On Civic Involvement Big and Small: Bike Boulevards

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Work continues along the new iteration of the Silver Avenue Bike Boulevard at Carlisle N.E. (Photo: Anonymous)

When is a bike boulevard really a bike boulevard? What changes to an existing, informal bicycle route through neighborhoods, often alongside schools and parks, must happen to expand the group of those using the route to the larger so-called *“8-to-80” crowd drawn to bona fide bike boulevards?

For quite some time, work and public participation has been undertaken toward creation of a “Fair Heights Bike Boulevard” from somewhere around the existing Silver Bike Boulevard at Monroe and Silver, to the Tom Bolack Urban Forest Park along I-40 east of San Pedro. Getting there allows car-free connection to the path that runs east along I-40 to Jerry Cline Tennis Courts at Louisiana, on to the bike/ped bridge over I-40 at Winrock Mall, then on to the Paseo de las Montañas Trail all the way to Tramway.

An excellent route, with bike boulevards and trails all the way from Presbyterian Hospital at Silver and I-25 to Tramway and Indian School, if a Fair Heights Bike Boulevard can be crafted.

But again, when is a bike boulevard really a bike boulevard? Courtesy CABQ staff and Councilor Diane Gibson, here are two routes. In red, a previously investigated route along Monroe to Mountain, then east to California Street. In blue, the latest proposed route, one which instead uses Copper Ave. east to Alvarado (a “50-Mile Route” street bedecked with tons of “sharrow” stencils and a HAWK signal at Lomas).

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Cyclists and anyone interested in such things: We’ll just let you stare for a few minutes at the red and blue above.

Continue staring.

That’s okay.

Stare some more.

We have time.

Any thoughts come to mind? Thoughts about that “8-to-80” crowd concept in relation to the above? If you have any sort of “dog in this hunt,” which do you like better, red or blue? If blue is chosen, what needs to happen to make this route a real bike boulevard?

Unsurprisingly, other cities have had similar dilemmas and questions about what constitutes a real bike boulevard.  More specifically, definitions have been drawn up pinpoint levels of bike infrastructure as is done in this graphic from the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin:

 

bike-boulevard-levels-graphically

 

Note the continuum from “Signed Shared Bikeway” at “Level 1” to “Bicycle Boulvard” at “Level 5.” Also note what constitutes sufficient treatments to achieve such designations. Of course, such designations and definitions bring up more questions than answers. Most pointedly: At what level above does a route truly attract an “8-to-80” range of cyclists?

In a perfect, admittedly cycling and traffic-obsessed, world, discussion and debate regarding the above would reach that currently devoted to certain Twitter accounts and police video editing capabilities. While there has already been significant public input on the proposed Fair Heights Bike Boulevard, it’s probably about 100% true that 99% of, say, drivers/cyclists on Copper Avenue, know nothing about possible changes to that rather important stretch of road.

Like most things, any changes on Copper would be learned about and reported upon similarly to how the new back-in angled parking near Nob Hill “Business” Shopping Center at Silver/Carlisle is being learned/reported, i.e., “What the Hell?”

In these days in which a great, great many of us are wondering what to do given the current socio-political landscape, learning more, learning earlier, and getting involved in Duke City matters is perhaps as important as following live-tweets from news organizations regarding meetings with certain national political leaders.

Or, maybe not.

Still, not to get preachy or anything, there is a certain vibrancy to getting truly involved in local matters that merely passive following and sharing of issues via social media does not match. Regardless of the “dog” you pick to be “in your hunt,” it is surely the time for vibrant involvement and more factual information over fake news, i.e. propaganda. Even with little things, like pondering and acting upon what really constitutes a bike boulevard.

 

*“8-to-80 crowd”: The idea being that really safe bike infrastructure, such as a real bike boulevard, will attract cyclists of all ages and riding abilities.

 

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