ABQ CiQlovía 2014 – A Synopsis and Analysis + 2015 Plans

- Dan Majewski

It is with great pleasure that I am sharing our ABQ CiQlovía 2014 report today.  Valerie Hermanson, Tara Cok and I have been hard at work putting this together and we are pleased to announce its completion.

Click the image below to see the report and tell us your thoughts in the comments section.

Click the image above to view and read our report!

Click the image above to view and read our report!

In addition to our report, we are officially launching the effort for ABQ CiQlovía 2015!  Right now, we have identified four areas for a route location: the South Valley, the Heart of Downtown, Nob Hill and the International District.  Regarding the date, we are leaning towards late September again but we are open to suggestions.  Join us in selecting the route and date moving forward.

We will be announcing a kickoff happy hour within the next few weeks.  Follow ABQ CiQlovía on Facebook for more information on this process.

A Great 2014 + The 2015 Forecast

- Dan Majewski

Some festive folks enjoying the new parquito at Zendo.

Some festive folks enjoying the new parquito at Zendo.

Cheers to a successful and momentous year!  Ending the year with the first parquito in New Mexico, now available in front of Zendo Cafe, couldn’t have been better.  Seeing the streets filled with people for our first ever ABQ CiQlovía this fall was incredible and inspiring.  Whether it was the Railyards Market, tactical crosswalk painting in Nob Hill, the CNM STEMulus Center or the completion of the Silver Moon Lodge, it has been exciting to see so many initiatives manifest or finish to completion this year.

Below is a list of 2014 highlights (feel free to add more in the comments section!) as well as some expectations and desires for 2015.

Highlights of 2014

Completion of the First Parquito

Over the course of nearly two years, members of UrbanABQ have been in talks with the City and area business to build the state’s first parklet, or as we call it, a parquito. After a significant amount of discourse with the city, Zendo Coffee and Art Bar was given to the green light to build a pilot that would be tested for 60-days.  Burqueno’s banded together and helped to the fund the mini public park through a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo. Unfortunately the permitting process took much longer than anticipated but the result is a handsome parquito in the heart of downtown! Area businesses now have a framework for creating their very own.

The Railyards Market on Mothers Day, 2014

The Railyards Market on Mothers Day, 2014

The Railyards Market

We were inspired by the weekly Sunday market which took place at our beautiful, now officially historic, Railyards.  Organized by passionate burqueño and burqueña volunteers, the market quickly transitioned from idea to reality.  The market recently ended a very successful first season, but their continued success is being threatened by the City of Albuquerque.  The most recent compromise for the coming 2015 season includes three out of four Sundays per month + one day during the week.  For those who don’t feel this is good enough, there is a petition you can sign by clicking on this text.   As of this writing, there are over 700 signatures.  For more info on the market, follow them on Facebook.

Image from the event taken by our photo contest winner Rocío Rodríguez.

Image from the event taken by our photo contest winner Rocío Rodríguez.

ABQ CiQlovía

We couldn’t have been more impressed and inspired by the community support we received for ABQ CiQlovía.  On September 21, over 4,700 people took the streets for the Carnuel Parade, to walk, to bike, to play and to simply enjoy the perfect weather.  If you haven’t seen it yet, click here to see the amazing aerial video from the event.  The Planning Committee is finalizing a report with a brief overview and synopsis of CiQlovía results and findings.  It will include recommendations for the 2015 event.  The process of selecting a route for 2015 is beginning as well.  Keep an eye on our website and our Facebook page for more details.

An image from the Innovate ABQ plan, linked below.  Dark red = underutilized opportunity areas, primarily surface parking lots.

An image from the Innovate ABQ plan, linked below. Dark red = underutilized opportunity areas, primarily surface parking lots.

Innovate ABQ

What started as an idea a couple of year ago is becoming a reality.  An initial master plan has been developed and the land for the keystone project has been purchased.  What was once the First Baptist Church on Broadway and Central will become a regional center for innovation, creativity, technology and knowledge exchange.  A partnership between the City, the County, UNM, CNM and many others, Innovate ABQ will tie together existing centers and innovation hubs along the Central corridor.  It is being integrated with the proposed Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, improvements to bicycle lanes on MLK Jr. Blvd and other projects.  Work has already begun and hopefully portions of the First Baptist site will be operational by the end of 2015.  One aspect of the Innovation District, however, is already up and running…

An image from the grand opening of the CNM STEMulus Center, Sept. 2014.

An image from the grand opening of the CNM STEMulus Center, Sept. 2014.

CNM STEMulus Center

Last year, the announcement about the Gap leaving the Galleria building Downtown came as a heavy hit.  With the announcement this year that CNM would be taking its place, it appears that Downtown received the better end of the deal.  With hundreds of students projected, the CNM STEMulus Center will transform what was once an office building in a huge technology and idea incubator.  With a wide variety of classes and programs being offered, the STEMulus Center (STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is complementary to many of the other exciting projects happening Downtown.

One of the many unique objects being fabricated and designed at the Levitated Toy Factory.

One of the many unique objects being fabricated and designed at the Levitated Toy Factory.

Levitated Toy Factory + Downtown 2030 District –

Arguably the most exciting and intriguing new development in Downtown Albuquerque this year was the Levitated Toy Factory.  Jared and Laurie Tarbell continue to inspire with each new idea and proposal.  Their efforts have received national attention, leading to a wonderful article in CityLab as well as in the Local iQ.  As their vision for Downtown and the digital fabrication industry continues to manifest, we look forward to seeing the already exciting results expand.  Their overall vision for a vibrant and more sustainable Downtown is manifesting through their work with the Downtown MainStreet Team.  The 2030 District is a proposed sustainability district for Downtown.  The idea behind 2030 is “net zero”, or creating a district which produces more energy than it consumes by the year 2030.  The Levitated Factory is already net zero.  It is now up to the rest of the Downtown property owners to catch up.  Join us in January for the first forum about the 2030 District.

A rendering of the new hotel being constructed in Old Town.

A rendering of the new hotel being constructed in Old Town.

Ground Broken on Hotel Chaco in Old Town + Athena @ the Granite on 4th Street –

Some exciting new projects from are just getting started.  A new Old Town hotel will help to fill the gap between Sawmill and Old Town.  Athena @ the Granite will include a taproom, market, wine, coffee and other essentials.  Most importantly, it will be right on the edge of Downtown in the emerging Warehouse District (NoLo anyone?).

The renovated Convention Center is already attracting new event programming.  Pictured here is the Day of the Tread, a massive local running and biking event, which in previous years was located at a different venue.

