Remember that time you waited way too long to work on that final paper for that class, did an embarrassingly poor job, turned it in thinking “Maybe a D. Maybe not even that,” and then, somehow, you get the paper back and it has an “A-” in red at the top?
And remember how that got you thinking: “Did the teacher even read this paper?” And you go through its pages and notice how there’s only one or two little red marks over its seven embarrassingly poor pages, and you think again: “Did the teacher even read this paper, or did they just make a couple of random marks and put an ‘A-‘ on it?”
This is the distinct feeling I get reading news that Albuquerque has been upgraded to “Silver” in “Bike Friendliness” from the League of American Bicyclists.
How the Hell did that happen?
As you can see above, the teacher didn’t go absolutely insane and put us on the “platinum” level with Davis, California, but we “moved up” from “Bronze” on the League’s seizure-inducing from over-visual stimulation grading “rubric.”
To aid your squinting between seizures in looking at the above, cities are graded on things like “Crashes per 10k commuters” and “Bike program staff per X citizens” after communities submit a detailed application to the League. Some dear BB readers out there participated in recent League online and phone surveys conducted as part of its grading process for Burque. Your humble blogger chimed in as well.
Full disclosure: I said ABQ was only worthy of “Bronze,” not “Silver.”
My strong sense is that the great preponderance of other survey respondents told the League “Bronze” as well. Trying, perhaps unsuccessfully, to be completely objective about it, what the Hell has ABQ done in the past year or two to warrant a jump in graded “Bike Friendliness”?
Keeping the class/teacher analogy in mind, I’ll now provide a “blank” for you to respond to this question:
Okay, think hard. What would you put in the blank above to show ABQ deserves its jump to “Silver”? Would it be our improved:
- Fatalities per 10k commuters?
- Arterial streets with bike lanes?
- Percent of schools offering bicycle education?
- Bike-friendly laws/ordinances?
Just taking the above questions from the rubric, one could successfully argue that the new 20 mph Downtown Safety Zone is a good example of improved bike-friendly laws. And perhaps that argument, and others, were successfully made. We don’t know because ABQ’s application and League grading responses have yet to appear on its website.
Using the Downtown Safety Zone as a continued example, however, have you, dear BB readers cycled much downtown since institution of its Safety Zone? Have you felt safer? Have you seen everybody driving 20 mph or less there?
I could go on, and, full disclosure, in my head I am most certainly going on with other countervailing examples that demonstrably show ABQ is absolutely no more “bike friendly” now than in years past. But what’s the fun in that?
Instead, I’m gonna do what everybody else does when they get that grade of “A-” from the teacher on the paper that really only deserves a “D” at best. I’m gonna take that grade, refrain from asking the teacher “Are you sure?” and drink a celebratory beer or two, praising our fair city for its external, obviously objective assessment that we are more “bike friendly.”
Whoo-hoo! Go us! A-B-Q! A-B-Q! A-B-Q!
The only downside of this revelry is that I am kidding, while there are plenty of folks around town who will take this new grade of “Silver” and loudly, sincerely exhibit precisely the breast-beating/back-slapping behavior I’m making fun of. You can bet on it.
And because of that behavior, and the mistaken notion that we’re really “Silver,” we’re very likely to rest on our undeserved laurels, so to speak, and end up with plenty of non-cycling policy-makers and general public responding to calls for further improvements that will truly make us more “friendly” with: “We don’t need to do that. We’re already ‘Silver.'”
It says so right there on the sheet of paper on the teacher’s door. Here, have a beer, party pooper.