Rio Grande Blvd.: Nice Bike Lane, Screw Anybody Using the Sidewalk

Recent improvements of Rio Grande Boulevard north of I-40 have made driving and cycling safer, but little to nothing (make that nothing) has been done for users of its sidewalks. The result is this startling multi-modal disconnect:

rio grande sidewalk
Looking further, you’ll notice the walking/rolling-hostile foreground condition continues on as far as the eye can see. Pretty much all of Rio Grande Blvd. is like this. For miles.

Drivers get a “calmed” single lane, cyclists get a wide-striping buffer, walkers get a long-distance obstacle course, and those using wheelchairs get to roll in the street/bike lane.

Of course, nobody considers the “new” Rio Grande Blvd. optimal, but “good enough” very, very, very often leaves out those who try to use our sidewalks and other walking/rolling infrastructure. Rio Grande Blvd. is one very striking example of this. The reason for “good enough” here is, also of course, money, as the cost of moving all the telephone poles, etc., along with paying for the right-of-way to do so is widely considered exorbitant. Meanwhile:

  • New paving: Not Exorbitant
  • New striping with buffered bike lane: Not Exorbitant
  • New roundabout at Rio Grande/Candelaria: Not Exorbitant

Funny thing is, the only roadway infrastructure on Rio Grande Blvd. north of I-40 that has ever been 100% completely, totally against the law has been the sidewalk. I’d try to count all the ADA-violations along this street, but I can’t count that high. Whether Rio Grande is four-lane or two, whether it has bike lanes (buffered or not), whether it has a roundabout at Rio Grande and Candelaria, those are mere preferences that don’t come with legal strictures.

It’s not legal to have sidewalks looking like this.

But that’s how they look, and how they will very likely look for years and years and years to come.


P.S.: As a joke, I’m tempted to make a 311/SeeClickFix report on the low-hanging branches of the pine tree in the photo above. The joke is, partially, that such a report might get a response. It might even get “fixed.” The other part of the joke is that the same could not be said for a 311 report of “Goddamn telephone poles right smack dab in the middle of the barely three-foot sidewalk for about four miles.” That report would be “resolved” thusly.

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