The renovated Convention Center is already attracting new programming. Pictured here is the Day of the Tread, a massive local running and biking event which occurs in late October.

Completion of 3rd Street and Renovations at the Convention Center –

If you haven’t been inside the new Convention Center, go check it out.  Walk into the lobby and relax on the comfy chairs surrounding the cozy new fireplace.  Enjoy some of the fastest WiFi in the city surrounded by well lit airy spaces and fresh furnishings.  The rehab of 3rd Street in front of the Convention Center was, in itself, a much needed improvement.  There is now a cohesive connection between Civic Plaza and the Convention Center, strengthening the case for an improved Civic Plaza.

The completed 4th Street renovation, looking north from Central Avenue.

The completed 4th Street renovation, looking north from Central Avenue.

Completion of 4th Street Rebuild

We were not happy with the final redesign of 4th Street but alas, what has been done is done.  Overall, it looks good.  On street parking and two traffic lanes have replaced what was once a shady green oasis in the heart of Downtown.  Now that the fences are gone, businesses will begin moving into the many vacant spaces along the corridor.

One of the iconic new signs found within the newly designated district.

One of the iconic new signs found within the newly designated district.

The Mile-Hi District

What started as a neighborhood driven vision just four years ago is now becoming a reality.  It began when the Fair Heights and Mark Twain neighborhood associations took a look at Nob Hill and wondered “Why can’t we have a vibrant walkable mixed use district in our neighborhood?”  The corridor in question was San Pedro between Lomas and I-40, right on the edge of Uptown.  San Pedro was already home to many unique and successful local businesses but something was…. lacking.  There were also a growing number of vacancies along the corridor.  After much research, it was decided that two critical changes were required to improve the corridor.

1) It needed to be branded… actually, rebranded.  Due to the elevation of the retail strip at exactly 5,280 feet above sea level, it was originally known as the Mile-Hi District.  With this knowledge, the neighborhood led a branding effort which led to the beautiful iconic signs seen on the corridor today.

2) San Pedro needed to be redesigned.  Today, San Pedro has four traffic lanes and narrow sidewalks.  This causes a variety of problems including high automobile speeds, difficulty turning into and out of businesses and very difficult crossings for bicycles and pedestrians.  The proposed redesign, which will be constructed next year, will be a basic 4 to 3 “road diet”.  Bike lanes, a center turn lane and an automobile through lane in each direction will be striped onto the corridor.  More information on this subject can be found in a detailed UrbanABQ article, linked here.  Part of the redesign process included a visit from a famous livability and walkability consultant…

Community building through active participation: a "human traffic circle", created during a walking audit with Dan Burden

Community building through active participation: a “human traffic circle”, created during a walking audit with Dan Burden.    – Image by Valerie Hermanson

A Visit from Dan Burden and the WALC Institute

This year, the White House recognized Dan Burden as a Champion of Change for his efforts to make places more walkable.  This year, Mr. Burden also visited Albuquerque.  Thanks to generous funding from multiple sources, especially the local AARP chapter, Dan engaged the community through “walking audits”, outdoor meetings with demonstrations about how to make roads more useful for all citizens.  A detailed UrbanABQ article about his visit can be found at this link.  In summary, Dan engaged local leaders, citizens, planners and engineers in a constructive conversation about building community through better infrastructure.

The City of Albuquerque Complete Streets Ordinance

Late in 2014, the Albuquerque City Council began moving complete streets legislation through committee.  This was due, in part, to the work being done by the Complete Streets in New Mexico Leadership Team.  For those who are not familiar, “complete streets” are streets which are designed to accommodate all users, not just automobiles.  According to the city website, the ordinance will provide some simple solutions for two typical situations:

  • Major Reconstruction or Construction of New Streets – The City will consider all users when designing new roads or major rehabilitation projects, and will design infrastructure appropriate to those users and the surrounding development.
  • Minor Maintenance, Resurfacing, or Rehabilitation Projects – The City will identify how Complete Streets approaches can be incorporated into more modest existing projects.  Sometimes this may be as simple as changing the way a road is striped. It would also include closing unused curb cuts and narrowing overly-wide traffic lanes to provide right-of-way for sidewalks, bicycle lanes, on-street parking, or pedestrian buffers.

In essence, when the city is doing work on an existing road, they will identify if it is possible or logical to make changes to the existing design.  These changes could come in the form of bike lanes, improved intersection crossings, sidewalks and much more.  Read all about the proposed ordinance at this link.  So far, the ordinance has received nothing but massive support.  The ordinance will go before city council in early 2015.

uber-lyft

Launch of Lyft and Uber in Albuquerque

Sure, they are controversial and they have their faults.  However, if you’ve ever used one of these peer-to-peer on-demand taxi services, you know how useful they can be.  Real time information, a two way rating system, information about your driver and their vehicle… let’s just say that they are a huge improvement over the existing cab service found in Albuquerque.  Most importantly, these services make a car-free or a car-lite lifestyle even more viable.  If you haven’t yet, give them a try.

What to Expect in 2015

A rendering of the Imperial Building, looking west from the corner of 2nd and Silver.

A rendering of the Imperial Building, looking west from the corner of 2nd and Silver.

Groundbreaking For a Grocery Store in the Heart of Downtown

Some would argue that Downtown already has a grocery store.  In fact, UrbanABQ started with a group of people living Downtown wanting a grocery store.  Through hard work and constant push from people in the surrounding neighborhood, the Lowes grocery store at Lomas and 11th was transformed from a dingy corner store into a comfortable neighborhood grocery store.  However, for someone living in the core of Downtown, it is a lengthy walk to Lowes.  The Imperial Building will change all of that.

The Imperial Building will contain 74 residential units and a 12,000 square foot grocery store just a block away from the largest transit center in the state.  This may be the critical project that Downtown needs to kickstart large scale residential growth.  The Imperial will not be your average mixed use building either: there will be a fully functional large scale rooftop garden!  The groundbreaking itself will happen in January and everything will be open for business by 2016.

A rendering from the most recent plans for ART.  This image is from the segment between Yale and Columbia, in front of UNM.

A rendering from the plans for ART. This image is from the segment between Yale and Columbia, in front of UNM.

The ABQ Rapid Transit (ART) Central Avenue Final Plan

This project could be a huge catalyst for high quality walkable urban development along our most important corridor, old Route 66.  In summary, ART will provide designated lanes, stations in the median, high frequency and extensive hours of service everyday.  It will be “light rail on rubber tires”.  No matter how it turns out, the ART project will lead to improvements for people using bicycles or their feet for transportation.  After all, if it encourages more dense development, which is one of the goals of the project, there will be more demand for services along the Central corridor.  This means more grocery stores and drug stores and less of a need to use an automobile for basic services.

