Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A more bicycling-friendly New Mexico?

Had a short conversation with State Bike-Ped coordinator Tom Trowbridge this morning. With a sixty day session of the legislature coming up, we have a chance to try to improve cycling in New Mexico. During the next few weeks, we should come up with an agenda we can pass on to our state reps in hopes of improving our status from one of the most bicycling-unfriendly states in the union, according to LAB:

State Rank: 45 out of 50.

Reasons for Ranking: While New Mexico has a bicycle advisory council that has meetings scheduled every quarter, the state still has discriminatory mandatory sidepath and mandatory bike lane laws, no bike master plan or accommodation policy, and no League Bike Ed classes have been taught in New Mexico within the last year.

Well, they got part of that wrong. There have been several Bike Ed classes taught in Los Alamos alone. But otherwise, we have some issues.

So let's think of some ideas. The session starts in January. What do we want to change? Better shoulders and more bikelanes on complete streets? A better "buzzing" law? Using the right arm to make right turn signals? Some better review before more bicycling-unfriendly streets such as South St. Francis are constructed?

I'll open the blog to comments and suggestions as long as it remains civil.


Khal

23 comments:

Neale said...

The LAB's web site makes the answer pretty apparent:

Repeal mandatory sidepath and mandatory bike lane laws. Develop a bike master plan or accomodation policy.

Either of those would be a good target for a 1-year goal.

Amy said...

Maybe one of you can clarify what they mean by "mandatory bike lane law." Does that mean that we *have* to stay in bike lanes if they're there?

Khal said...

Generally, yes.

http://bicycledriving.org/bikeways/bike-lanes

A more benevolent version makes clear that you can leave the bike lane if it is blocked, full of debris, or overtaking another cyclist, or turning and the lane is going straight.

Obviously (well, should be obvious) a cyclist must leave the lane to make a left or right hand turn. For example, making a right or left from Central onto Diamond.

Amy said...

I assume that our law is not the more benevolent version, since I can't get our state law page to load at the moment.

That's pretty harsh about New Mexico supposedly not having any bike classes taught. It makes you wonder how accurate the other states' reports are. I could have sworn that classes have been taught in ABQ and Las Cruces, also. Disappointing. And the League and Preston have been pretty non-responsive lately, so we probably can't get that looked at again.

I leave the political stuff to you all. But I'll see if we can do a class in November if the snow doesn't fly.

Any word on Bike to Work Day volunteer lists?

Khal said...

I might do another lunchtime seminar on the 30th of October, in honor of the upcoming reversion to Standard Time.

Saw my first Wrong-Way Goldfarb on the Diamond bike lane this morning out by the golf course. Harbinger of things to come?

Amy said...

Did you shake your fist at him and tell him to get on the sidewalk?

Khal said...

I think we will have to deal with that more often once the system is finished.

I almost hit a cyclist head on in Honolulu one night. Bad weather, after dark, and I was riding fast on the way home in a 4 ft. bike lane. Fortunately, I had the Nightsun on hi beam and saw this wrong way, lightless cyclist coming out of the gloom and managed to avoid splattering ourselves all over the place.

Anonymous said...

I suppose changing laws and making plans is important, but the single most important issue facing this community for cyclists is the complete lack of a safe and comfortable link between WR and LA. Maybe Jeanette Wallace can bring a little pork home to put wider shoulders or a lane along St Rd 4.

On a related topic, I think filtering blogs is self defeating. Look at the number of comments on the posts on this blog. There is no discourse, civil or otherwise. The four of you could just meet for coffee and quit with the charade of a bike blog for Los Alamos.

Khal said...

I'm happy to leave it open to comments as long as no one tosses in a libelous bomb with a lit fuse.

Khal said...

I think we should get the T board to vote to tell council to ask for those Rt. 4 shoulders.

max said...

If you are looking for suggestions for the legislative session in January, I suggest that roads have 12-foot lanes and minimum 3-foot shoulders. I believe that 12-foot lanes is some kind of national standard, but I'm not sure. I don't object to "mandatory-use" bike lanes and bike paths IN TOWN, provided that they are swept clean regularly. Promoting bicycle commuting AND the changes needed for such is a great idea!

