Building a Better 50-Mile Loop: Pat Hurley Park

As you probably know, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry has led an effort to establish a formal 50-mile activity loop around town that looks like this:

original 50-mile loopMaybe you’ve seen one or more of the Loop signs depicted in the middle of the map above. Yes, you may have been on the 50-mile activity loop and not even known it!

And that’s to be expected with something that’s new. Likewise, it’s to be expected that not everybody likes everything about the Mayor’s Loop. Personally, I can’t stand the Loop graphic, but I’m not against the idea of a formal loop; in fact, I think it’s a very cool idea and ABQ is a town perfectly suited for such a 50-mile endeavor. Done right, the Loop is a perfect way to not only draw more locals into urban outdoor recreation, but to also provide a “destination” of sorts for tourists to visit and “tackle” the Loop.

I love the idea. It’s just that the Loop doesn’t go where it should.

Yeah, I get that the Loop has to get to all parts of town, all City Council districts and such.  And I’m not as bothered as some that the Loop includes some sketchy cycling areas from a safety standpoint.

Okay, that does bother me a bit.

No, my biggest beef with the map is that it misses some absolutely essential places around town, including spots made significantly safer for cycling by recent infrastructure improvements.

Take Pat Hurley Park as an example. Here it is on a map:

pat hurley mapThat’s Yucca Rd. running west alongside the Park, home to some nice new, wide bike lanes as it runs to Atrisco Dr. N.W., another street with improved bike lanes, buffered even, as it runs between Central and I-40. There’s also a bike/ped bridge over I-40 from Atrisco.

Maybe you, fellow ABQ cyclist, have ridden this area many, many times over the years, taking in spectacular views of downtown ABQ, the mountains and the pretty much the entire city, such as I very inadequately capture in this photo:

pat hurleyA poor job of photography here that shows only a fragment of the remarkable vista ABQ visitors could see as part of their 50-Mile Loop experience, if only Yucca and Atrisco were on the official Loop. But it’s not, infrastructure improvements or not.

And those improvements lead to a personal confession. Until very recently, I had NEVER ridden by and visited Pat Hurley Park. I had no idea it held such a spectacular view. Why should I? It’s in an admittedly “rough” part of town and the bike infrastructure sucked. Why go?

Hence, here’s a solid case of how improved bike safety leads to increased ridership.

Looking over the official Loop, there’s, of course, plenty of places short on that “^ infrastructure = ^ ridership” equation. E.g., as a South Valley resident myself, there’s no way in Hell I’m telling a tourist to ride Bridge/Tower from the Bosque Path to Unser.

No way.

And that’s to be the case until the long-awaited Bridge Boulevard Corridor Improvement Plan finally gets done. Which could be a very, very long time.

Until and after then, places like Pat Hurley Park are left off the Loop. You, dear fellow cyclist or simply ABQ resident, might have ideas yourself on where the Loop should go, instead of where it’s going now.

We at Better Burque would love to hear those ideas. The rules to submit such ideas are:

  1. It’s needs to stay a loop, or at least not have any repeated segments;
  2. It needs to stay roughly 50 miles in total length;
  3. Naturally, adding something means taking something out (be specific); and, most importantly,
  4. It’s still gotta touch every single City Council district.

I’ll start:

Proposal: Stop the Bosque Path southbound section at Central instead of Bridge. Include the new A.R.T. Central from Bosque Path west to Yucca. Include Yucca and Palisades past Pat Hurley Park to Atrisco. Include Atrisco north to I-40 bike/ped bridge. At I-40 Bridge, take the I-40 Path west of Gail Ryba Bridge to the funky little underpass at Ouray and Coors. Catch the I-40 Path again west to Unser.

I don’t have time this morning to do the mileage calculations of this revision. If somebody could do that, I’d appreciate it.

So what’s your idea to improve the current 50-Mile Loop?


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