However, there are some design issues with the current iteration of the plan including a lack of mid-block crossings on much of the route.  For example, there are no crossings for people on foot proposed between Presbyterian Hospital and University Boulevard.

This cross section through EDo features extremely wide auto and bus lanes.  If these lanes were narrowed, an uphill bike lane + a shared downhill auto / bike lane could be added.

This cross section through EDo features extremely wide auto and bus lanes. If these lanes were narrowed, an uphill bike lane + a shared downhill auto / bike lane could be added.

There are few proposed bicycle facilities and some of the proposed lane widths will encourage high speeds, discouraging the type of development we want to see along this corridor.  The narrow right of way, or ROW, makes this project very challenging.  However, proper facilities for people on foot and on bicycle could have a major impact on the success or failure of this project.

Keep an eye out for another round of public meetings and PLEASE show up and comment on the plan.  You can visit the project website and comment on the plan right now by clicking this text!

San Pedro will soon be redesigned with this configuration.

San Pedro will soon be redesigned with this configuration.

The San Pedro Road Diet

This exciting project, led by City Councilor Diane Gibson and the neighborhoods along the San Pedro corridor, will have a positive impact on an emerging walkable business district.  The Mile Hi District now has a logo, signage and a brand.  The road diet will bring lower automobile speeds, increased property values and vastly improved bicycle access to San Pedro.

A typical section of the redesigned Zuni Road.  It will be very similar to the rebuild of San Pedro.

A typical section of the redesigned Zuni Road. It will be very similar to the rebuild of San Pedro.

The Zuni Road Diet

This project has been in the works for a few years and it is entering final design.  The Zuni Road project will have a major positive impact on some of the Albuquerque neighborhoods most in need.   Bike lanes, wider sidewalks and improved crossings will be added to a road which is currently known for its high accident rate and dangerous speeding.  It will be a continuation of the Lead/Coal improvements into the International District.  The bike lanes on Zuni will fill a major gap in the existing bicycle network, connecting the Nob Hill area with the neighborhoods on the east side of the Fairgrounds.  Construction will be integrated with the 50 Mile Loop, which will be routed onto Zuni for a short segment.  The project is currently in final design, so ground will be broken in 2015 or 2016.

A bike share station in Denver.

A bike share station in Denver.

Bike Share

Did you know that Albuquerque almost had one of the first large scale bike share systems in the country?  In 2008, the recession led to the death of this advertiser funded project, but the detailed plans are still available  They are in need of some updates, but they are essentially ready to go.  This year was marked by a massive increase in local interest of bike share due in no small part to bike share rapidly popping up all over the world.  Regarding actual implementation, a group of Downtown stakeholders received a grant this year, which will allow a very small scale bike share system to launch sometime in 2015.  Regarding a larger regional system, a few local governing entities and major private sector players are currently in talks to make bike share a reality.  Keep following UrbanABQ for updates on this exciting project.

Families enjoying the slightly smaller than expected ice skating rink on Civic Plaza.

Families enjoying the slightly smaller than expected ice skating rink on Civic Plaza.

Continued Improvements to Civic Plaza

This year, the completion of the Convention Center was only one aspect of the improvements to Civic Plaza.  Another exciting development was the takeover of Civic Plaza management by the Convention Center.  The City of Albuquerque historically managed the plaza but now the Convention Center has control.  This is good for a number of reasons.  Essentially, the Convention Center is in the business of event programming which is exactly the kind of management needed for this type of space.  A mixture of Downtown stakeholders are currently working on some exciting plans for the plaza.  Stay tuned for more information later this year!

What We Would Like to See in 2015

“Test, Don’t Study” + Implementation of Jeff Speck’s recommendations

This year, nationally renowned walkability consultant Jeff Speck was hired by the city of Albuquerque to do an analysis of the walking environment in and around Downtown Albuquerque.  His analysis, linked here, essentially looked at what was working, what wasn’t and how to connect it all together.  His analysis focused on projects which would achieve the largest “bang for the buck” impact.

According to Mr. Speck, this image features the most walkable corridors Downtown and the "missing teeth" along those corridors.  According to the report, these should be the highest priority development sites.

According to Mr. Speck, this image features the most walkable corridors Downtown and the “missing teeth” along those corridors. According to the report, these should be the highest priority development sites.

Much of his recommendations come in the form of simple restriping and they center around narrowing lanes, adding on-street parking and striping bike lanes.  City council will be drafting legislation this year to facilitate implementation of his easier and cheaper recommendations.  We look forward to seeing this plan move towards implementation as quickly as possible.

A conceptual image of the Downtown focused Innovation District.   - D/P/S, Perkins + Will.

A conceptual image of the Downtown focused Innovation District. – D/P/S, Perkins + Will.

Innovate ABQ Operations Beginning on the Central and Broadway Site

The First Baptist site has been purchased and the site can now begin developing into the Innovation District.  Final plans are not yet complete, but this should not prevent fast tracking portions of the existing property into incubator spaces.  We hope to see the first students and tenants moving into the First Baptist site before the end of the year.  By 2016, we hope to see major infrastructure development happening on and around the property.

A bike corral in front a coffee shop in Tucson, Arizona.

An on-street bike corral in front of a coffee shop in Tucson, Arizona.

Parquitos + On Street Bike Corrals Across the City

Now that the regulations are in place, we hope to see many more businesses across the city adopting the ordinance and building their own parquitos.  The same ordinance could also hypothetically be used to install on-street bike corrals (bike parking), a much needed improvement in many parts of Downtown, Nob Hill and beyond.

Large Scale Market Rate Housing Development in Downtown

Much of the recent residential development in Downtown Albuquerque has come in the form of subsidized housing.  This is great, as there is significant need and demand for this product.  However, a vibrant Downtown requires a mix of different types of people and income groups to be successful.

This image, from the Jeff Speck plan, illustrates the potential development opportunities around underutilized parking garages.

This image from the Jeff Speck plan illustrates potential development opportunities around existing underutilized parking garages.

Existing underutilized parking lots managed privately or by the city could be leveraged to facilitate residential development.  Other cities use this model and it is time for the City of Albuquerque to take the lead on this initiative.  Developers need to be pulled Downtown and leveraging existing parking spaces is the best way to do this.  At current rental and leasing rates, market rate residential development Downtown is not viable because of the high cost of building parking.  Leverage existing parking and watch market rate housing happen Downtown.  Plus, with a new grocery store moving in, living Downtown is becoming easier.  On the topic of parking, something else Downtown needs is a…

Parking benefit district

A parking benefit district is a way to gain more support for priced parking.

