Another Proposed Solution to Yet Another Scary Problem

Morning: Pop Quiz, ABQ Cyclists and Walkers)!

Have you ever stood with/without your bike, very straight, trying to be as thin as possible on this tiny strip of red brick while drivers zoomed by in all directions, including those using the turn lane scooped into the little strip of red brick?

Do you know where this photo was taken? (Remember: No scrolling further down; this is a QUIZ!)

image.png

Think hard and Rolodex through your most vulnerable cycling/walking experiences, and, if you’ve ever been atop the tiny strip of red brick above, it is sure to come back to you.

Here’s a birds-eye:

montano and bosque school

Ah yes, it’s the intersection of Mirandela/Winter Haven and Montaño between the River and Coors Boulevard! You’ve very possibly encountered this little death trap if you’ve ever tried to go north/south east of Coors on the Westside (because who in their right mind would cycle or walk on Coors, bike lane or no?). In particular, if you’re a regular BB reader, you’ll recall that both Mirandela going north from Bosque School and Winter Haven north of Montaño are important segments of ABQ’s fabled “Northwest Passage.” 

And like any other Northwest Passage, the sailing is good until it’s not. In this case, say going south to north, the riding/walking is idyllic along residential streets north from I-40, the Bosque, and Bosque School. Then you get to the zooming ice floe that is Montaño.

Let’s look at that photo again and bring back all the bad memories:

image.png

Ah yeah, now I remember!

Funny thing is (and by “funny thing,” I mean something that is not funny at all unless you think almost getting killed merely trying to ride a bike or walk is funny) that all three streets here are not only on the ABQ Bike Map, they all three have bike lanes.

winterhaven

In other words, you’re supposed to bike through this intersection. It’s an important connector in the bike network. Who says government doesn’t have a sense of humor?

Funny things that aren’t funny aside, what could we do to fix this horrible confluence? Perhaps the best solution would be to build a time machine, go back to the battle over Montaño Bridge, not build the bridge and, instead, tell people who want to live on the Westside that it’s stupid to live on the Westside when your job isn’t on the Westside, so suck it up and either move east of the River or telecommute through this newfangled thing called the Internet.

While this solution appeals on pretty much every level possible (I find myself falling into pleasant reverie just by typing the word above), time machines aren’t yet on the market and research/development for their manufacture is currently, unfortunately, taken up with making little electronic towers you can talk to because you’re too fucking lazy to get up and operate an electronic device yourself.

So, we need a solution in 2019 instead of going back to 1995. Here’s an idea: HAWK signal. You know, like the ones put up a few years back at Lomas and Alvarado and now plentifully planted all along Central Avenue as part of A.R.T. Plop a HAWK signal at this intersection, cut a crosswalk through the tiny strip of red brick “refuge,” and we’re far safer than proverbial death trap!

But some of you smarter folks out there are saying/thinking, “but BB isn’t this intersection pretty close to Coors,” and you would be right, depending on one’s viewpoint on what constitutes “pretty close.”

montano coors distance

That’s a Babe Ruthian 714 feet, roughly, between this intersection and Coors, a distance historically considered too scant for consideration of a new signal, HAWK or otherwise. But that’s historically and:

  1. The guy who brayed loudest about not having signals so close together is gone from CABQ and is instead suing CABQ in a lawsuit that proves unfunny things can also be funny, depending on one’s point-of-view.
  2. The placement of HAWKs along the A.R.T. route has pre-destroyed such an argument through precedence like this:

distance central bryn mawr

If you squint hard, you can see the distance between the signalized intersection of Central and Richmond is a gloriously short 373.20 feet from the HAWK at Central/Bryn Mawr, and that measurement is being generous. Ding-dong, the “that’s too close to the nearest signal” witch is dead suing the City.

By the way, have I mentioned that the intersection in question is very near a school and a hugely popular picnic area and trailhead? I should probably mention that.

So let’s put a HAWK at the intersection of Miradela/Winter Haven and Montaño. I know HAWKs cost ~$100,000 all told, so I’m pitching in a $1. If you haven’t ridden/walk through the current death trap, do so. I might put up a bucket for fund raising purposes on that tiny strip of red brick; that should bring in tons of cash from scared crossing attemptees.

Until the bucket got hit by a driver, that is. It is a tiny red strip, ain’t it?

 

 

2 thoughts on “Another Proposed Solution to Yet Another Scary Problem

  1. I’ve been a cyclist in this city since 1989, and I’ve lived in Las Casitas del Rio 1 since January 2004. I’ve crossed Montano on a bicycle, going south from Winterhaven, for 16 years. and for 16 years there has been no way for a pedestrian or cyclist to cross Montano N to S from Winterhaven that is both legal and safe.

    In November 2017 I contacted Ken Sanchez’s office about the problem (I know, I procrastinated), and after many backs and forths, the city finally installed a pedestrican crossing a few yards east of the intersection in 2019.

    This augments or replaced another pedestrian crossing just a few yards further east that has been there for years, but which was largely useless because the Montano northside sidewalk ends in dirt a few yards short of the crossing. Instead of extending the northside sidewalk to this crossing, the city installed the new crossing a few yards west to a point before the existing sidewalk ended. The new crossing simply moves the crossing point a bit west to a point before the sidewalk ends in dirt.

    A cyclist north of Montano who wants to cross that artery still has to ride south on Winterhaven toward the Montano intersection, on the west or right side of Winterhaven of course if obeying traffic laws; then stop, get off, and walk the bike east to west across Winterhaven at the very point of this very busy unsigned intersection, and in front of a steady stream of motor vehicles turning right onto Montano, and in front of another steady stream of wstbound motorist turning left onto Winterhaven. The city declined to put a pedestrian sign or striping at this point, or, as I suggested, some yards back north, sort of the intersection, for fear, the spokeswoman told me, that pedestrians or cyclists might think they have a right to cross there. Not a tidy situation.

    Once the cyclist makes it to the crossing, the person must of course still deal with the huge volume of 50 mph traffic in both directions across 4 lanes to get to the south side of Montano, where you can ride east to the Rio Grande recreation trail.

    I’ve taken to riding north and catching Coors just past Sagebrush Church, to turn east again on Eagle Ranch to catch the new paved path leading past the Coors/Paseo Sports and Wellness to the Paseo trail; or simply riding the ditch roads, fortunately graveled, to the same point near the Sports and Wellness intersection.

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  2. Patrick: Thanks for your thorough comment and history; apologies I didn’t notice it for a couple of days. Thanks also for taking the time (time I know doesn’t always feel is spent in a worthwhile way) to press for improvements. I noticed the newish crossing you mention, and also note its own shortcomings as remedy overall. The only advantage there is avoidance of drivers turning left/right, but as Montano pretty much serves as Paseo del Norte de Sur, so to speak, I’m never gonna use that new crossing as anything like a marked crosswalk. Such a pity blocking access to two very nice/important stretches of bike network. Thanks for reading and keep us posted if anything changes out there. – Scot

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