As we roll around ideas on how to best improve the Silver Bike Boulevard west of Yale to the Rio Grande, we first have to deal with the 75,000,000 ton (approx.) elephant in the path: Interstate 25.
It’s a big, wide, ugly-ass elephant.
Looking closer, we also see it’s convoluted:
That’s four different road surfaces, everything from below grade to well above. You’d have to be crazy to even consider Solution #1, right? Because Solution #1 is to blast a tunnel under the east-side on-ramp and I-25 itself, then put some sort of bridge/underpass between the below-ground and above-ground west-side frontage road/on-ramp.
Here at Better Burque we’re precisely that crazy. Well, crazy enough to at least posit the idea. So let’s posit.
This seeming insanity is based on a singular, and yet untested premise: Lead/Coal will NEVER be a safe enough east/west cycling thru-way to/from downtown. Yes, folks, including me, do ride Lead/Coal, but even after the fairly recent improvements, and even after greater future improvements (See Solution 2 later this week), we’re NEVER going to see growth in ridership equal to, say, that along Silver between Yale and Girard.
And that’s bad. So we’re proposing in Solution #1 to go crazy.
By the way, deriving bike counts is important to any such premise, and I’ve got a job coming up for you, if you’re interested. How’d ya like to get a lawn chair and hang out at Coal and I-25 for half-a-day sometime soon? More about that to come.
Getting back to the patient, surgery to insert a metaphorical bike small intestine amid all that ‘Merica LOVES cars monstrosity might be the boldest engineering project in the history of our fair city. I don’t know, I’m not an engineer. I just see this looking west from Silver adjacent to Presbyterian Hospital:
and this looking back east on the other side of the monstrosity:
But stepping back, I see Highland Park, the hugely improved ABQ Press Club parking lot and tons of further potential:
And Silver itself between I-25 and Broadway is a treat, including a very nice visual of the “Albuquerque” sign at Alvarado at the end (more about that end in a second) of which I failed to take a photo (and Google is no help either). Trust me, it’s cool, and a view very few happen to see here.
And yes, there’s that aforementioned end, the train tracks (and adjacent parking lots at Silver and Union Square Road.
Not as tough as I-25, but definitely an obstacle, one evidently including government employees at Union Square (building). Maybe that fenced in power pole area would work.
Oh, what am I thinking? Getting PNM to change its hyper-paranoid concerns about electrical security is only the teeniest of at least 10 truly MASSIVE obstacles facing Solution #1. These include coordination with Amtrak, BNSF, ABQ Ride and god knows who else in putting a multi-use path across the view above.
By the way, have you noticed that when these projects (I-25, “new” Alvarado) were first built/reconstructed, absolutely 0.00000000000 thought was given to walking or cycling? I’m guessing you noticed that.
So Solution #1 is a pipe-dream of the dankest order. And writing the word “dank” somehow brings me to Denmark. This past Summer, I ended a bike tour riding a train from Hannover, Germany to Copenhagen. We stopped in Odense and I blearily, after hours and hours of rather unpleasant train travel, saw this:
Here’s a close-up from this slideshow o’ architectural beauty about the project:
That’s 20 train tracks. That’s a gentle curve to minimize grade and because, dammit, it’s pretty.
Odense, Denmark has done this. It can be done.
Maybe asking ourselves “What would Denmark do?” is an important starting point in attempting crazy solution #1. As was pointed out by my riding buddy today in answering this question, “Denmark would never have built the fucking Interstate like that.”
And at the heart of any solution to improving Silver Bike Boulevard west of Yale to the Rio Grande, very much including Solution #1, is the cumulative transportation and political sins of our car-crazy fathers. In arguing for Solution #1, we’re positing that the days of putting inadequate infrastructural band-aids on inherently terrifying roads is no longer enough.
We’ve gotta go whole Denmark. Or stay home, or in our cars.