Sidenote: Am I the only one left who still prefers the hard-copy bike map?
As bike infrastructure evolves in Albuquerque, a trend which probably constitutes more Better Burque content than any other, the rising need, more than ever, becomes overcoming the safety gaps between new/safer/greater infrastructure projects. While some cyclists only ride very short distances and don’t need connections (and, let’s face it, many of these riders are still preferring the sidewalk to the bike lane), the system is becoming more and more welcoming to longer rides, and the system needs to correct these gaps.
The gaps are sometimes jarring in the whipsaw of relatively safe/very unsafe/relatively safe. BB readers who are cyclists can list these gaps, reminisces that include involuntary winces and bad memories associated with these dangerous stretches. One of the big issues in getting these gaps fixed is that you really have to ride in the area to fully understand the winces and bad memories, and, in percentage terms, very few people ride bicycles on city streets here.
Using just one set of numbers, roughly 1.7% of our citizens commute to work via bike. Therefore, less than one out of 50 have the mixed joy/struggle often experienced putting together a personal bicycle commuting route. I am 100% certain that if this commuting percentage was inverted, and 98.3% of Burqueans were forced/allowed to create such routes, that the bike infrastructure system here would look NOTHING like it does now.
But that’s hyperbole. Still, to grow the percentage of cyclists/bike commuters, we obviously need to fix these gaps and lower the number of potential “interested but concerned” cyclists who study the Bike Map and come to the rational, logical conclusion that “I shouldn’t ride to work. It’s just too dangerous.”
From a personal perspective, this is exactly what happened in my case back in the early 2000s, before Isleta Blvd. got bike lanes. Yeah, the bike lanes on Isleta are too narrow, but, before the road diet/bike lane improvements, there was no way I was going to ride even the mile or so to Rio Bravo on Isleta. Again, that’s a personal decision; plenty of folks rode Isleta before the bike lanes and overall road diet happened.
But here we’re talking adding to the numbers of riders, and to do that we have to get past the increasingly small percentage of “vehicular cyclists,” who ride the lane almost anywhere, to the “interested but concerned” folks who aren’t riding yet due to safety concerns. Fixing these gaps, particularly now with wider and wider bike lanes and buffers becoming more prevalent, is what will get the current 1.7% of bike commuters closer to the 5% in other U.S. cities (and which is my personal public policy goal).
So where are these gaps? That’s where you come in BB readers. Below I’ve started a list of gaps with plenty of numbers left to fill in. Unfortunately, Burque has plenty of gaps, and I know you can add to the list, winces and bad memories included. We won’t rate the winces, and rank the danger of each gap now. This is just a wince-filled brainstorm. That said, as humans (and public policy officials) love to argue over who/what is #1, we’ll most certainly dive into a Burque Gap Hall of Fame (BGHoF) debate soon.
Bike Infrastructure Gaps in Albuquerque, October 2014:
- Alameda east of Balloon Fiesta Park to I-25. Perhaps the City’s greatest example of Cadillac bike lane meets Edsel. But, again, we’re not ranking here.
- The Menaul Wall. Burque’s bike Berlin Wall (one of a few here). I’ll pinpoint Alvarado as a place where the Menaul Wall impedes existing infrastructure most, but, again, we’re not ranking here.
- Coors Blvd. and the on-again, off-again developer’s bike lanes near Rio Bravo. The saving grace here is that the lanes are of such short distance nobody is dumb enough to use them. That is also the problem. Coors is the most checkerboard lane/no-lane road in town.
- 12th from Mountain to the Menaul Wall. Going North/South from downtown to the North Valley is a big problem. Again, we’re not ranking but, really, it’s a big problem. 12th offers promise, but the gap here, particularly at I-40 is a particularly nasty one.
I’ve cherry-picked a few, still leaving plenty of slots for your observations. Maybe we could get a Top 20 list developed first through this brainstorm and then through what is sure to be an acrimonious argument over ranking them. No, it won’t be acrimonious. We cyclists are never acrimonious, right?
Have a great weekend, everybody. Hope to see you tomorrow at CiQlovia. It’s always lovely when bikes/peds take over a downtown. Combined with Sunday’s Duke City Marathon, it’s a multi-modal extravaganza weekend!