How does it work?

Let’s say, for example, the City of Albuquerque wanted to increase the cost of parking along Central Avenue in Downtown.  They would announce the price increase and the merchants along the corridor would be up in arms!  They would argue that increased parking prices would drive away potential customers.  However, the City would then tell the merchants that every cent of parking revenue would be invested right back into the corridor.  Street trees, street lights, improved facades… suddenly, the merchants would be asking for the price increases.  Realistically, correctly priced parking is quite good for businesses.

A parking benefit district pumps parking revenue right back into the location where it was earned.  In the case of Albuquerque, all of Downtown could be part of a single parking benefit district.  As one could imagine, the benefits of this policy would be significant and it would be smart for the city to pursue.  Linked here is more information about parking benefit districts from, of all places, Houston, TX.

This is one of the many easy to implement proposals found in Jeff Specks plan.  This critical project could be completed tomorrow for around $40,000.  Source for cost estimates: http://bit.ly/1xcOK50.

This is one of the many easy to implement proposals found in Jeff Speck’s plan. The numbers in the image are width in feet.  Mr. Speck also proposes physical protection in the buffered areas.  This critical project could be completed tomorrow for around $40,000. Source for cost estimates: http://bit.ly/1xcOK50.

Bernalillo County Deciding to Remain Downtown –

This year, the County began a search for new office space.  Currently, Bernalillo County staff is scattered all over the city, making work between departments difficult.  Much of the search included offices outside of Downtown, scaring a lot of folks.  After all, the County does a lot of work with the City, making it logical to stay in close proximity to City Hall.  It appears they received this feedback but a final decision on this matter would help with positive decision making Downtown.

This scene from Downtown Albuquerque earlier this year was replicated across the country.  This year, across the country, thousands took to the streets, our public space, to peacefully voice opinions and express ideas.

This scene from Downtown Albuquerque earlier this year was replicated all across America. In cities across the country, thousands took to the streets, our largest public space, to peacefully voice opinions and express ideas.

Your Continued Support and Advocacy

In order for Albuquerque to become the place we want it to be, we must continue to show up to meetings, criticize and critique plans, provide public input, and even take to the streets when deemed necessary.  It’s equally important to thank our local leaders for their hard work when the opportunity arises!  If you have never participated in our democratic system, make it your New Year’s resolution to do so.  Voting is a good start but realistically, our elected officials expect us, the constituents, to lead the way and to call for change.  On the local level, democracy functions relatively well.  Just this year, as discussed in this article, we have watched many of our ideas become realities.  It required significant effort but we proved that change IS indeed possible.

TAKE ACTION!

Talk to your neighbors.  Start a community garden.  Walk or bike to at least one destination per week.  Paint a crosswalk.  Engage the people around you and realize that it is us, the people, who will decide what direction we want our world to move into.

Happy New Year!

The Folly of Osuna Road: Return on Investment + Using Our Resources More Effectively

- Dan Majewski

The New Mexico Railrunner, an important regional transportation investment.   Photo credit: LightRailNow.org.

The New Mexico Railrunner, an important regional transportation investment. Photo credit: LightRailNow.org.

Albuquerque, 2014: Our population is decreasing and high wage jobs are few and far between.  Our local government has a growing list of projects to construct and a shrinking tax base.  In addition, several indicators in our community have changed since the recession.  These indicators range from people per household to average income to home ownership rate.  All of these changes have not led to changes in how public (and even private) projects are built and prioritized.

One of those indicators is motor vehicle miles traveled per person or per capita VMTthe topic of this article.

Projections vs. Reality

OR

Building It  ≠  They Will Come

This next section is very important.  I’ll call it “How Cities Decide to Build More Roads” or “The Road Gods“.

Municipal traffic engineering departments base road construction priorities around something called a Traffic Demand Model (TDM).  TDMs are computer simulations that calculate projected amounts of motor vehicles + population + other indicators on city roadways.  Based on the results of these models, the Road Gods then decide which roads should be built, expanded or kept as is.

In the words of a local government staff person:

The City uses traffic projections to plan their projects. They are not looking at past traffic patterns but the modeled traffic demand in 2035.

This is an imperfect system to begin with because it does not consider scenarios such as “what if we build LESS lanes?” or “what if we just added sidewalks and bike lanes on every road instead?”

However, since the mid-2000s, these models have become extremely outdated and irrelevant.  They are leading to decisions which are having a dramatic negative effect on our local transportation infrastructure.

People Are Driving Less

Below is a chart that captures one aspect of the social changes occurring in the United States today:

The black line signifies vehicle miles traveled per person in the United States.

The black line signifies vehicle miles traveled per person in the United States.

As the red arrow demonstrates, driving “peaked” in 2004.  In case people think that this is a temporary trend, below is another chart, which correlates VMT with recessions:

The dark shaded areas represent recessions.

The dark shaded areas represent recessions.

This chart captures a growing trend in America: not driving.  Americans across the demographic spectrum are simply not driving as much as they used to.

What About New Mexico?  We Drive a Lot Here! 

This is true, but our trends reflect some of the national trends.  Below is a chart, which reflects these changes:

This chart reflects the declining automobile usage rates in the ABQ metro region.  In Albuquerque itself, the declines are far more significant.

This chart reflects the declining automobile usage rates in the ABQ metro region. In Albuquerque itself, the declines are far more significant.

As you can see, driving has declined or stayed flat every year since 2004, in our metro area.  Also, the declines in Bernalillo County (the location of Osuna Road) are far more significant than those in other surrounding counties.  For example, the chart below shows these differences.  These variations reflect development patterns in the newer more suburban portions of the Albuquerque metro area.

People in Bernalillo County drive far less than those in surrounding counties.

People in Bernalillo County drive far less than those in surrounding counties.

As you can see in the chart above, residents of Albuquerque drive half as many miles per day as people who live in Los Lunas or Belen.

So, what’s the point?

The problem:

We are making transportation infrastructure decisions with outdated models which do not reflect behavioral changes!

We now return to Osuna Road, Albuquerque, NM.

The red line symbolizes the area that is proposed for widening.  Here is a link to the Google MyMap: http://bit.ly/ZpJyO0.

The red line symbolizes the area that is proposed for widening. Here is a link to the Google MyMap: http://bit.ly/ZpJyO0.

