Monthly Archives: October 2015

Roadway Safety Culture Conference Nov. 5-6

I was browsing the FHWA’s Planning resources and found this upcoming conference.  Here’s the registration link.  When we get organized, partner up and decide we are going to do something about an issue, we make progress.  Here in New Mexico our Dept. of Transportation is working on “retooling” itself to “improve safety for all system users…provide multimodal access and connectivity for community prosperity and health…and respect New Mexico’s cultures, environment, history, and quality of life” to meet these goals set forward in the 2040 Transportation Plan.  By tapping into these national resources, learning about organization transformation, and building interdisciplinary and interagency networks, plus forging public private partnerships, we can accelerate progress on increasing roadway safety.  We’ll get immediate and much more satisfactory results by coming together and focusing.  Here’s more information on the conference:
————————————————–
Advertisements

Awakening to Albuquerque’s Local Character

This is the time of year to relax and enjoy time on the bike and the gifts of the Fall season.  It’s been a year since we moved here so I’ve been trying to explore more and go deeper into usual places, and take new roads that I’ve never been on before.  Just as my love and respect for my life partner grows year after year, so does my appreciation for the Southwestern U.S.

Hay and bike

East Mountain horses

Purple Aster butterfly on

I enjoy cycling east.  When I ride into Tijeras Canyon the city ends abruptly and the real New Mexico emerges.  It feels like the wild west, although one that is becoming friendlier and safer to travel through, with classic landscapes intact.  We can keep it this way if we continue evolving our knowledge and practice of the conservation ethic.  “When we see land as a community we belong to, we begin to use it with love and respect” (Aldo Leopold).  Tijeras Canyon opens to stunning skies and broad slopes of two immense mountain ranges that harbor bear, bighorn sheep, deer, turkey.  I can see in my minds eye the creek flowing out of the canyon and cutting across the desert connecting with the Río Grande in the South Valley.  Beautiful.

Tijeras Fall

Purple aster greens and rocks

Route 66 new pavement

On old Route 66 toward Edgewood they are repaving the road with smooth black asphalt edge to edge.  The wide continuous shoulder makes for favorable operating conditions for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and increases safety, visibility and maneuverability for all modes.  The transportation agency also has signs up reminding us to look for bicycle and pedestrian traffic.  When you get out to the Village of Tijeras you have an incredible selection of roads and trails.  It is higher elevation there, and windy sometimes, but that just makes you stronger.  Lots of people love cycling in the East Mountain communities.  Friendly waves and smiles abound.

chili hearth

Los Ranchos Fruit Basket chilis

When you need an easier day of cycling, you can find great roads up and down the Río Grande Valley.  Yesterday I was cruising Los Ranchos de Albuquerque and smelled roasting Chili.  I had my backpack with so I stopped in and bought some.  The roasted ones I bought were still warm, so I ate them with some sweet potatoes I was carrying that were left over from dinner last night.  Superb comfort food.  I think as the main roads are adapted for better bicycle travel, the local character will be even better appreciated, and the peoples’ inherent vitality will be freer.  Albuquerque has unsurpassed strengths in diverse cultures, traditions and landscapes. We should keep it affordable, ensuring middle income people remain at the center of the cultural vibrancy here.  Bicycling has been an outstanding vehicle to learn about the local character.  Cycling embodies the best of everything, from the conservative principles of smaller is better and maximum efficiency, to the liberal value of free learning.   It’s bilateral goodness, win win win.  It is a traditional way of being.  This is travel like humans are meant to move.

The Lensic

It is a well balanced mix of city and country here.  This afternoon we are going up to Santa Fe to enjoy the free admission to the New Mexico Museum of Art and to experience walking life around Santa Fe.  Santa Fe has a wonderful bike culture too, and together, Albuquerque and Santa Fe make for one of the most diverse destinations a person could possibly imagine.

References:

Leopold, Aldo.  A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There, Special Commemorative Edition .  Quote from the forward, page viii.

