Monthly Archives: January 2016

Crescendo of Sunrise

Here are three photos of recent sunsets and four from today’s sunrise.

sunset

Sunset oh

Sunset tree

Dawn and mountain forms

Dawn eruption

Dawn

dawn glow

On Nathan’s ride yesterday we talked about the value of transportation corridors where people can feel comfortable and safe.  We need to relax and rejuvenate together.  Here’s an article by Tim Beatley that discusses the value of urban trails.  We are working to improve trails here.

“A well-developed urban trail system delivers substantial health benefits, helps to entice and tempt residents outside, and is recognized as a key positive attribute of quality of life. And it can provide important ecological connections and movement corridors for the many other species with which we share urban spaces.”  –from The Value of Urban Trails by Tim Beatley

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Traffic Safety for All People

All men are one and there is no other tale to tell.  –Cormac McCarthy, The Crossing
He said that the way of the road was the rule for all upon it.  –Cormac McCarthy, The Crossing

Respect

Public roads are inclusive of travel by walking and bicycling.  This is common understanding.  Safe passing is the responsibility of the overtaking driver.  Wait until it is safe. Traffic flow is about people, more than just cars.  Look for me.  I will look for you.  We have to look for each other and travel with care.  Every road user has the same expectation for safe travel.

One misconception is that bicycles cannot impede traffic.  That is false.  The traffic impeding law in New Mexico only applies to motor vehicles.  The movement of cyclists on the road at speeds safe and reasonable for bicycles is normal and expected.  Speed differentials are balanced by calming faster vehicular traffic.  When bikes and pedestrians are around please slow down.

A second misunderstanding is that bicycles should always be far right.  That is false.  One of the most effective proactive safety techniques for cycling is traveling where cars generally do, or just to the right.  This is because the movement of bicycles is akin to the movement of cars, and that is where people are looking.  Proper positioning increases visibility, helps avoid right edge hazards, and prevents the most common crash types which includes falls from surface hazards, vehicle turning conflicts, and driveway pullouts.  If the right lane is too narrow to share with a vehicle side by side (generally the minimum width for side by side sharing is 14-15′), bicyclists may use any part of the lane for safety.  Edge riding around the white line can increase the likelihood of a close pass or sideswipe.  Educated cyclists will often center themselves in the lane or ride just right of center to clearly indicate they are using the lane.  This makes bicyclists conspicuous, more visible, and makes their movement more predictable, because they’re clearer of hazards and can hold a line without having to frequently move laterally to avoid debris and pass obstacles.  It also signals to cars that they must changes lanes to pass, and puts bicyclists in a clear field of vision.  Plus good lane positioning gives bicyclists better sight lines through intersections, past driveways, and around corners.  Bike lanes may have the pitfalls of right edge riding depending on their design and conditions.  Safe bicyclists use them with caution and care.  Change lanes to pass cyclists.  Give ample room.  Be sensitive, safe.

A third misunderstanding is that bicyclists should not be on the road.  This is false.  Bicyclists are a normal part of multimodal traffic flow.  Bicycle travel is expected and encouraged.  The Federal Highway Administration’s policy is “bicyclists and pedestrians (including people with disabilities) will be fully integrated into the transportation system.”  This integration begins with the conceptual framework of the public travel environment as a shared space we live in.  This includes recreational use of the public infrastructure.  Cars are used for work and recreation.  So are bicycles and walking.  We want to encourage public health and induce more exercise.

In his investigative book Traffic, Tom Vanderbilt makes a comparison between the 9/11 toll and monthly death toll on roads.  The latter exceeds the former.  “We know all this, and act as if we don’t” (p 275 Tom Vanderbilt).  That is changing.  Our civil society depends on safe roads for all.

Ride for Nathan climb up

Resources:

http://iamtraffic.org/resources/infographics
Tom Vanderbilt Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do and What It Says About Us
Cormac McCarthy The Crossing Quotes are from p. 157 and p. 414, The Border Trilogy, 1999, Knopf, Everyman’s Library edition
https://bikeyogiblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/10/get-educated-on-cycling/
https://bikeyogiblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/28/how-to-pass-bicyclists-safely-how-to-enforce-this/
https://bikeyogiblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/05/side-path-bicycling/
https://bikeyogiblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/learning-from-trails/

Community Bicycling Events

Here are upcoming events in the Southwest related to the bicycling community.  We have to be selective with our participation but it is always inspiring to see what people are up to.  If you can’t make it this month or this year perhaps something will get on your radar for next time:

