Views on Google’s perhaps nefarious impact on our world and private lives aside, I really get a kick of playing around with Street View’s compiled visual history. For instance, you can look at the ABQ intersection of MLK and Locust (at I-25) from this past January , all the way back to 2011. Here we’re looking eastbound in 2014 (on the “before” left), and 2017 (on the “after” right):
Yeah, I’m really gonna miss MS Paint. And because this is MS Paint and because your humble blogger has poor visual art skills, you can barely make out the cyclist about to become very cozy with a bus back in 2014. Still, you can tell a difference.
A big difference.
Green paint, flexposts, and a buffer combine now to make this intersection far, far safer than back in 2014. Looking a tiny bit further east, we see that the 2014 cyclist would much prefer riding under I-25 now in 2017:
But the title of this post says it’s about Silver Bike Boulevard, Scot. What’s this got to do with Silver BB?
Everything. For example, let’s take a 2017 look at Coal and Locust eastbound, a bit south of the MLK/Locust shown above.
Not as good a view from Google here, but we do note the buffer now running up Coal ends as we get to this busy intersection, and that there are zero flexposts, and no green paint.
In 2017, MLK & Locust good for cyclists; Coal & Locust bad.
And despite the understandable common perception that Silver BB only extends from around Carlisle in Nob Hill to I-25, it actually has always been intended to extend on Silver all the way to 14th Street west of downtown. Silver even has those purple BB streets signs downtown. It’s a bike boulevard.
Except that nobody thinks of that downtown stretch as a bike boulevard. Understandably so. And the biggest reason isn’t Silver downtown, it’s I-25, and the Lead and Coal crossings of that cycling “Berlin Wall.”
Yes, some of us do ride up Coal across I-25 to get to the “real” Silver BB, and some of us also ride down Lead. But those numbers are nothing like the ridership on the current “real” Silver BB. Of course, we don’t have such numbers, and that’s a topic for another post.
And, also of course, Silver BB from Carlisle to Yale has just been dramatically improved. Supposedly numbers will be available on the increase from Version 1.0 to 2.0 in that Carlisle to Yale stretch. BB (this time short for Better Burque, instead of Bike Boulevard) eagerly awaits them.
But what if that ridership dead zone of I-25/Lead/Coal could be changed?
What if we improved Lead and Coal from east of I-25 to 2nd St. on a scale of the 2017 MLK improvements? Better yet, what if we went even further in improving Lead/Coal than the MLK project?
What would Silver BB ridership be across the entire scope of Silver and on to the 14th connection to the bike boulevard running to the Rio Grande, if we did that?
I think we might have the chance to find out.
We in the “bicycle community” have been told that ABQ Councilor Isaac Benton is looking into ways to put Silver BB west of Yale on a similar infrastructural footing to the recent work from Yale to Carlisle. In the next few posts, let’s roll around some ideas on how version 2.0 might look, focusing particularly on the I-25 “problem.”
I’ll start by leaving you today with a bit of visual homework, namely one more look at that MLK before/after shot. Using it as both precedent and thought-provoker, your homework is: What could we do with Lead/Coal at I-25? What should we do?
Have a happy weekend, everybody. Don’t forget your homework…