Telling It Like It Is

‘Courage is like a muscle.  Keep on using it and the stronger it gets’.  –The Daily Word, unity.org

The Southwest Bike Initiative’s bike org. of the month for October 2015 is US Military Endurance Sports.  They’re a non-profit supporting endurance athletes, sports education and activities for current, retired, and veteran members of the United States Uniformed Services.  I raced with one of their members during the Everest Challenge bicycling event in September 2014.  It was inspiring to ride up those mountains with him.  Their motto is Fit for Duty, Fit for Life.

US Military Team

Endurance sports such as cycling are perfect  avenues for training the mental and physical fitness one needs to perform in challenging situations.  The kind of muscle suppleness and fluidity bicycling develops makes everything else flow more smoothly in life.  I think endurance cycling especially helps with mental resilience and prepares the athlete in us  to bounce back and recover.  Most of all the teamwork in road cycling is a great platform to foster cooperation and unspoken bonds between people.  In cycling we learn how to intuitively know how our teammates are doing, and we also learn to assess our selves and test our judgments in adverse conditions.  It is difficult to say exactly what the most rewarding part of cycling is, but certainly being able to sacrifice myself during races for the betterment of my team, and to see my team achieve an objective, is something that has stayed with me and strengthened with time.

I was privileged to recently hear a member of the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s department speak to a gathering of cyclists.  He was deployed twice in the US Army and after four years of service, became a law enforcement officer.  Then he joined the bike unit and performs much of his patrol on the bike.  He said the most difficult part of bicycling safely is using the general travel lane when you need to, for instance to avoid debris, to elevate your visibility, and avoid right edge hazards such as cars pulling out from driveways, or cars turning right and left in front of you.  It takes courage to ride a bike in a safe manner and I am grateful to be part of a very large, diverse and wholesome bunch of people that finds benefits in doing it.  I’m ready for duty.

These photos are from the US Military Endurance Sports website:  http://usmes.org/

1

2

US Military Endurance Sports - Fit to Fight, Fit for Life

US Military Endurance Sports - Fit to Fight, Fit for Life

Ethics in Driving

“Too often, bicyclists are treated as scapegoats for the consequences of negligent motoring behaviors.”  –BikeWalk NC on developing a culture of driving at a safe speed

The article the leading quote is from reminded me of a main barrier for promoting bicycling.  The State Traffic Engineer is quoted as indicating bicyclists should ride on the right edge of a narrow rural lane road.  The engineer’s guidance is opposite of what we know to be safe.  The League of American Bicyclists smart cycling guide advises “when a lane is too narrow to share safely, ride in the middle of the lane”.   What can we do about this discrepancy?

We begin with taking responsibility for making bicycling safety common knowledge.  Part of this process is releasing any prejudices that prevent us from acting on right knowledge even when we know it to be true.  Often times when people say conditions are unsafe for bicycling or walking, the unspoken part is that it is unsafe because of the way people are driving.  If we are driving and our braking distance exceeds the sight distance, we are driving too fast for conditions.  Driving too fast for conditions is a behavior that makes roads unsafe for all users.  BikeWalk NC concludes that developing a culture of safer speeds involves shifting the focus away from blaming vulnerable people using the road to raising the expectations for drivers.

This mindset for universal road safety is essential for those in leadership positions.  We can not afford for State Engineers to be aloof on safety.  When I first started talking to people about bike safety, I was shocked with how many people either had the wrong idea or denied the safety of bicyclists.  I spoke to a county supervisor and a board member of a bicycling advocacy organization that expressed the exact sentiment as this State Engineer.  Rather than blaming, we can simply begin by cultivating appropriate attitudes based on responsibility and safety.  Individuals changing can inspire confidence.  We have to change the way we think about driving cars by envisioning driving in a way that is compatible with bicycling, walking, and safety for all.

References:

BikeWalkNC is a cutting edge advocacy group.  I’m really impressed by the way they are leading the way through persistent challenges by fostering clear and constructive dialogue.  Thank you!

