Albuquerque: A Bronze Level Bicycle-Ambivalent Community

Albuquerque recently banned bicycling along a half mile section of Chappell Drive, which is near the north end of town (Costco, Sam’s Club, some industrial stuff). While at least one cyclist down there wondered why some of us were objecting to this seemingly insignificant insult, what is significant to me is the lack of any review and discussion process in implementing the ban and its possible precedent value.  Bottom line: don’t let that happen here.Basically, and as published in the Journal, the city got a few complaints about those pesky bicyclists on a narrow road, sent out an engineer to look at the road, and then made a decision to put up NO BIKES signs. Or as I put it: “This so called methodology involves having someone go look at a road, listen to a few complaints, and then say “its too dangerous”. That shallow methodology, coupled with the utter lack of a way for the cycling community to contest the decision other than to storm the Mayor’s Office, is what is deeply troubling to me as a policy adviser in my own county’s transportation sector. It makes a mockery of the decision making process used almost everywhere these days in making decisions in the public sector. After all, we pay the salaries of the municipal employees and we pay for the roads through our general tax funds–this is not a Federal or state road paid for in part by the gas tax.

 Some concerns.

One, The Duke City’s logic could be applied to any road that a non-cycling traffic engineer decides its not safe for a cyclist and frankly, that is a often matter of opinion or downright prejudice rather than of sound engineering judgement and data. The precedent is therefore appalling. So is the lack of a review and dispute resolution process. Albuquerque’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, the GABAC (Greater Albuquerque Bicycle Advisory Committee), was ignored and only brought into the loop after the “no bikes” signs went up and the shit hit the fan. So what is the point of having a GABAC? Window dressing for the city’s Bicycle-Friendly Community application?