“Winning” the Substandard Bike Lane Sweepstakes: Candelaria Rd. N.W.

Continuing BB’s long look at suddenly disappearing and substandard bike lanes around Albuquerque, the street really deserving the Oscar, Grammy, Nobel, and Pulitzer of really bad lanes is Candelaria Road.

While Candelaria “shines” in this regard over just about all of its wide expanse, stretching from the Nature Center at the Rio Grande River to the Foothills east of Tramway, its most MacArthur “Evil Genius” Award-winning stretch is west of I-25, through Edith Blvd, 2nd and 4th N.W.:

Candelaria substandard
From those not familiar with the online CABQ Bike Map: Blue = Bike Lane; Orange = Bike Route; Green = Multi-Use Path; Candelaria = Awful (you’re just supposed to know that)

Here’s how the stretch looks on the City of Albuquerque online “interactive” Bike Map. Yes, a bothersome aspect of the map is that the lane/route markings cover up the street names, but we can see “Candelaria Rd NE” to the right…because there is no bike lane east of Edith Blvd.

Well that’s fortunate.

What we can also see from the Bike Map is that this rather tiny stretch of Candelaria offers much in terms of bike lane, bike route, and no bike lane/route at all. What you can’t see from the Bike Map itself, however, is what gets called “bike lane” on Candelaria between Edith and 4th Street.

So let’s take a look:

candelaria sub skinny
Candelaria at 3rd Street looking back east

To clarify and reiterate: Yes, the City of Albuquerque is calling the striping above a “bike lane.” Notably, there’s just barely enough room for the truck’s rightside rear-view mirror to fit in the “bike lane” in the Google Streetview screenshot above.

While we might quibble a bit on precisely how many lacked inches/feet constituteĀ  “substandard,” it cannot be argued by any sane person that this westbound striping is worthy of anything close to “bike lane” status on either the CABQ Bike Map or in the marketing outreach for the City (“Albuquerque has XXX miles of bike lanes!!!!!1!!11!!).

Then the westbound cyclist, having somehow navigated under the truck’s rearview mirror approaches 4th St. NW.

candelaria at 4th

This is my “favorite” part of the MacArthur Grant-meets-Mengele-level evil genius who “designed” and implemented this bike infrastructure way back when (more about that in a second). Instead of a “Bike Lane Ends” sign at this point, for the scrawny-ass, wholly substandard bike lane does end, we get a “Bike Route” sign.

And as cherry and sprinkles atop it all, the Bike Route sign combines with the adjacent power pole to make the sidewalk absolutely impassable for anyone in a wheelchair, or, frankly, anyone without contortionist skills.

Taken together, Candelaria from I-25 through 4th St. NW wins, hands-down, any award for bad non-motorized roadway engineering. How the Hell did this happen? BB honestly doesn’t know. One thing we’re trying to track down is the year for every roadway reconstruction job in town. For instance, what year was this stretch of Candelaria Rd. restriped and signed to look like this?

One can only guess that it was so many years ago that it was then “recommended practice” to stripe horribly inadequate bike lanes and call them “good.” One hopes that this period was many, many years ago. Sometime in the Middle Ages, in fact.

Meanwhile, that this striping continues to be designated as “bike lane” in 2018 on the Bike Map is arguably approaching criminal. Also, it would seem rational public policy to prioritize new roadway reconstructions on factors such as wholly substandard “complete streets” status, just as much as on quality of road surface and number of years since last repaved.

In sum, BB strongly suggests that the City cannot have it both ways: It cannot have such dangerous striping and call it a bike lane. It either has to immediately fix the striping, or stop what is, in effect, lying. Is Candelaria between I-25 and 4th Street the only instance of substandard bike lane width? Unfortunately no. Hell, another stretch of Candelaria east of I-25 has the same problem.

Many instances of substandard bike lane width were noted in previous posts here at Better Burque. And time has continued to march on, enough time, and enough change in City Administration, for us at BB to now strongly urge that we go from merely noting the deficiencies to actually doing something about them.

Until those deficiencies are rectified, we simply must re-do the Official Map to reflect the reality of these substandard bike lanes, loss of marketing outreach “Albuquerque has XXX miles of bike lane!!!1!!1!!!” be damned.

Have a great weekend, everybody.




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