Improving on the Old Way of Doing Things

“The good news is the good old days were never the good old days.”  –Michael Bloomberg

La Luz moonrise over chamisa

“Roads are designed to move people…we have this unique method of transportation called walking…people are starting to ride their bikes more and more.”  “The only way to get people to respond to the good objectives of safety and sustainability is to explain to them why they today get a benefit by making the sacrifice.”  –Mike Bloomberg, 108th Mayor of New York and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Pino lean

“The evidence is catching up to the ethics.”  –Jim Yong Kim

Pino Trail ethics

‘Roads are designed to move people.  Focus on the movement of people.  Not just vehicles.’
‘We have to look at other ways to move people.’
‘Motor vehicle traffic hurts your economy.’
‘With increased pedestrian traffic, gross sales of businesses on the street level goes way up.’
‘You have to explain to people today what benefits they get from less traffic.’

Fly

Pino Trail fall woods

“Real innovations are low-cost and efficient.” –Andrew Steer, Pres. of World Resources Institute
“Transportation really is about people.”  –Jim Yong Kim, President of World Bank

Pino Trail on horseback

Pino Trail horsemounts

Pino riders

Pino family cycling

“The way we build our cities is about food security, health, education, it’s about everything we want to accomplish as a society.  Of course it is about sustainability…let’s start by focusing on transport.”  –Jim Yong Kim, World Bank from his conversation with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang

Pino Trail rust

Downtown cosmos

Ikebana October

Most of the quotes are from Shaping the Future of Urban Transport.  Pictures are from walks and bike rides on the Pino Trail, Pecos National Park, La Luz, and from gardens in Albuquerque.

High Level Champions for Bicycling

After the final no there comes a yes
And on that yes the future world depends.
No was the night. Yes is this present sun.
                          –Wallace Stephens

Change can come quicker than we think with the right kind of leadership, approach, discipline and solutions to see changes through.  We have to keep urging our leaders to move bicycling and walking forward.  But if we want America to be leading and innovating transportation solutions, we must also get going ourselves and lead the way.  This requires action.  It can’t wait.

Health, transportation, and energy are all interconnected.  Transportation is right up there with energy for carbon emission sources.  From the EPA’s US Sources of Greenhouse Gas.

US Greenhouse Gas Emission sources by sector 2013

I’ve noticed similarities in the way we talk about energy and transportation.  In energy we note how small the proportion of energy that is produced by renewable resources is, just as we note how transportation is dominated by the automobile.  We can think of this as how imbalanced our energy and transportation portfolios truly are,  increasing our sense of urgency to incentivize simple, low cost solutions.  Once we convert to systems that support renewable transportation and energy, the sources of power are free.  Fully utilizing renewable sources to their potential empowers the roll they play in advancing society.  This strategy of inclusion with an emphasis on diversity has been a huge factor in advancing American society.

The reasons we have to do this are clear.  Carbon emissions are a real problem, a problem we have to face.  The problem with cars goes beyond carbon.  The carnage is beyond bearing.  We are losing nearly 40,000 lives every year in the US due to car crashes, and over 2 million people are injured or disabled.  Car crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans traveling abroad, and crashes are the leading cause of death among young people ages 15-29, and the second leading cause of death worldwide among young people ages 5-14.  The problem of excluding walking and bicycling is most deeply impacting vulnerable populations including young people, who for the first time in a long time have lower life expectancies.

