DCF Post, 8.30.16: The Not-So-Charmed Life of CABQ and Encantado N.E.

Heard the expression “short and sweet”? File this one under: “short and bitter.”

It’s the flash nonfiction tale of your City of Albuquerque tax dollars being repeatedly wasted, with subplots of zero communication between government “silos” & engineering/execution incompetence.

Let’s take our story chronologically:

April 1, 2016 (approximately): Above is how Encantado N.E. looked going westbound down its rather steep hill into Tramway as March turned to April this year. No bike lane, nothing but a center stripe until the Tramway intersection itself. Notice the yellow bicycle symbol sign at the guardrail to the right, indicating to drivers that they are approaching Tramway’s multi-use path.

April, 2016: Per Albuquerque City Councilor Don Harris’ request, Encantado Rd. N.E. is restriped (Cost around $19,000) with both a bike and parking lane going down the hill. Here’s how that striping job ended:

(Photo: Courtesy Scott Hale, Greater Albuquerque Bicycle Advisory Committee)

Yeah, that’s a bike lane going directly, literally, into the aforementioned guardrail. Cute, isn’t it?

May, 2016: After hearing “pushback,” as noted in these Bicycle Advisory Committee Minutes from its May 9th meeting (you should read them; they really are funny in a pathetic sort of way),the Committee is told that the bike lane stripe will be removed, just leaving the parking stripe (Cost around: $10,000).

May 16, 2016: Somewhere in this video from its May 16th meeting, City Councilor Harris has a remarkably painful conversation with City staff concerning the removal of the bike lane stripe and costs. (Caution: It really is painful.)

June 3, 2016: Your flash nonfiction narrator rants about these developments in anexpletive-filled post at his blog BetterBurque. Don’t read it; it’s just one cuss word after another. See, I told you not to read it.

August, 2016: While out on a weekend ride, a cycling colleague takes Encantado and sees the following:

(Photo: Courtesy anonymous cyclist)

We’re looking up the hill here, instead of down, but the fact remains regardless of up/down: They’re repaving Encantado. So no striping. Again.

To recap: The City of Albuquerque has spent ~$19k fulfilling a Councilor request that was so despised that the work was undone for another ~$10k (~$29k total), all of this happening only months before a scheduled repaving obliterated the need, or point, for ANY of the previous work.

The End


Epilogue: We’ll lose the “flash nonfiction” gimmick here and go into a tiny bit of backstory depth that makes all this even “funnier.” Here’s an excerpt from the 2014 CABQ Bike Map focusing on Encantado:

That yellow/orange on Encantado indicates the street is considered a “bike route,” meaning it’s felt the street is a better one, relatively speaking, than riding on, say, Montgomery, but does not have a bike lane. You can see this route’s no bike lane condition depicted in the “banner” photo at the very top of this piece.

You might be asking, “but that’s the 2014 Bike Map, maybe it’s been changed?” To answer that, let’s go all the way to 2040, the furthest out local/regional transportation planners have mapped out all modes of travel, including bicycles. Here’s a somewhat similar blowup of the 2040 Long Range Plan:

Still orange. Encantado is still planned to only be a “bike route,” even in the Year 2040. What does this mean? Why does this little wrinkle make our Kafka-meets-Orwell-meets-Dumb and Dumber story just that much “better”?

Because it means putting bike lane striping on Encantado was wrong in the first place. The bonehead decision to have the bike lane head directly, literally, into a guardrail was only exceeded in bonheadedness by the decision to bike lane stripe the street at all.

Okay, that’s really The End

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