Osuna is an interesting road.  It starts as a major arterial with an interstate highway off-ramp and eventually dwindles down to a minor neighborhood street.  During the early 2000s, traffic counts were increasing dramatically, but recently, they have dropped to early 1990s levels.

According to the regional TIP (transportation improvement program), Osuna is listed as an approved project.  The TIP goes through a hypothetically public process, though mid day meetings, which are not heavily advertised hardly count as such.

This screenshot is page 117 of the TIP, linked here: http://mrcogshare.org/MPO/Section5.pdf

This screenshot is page 117 of the TIP, linked here: http://mrcogshare.org/MPO/Section5.pdf

Below is a chart of traffic counts on Osuna Road between I-25 and 2nd Street, the segment which the City of Albuquerque is trying to expand:

The data points on this chart are averages of the numbers counted on the portion of the corridor recommended for expansion.

The data points on this chart are averages of the numbers counted on the portion of the corridor recommended for expansion.

Look familiar?  It is a mirror of the national trend from the chart earlier in the article.

AND HERE LIES THE PROBLEM: Osuna is currently high on the list of proposed road widening projects in the City of Albuquerque.  According to vehicle count data from the MRCOG website, Osuna currently experiences little to no congestion.  For example, Central Avenue currently handles 30,000 vehicles per day with two lanes in each direction so there is hardly a need for 3 lanes on Osuna, which currently averages 22,000 vehicles/day.

Some may argue that this is a temporary trend.  I have three responses:

1. Below is a chart of transit ridership in ABQ metro area over the past decade:

This chart captures the changing travel behavior occurring in the ABQ metro area.

This chart captures the changing travel behavior occurring in the ABQ metro area.

As you can see, transit ridership in the Duke City has almost doubled since 2004.

Many of those motor vehicle trips seen in previous years are never coming back.

2. Osuna is not a regionally important road.  By this I mean that it does not cross the Rio Grande River and it never will.  As a result, it is unlikely that high traffic counts will return to Osuna at any point in the near future.

3. The next generation is not driving as much.  The chart below, which was taken from a regional survey performed by the Mid-Region Council of Governments in New Mexico, demonstrates this fact:

This chart highlights the fact that overall, younger people are driving almost half as much and half as far as other generations.  High youth unemployment only accounts for a portion of this behavioral change and it reflects national trends.

This chart highlights the fact that overall, younger people are driving significantly less than other generations. High youth unemployment only accounts for a portion of this behavioral change and it reflects national trends.

But that’s not even the point.

The question I pose to you, the reader:

Why is this $7 million road widening project a high city priority?

Aren’t there more pressing projects to which this funding should be allocated, projects which would lead to much higher return on investment (ROI)?

The answer is YES, there are.

In my next article, I will discuss projects which should be a higher priority and how it all relates to our local economy.

TAKE ACTION! 

Call or email your local elected official and tell them that widening Osuna Road is an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars.

  • Department of Municipal Development (DMD) head, Michael Riordian (DMD is responsible for road construction here in Albuquerque):

Email – mriordan@cabq.gov

Phone – (505) 768-3830

  • Official DMD contact person:

Name: Mark Motsko
Phone: (505) 768-3832
Fax: (505) 768-2310

Email: mmotsko@cabq.gov

  • Osuna is located in Council District 4, where the City Councilor is Brad Winter.

Contact info:

Email – bwinter@cabq.gov

Twitter – @_Brad_Winter

Policy Analyst contact info:

Name -Jessica Gonzales
Email – jessicagonzales@cabq.gov
Phone – (505) 768-3101

I also encourage you to contact your own councilor.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when elected officials receive 10+ calls or emails about an issue, it becomes a high priority.

Thanks for reading!

Help Us Fund ABQ CiQlovía + Parquitos!

- Dan Majewski

These two tactical urbanist projects will facilitate and catalyze and more Urban ABQ.

These two tactical urbanist projects will catalyze a more Urban ABQ.

UrbanABQers,

It has been awhile since I’ve posted here because we at UrbanABQ have been very busy.

We are working on two amazing tactical urbanism projects which will both be launching on the same weekend:

September 19-21, 2014

We have two IndieGoGo (similar to Kickstarter) campaigns to share with you.

One of them will be ending in 24 HOURS!  See details below:

Birds eye view of the proposed parquito in front of Zendo Coffee

Birds eye view of the proposed parquito in front of Zendo Coffee

1) Parquitos – Parquitos, or parklets as they’re known in other cities, are on-street parking spaces which have been converted to small outdoor seating areas.  They can be found all over the country but there are no permanent ones in Albuquerque… yet.

On September 19, National (Park)ing Day will mark the fabrication kickoff of the FIRST permanent parquito in the Duke City.  Tim Trujillo, with the help of the MiABQ Green Team, UrbanABQ, Zendo Coffee + Art and many others, has been working on this project for over a year.  It is so exciting to see it finally coming to fruition!

This campaign will be ending in 24 hours and we need YOUR help to make parquitos a reality!

 

Click here to contribute to the Zendo Parquito! 

 

Every dollar helps!

 

Parklet on Valencia St. in San Fransisco.  If all goes as planned, these will soon be appearing all over Albuquerque!

Parklet on Valencia St. in San Fransisco. If all goes as planned, these will soon be appearing all over Albuquerque!

2) ABQ CiQlovía – IMAGINE… if everyone in our city, no matter age, ability or skill level could safely and easily walk, bike or play in our city streets.  IMAGINE… no automobiles to worry about, just two miles of city streets for walking, riding and playing.

The first open streets event in Albuquerque, NM!

The first open streets event in Albuquerque, NM!

On Sunday, September 21, from 10 AM – 3 PM, this dream will become a reality.  For five hours, people from all over the Duke City will fill the streets.  Walking, biking, running, rollerblading, food trucks, outdoor yoga, live music… this will be the largest street party Albuquerque has ever seen!

Bring your friends and family and hang out in the streets!  We are hoping ABQ CiQlovía will accomplish what open streets events have accomplished in Los Angeles, Tucson and many other cities: catalyze the broader community to push for safe streets for biking and walking – complete streets!  

Today in Albuquerque, few people choose to walk or bike for transportation because our streets are scary and dangerous.  Communities across America are realizing the value of safe walking and biking but here in Albuquerque, progressive policies around these ideas have stagnated.  We hope to bring new energy to this important movement through fun events such as ABQ CiQlovía.

Our route map includes other exciting partners such as the Carnuel Parade and Fiesta as well as the Railyards Market.