What I see are the brightest leaders adapting and understanding, such as the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim.  He sees that this is a time of transition.  He’s trying to get everyone onboard. This kind of adaptation means we are all having to reeducate our selves, because things are changing so rapidly.   Jim Yong Kim has a five year old son and his vision for the world involves seeing the world through his son’s eyes, also through the eyes of the regular person who uses public streets to get to work each day.    Jim Yong Kim on changing transportation:

We [the World Bank] have evolved over time. We have an evidence based set of deeply held values.  Ending poverty, boosting shared prosperity.  Evidence is good you need to include people.  You need to include women.  The evidence is overwhelming we have to do something about climate change.  For us, working on transport is part of this morale responsibility we have to cities of today and the future generation.”  –Jim Yong Kim, World Bank President

He goes on to say in this interview that “if you do green transportation right, it pays for itself in terms of human health and well being, as well as economically and environmentally. It’s a win win win” and “the Introduction of bus rapid transit lanes is dramatically part of the win win win situation.”  What I see developing here is a framework that changes the way we do things.  It is developing quickly and we need to accelerate it more.  We need local leaders and residents to step forward and show how bicycling and walking makes going green rewarding and affordable.  Unleashing the power of renewables is a natural and creative way to live, a good way to exercise our common human traditions and be healthy and share in prosperity.   We are surrounded by an abundance of resources including one another.  Let the breeze, our lungs and legs, the sun and surface winds do the work for us, and share in the harvest.

Flower opening

References:

Statistics on the casualties of road crashes are from the Association for Safe International Road Travel.  http://asirt.org/initiatives/informing-road-users/road-safety-facts/road-crash-statistics

Jim Yong Kim’s quote is from the Shaping the Future of Urban Transport event from the 10th annual Transforming Transportation conference, hosted by the World Bank and EMBARQ .

The childhood obesity epidemic was reported in the NY Times in 2005.

Artists are increasingly shaping the way we perceive the environment.  Check out the events at 516 ARTS in Albuquerque this coming week http://www.516arts.org/ including
http://www.516arts.org/index.php/programs-link/68-events/444-talk-public-art-and-activism-between-climate-culture-and-informational-space

The World Bank has programs focusing directly on improving road safety, and designing sustainable cities:
http://www.wri.org/news/2015/07/release-report-provides-urban-design-recommendations-healthier-cities-fewer-traffic
http://www.wricities.org/
http://www.wri.org/our-work/project/embarq

And the World Bank has this Conference:
http://www.transformingtransportation.org/
Thursday January 14 – Friday January 15, 2016, World Bank Headquarters, Washington D.C.

Dr. Jim Yong Kim is the first medical doctor to be head of the World Bank.  He protested the World Bank when its policies were failing in the early 1990’s.  Now he’s President of it.  Now that’s an adaptive organization!
“Health is not an expense but an investment.”  — Jim Yong Kim, Aspen Institute interview
on transforming development

Bicycling as Climate Change Action

Stephen Clark on helping cities become more bicycle-friendlyA lot of it starts with infrastructure. It’s about having a balanced transportation system where people have choices. Most of my guidance is about how can we take this public space that’s already there and make it more inviting for people who choose not to be in a car — from signal timing, to intersections, to eliminating some of the travel lanes and making the bike lanes wider so people feel safer and more comfortable.  –from Bike League community organizer Stephen Clark

The Biopark in ABQ is breathes life into our people and economy through a strong environment

The Biopark in ABQ breathes life into our well-being and economy through a strong environment

I did not begin bicycling to reduce my carbon footprint, get healthy, feel good about the environment, lose weight, or be a good citizen. I got into it out of bare economic necessity.  Bicycling for transportation has saved me lots of money.  I discovered the other benefits inadvertently.  It was almost better without big expectations.  One of the beauties of life is by making simple, healthy choices you set off a chain of beneficial reactions without intention.  Finding this fundamental positive orientation is based on appropriate decisions.  The ripple effect of right action is amazingly strong.  Once we get started it is self-reinforcing.

Bicycling and transportation in general is related to every issue of our times that people care about.   Expanding the roll of bicycling to address these challenges gives us some traction.  In a world where awareness of the challenges we face is growing, we still struggle with what we can do about our concerns.  Bicycling is a force for adaptation and positive change.  The key is fostering the development of a mindset for making biking safer and easier so more people feel free to participate.   This investment returns intentional and inadvertent benefits for all.

