Gibson and I-25: Most Unfriendly Biking/Walking Spot in Town?

Yesterday my friend John and I were doing some historical research, riding through/along old ABQ city limits before various annexations over the years. For instance, did you know “High Street” was the eastern city limits until 1925?

Our riding research continued pleasantly south and east of Downtown along High and adjacent north/south streets and alleys until we got to Gibson Blvd. There, our maps suggested we needed to ride southeast over to Kirtland Addition, a small yet important neighborhood built by Dale Bellamah in the early 1950s.

And that’s where things turned most unfriendly.

A look at the area discussed from the online ABQ Bike Map. Note the bike lanes on Gibson and Broadway (blue) and bike route designation on Edith (orange) don’t quite connect. Not quite.

Having ridden thereabouts many times before, we already knew all about the high degree of unfriendliness, but until faced directly with something like this, you try to just blot it out of your mind:

As you might have already guessed, this was my first and certainly last “bike” trip on Gibson uphill across I-25.

We decided to just stick to the “sidewalk” on the north side of Gibson, going east against traffic, because riding uphill on Gibson is, uh, even more wicked dangerous. We didn’t take photos during our walk (yeah, riding in the sand shown above was tough, especially given the goatheads and small car parts strewn about) because we were too focused on trying to stay alive. So here’s another Google shot of the “fun.”

Yeah, that’s a “No Trespassing” sign along the well-worn path on the north side. I don’t know what’s less “complete streets” friendly, that “No Trespassing,” the ludicrous attempt, via signage, to hold traffic to 35 mph, or the fact that this is relatively the “friendly” spot on this ride/walk. Really.

Because after having survived going under I-25, and after traversing the busy start to the west/northbound I-25 on-ramp, you get here:

See that six inches between the guard-rail and that red car? That’s your only option as your cross the South Diversion Channel. Perhaps the “funniest” part of all this is that looking back at the ABQ Bike Map, the sudden terminus of Gibson’s bike lane westbound is this guard rail.

Yeah, we’ll call that bike lane “terminated.” I guess the westbound rider is supposed to have E.T. on-board here and fly over the Interstate to Broadway.

Needless to say, John and I survived across all this, six inches of space between guard rail and drivers included, and made it to Kirtland Addition. We even had a fun ride through that historic neighborhood. Part of the fun, I guess, was also knowing we had survived on bikes through a crossing so unfriendly you almost have to just laugh about it.

Only, this crossing of I-25 at Gibson (built in the early 1960s) between Kirtland Addition and the equally historic South Broadway neighborhood has been this unfriendly to cyclists/walkers for almost 60 years now. And the greatest “accommodation” and public expense on behalf of our cyclists/walkers has been to put up a “No Trespassing” sign.

On behalf of all cyclists/walkers everywhere, let me pass on our collective thanks. Thanks guys, you really shouldn’t have.

Yes, eventually, NMDOT is gonna get around to reconstructing the I-25/Gibson interchange, and, eventually, the crossing won’t look like it has for almost 60 years now. So there’s that. Until then, while there are SO many candidates for least friendly ABQ biking/walking (4th Street between Montano and Osuna, anyone?), the crossing of I-25 at Gibson combines a level of high driving speed, zero infrastructure, and sudden disconnect to bike network facilities that certainly has to put it in contention for tops spot in any such list.

For sucking. Because it sucks, and has for almost 60 years.

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