Our route map includes other exciting partners such as the Carnuel Parade and Fiesta as well as the Railyards Market.


This campaign will be ending in 72 HOURS and we need YOUR help to make ABQ CiQlovía a reality!

 

Click here to contribute to the First ABQ CiQlovía! 

 

Every dollar helps this project come to fruition!

 

For more information, visit our website, abqciqlovia.org.  We also have a Facebook page!

 

CicLAvia, an open streets event in Los Angeles

CicLAvia, an open streets event in Los Angeles


The Bigger Picture

It is critically important that you, the community, help us complete this projects.  In order to build a better, more urban ABQ, it will take grassroots efforts and funding streams to move these ambitious ideas forward.  We look towards a future where all of these types of projects and events are integrated into the local funding streams but it will require a community push to accomplish these goals.

Can you contribute?  If so, great!   If not, please share this with your friends and colleagues.  We also have many volunteer opportunities so please follow our Facebook pages, email lists and websites!

 

Dan Burden, San Pedro Road & the Paradigm Shift: Rebuilding the Local Economy in ABQ Through Better Design

- Dan Majewski

Dan Burden leading one of his famous "walking audits" on Constitution Road, ABQ, NM.

Dan Burden leading one of his famous “walking audits” on Constitution Road, ABQ, NM.

The recession has not been kind to Albuquerque.  Since 2008, a massive shift in consumer preferences and economic activity has left the traditional economy in shambles.  As other cities and states “recover,” Albuquerque continues to hemorrhage jobs and young, educated millennials.

Desperation Leads to Collaboration

Some would see the above statement as negative and currently, in the short term, it is.  However, it’s also an incredible opportunity.  The longer we go without a “recovery,” the more we are forced to collaborate on local sustainable solutions.  The city, UNM and CNM are finally beginning to understand this.  An example is the Innovation Central project, a collaboration between several agencies in the region.  This can been seen on the micro level as well with children moving back in with their parents.  Again, this is a potential positive: multigenerational families can share labor, ideas and collaborate more effectively.  Grandma can watch the kids while mom works.  On the flip side, mom can show grandma how to use the computer.  Most cultures operate this way and it’s a healthy way to exist.

An image from a NAIOP presentation about the mayors proposal for the Innovation Center in Downtown ABQ.

An image from a NAIOP presentation about the mayors proposal for the Innovation Center in Downtown ABQ.

Drive ’till You Qualify… For Food Stamps

I could go on, but I want to jump to a larger problem: infrastructure, specifically transportation infrastructure.  We have built a civilization that is impossible to navigate without an automobile.  This is inherently discriminatory: over 1/3 of our society cannot / does not own an automobile.  As our society ages, this problem will only accelerate.  Young, elderly, poor… a huge percentage of our society, stranded in the suburbs.

This brings me to the lessons of Dan Burden, people street specialist.  Thanks to the generous contributions from AARP, UNM, the Mid-Region Council of Governments and other partners, the Complete Streets in New Mexico Leadership Team hosted Dan Burden in Albuquerque on May 16-17.  His analysis focused on San Pedro Road and Constitution Avenue in the Fair Heights and Mark Twain neighborhoods.

Who is Dan Burden?

Dan is famous for several reasons.

  • Walking audits

The field of planning, or any field for the matter, is dominated by meetings behind closed doors in badly designed windowless buildings.  This environment leads to equally closed minds.  Dan throws all of that out the window, gathers everyone together and takes them on a walk.

On these walks, Dan uses the crowd to teach lessons.  For example, during our walking audit in the Mark Twain neighborhood, Dan used the audience to create a human traffic circle.  A car approached and drove around us, carefully and safely.  Lesson learned.  No long, complex jargon filled explanation was required.

A custom Dan Burden Human Traffic Circle, here in ABQ.  - Photo: Valerie Hermanson

A custom Dan Burden Human Traffic Circle, here in ABQ. – Photo: Valerie Hermanson

A Dan Burden walking audit is a form of street theater.  He is famous for throwing a tape measure into the street, disregarding oncoming traffic.  Dan does this to make a point, to teach a lesson and to draw attention.  He takes measurements in real time and explains why the design leads to bad behavior and points at actual observed examples.

What does this have to do with our local economy?

Let’s start with automobiles.

According to the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, regions with high level of automobile dependency experience economic detriments compared to regions with a more balanced transportation system (Source: page 6)

This is a point I have discussed in previous posts, especially in my article about Indian School: high speed traffic not only kills people, but it also destroys our local economy.

Regarding San Pedro, it is an economically depressed corridor in large part due to the ineffective and inefficient transportation infrastructure.  Mr. Burden proposed a solution.

  • Road diets
The blue line on this map highlights the segment of San Pedro which requires change.

The blue line on this map highlights the segment of San Pedro which requires change.

This is also a Dan Burden innovation.  It’s powerful because it only requires paint.  For the modest investment of $40,000 (~$15,000/mile, 2.5 miles, source: scroll to bottom of page), San Pedro can be redesigned with people in mind.

A road diet on San Pedro would take the current 4 high speed traffic lanes and convert them to 3 lanes + bikes lanes on each side.  One of the three lanes would be a center turn lane with opportunity to build medians and concrete crosswalk islands.

In addition, a road diet allows for safer and more efficient movement of automobiles.

This is a diagram of San Pedro today.  No bike lanes, narrow sidewalks and no easy way to make a left turn.

This is a diagram of San Pedro today. No bike lanes, narrow sidewalks and no easy way to make a left turn.

Here’s an example: Today, if a vehicle wants to make a left turn from San Pedro onto another street, they have to stop in the middle of traffic.  People behind them have to stop.  Sometimes, they aggressively switch to the right lane instead.  This leads to dangerous, high speed crashes.

Because of this bad design, it is difficult and dangerous to access businesses on San Pedro.

The most important thing to understand about a road diet: the stakeholders who stand to benefit the most are the business owners!  Some of the businesses owners on San Pedro are resistant towards road diets because they perceive them to be a “reduction in capacity”.  A road diet actually leads to an “increase in efficiency”.  Providing a center turn lane makes it far easier to both access businesses and move vehicles through the corridor.

Another benefit is a large reduction in speed.

Why is this so beneficial?

For Bicycles and people on foot: slower speeds = safer crossings and corridors.  A collision at a speed below 20 MPH is almost never fatal.  At 40 MPH, it’s almost always fatal.  A slower corridor is a safer corridor and a safer corridor leads to an increase in people walking and biking.

