are now.  We even went bowling down in White Rock, and all of Longview was full of stores.  Anyway, that's a different era and things change.  Our community's economic picture is a complicated, multi-layered set of issues.  

Unless you've had your head in the sand and aren't aware, we have been in the midst of a local government funding crisis, or scare.  For quite some time, the County has been receiving what amounts to a government handout in the form of GRT for all receipts on LANL business in Los Alamos County (i.e. we don't *really* need GRT from the retail/service segment of our local economy).  Prior to that, Los Alamos functioned more on a level, real-world tax-based economy, and it showed.  New facilities took a long time to be funded, services were modest, etc.  When the County began receiving the GRT, all principles of capitalism went out the window, and with it, quite a bit of community spirit of "do for ourselves" mentality.  The County sort of resembled a drunken sailor on leave, with big road rebuilds, lots of big construction, etc.  Some of it was good and needed, but some could be considered frivolous.  For some reason, the ice rink upgrades cost $2M instead of the originally scoped $1M. 

With the new LANL contract up in the air, we've had to curtail our entire County budget structures, and go completely flat -- many of you probably don't know that or what the details are, and haven't noticed it yet because we had already encumbered money for everything before.  You would have begun to notice it next year perhaps, and then it would have become much more apparent in the years to come.  We were about to see a massive shift in what the County could commit to or support.  In other words, we weren't going to have the big Sugar Daddy paying for everything.  We, here at the County, were the first to feel it with open positions suddenly being filled (resulting in having to pick up more slack), and our salaries went flat - no raises at all, even for cost of living.  This is a bad thing because there are people here who are very talented and would nicely fill roles in jobs that are becoming widely available at the Labs.  The County would start losing the quality people who have been recruited during these fat years.  It would be a noticeable loss if this pattern continued for more than a couple of years.

With the GRT, the County even went so far as to push private developers out of business because the County has acted as land developer (LEDA) with far more power than small developers.  The County managed (or manages) the Smith's deal (that's actually still County and LAPS land with a lease agreement with Kroger), and even the new development down in White Rock (Mirador) is a sweetheart deal for the developer because the County put in a lot of cash to pay for it.  We have been so fat and drunk with LANL cash that we even snubbed our noses at private venture capitalists who have wanted to purchase old buildings for renovation and restoration to get them up and running again.  Instead of supporting that effort, the County has taken a hard line to have them demolished or entirely gutted.  That is not something you'd see in most towns.  So, we still have blight because it's too cost-prohibitive to live up to the standards.

Los Alamos is a single-resource type of economy, kind of like a mining town or similar, but we haven't seen the jobs dry up like they did back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s in places like Salida, Moab, Crested Butte, Durango.  This forced those towns to reinvent themselves...admittedly not the model we're after, but it's still something to consider.  As a real functioning community, we're not actually self-sufficient, and rely heavily on the imposed tax structure set up with LANL here.  We're structured like the "Candy Land" towns of the former Soviet Union (Arzamas-16, or Sarov, the sister city of Los Alamos) in which we receive special funds for our existence.  If we didn't impose all of those taxes on LANL, ostensibly there would be funding available for more research...or at least that is the party line.  Heck, even our very existence up here is special and requires a massive amount of wasteful resources just to supply us with water and waste-water treatment, electricity, waste disposal, etc.  Our existence here on this high mortal coil is anathema to the climate and environmental stewardship, but here we are and we have to get on with it.  There is certainly a segment of the population here that gets caught up and cut off in our self-made cloud of hauteur and piety regarding...well, just about everything.  It's an easy tendency to become hypocritical - which is where this leads to the discussion about trails.

In the interest of crusading against the tendency to become so smug as to actually enjoy the smell of our own farts when it comes to "our" trails and how they should be viewed, programmed, maintained, or revered, some background on how they got there and how they exist now is necessary for perspective.  First off, MANY of the most popular trails that we have on County-owned land and the ski area (and even quite a few FS trails), didn't even exist at all prior to the period from 2000-2005/7 (which is the post- Cerro Grande Fire reconstruction and new trail development programs).  So, if you use trails like the Bayo Fireline, Tent Rocks, Zipline, Pueblo Rim, many segments of the Perimeter, the Camp Hamilton Connector, almost ALL Pajarito Mtn trails, new sections of Bayo, North Kwage, etc.(the list is long)..., then you should understand that you're using virtually BRAND NEW trails weren't there at all just a few years ago.  In fact, relatively speaking there were very few "trails" per se, on County-managed land.  Only the concentration of [most] trails below the aquatic center/bridges/Acid Canyon, the north/south Bayo Bench trails, and a handful of others resemble what they were 15 years ago, or so.    

