A Maddening Visit to the Bosque Path Closure/Detour

Two planned weeks of repaving underneath Central Avenue on the Bosque Path have begun as “Phase 2” of a three-phase project to smooth out the pavement on this, the most popular multi-use path in the area. While everyone, particularly cyclists, who uses the path is positively excited about its ultimate smoothing, at least one cyclist, let’s call them “Better Burque (i.e., “me”), isn’t happy about the detour route.

I’m sorry: This could have be done so much better/safer.

At this unprecedented time with Spring usage of the Bosque Path never higher, and higher weekdays AND weekends (because for many of us right now, EVERY day is a Weekend), the detour route chosen by City of Albuquerque Parks & Recreation looks like the following in actual practice.

Visually, let’s go northbound from the project’s pending Phase 3 closure “through” Central Avenue:

closed bosque path 3
First, we reenter the Bosque Path at Tingley Beach (we’re looking southbound here), having been on the finely-packed dirt trails between the Path and the River. While a different alternative, mentioned below, would be much better, no real problems yet.

 

closed bosque path 1
A hundred of so feet north, we get to the Phase 2 construction, and the problems start. Users are supposed to somehow figure out, given zero instruction, that they are to head to the right of this closure on the not-so-finely sand “trail” in the extreme right of this photo.
closed bosque path 2
Here’s that “trail” looking southbound. Your humble blogger has pretty big tires on his bike, but had to walk it through the sand here. Not a big problem, it’s just that such a far more awesome alternative could be in place. 
central bosque path crossing
One’s “reward’ for making their way through the sandy “trail” is to cross Central Avenue as seen here. Some fairly extensive looking around revealed zero signage on Central alerting drivers that roughly 90,000% more folks than normal would be crossing Central at this intersection. I also saw no indication that the signalization has been altered to better serve the fact that 90,000% more folks will be waiting, as shown here. And no, I didn’t see any hand sanitizer at the beg button, which I’m 99.9999999% sure has not been turned off to help users avoid touching, re-touching, touching again the button to the point that this button will be an ongoing veritable petri dish o’ bacteria/viri throughout this phase of repaving.

In sum, this Parks & Rec detour very much appears to have been designed and implemented by people who drive 99.999999% of the time and perhaps do much of their driving on Central Avenue. The detour route and signage, at present, is 100% set up for driver convenience and 0% crafted for Bosque Path users.

And, in a way,  I get that.

In these days of social distancing we don’t want the Bosque Path to be packed in the manner it has been. As a regular user myself, I’ve avoided the Path these days and only dropped by this section yesterday to check out the detour. The problem in that line of thinking is that we’re not going to get anywhere close to completely eliminating usage by making it inconvenience for Path users, and we’re making it far less safe for the sizable number of users who do continue to use it.

There’s also the line of thinking that discouraging non-motorized outdoor activity at a time of its unprecedented popularity is stupid and reveals so very much about our car-crazy culture. The added touches in place now, such as zero changes to the signal crossing Central, are the cherries and sprinkles to this banana split of motor vehicle-centric thinking and practice.

That crossing of Central, by the way, occurs at Tingley Dr. S.W., which your humble blogger has suggested should be closed to motorized traffic during the Bosque Path repaving. After visiting the Phase 2 site yesterday, I’ll close here by again suggesting this closure.

Like immediately, if not sooner. Like we should get Superman to use his powers to reverse the spin of Earth back in time to before Phase 2 repaving began.

It is worth noting at this point that we should probably ask Superman to just keep spinning us backwards to late 2019 to give us a chance to undo the clusterfuck that has been world/U.S. response to COVID-19, but he’s a busy guy and we’ll just ask for a few minutes of his time.

As mentioned in an earlier post, Tingley S.W. has no ingress/egress points all the way from Central to where it turns into Marquez S.W. at a popular Bosque Path trailhead EXCEPT at Tingley Beach, which is, of course, currently closed.

closing tingley
The proposed closure of Tingley S.W. from red circle (Central) to red circle (Marquez) would provide ~1.5 miles of far more socially distant walking/rolling/riding than along the Bosque Path

A check of traffic counts shows that, at least through 2017, Tingley S.W. has an average of about 6,500 vehicles per day, a relatively low number of drivers. And those counts weren’t taken during a pandemic. Personal experience riding Tingley S.W. alongside drivers has also shown that, despite its posted 25 mph speed limit, speeding is a big problem. Such is the problem that your humble blogger doesn’t feel that comfortable riding even in the bike lane that is in place for about half this 1.5 miles.

Then, as so often happens, the bike lane just disappears and riding discomfort skyrockets further. Nobody is going to take their family out for a leisurely spin in such conditions. Unless we close the road to motorized vehicles.

Then there’s the crossing of Central, which would of course need temporary changes even if Tingley was closed. I’m no roadway/intersection engineer, but I’m guessing that a number of improvements could be temporarily put in place that would be a damn sight better than the zero improvements foisted upon users at present. These changes could include signal timing reflecting the new pattern of usage and early blockage of turn lanes onto Tingley (which is the single most dangerous aspect of this crossing).

On the detour’s south end, “local traffic only” signs and impediments coming off of 8th Street, and some jersey barriers at the Bosque trailhead (this after the last few residences on Marquez as it turns into Tingley S.W., and voila!, we’ve got us ~1.5 miles of wide open walking/rolling/cycling enjoyment.

Unfortunately, Superman seems to have been on a long vacation for some time now, and there’s little-to-no chance, now, that Tingley S.W. will be closed. Heck, given the car-centric thinking by the ironically named City of Albuquerque Parks & Recreation, one doubts even simple Path user-friendly changes will happen to the signalization/crossing of Central during this project.

And all this at a time perfectly suited, truly uniquely so, for such a closure. In a maddening time in general, I’ll freely admit I tend to get more mad than usual these days, but the small-mindedness and lack of park/recreation understanding by the so-called Department of Parks & Recreation makes me mad.

Stay safe out there, everybody.

 

 

 

 

 

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