Unintended Consequences Can Be Your Friend: The Rio Grande Blvd. “Road Diet”

Election results around the country last night illustrate many things, including the possible unintended consequences of using “bogeymen” (the transgender community, immigrants, etc.) to the ultimate detriment of a campaign.

Sometimes politicians, in their desperation to seek/keep office, go too far, and a majority of voters respond with the electoral version of what Army counsel Joseph Welch asked Senator McCarthy at those infamous Senate hearing: “Have you no sense of decency?”

And, from such desperation, we get results like this last night:

Speaking of unintended consequences, Better Burque notices an inadvertent argument for protected bike lanes in the most unlikely of places, D’Val Westphal’s “Road Warrior” column at the Albuquerque Journal.

Ms. Westphal dedicates the entire column headlined “Skeptical on Rio Grande Lane Changes” to quotes from, and response to, a missive from a John Young from the North Valley. Mr. Young doesn’t like the “road diet” on Rio Grande Boulevard, and disagrees with the findings and City reaction of a recent report regarding the “diet.”

Mr. Young is quoted thus:

“I have personally found the lane reduction re-striping of Rio Grande to a three-lane configuration – one lane in each direction with a center turn lane – from Matthew Avenue to Griegos has made my commute less safe than the previous five-lane configuration. In particular, I have seen frustrated drivers use the newly expanded bike lanes to illegally pass cars that are driving at or below the speed limit. This use of the bike lane creates not only a hazard for motorists not expecting a car there but could be catastrophic for bicyclists.”

(John’s other concerns include,) “it is now very difficult to get onto Rio Grande from a driveway or a side street. The only option is to pull out into the bicycle/striped section, either blocking that lane and making a right-angle merge, or using that lane as an acceleration lane. Both of these are accidents waiting to happen. During rush hour the steady stream of cars in a single lane northbound makes turns from Rio Grande southbound onto Matthew road at the traffic light problematic. Cars are forced to either wait multiple light cycles or turn after the signal is red.”

Let’s parse this quote, one longer than the entire Gettysburg Address, and focus on the inadvertent argument:

“In particular, I have seen frustrated drivers use the newly expanded bike lanes to illegally pass cars that are driving at or below the speed limit. This use of the bike lane creates not only a hazard for motorists not expecting a car there but could be catastrophic for bicyclists.”

See what Mr. Young did there? We at Better Burque have tried repeatedly to come up with arguments for physical separation of bike and motoring lanes, but Mr. Young has, perhaps inadvertently, stated THE ABSOLUTE BEST ARGUMENT FOR PROTECTED BIKE LANES…EVER!

We at Better Burque could not possibly agree more that bike lane improvements not including physical separation are suboptimal. Let’s take a look at a cyclist on the Rio Grande “diet” and imagine the scene with big, heavy planters like this atop the driving lane/bike lane buffer:

rio grande blvd

Yes, I realize there are many roadside driveways on Rio Grande, including the one the motorist here is turning into, but putting planters wherever possible along any buffered bike lane at least somewhat lessens the possibility of something “catastrophic for bicyclists.”

Hopeful that Mr. Young sees things the same way, we fans of protected bike lanes simply must ask him to lend his name in support of placing many, many planters along Rio Grande, thus evolving the “diet” to the point he will not see “frustrated drivers use the newly expanded bike lanes to illegally pass cars that are driving at or below the speed limit.” I wonder what his reaction would be…

By the way, I think he’s kidding about the “at or below the speed limit” thing. My guess is that entire weeks go by with zero motorists driving below the speed limit on Rio Grande, “diet” or no diet. Oh, wait, the report itself says pretty much that very thing.

Unintended consequences. They can be fun. Happy Post-Election Day 2017, everybody! Let’s keep the happy going all through next week with the ABQ Mayor/City Council runoff!

 

 

 

 

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