Highlights Chaco purple and gold

Removing barriers is key to opening up the choice to bicycle for more people.  A lot of these have to do with mindset as well as infrastructure.  We can think of our public spaces as appropriate places for humans to exercise our inherent mobility powers.  We can modify our infrastructure design to reflect this, making it safer, easier and more inviting to biking and walking.  These are concurrent steps in the process, adapting our infrastructure, activities, and mindsets.  It takes infrastructure and culture.  Bicycle and walk more.  We need you.

When it comes to training our policy makers, technical staff and citizen advocacy groups, shaping a mindset for solutions-based, forward thinking approaches is as important as the technical skillsets required for building sustainable, diverse, resilient transportation systems. Adaptive skills, innovation and scientific knowledge informed by the humanities are part of the equation for developing a citizenship and leadership cohort capable of driving and embracing positive change.  We have to get people more involved and nurture an atmosphere focused on health.  Let go of false dualities and fear.  We can have a maturing economy and environmental sustainability.  We can have the freedom of choice for transportation, a continuum of options for moving people and goods.  Use your imagination.

Highlight purple hued juniper

I’ve heard people accuse bicyclists of being righteous, but that is baseless. It says more about the speaker’s feelings than me or what I’m doing when I bicycle.  I find bicycling humbling and difficult, honestly.  It makes you earn everything.  It is not easy.  And no matter how well I do it, there is always room to be better, a better mechanic, safer, more diplomatic, friendlier, a better neighbor.   There is no reason for people to feel guilty for riding a bicycle.  It makes you stronger by fine tuning your understanding of your own powers and their limits, improves your sense of empathy through vulnerability, changes your perceptions of your surroundings, and makes you more aware.  It helps me let go of fear-based biases and embrace humane solutions.  You don’t need to bicycle to be a good person, but we need a society that supports it.

No matter what your cause bicycling helps. It is the number one thing doctors prescribe for all ages.  It is the perfect transportation for middle income people leaving us more money for education, entertainment, our own enterprises, and philanthropy.   In fact, it is the perfect transportation for all people no matter your income, and it makes for a more egalitarian and interactive society.  Everyone bicycles.  If you need more social contact, bicycling helps you build relationships.  If you run a business, bicycling lowers your health care costs for employees by improving health, increases productivity and morale by improving fitness, and makes it easier for customers to park and have easy access.  If you are interested in democracy, bicycling builds strong communities.  If you are interested in a spiritual path, walking and biking don’t hurt.

And yes, bicycling cuts carbon. You don’t need to find a reason to bicycle, but there are a lot of good outcomes from doing it.  Oh yeah, it makes me much happier.  I forgot about that effect.

Resources:

Follow Stephen Clark from the Bicycle Friendly Community program with the League of American Bicyclists:  https://twitter.com/bfc_Steve
Here is the article the leading quote is from:  http://www.startribune.com/my-outdoor-life-bicycling-advocate-likes-what-he-sees-in-minneapolis/333064191/

http://vermontbioenergy.com/weekly-energy-action-seminars-at-uvm/#.Via3yLeFPqy
Stephen Clark spoke at a weekly energy action seminar on making bicycling safe and easier.  The series includes big hitters such as Al Gore and Roger Millar, Director, SmartGrowth America.  Most of the speakers are from the energy sector.

http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/leadership-institute/about
Complete Streets in not only a method of designing streets but a mindset for how we use our public spaces for a more inclusive, people friendly mobility environment.

http://www.paulsoninstitute.org/
Ecological security may be the most pressing issue as we partner with China in building a more sustainable economy that respects people and the environment.  Former US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is building an enterprise designed to discard the dualistic legacy of the either/or approach to economic health and the environment.  Instead he is pursuing a blended approach suitable to stewarding both.  Most business leaders see the challenge as spurring innovation.

http://www.aspeninstitute.org/policy-work/business-society
The Aspen Institute has a program that better aligns business success with the public good.