What is to be done regarding the curious intersection of Columbia and Santa Clara SE?
The latest attempt, of several over the years, to find an agreeable remedy for speeding traffic and various aspects of bad driving at the infamous intersection will have a decided “tactical urbanism” twinge. Culminating a long process of input and suggestions by residents of the Victory Hills Neighborhood Association, City of Albuquerque’s Traffic Engineer Tim Brown and staff will try a number of low-cost, temporary alterations at Santa Clara/Columbia in an attempt to find a best solution.
In other words, “tactical urbanism.” Brown & Co. will make several tweaks, possibly including the suggested, by some, move of jersey barriers from the east side of Columbia to the west:
The combination of traffic circle, raised medians, and quaintly temporary jersey barriers at this lightly traveled intersection offer Mr. Brown & Co. many, many things to play with. We on the Better Burque Tactical Urbanism Team (BBTUT) are envious. Yet “Play” might not be the right word. You might not get the impression simply by looking at it, but this intersection has been ground zero for vehement neighborhood arguing and teeth gnashing for years. Tweaking this burr in the neighborhood saddle is sure to result in more soreness, whether the final decision is made to stick what we see above, or go in some new direction.
Still, the idea of using officially-sanctioned tactical urbanism to effect swift, low-cost change in roadway design offers a great deal of potential. Thus the Santa Clara/Columbia work is important for the entire city, not just Victory Hills. With this importance in mind, BB does make one very small suggestion: Whatever treatment is determined “final,” can we get some real walking/cycling notches between any diverters or barriers placed? Gingerly walking/riding between the quaintly temporary jersey barriers, almost always filled with debris, glass, and worse, isn’t fun.
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A re-check of the City’s online bicycle map http://www.cabq.gov/parksandrecreation/recreation/bike/bike-map shows that both Columbia and Santa Clara are still designated as bicycle routes through this intersection, yet it is not possible to access Santa Clara eastbound by bike, or the rest of the intersection westbound from Santa Clara by bike, without dismounting, hopping a curb, or doing something else inconsistent with a bike route. I pointed this out to the City’s then bicycle coordinator in late 2012/early 2013, but he left the position shortly thereafter. During this period I discovered and communicated quite a number of other intersections where various “fixes” like the ones shown at this intersection make it difficult, unsafe, or ambiguous to follow a designated bike route on a bicycle.