Notice how far people are walking from the curb in fear.  Vehicles frequently move at 50 MPH+ on this street, San Pedro. - Photo: Valerie Hermanson

Notice how far people are walking from the curb in fear. Vehicles frequently move at 50 MPH+ on this street, San Pedro. – Photo: Valerie Hermanson

For businesses: Dan Burden says that the ideal speed for a businesses district is 19 MPH.  At this speed, motorists have enough time to see a businesses, slow down and park.  This leads to local commerce and a more vibrant corridor.

This image shows how with the same amount of space, you can effectively move traffic and improve access for everyone.  Added benefit: the bike lane buffers the sidewalk from vehicle traffic.

This image shows how with the same amount of space, you can effectively move traffic and improve access for everyone. Added benefit: the bike lane buffers the sidewalk from vehicle traffic.

How can we, as a community, make the San Pedro Road Diet happen?

There are a few barriers to this project.  However, there is huge support for it as well.

SUPPORT: The Mark Twain and the Fair Heights neighborhoods are organized together in support of this project.  The Dan Burden event took place at Mark Twain Elementary School.  The principal of the school attended much of the workshop and he was very supportive of everything discussed.  The recently elected City Councilor for the area, Diane Gibson, attended as well.  She also stayed after the presentation to speak one-on-one to some of the louder voices of resistance in the room.

RESISTANCE: There a two primary voices of resistance against this project.  One of the voices is a collection of businesses owners along the corridor.  They feel that reducing vehicle lanes = reduction in traffic = reduction in businesses.  As we’ve read above, this simply isn’t true.  Luckily, this is a problem that can be solved through education.  It will not be easy but it’s certainly doable.

The other much louder voice comes from the City of Albuquerque Department of Municipal Development (DMD) – Traffic Engineering.  During this conference, we heard from the traffic engineers that a road diet on San Pedro was essentially impossible because of traffic counts.  They used the word “failure,” implying that changing the road in any way would cause the sky to fall.  In engineering language, the “failure” of a road means that traffic will come to a standstill.  The question I wish I had asked:

For what percentage of the day would San Pedro be in “failure”?  2 hours?  30 minutes?  5 minutes?

For most of the day, San Pedro is empty.  Based on what was said, the engineers intend to design a road that functions well for a small percentage of the day and badly for the majority of the day.  On top of this, vehicle miles driven (VMT) locally have been dropping steadily since the early 2000s and transit ridership locally has doubled in the past decade.  This trend will continue as our population ages and mass transit improvements are made.  San Pedro also has redundancy.  There are several parallel roads with space to absorb a few extra cars per day. This voice of resistance will be more difficult to defeat.  We as a community must work together to patiently educate and explain to these engineers that the decision to prioritize motor vehicles is destroying our community.  Adding safe bicycling facilities and reducing traffic speeds should be the top priorities for traffic engineers working on our local streets.  Luckily, according to Dan Burden, once a single road diet happens, the barriers crumble and they become common place across the community.

THE VISION: Below, is an idealized image of the Mile Hi District.  This is the historic name of the business cluster on San Pedro between Lomas and Constitution.  The name is the result of the elevation of this area being exactly a mile above sea level.  Restoring this historic brand will be an important part of reinventing this potential filled corridor.  Linked here are more redesign proposals for San Pedro.

The image below has it all: buffered bike lanes, nice buildings, wide sidewalks, on-street parking, etc.  The final product might not have all of these elements but we need to work as a community to include as many of these elements as we can.

THE CHANGE: It’s time to change how we think about transportation in our community.  We all gripe about how Albuquerque is a “car town” and this is the opportunity to turn things around.  If data is collected properly, this project could set the stage for a major transition in our community.  In a place with such temperate weather and 300+ days of sunshine, it is unacceptable that we are unable to walk or bike safely to most destinations.

What do you want to see on San Pedro?  This may look impossible or unrealistic but plenty of communities have accomplished projects like this.

What do you want to see on San Pedro? This may look impossible or unrealistic but plenty of communities have accomplished projects like this.

TAKE ACTION!  

Contact Councilor Gibson and tell her you support this action.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease.  If the support is more vocal than the resistant business owners, this project WILL happen.

Councilor Diane G. Gibson: dgibson@cabq.gov
Policy Analyst Chris Sylvan: csylvan@cabq.gov
Phone: (505) 768-3136

When an issue receives just 10+ emails or phone calls, it becomes a high priority one.  Send out links to this post to anyone who you feel could influence policy on this issue.

Thanks for reading and keep on pushing for positive change in your community.

A Love Letter to Downtown

NOTE: Recently, there has been some negative press about Downtown ABQ.  For the most part, it is the typical repetitive chorus: crime, homelessness, abandonment, the same things that have been repeated year after year.  Many among us here at UrbanABQ have been confused by the negativity.  After all, there is a huge amount of exciting investment being made in our urban core.  Tim Trujillo, who started this rapidly growing UrbanABQ community many years ago, decided to write his own opinion of Downtown in response.  This is an ode, a tribute, a story about a place that has risen and fallen in popularity but is quickly being restored to its rightful position as the cultural and creative Heart of the City.            -Dan Majewski

"Above Downtown ABQ" - by Chad Gruber.  Taken from the newly completed Anasazi Building.

“Above Downtown ABQ” – by Chad Gruber. Taken from the newly completed Anasazi Building.

Dear Downtown,

Despite the sensational news stories about your so-called crime-ridden, vacant streets and office buildings, I know who you really are. You’re a young neighborhood, akin to an adolescent, still trying to figure it out and I’m just fine with that.

I can understand the confusion.  We’ve all been through adolescence and can empathize with the identity crisis. Everyone wants you to be something and someone, but you are just not ready to say exactly who or what that is quite yet.  You’re evolving.  On one hand, you are home to over 15,000 jobs that provide employment for citizens from the entirety of a metro area nearing one million residents.  On the other, you are the entertainment center of the state hosting several of the best performance venues offering an array of live local, national, and international acts as well as the latest blockbuster movies.  You offer culinary experiences that range from downright thrifty to flavors and complexity that rival the best of Nob Hill and Santa Fe.  You provide the hub for the region’s transportation network, offering service to and from every corner of the metro and places beyond. You are a growing education center, soon home to Innovate ABQ and CNM’s STEMulus Center.  You even host a farmer’s market that is as good as they come.  Whatever you do, don’t feel sorry for yourself, downtown.  You have so much going for you whether others see it or not.

