Who Says Roadway Infrastructure Tables Can’t be Sexy?

Via the Twitterverse yesterday (thanks Ed Gerety!) I saw the following:


Above is a graphic from the just announced National Association of City Traffic Officials (NACTO) “Designing for All Ages & Abilities: Contextual Guidance for High-Comfort Bicycle Facilities” guide. As the People for Bikes post in which Ed Gerety, the Twitterverse, and I found this gem points out, the table above will be digitally released in the next couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, let’s just adoringly stare at the table above for a few minutes.

  • See the attention to traffic counts.
  • Gaze upon the use of the phrase “Target Motor Vehicle Speed” instead of “Posted Speed Limit” or godawful “85th Percentile Speed.”
  • View, mouth agape, at the “Key Operational Considerations” section that allows for notes pertaining to pedestrian usage, etc. (although this column could be improved).

Overall, the graphic above just makes one all tingly for its simplicity in leading left-to-right toward simple results, such as “bike boulevard.” Let’s now compare this table with a paraphrased version of an actual discussion held a few months back between City staff, a design contractor, and Bicycle Advisory Committee members at the *August, 2017 Greater Albuquerque Bicycle Advisory Committee (GABAC) meeting.

During a presentation on the proposed widening project for Alameda Blvd. from the Balloon Fiesta Park to I-25 (the one Councilor Brad Winter has likely killed for quite some time), GABAC and the public in attendance saw drawings like this:


The following exchange (again, paraphrased) based on such drawing then took place:

GABAC: What will the posted speed limit be on this new version of Alameda?

Staff/Contractor: Look at the bike lane.

GABAC: It’s good to have a bike lane, we guess, but there are other factors here, especially speed and traffic counts.

Staff/Contractor: Look at the multi-use trail, for those too scared to ride on Alameda.

GABAC: But what about crossing I-25? Won’t that be dangerous, especially on the multi-use path?

Staff/Contractor: So would you prefer a six-foot bike lane, or a four-foot lane with two feet of buffer?

This disjointed exchange continued on into a “horse trading” discussion about the relative benefits of six-foot v. four-foot plus buffer treatments, as if GABAC existed to invent (laughable) and impose (far more laughable) such criteria autocratically (fall down funny).

Fortunately, and this gets a bit wonky, there’s a “Development Process Manual” (DPM, because everything must have an acronym) for the City of Albuquerque created to guide all roadway design criteria, and, even more importantly, this long, complex and very important document is currently being updated from the 2008 version linked above.

This new iteration of the DPM, at least in draft form, has a table somewhat like the brand-new NACTO table atop this blogpost. Specifically, this guiding table will designate width of bike lanes based on roadway speed and other criteria. It’s unknown, at least by me, exactly which criteria and other details will make it into the final, official, update. It’s one of those “black box o’ finalization” mysteries that comes with the advocacy territory.

I think it fair to say that official version won’t be quite as bike/ped-friendly as the new NACTO guide/table shown above, but it will be closer to it than the 2008 DPM guidelines. The new update should also help guide roadway planning away from worthless, disjointed “horse trading” discussions at bike committee meetings, and toward solid, enforceable improvements in roadway projects for years to come.

Of course, I’d rather just insert this new NACTO table into the new DPM, but it will take far more than simply electing a new Mayor to make that happen anytime soon.


*Note: There aren’t any online minutes for this August meeting, and haven’t been for months, as the Committee hasn’t had a quorum. That’s a long story which I am happy to pass along to anyone who asks, as long as that person also agrees to become a member of the Committee. 

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