Forest Service trails that are either brand new, or were completely reconstructed since Las Conchas, often with heavy machinery, include Water Canyon, Canyon de Valle, Pajarito Canyon, lots of Perimeter, lower Cabra, most of Pajarito Trail, lots of Canada Bonita and Guaje Ridge trail from Mitchell all the way down to Guaje Reservoir Rd.  The un-permitted "Camp May Trail" just appeared over the last few years.  We dozed Guaje Canyon twice, only to have it blown out by floods both times, so that trail may not ever get rebuilt.  Most of what we recognize as the Perimeter Trail from Quemazon (who remembers how nice Perimeter was before Quemazon was even there?) to the Arizona Tank service road (where Mitchell Trail takes off) didn't exist in any form or fashion comparable to what it does now.  We just went out and carved an entirely new trail through there, and rode motorcycles all over it to the cemetery and back for weeks to beat it in...same for a lot of the trails out near Rendija.  The local cross-country ski club, Southwest Nordic Ski Club, a 501c3 non-profit, has a contractor's license and a GSA contract with the government, so it was able to apply for and receive federal funding for the purpose of reconstructing and constructing new trails (in all of Los Alamos) after Las Conchas Fire of 2011.  Various land managers and volunteers organized to design and align new trails, RFPs were developed and advertised, bids were received from construction companies, and projects were managed to get the trails either reconstructed, or constructed new entirely.  Quite a lot of trail around here did see construction with machinery and quite a few of us stayed up late working on the projects.

Once Craig Martin came on board at the County to fill the new role of the Open Space specialist/manager (didn't exist before), a lot of trails that we know and love (although not necessarily built for mountain biking in mind) within the County-owned lands began to take shape and added probably 80% more trail mileage in a span of seven, over what was there prior to 2004, or so.  Moreover, many of the most prolific volunteer trail builders who were here in those years (spending a tremendous number of hours and contributing hard labor) have either moved, or moved on to things like raising families and coaching soccer.  The flow trail is not really different from all of those other trail development efforts, but it's interesting and puzzling to hear the "Johnny-come-lately, I don't need that, I'm so awesome that I can ride the other trails and win Strava segments" category of sentiments toward it.  I suppose this comes from the misunderstanding about how our trail system got to be what it is currently, and how it is planned and managed.  

There is a movement to develop Los Alamos County into an IMBA-recognized ride center.  The development of trails for multi-use, and also for mountain bike use in mind is part of both the IMBA plan, and the Strategic Tourism Master Plan.  IMBA has evaluated (over the course of two years of work) our trail system against criteria that would be the selling/advertise-able points of an area, or linked system, characteristic of a "ride center," as they call it.  We didn't meet the entry level of that set of criteria, but they did document and describe how the objective could be met, and what level our area is capable of meeting -- essentially, they said Los Alamos has tremendous untapped potential, but needs organization and work to get there.

There are a number of you here on this list who have put in a lot of sweat equity and have been a part of the movement, and there are some new folks who are learning about it all and are willing to be supportive - so far it's been successful.  Hopefully, we can continue to move forward.  For the others who want to maintain status quo...we're not there yet.  This isn't where the line in the sand has been drawn.  And, it's understandable if you don't live here and don't care...hopefully you quit reading before you got this far. 

If you want to give me your opinion, I frequently ride the Thursday evening short track session.  I ride an old heavy beater, and I myself am an old and heavy beater, but you still gotta keep up so I can hear you.  Quinn, Hugh, and Warren don't say much, so that frees my mind up considerably.

Finally and hopefully, in understanding how we got most of our trails built, you can perhaps see that it's somewhat comical to hear people obsess and complain over little efforts from others to improve drainage, tread surfaces, add a little embankment, move a rock...OMG.  If Taber spends his afternoon working to make some improvements, I think the words and sentiments we all should strive to express are: THANK YOU!

