On Tuesday, April 8 Mayor Berry kicked off his 50 mile healthy travel initiative with a ceremony on a trail linking the Mile High District to Uptown in Albuquerque. This coincided with a visit by Mr. Steve Clark from the Bicycle Friendly Community program run by the League of American Bicyclists. The day’s festivities moved Albuquerque in healthy directions. Cities that rate highly as walk and bike friendly also rank as top places to live. Elected officials, professional staff, businesses and community advocates are working on this synergistic development.
We met at City Hall in the morning. The plan was to take a bike ride with Steve and look closely at Albuquerque’s transportation system from a bicycling perspective. First we had coffee and greetings. This meeting would be a fun one to do every day.
As we bicycled our way from downtown to the University and on up Constitution Avenue, we studied the infrastructure and stopped frequently to talk about changes that are planned to improve bicycle traffic flow and safety for all. We shared ideas for opportunities we saw to create a more welcoming environment for people. At 11am we met with Mayor Berry’s press conference near Uptown. The Mayor’s vision includes designing a robust and well-connected network of travel ways centered on biking and walking that invite families out to enjoy the local food, culture and strong sense of place in Albuquerque through healthy, active and engaged lifestyles. The opportunity to unleash economic creativity with healthy development is key.
The Mayor is a good communicator and understands how investing in active transportation is the best foundation for human and economic development, and a powerful way to encourage visitors to take time to explore all the city has to offer. Mayor Berry articulated a vision where a family would come to stay for four days in Albuquerque, discovering the unmatched array of wonders here from open spaces and wildlife to unique cultural attractions like route 66. By bicycling and exploring different trail segments, neighborhoods and districts each day travelers get to enjoy offerings up close and take time to make vivid memories. The money saved by traveling light could be spent on bed and breakfasts, local cuisine, music, museums, a refreshing spa, healing body work. This is an exciting city but also a place to rejuvenate and recover.
After the Uptown ceremony we pedaled west across the Rio Grande. This great river which threads through New Mexico and Texas on its way to the ocean has been protected as a green corridor through the center of the city. As we rode Steve shared stories that helped us see how our involvement can make a difference in creating a city, region, and State that leads the way forward for American bicycling. We rode up the western bluff of the river and spent the early afternoon at the Esperanza community bike shop.
A hardy crew continued on riding with Steve after lunch, presentations and conversation at Esperanza. During the afternoon commute we took a closer look at the facilities on the west mesa that will be part of the 50 mile activity loop. Intersection crossings merit close attention.
I can’t think of a group of people I respect more than the people I spent the day with. They understand in a palpable way how incentivizing more bicycling increases value in our lives, and they are doing their part to add original and essential contributions to the efforts for making Albuquerque a safer and better place to ride. This is super fun work. And challenging.
At the end of the day I had more energy than I did at breakfast. There is something about the social activity of bicycling with friends, making new friends, that expands the human spirit. Plus you build up knowledge of yourself and learn about where you live. Steve brought with him perspective and experiences from other places that demonstrate how positive shifts happen, and he connected us to a broader community through stories, while hinting at the legacy we have the opportunity to build here. This is such a beautiful city and it is so empowering and magical to get out and engage your senses in exploring, and dreaming of what may be. Bicycling brings out the best in the people and places, and helps us enjoy the pleasure of living by putting us in close contact with the most beautiful things, the press of the day on our skin, the breeze in our hair, the measured sense of power in our minds, hearts and legs.
I wish I could tell you more of what I saw out on my bike in one day, but I’ve run out of pictures and have risked running long on words. I am looking forward to going out and bicycling again. Every day holds more adventure. It is a wonderful life. And good for us too.
Here are some references and media coverage of the events on April 8, 2015 in Albuquerque.
Steve Clark’s bicycle friendly community program home including travel and blog updates on the healthy communities bicycling is building all around America:
Nice coverage of the planning and implementation of the Mayor’s active travel initiative:
or you tube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmpazoaK7ls
“It’s going to run by the river, the petroglyphs, and the Sandias.” Cole Miller, KRQE news
“Sharing his vision, Berry told those gathered to ‘imagine coming into Albuquerque as a visitor and doing a four-day vacation or a four-day ‘staycation,’ and get on a bicycle, ride 15 miles and stay at a world class resort and spa; then get on your bike the next day and travel 15 miles and then stay at a world class bed and breakfast in an agrarian area; then do the same thing the next day and see our BioPark and zoo and spend time in a boutique hotel on historic Route 66.’”
Albuquerque’s on board with this:
“You get what you design for. Why not induce demand for bicycling?”–Steve Clark