Summer means road maintenance, and Burque City Department of Municipal Development (DMD) is currently working/finishing several repaving jobs for streets that have come up “due” for such work in DMD’s mysterious, and really hard to publicly obtain, maintenance schedule.
One such job in-progress is Mountain Road NW between 12th and Rio Grande Boulevard. Fresh pavement is down, and as can be seen below in photos taken at the corner of Mountain and 19th, some dotted white lines have been put down in preparation for striping of crosswalks and center stripes/medians.
But what if we just didn’t stripe Mountain at all?
What if we left out the center stripe, as well as any parking (car storage) and driving lane striping? One reason I went out to take these photos is to see if new bike lanes advocated (by me and others) for this wide stretch of Mountain might happen (no news on that until we see what actually gets done), but what if we eschewed bike lane striping, too?
Would Mountain be safer or more dangerous for everybody? Would this stretch of “Bike Boulevard” actually be safer for cyclists?
Many urban cyclists will tell you that drivers tend to act differently when center stripes are removed. They seem much more inclined to go around instead of impatiently crowding cyclists, now that the center stripe hardwired into their brains as “no go” is gone. Both studies and Jeff Speck (famed author of ABQ’s “Downtown Walkability Study”) also note that drivers tend to go slower when the center stripe is removed.
A new study also finds that simply painted bike lanes, without further physical protection, also leads to drivers behaving more dangerously.
It found that drivers pass cyclists on average about 1.25 feet closer on streets with a painted bike lane and car parking than on streets with no bike infrastructure.
In other words, maybe we’ve just been wasting all our traffic safety advocacy time, money, energy, and angst over where and how to stripe our roadways. Anything less than full, physically protected separation of non-drivers from drivers has always been, and is, pointless.
Of course, that’s just one viewpoint, while many others would argue that lack of striping, particularly on an “airport runway” wide road, such as is Mountain at 19th, will invariably lead to higher driving speeds, which is probably not a good idea on what is supposed to be an 18 mph speed limit “Bike Boulevard.”
But looking and riding on Mountain Road these days in its current naked condition does bring the question to mind, I must admit. In related contemplation, I don’t think anybody is arguing, anywhere, against crosswalk striping. In that regard, you might notice something from one of the two pictures above:
Notice how faded the crosswalk striping is on 19th at what is the south quadrant of this intersection? Notice how only Mountain Road is repaved, while 19th isn’t? ABQ road maintenance only includes improvement for the specific ROAD in question, and doesn’t do a damn thing about sidewalks along that road (regardless of their possible lack of ADA-compliance), or cross streets at intersections. So the intersection of Mountain and 19th will have real pretty, bright crosswalks on Mountain, and the badly faded and getting worse crosswalk on 19th…until 19th comes up on the mysterious and really hard to publicly obtain maintenance schedule.
I hope to get out and ride this pre-striped Mountain Road section a few more times before it puts its clothes back on, so to speak. We’ll let you know if those “clothes” include the bike lanes some of us have advocated for. To close on a request I would literally fall out of my chair if someone at DMD answered (I swear. I’ll take pictures of me on the floor.), could somebody tell us NOW if bike lanes are planned for this stretch of Mountain? The dotted lines presently down, and not down, suggest no, but any input from the City on what is going to happen would be hugely appreciated.
Now that I think about it, let’s generalize that to ALL roadwork projects:
Any input from the City on what is going to happen, frequently updated, would be hugely appreciated!
Maybe we could still do the crosswalk striping (although notice above that these maintenance jobs ONLY cover the road in question, e.g., the very faded crosswalk striping seen on 19th above will NOT be redone), but the