Albuquerque’s Fabled Southeast Passage

Some years ago, when I was employed in Journal Center on Albuquerque’s north side, my colleagues and I would use one of the flood control channels to cross beneath the pedestrian-unfriendly Jefferson Boulevard to get to the neighborhood lunch spots.

I was thinking of that today as the Better Burque team explored Albuquerque’s southeast, in search of ways to cross Interstate 25.

At last week’s meeting of the Greater Albuquerque Bicycling Advisory Committee, committee member and Better Burqueist Scot Key reiterated his interest in a bicycle path along the flood control authority’s South Diversion Channel.

Given that most flood control channels have dirt roads along their edges for maintenance purposes, and also must cross beneath major highways, I suggested we try riding it to see what happens. Scot suggested we bring bikes with thorn-resistant tires.

Both turned out to be good suggestions.

SE Passage 1
Ditches are deadly, kids, don’t do this. Photos by John Fleck.

The problem in this part of town (really any part of town, but especially this one) is that there is little provision for non-motorized crossing of the Interstate 25 corridor. As cyclists, we must improvise.

One of the route’s attractions is the active collaboration between the flood control authority and local artists.

SE Passage 2.jpg

SE Passage 5.jpg

We can report that the channel is ridable, and the art is lovely.

SE Passage 3.jpg

Though the question of what to do once one completes the I25 “underpass” (as you can see from Scot’s puzzlement) has no easy answer. One is at the bottom of a flood control channel. But at least the view of the Sandias is lovely.

SE Passage 4
Really, kids, flood control ditches are dangerous, this is a terrible idea.

In other words, some thought will be required to formalize such a route, because “get across the freeway by riding your bike in the flood control channel” doesn’t scale well.

Here’s the route:

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