Complete Streets Leadership Team New Mexico meets today 3:30-5 at the Mid Region Metropolitan Planning Organization.  This group for inclusive multimodal perspectives meets monthly, and call in information is available.  Notes from pervious meetings are online.
Albuquerque and Bernalillo Comprehensive Plan Update has two open house meetings today.  I’m aiming for the evening meeting in the South Valley.  Coordinating Land Use Planning with Transportation is crucial for creating a structure conducive to active transportation.
Velo Cruces has their annual meeting today, advocating for a bike friendly Las Cruces.
Velo Paso has all sorts of news up on their Facebook page including a list of upcoming meetings for citizen participation in creating the El Paso Bike Plan.  They are a driving force for change!
Rally for Bike Safety is on Feb. 13 with BikeABQ and the Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico
The New Mexico Bicyclists and Pedestrian Safety group is doing great things raising awareness.
The Valley of the Sun stage race in Phoenix, Arizona kicks off the Southwest bicycle racing season.  Race, volunteer and watch the colors of the peloton in front of the State Capitol.  From the press release:  Three days of racing, around 1000 participants, and events on Sunday for children under the age of 12 including a kid’s bicycle race, a bicycle rodeo and helmet fitting, put on by the SAFE KIDS Coalition of Maricopa County and the Phoenix Police Department.

East Mountains Tabezon

Sandia early buds

Sandhill formation

Sandia climb
These photos, as usual, are from my rides except the one with Cranes is from Sansai Studios, a partner of the Southwest Bike Initiative.  Thank you Sansai.

Strava Connects Athletes with Planners

Strava technology blows my mind.  Strava has united what I’ve always done, bicycling, with my current project in long range transportation planning, design and education.  I’ve always thought the best way to advocate for bicycling is to do it.  I’m good at that.  With Strava, a free application that tracks your movement with GPS from a device as simple as your current cell phone, our riding becomes visible to planners and elected officials.  It literally makes your riding count and show up as evidence on how much and where people are bicycling.

If you’re riding and you’re not on Strava, please sign up for Strava for free.

La Luz piñon

This makes a huge difference.  Metro Planning Organizations have been counting cars since the 1970’s, but systematic counts for pedestrians and bicyclists have not been programmed as well.  So the lack of statistical “evidence” that people are walking and bicycling has been detrimental to justifying the allocation of funds for making improvements.  Strava says “nearly one-half of all rides on Strava in denser metro areas are commutes so Strava Metro data gives great insight into the needs of those riding for transportation.”  Strava is doing us all kinds of favors, including breaking down false divides between people that bike for health (“sport”) and for those that bike for transportation (“utility”).  People bike for all reasons, just like we use cars.

Winter ride

Aside from the social networking you can do with Strava, such as tracking your friends’ rides, and taking pictures and uploading them to rides (the photos on this blog post are from my rides on Strava), you are serving a greater purpose too by making your riding more visible and making it part of a big data set.  Strava is my bike org. of the month for December 2015.

S14 descending

Sign up for Strava:  http://www.strava.com/how-it-works
Follow me on Strava:  https://www.strava.com/athletes/1817826

References:
http://metro.strava.com/faq/
http://metro.strava.com/
http://labs.strava.com/heatmap/#6/-120.90000/38.36000/blue/bike

from Strava Metro

Strava Metro is a data service providing “ground truth” on where people ride and run. Millions of GPS-tracked activities are uploaded to Strava every week from around the globe. In denser metro areas, nearly one-half of these are commutes. These activities create billions of data points that, when aggregated, enable deep analysis and understanding of real-world cycling and pedestrian route preferences.”

Here’s a little heat map screen print from our bicycle rides in Albuquerque:

Strava Heat ABQ 2016

Walking UNM

I took a walk on the University of New Mexico’s main campus yesterday after a meeting.  I had planned to visit the library but it was a nice day to walk and look at that horizon where the landscape meets the sky.  The wooden trim and decorated beams adorning buildings and the places where adobe brushes celestial blue make for an abstract charm such as music imparts.

UNM blanca

UNM chapel wood

UNM double corners

The integration of the built and natural environment is exceptional in New Mexico.  Cultural traditions intertwine and inspire new creations.  Trees lend a rooted and organic flavor.

UNM colors

UNM Maxwell Adobe Wall

UNM chapel

UNM spikey desert plants

Everything in planning and design is about getting it down to human scale.  And making the big things like buildings approachable and inviting.  The vernacular architecture of UNM makes the mundane seem extraordinary and imbues an everyday walk with a special character.  The upclose environment is warm and stimulating.  Clouds roll and dissolve in the mile high sky against distant mountain drops.  The omnipresent sun.  Time has a way of vanishing here.

