Silver Avenue Detour: You May Say I’m a Dreamer


News events almost always get one to thinking of John Lennon, never more so than the last day or three in Albuquerque. It’s kinda hard to “Imagine” much positive around here right now, but as something of a distraction, if nothing else, let’s Imagine all the cyclists who currently use Silver Ave between Yale and Carlisle instead taking Lead and Coal, as is depicted above in this new official detour during the Bike Boulevard improvements on Silver.

Imagine what that would/will look like?

It isn’t hard to do. The commissioned study on Silver that helped lead to the long-awaited improvements included pedestrian, cyclists and even skateboarder counts. By the way, as I understand it, those counts were generated simply by human data collectors standing on street corners (IDK if they were wearing white smocks and holding clipboards). I mention this in passing, because such simple counting methodology could easily be employed around town next Spring.

Where was I? Oh yes, those ped/bike/skater counts. Here’s a screenshot of the Study showing 8-hour counts at Silver and Stanford/Columbia taken in May, 2015:


Cherry-picking just a smidge, we see that 101 cyclists were reported on Silver crossing Columbia. Now, because we don’t have bike counts for Lead/Coal (YET!), let’s contemplate about how many use those busier streets now and toss 101 more cyclists in the mix.

What will that look like? Imagining that is just one of many contemplations the detour brings up. These include:

  • How will drivers on Lead/Coal act differently with dramatically increased rates of cyclists riding alongside?
  • With the “Four Types of Cyclists” model in mind, how many of the large number of “Interested but Concerned” riders who feel safe on Silver will actually ride the perceptively less safe Lead and Coal?
  • The detour details a 25 mph speed limit on Lead/Coal? Will this happen? If so, what, if any, impact will dropping the speed limit 5 mph have on driver behavior?
  • Speaking of which, what, if any, impact will the little orange detour signs have on driver behavior?
  • How many cyclists will ignore the detour and just take Silver anyway, preferring it for several reasons (including the chance cars will be 100% blocked due to construction, while bikes will just “guerrilla” their way around and through construction sites)?

So many questions to ponder, but one thing we don’t have to just “Imagine” is that Silver will, around November, be much closer to a “real” Bike Boulevard, instead of the “failed BB” it’s been up to now. Will the new iteration be perfect? No. But it’s going to be far closer to perfection than just about anything else going on in Burque and the world these days. Imagine that.

Be safe out there everybody, especially you “Interested but Concerned” folks who make the switch from Silver to Lead/Coal. As we Texans say, “It’s like a whole ‘nother country.”

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