Amy said...

wow, Anonymous, we actually do meet for coffee! For LA Bikes! You could have joined us even! Hey, and since Anonymous is gung-ho about getting involved with LA Bikes, give me your contact information and you can volunteer for Bike to Work Day! Which reminds me...

Anonymous said...

I'll be happy to de-cloak when the issue becomes getting Pajarito Rd open to all cyclists. I don't begrudge your jobs at the lab. I think it blinds you to the rest of the community, though. It's not enough to bring it up at low level committees. Everyone must be pressed on the issue, especially the "environmentalist" Tom Udall. Biking to work means nothing unless it's safe and possible.

Amy said...

It may not be "enough" to bring it up at low-level committees, but it is certainly a start, and it is very necessary. One of the reasons why I got involved with the League of American Bicyclists is because they lobby for better bike facilities nationwide. There is also the Bike Coalition of New Mexico - all of these links are on the sidebar of this blog. If you're interested in making your voice heard, I would start with those.

I'm not sure what you're referring to when you say that we're blind to the rest of the community? I could be wrong, but I was under the impression that closing Pajarito Rd was the DOE's decision. If you're willing to take on a project like opening up that road again, more power to you, really. Calling your senator or writing to Bike NM or the League about what you want to accomplish is a good way to start. If you want to use our group as a way to get started, by all means come and talk with us the next time we get together.

Khal said...

Anon, I've pushed Pajarito Road cycling (unsuccessfully, so far) with Security Division and will continue to make a pain in the ass of myself with Lab management. It does bother me that we have a bike plan in this town with a gaping hole in it (unbadged citizens biking back and forth to White Rock).

I am meeting with Mike Wismer tonight and will bring it up as something we might want Council to vote on as well.

As I've said before, we have developed a risk-averse mentality in the U.S. and that takes many forms. Fear of nuclear energy, fear of black candidates for president, fear of taking chances, fear of each other, fear of people with strange names or faces, fear of riding a bike on the road. I'd quote FDR on this one as being most appropriate. We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

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Khal said...

Come on, folks. Keep it civil.

Anonymous said...

Civil but politically correct, right? I have an idea. Let's have a blog and censor any idea that doesn't comply with our happy little world. That way, we can act like we're having a discussion of ideas, but we're really promoting only one point of view. You removed the comment about riding without a helmet. What do you fear about that comment?

Neale said...

We want comments that contribute to the discussion. A snarky post about helmets in response to a question about how to get a higher standing with the bike league isn't contributing to the discussion; we've already told you the bike league requires helmet use. Your follow-up calling us names also doesn't contribute.

If you read the original article and provide thoughtful dialog in response, we won't delete your comment. If you just want to troll, try alt.flame.

Anonymous said...

Do as your told.

The comment was in response to a post concerning fear. I've encountered a lot of fear among cyclists concerning not wearing a helmet. Your league has helped instill fear. Riding a bike does not require the proper gear. Just get on and ride.

BTW, Neale, your are incredibly thinned skinned at times. Lighten up buddy.

Khal said...

I removed a one word comment that said "putz". Sorry, but that conveys neither intellect nor informative content.

Do better. After all, this is a town where having a Ph.D. is an afterthought.

Khal said...

The thread was about a bike friendly NM. That is a somewhat arbitrary categorization put forth by the LAB.

However, with regards, to helmets. There is nothing terribly counter intuitive about wearing a helmet. Majority of cycling crashes, including biffs off road, don't involve cars but basically involve crashing on something or falling down. A helmet helps prevent traumatic brain trauma if one falls down and bumps one's head. But for adults, helmets are optional. Fine with me.

If the thought of bumping one's head causes someone to not ride a bike, frankly, the person probably should not ride one until they deal with that fear. Riding a bike, like downhill skiing or cooking dinner, has its own risks. We have to deal with them.

Anyway, I'm not sure why a helmet discussion should be a traumatic brain experience. I advise wearing a helmet. No one is paying for my advise, so no one needs to get wrapped around the axle with it.

But if its not my head, its not my ultimate call. I have friends who don't wear a bike helmet, and friends who are Republicans. We drink beer together in spite of such colossal differences. Life is bigger than categories.

Have a great evening.