UNM opening

UNM turqoise courtyard

UNM spiral

UNM big office

UNM greetings

Cranes at Bernardo

This time of year the migratory birds are chomping corn, alfalfa and winter wheat up and down the Río Grande Valley.  On MLK Day 8,000 Sandhill Cranes were reported to be at the Bernardo preserve about 50 miles south of Albuquerque.   We could see the birds in the fields from the highway underneath a gauzy blue winter sky.  So many birds the fields were gray.

Bernardo four

Bernardo extraordinary

Cranes field drapery

We left the highway and pulled into the refuge. We opened the doors and could hear them immediately.  Loquacious bird life sounding all around us.

Bernardo entrance sign

Bernardo river bound

Bernardo layers

Cranes love birds

Bernardo beautiful

Birds were flying in V formations ranging in all directions at various altitudes.  We walked the loop road and went up onto the viewing platforms.  It was bird paradise, spectacular.

Bernardo on legs

Cranes take off

Cranes wingspan

Bird were everywhere.  Over the fertile flood plain, flying across the high desert and past distant mountain ranges.  Felt a world away from the city though the world is one and seamless.

Bernardo scene

Cranes and corn

You’ve got the rugged landscapes of Quebradas to the south, and the popular Bosque Del Apache refuge just past Socorro.  But Bernardo may be the sweetest spot of them all.

Bernardo flight by moon

Bernardo edge trees

Bernardo bird struck

These Cranes have been around for 10 million years according to the fossil record.  I wonder what they sense of all the human goings on.  The Hopi first, now more of us.

Bernardo blue moon

Bernardo sun

Bernardo high

Admire the birds.  There is something about their union with the sky that dissolves our worries.  They take us away from anthropocentrism and suspend our sense of earthly bounds.  Peter Matthiesen’s book The Birds of Heaven: Travels with Cranes is a good companion for birding.

Bernardo world away

Bernardo red earth

Cranes aloft

Bernardo sunset

Seeing these birds fly is like witnessing soccer players weave on the field in long elegant lines, or a cycling peloton echeloning out in the wind.  A consonance with ancient life and physics.

Bernardo deep push

Land Use Planning and Better Walking and Bicycling

Land use planning and walking, bicycling and transit are intricately connected.  Planning is probably the most significant area for making transportation more sustainable by crafting our communities to the scale of human living.  Basically this means building denser, mixed use spaces that are more accessible to walk, bike and transit and that reduce demand for car travel.

city_sprawl

Good land use planning makes walk, bike and transit better transportation choices.  Good planning makes the city set up for accessibility by the most basic and efficient travel modes.  It is not something that happens automatically but is change we have to shape and work for.  I’ve heard criticisms of the Bus Rapid Transit system development on Central Ave. making the point that Central currently doesn’t have the kind of density and mixed use development that transit-oriented districts typically have.  That is an invaluable point to listen to, because it means that transportation planning and land use have to coincide for both to be successful.  Rapid Transit including bus and light rail will be most effective when we increase density in urban centers.  We have to imagine a revitalization of Central Ave. that invites more businesses and people in.

The chief advantages of living in a city are that more services are closer together and propinquity (the proximity of people) spawns creative and beneficial human interactions.  Good land use planning maximizes returns on these natural elements.  Suburban living and car lifestyles will remain popular choices, but smart growth development will mean that we start shaping our cities to open up an array of alternatives, helping variety flourish.  It means people won’t feel like they have to own a car to live here or to be taken seriously.  For most families it means the best of both worlds.  You can live where you want, drive when you want to, and you can feel safe walking and bicycling too.  For the large population that doesn’t drive or doesn’t want to drive, you can have first class transportation options too, mobility freedom for all.

Albuquerque is currently updating its Comprehensive Plan.  There are upcoming meetings to involve community members in planning.  The draft plan is online along with other documents for public review.  It is OK to ask for good transportation choices, and expect to see new patterns on the land increasing livability, health, and equity.  We are becoming something more.  I try to keep an open mind, stay involved and work for a future where we all flourish.

Resources:
Graphic from:  http://www.wri.org/blog/2015/07/7-proven-principles-designing-safer-city
https://www.planning.org/policy/guides/adopted/smartgrowth.htm
http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/planning/sample_plans.cfm
http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/guides/smart-growth-at-the-state-and-local-level/education/develop-a-land-use-and-development-curriculum-for-k-12-students/
http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/smart-growth-and-transportation
http://www.bikeleague.org/content/5-es
‘The world is run by those who show up’:  http://abc-zone.com/