Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Narrow single lane roads leading to and from Las Campanas: bicycle vs. eighteen wheeler

Tip of the brain bucket to Patrick O'Grady in return for once again pilfering his comic.

Monday, 26 Sept., 2022

To: Anna Hansen, Dist. 2 Commissioner (I think this is your district!)

    Erick Aune, SFMPO
    Ken Love, LCOA Board President
    Tom Van Berkem, LCOA Board Vice President

RE: narrow, single lane roadways leading in and out of Las Campanas

Dear Commissioner Hansen, LCOA Board leadership Love and Van Berkem, and MPO Officer Aune

Greetings and good day.

I've often been a little curious as to why the main roads leading in and out of Las Campanas (Camino La Tierra and Las Campanas Drive) often revert to a narrow single lane divided roadway with no shoulders and abrupt dropoffs. While this may seem like an interesting and somewhat aggressive form of traffic calming, it makes life interesting for bicyclists and motorists trying to safely negotiate around each other.

This loop is somewhat popular with bicyclists, given the number I see out there. As I live right near the north side of Santa Fe, it is one of my recreational bike loops.  When riding out your way, I normally try to shade as far right as I can when being overtaken to assist those who wish to pass but even then, with the lack of shoulder and often a sharp dropoff into a ditch, it is a little bit of a dance for the bicyclist and motorist but we make do.

Today, I briefly thought I was going to be hit and killed, hence this letter. Riding back from Las Campanas on one of those single lane, divided sections of Camino La Tierra after the Las Campanas Drive merge (location corrected from original email to the above folks) around 11:30, give or take ten minutes or so, I heard the toot of a horn behind me. I started to wave back but before I knew it, I quickly grabbed the handlebars with both hands as I was, without further warning, being passed by a full size 18 wheeler flatbed tractor trailer with very little room to spare and no way for me to look back to see how wide the flatbed might be. The truck driver apparently was not willing to wait till I could move over or for that matter find a wider section of road. This is not pleasant.

I was on the Transportation Board in Los Alamos for about 14 years, chair or vice chair for much of that time, working with county council and our public works department. I cannot imagine ever approving such a design as a "complete street". I am really curious as to how this design was approved, and whether when inevitably, someone gets killed out there, if anyone will ask the right questions.

Sincerely, and thank you for reading,

Khalil J. Spencer

Santa Fe, NM 87501

League of American Bicyclists Bicycling Instructor #1173
Los Alamos County Transportation Board, 2003-2017
Currently vice-Chair, Santa Fe Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee but speaking for myself, not with my committee hat on.

 Note added 10/2/2022. Someone left a comment that these roads are actually private roads. I suppose if they are, it is fair game to the Campanas community on how they are constructed. I'd be interested if someone could leave a comment as to where this information, i.e., that these are private roads, is documented, and pardon my ignorance if that is the case. I was surprised to read this as at least Camino la Tierra provides access to Old Buckman Rd. and BLM land.

Note added 10/3. The Santa Fe Metropolitan Planning Organization has confirmed these are county roads, not private roads.


A typical section, but visualize this with a full size tractor trailer passing you. Photo courtesy of Google Maps