Thanks for being patient with the length.  I tried to be succinct, but the issue has a lot of implications.  It's kind of an abstract thing to relate public budgets and policy, and project the effects on the community, both short and long term.  It's good that there are community leaders here that are taking all of this seriously and understand that progress can be made.  Thankfully for all of us, the County did make a formal commitment to open space and trails back in the 2000s and have not let it gather cobwebs.  Eric Peterson has his job cut out for him, and hopefully he sees an increase in support because he's overburdened terribly as things are now.

Quite a few people have commented to me that they figured Fusion went out of business because of the flow trail issues, but that really had nothing to do with it.  In fact, the flow trail is a project that was not actually conceived of, or proposed by a community group, but rather the tourism consultant that relayed the idea to the Council, supported and detailed by the IMBA consultant.  Some members of the Council researched it (even going up to Colorado to see and ride some!), along with the County Admin. It was deemed a feasible, low-cost, high ROI project that had benefits for people in the community, as well as being an attractive outdoor recreation asset.  The idea also engaged other County entities, such as the Atomic City Transit, etc., so it also had attractive ancillary aspects.  The Council, along with the P&RB, tapped an ad-hoc "committee" to scope and present the project proposal (3+ years ago now).  That is how I and a few other infamous characters got involved with it.  It came through that series of commissioned master plans, researched and developed by nationwide professionals, then parleyed to us as local "on the ground" experts (for lack of a better term).  

All of us who got put on the block to champion the project (including Brad) have become very frustrated that the project's concept and plan has not been well presented.  I do not understand why information has not been forth-coming, or why there hasn't been more productive dialogue.  This is bad because a lot of misunderstanding and mistrust has developed unnecessarily.  

(it's the drop-down at the bottom of the list)

The concept for the trail is not to be a crazy, bike-park style trail, but sort of a hybrid back-country trail with a flowy feel, integrating the most interesting features and feel of the canyon.  In a lot of sections, not much is going to be done to "build" the trail, other than to sweep away the pine cones off of the existing rock.  The gradient will parallel that of the canyon itself, remaining more or less on a steady trajectory that avoids steep drops.  It'll be a community-style trail, not a ripper trail.  That being said, there will be some flowy elements where they fit, but won't be forced into it like you'd see at a bike park.  The zone with the most construction impact will be where the original steep trail from the lower end of the stables (with the big water bar drops are) intersects with the old eroded Lujan "road" -- heading steeply down (east) to the bottom of the canyon.  For about 250 to 300 meters, a "bench" will be constructed to keep the trail from dropping quickly.  It will eventually align with a more gently sloping hillside at the base of a band of low rock cliffs.  It's nice in there because it can weave and wind among a nice low-density forest.  The really nice thing is that toward the bottom of the canyon complex, where it joins with Pueblo Canyon, there will finally *be* a trail.  Currently (unless you use the bandit game trails, etc.), there is no trail from the confluence of Bayo & Pueblo Canyons, to the "Y".  This will most certainly be a nice improvement.  Maybe that lower part could be multi-use, not just a bike-specific trail.  I do not really see the point of restricting its use in that lower part.  The gradient is low and the speed will be too.  There's another proposed project to [finally] enhance and formalize a few of those little bandit trails that start and stop in that area, so maybe that'll be the case.  That corridor/area has been a long time in the works. We'll see.  There are a lot of historical sites/artifacts in there, being so close to the Big Otowi and Little Otowi villages.  Now, with the Pueblo/Bayo access road all covered in asphalt millings from the NM502/4 mill & overlay project, it'll be nice to have a different alternative for travel.

OK, now I'm done... 

Great conversation, and most of us agree we would like a bit more going on in Los Alamos. But this sounds like a stitch and bitch club unless each of us is willing to be part of the solution.

I offer one way to do that: support the restaurants that are here doping a good job. And I mean at dinner time, not lunch, if we want to help the nightlife. It is easy but lazy to say all the restaurants suck. We go out here quite a bit. (OK, partly because we both work and get too lazy to cook). There are more decent meals available here than you think. Here are a couple you maybe don't think of:

Little Saigon. Read their story on the website. OK, the decor and ambiance mostly suck, but they make quite good Pho and Bun. We go down to White Rock at least a couple times a month to get some.

Sirphey. Different way of running a food place, but they make some really good quality stuff and the meals change all the time. Great to get some variety.

If your reaction is, "but it costs $11 and I could get it for $9 in a big city," you are part of the problem.

Broken Mike