As someone who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, I have seen you change and it is certainly for the better.  Back then, you were merely an office park.  Sure, you provided more jobs than you do today, but you’re much more dynamic these days for all the reasons that I listed.  You are also rapidly becoming a true urban neighborhood, soon to be home to thousands of residents.  The media makes it sound as if you are limited in your demographic, suggesting that you only attract residents to your so-called low-income housing.  What they don’t understand is that your housing is not low-income, but is instead mixed income.  From the affordable Silver Moon Lodge and Silver Gardens Apartments to the market rate Anasazi and 100 Gold Lofts, you are drawing all demographics of income earners because they are attracted to you for who you are and what you promise to be.  That makes you more exciting than any single neighborhood around.  You are one of the first two neighborhoods to fully rebound from 2007 prices.  Obviously you’re doing something right.

"Summerfest @ Civic Plaza" - by Dan Majewski

“Summerfest @ Civic Plaza” – by Dan Majewski

Downtown, what they don’t tell you is that no one between El Paso and Denver, or Phoenix and Oklahoma City can even compete with you.  To be honest, even with those options, I still choose you.  No other neighborhood in the region has the variety, dynamic character, and authenticity that you do, which include over one hundred years of history in industrial era buildings to postmodern works.  Not to mention hundreds of years of cultural history.  Your architecture offers unrivaled scale and style varieties.  The sky is literally the limit with you in terms of height and density, meaning you’ll always provide an urban oasis in an area otherwise composed of sprawling, sleepy, faux abode repetition.

In the six months I have lived in your community, downtown, I have witnessed so much change and improvement.  Several residential projects either started or restarted.  Recently, you lost a few sandwich shops, and maybe a donut shop here and there, but gained a wider variety of options in return.  Not many people I know are lamenting the loss of Subway, Crossroad’s Café, or Rooster’s because now there is Chinese, Greek, and soon there will be another excellent New Mexican option.  This transition has not been easy, but you’ve managed to achieve this while the economy has remained largely stagnant and without a dime of public investment.

We all know you are not like your brothers and sisters of downtown Denver, Portland, or Austin, nor should you try to be.  Those are unfair comparisons when you consider their downtowns are the centers of metro areas two to four times as large.  But you are not unlike them some 15 to 20 years ago when they began to receive investment from their citizens.  I cannot wait to see you in the fall when you have hundreds of new residents, a shiny, renovated convention center, and new restaurants.  I’m even more excited about the University’s investment in Innovate ABQ and the City’s Bus Rapid Transit project.  I moved from one of those “in” city centers, and while I could sell out to consume one those already-created places, I take comfort in being a part of and witnessing your evolution and improvement.  You might not believe it today, but in a few years you will attract press from all over the country asking what you did and how you became so popular.  Soon, everyone will be asking you to go to the prom.  Just know that it is not your fault if things go south because it is ultimately up to the citizens of this city and state to invest in you to help you be your best.

Love,

Tim

"Goodnight Albuquerque" - by Lisa Sprague.  Central Avenue between 3rd and 4th Street.

“Goodnight Albuquerque” – by Lisa Sprague. Central Avenue between 3rd and 4th Street.

ABQ CiQlovia: A Sunday of Fun in the Streets!

-Dan Majewski

UPDATE 9/8/14:  Check out our website, abqciqlovia.org.  We have a Facebook page as well, ABQ CiQlovia!  The event is coming up quickly and we need funding, volunteers and marketing support.  Please click either of the links above for more details!  ABQ CiQlovia will be happening on Sunday, September 21, 2014 from 10 AM – 3 PM.  We will also be partnering with the Carnuel Parade and Fiesta, an amazing community party and parade!   

 

NOTE: This article is about an event I am coordinating for September 2014 right here in Albuquerque, NM!  If you’re already familiar with cyclovia or open streets events, skip to the bottom to find out how to get involved.   Thanks for reading!  Email me if you want a copy of the .doc version of this article.

  • WHAT IS “CIQLOVIA”?

A Sunday Streets event in Missoula, Montana.

A Sunday Streets event in Missoula, Montana.

CiQlovia (pronunciation: \sEk-lo-via\ ) is the Albuquerque version of the global phenomenon known as ciclovia or open streets.  Ciclovia literally means “bike path” in Spanish.  The word also refers to events where city streets are closed to cars and opened up to people on foot and on bike, outdoor exercise classes and other activities.  These events can be weekly, monthly or annual.  The first known ciclovia was held in Bogota, Columbia in 1976.  Since then, the event has gained popularity and now, every Sunday in Bogota, 70 miles of streets are closed to automobile traffic (Source: http://www.streetfilms.org/ciclovia/).

In recent years, ciclovias have spread rapidly across North and South America.  Los Angeles (CicLAvia), San Antonio (Siclovia), Tucson, AZ, Lexington, KY and many more cities have launched successful ciclovia initiatives.

The time is ripe for an Albuquerque initiative.

IMAGINE… if we could safely walk or bike at a relaxing pace on our beautiful city streets without having to worry about our safety, even for a limited time?  What if every Sunday was dedicated to providing street space to people for relaxing and recreating?

  • WHY DOES ABQ NEED CIQLOVIA?

The primary focus of this event will be health, wellness and quality of life.

Albuquerque is a city like no other.  We have unique neighborhoods built around art, music, cycling and cultural diversity.  We have wonderful year-round weather and an amazing array of outdoor activity options.  Unfortunately, we also have high levels of obesity, pedestrian fatalities and poverty.  These trends exist for a variety of reasons, but our built environment is an obstacle to physical activity.  Many of Albuquerque’s major streets are challenging places to walk and ride a bicycle.  When these activities are dangerous, they disappear from our daily lives.  Our city is filled with parks and hiking trails.  However, it is difficult to enjoy the fresh high desert air in our largest public space, our streets.

The secondary focus of this event will be local commerce, economic development and the strong diverse cultural scene found in Albuquerque. 

Along the route, burqueños and tourists will encounter public art exhibitions, maps and information, outdoor yoga classes, food trucks, and much more.  Open lots in targeted nodes will be filled with booths from sponsors as well as local artisans.  Pop-up art galleries and coffee shops will fill vacant buildings along the route and existing businesses will benefit from the large quantity of people attending this event.

Much of the CiQlovia route will follow the 50 Mile Loop.  This project, initiated under Mayor Berry though ABQ: The Plan, seeks to “connect the city’s infrastructure to create a 50 Mile bicycling, running, and walking trail with amenities like benches…way finding signing and maps, [creating] a healthier community and a destination for tourists.”  For more information, visit this link: http://bit.ly/JPsEzW.  CiQlovia will be an opportunity to promote the value of this innovative infrastructure project.

  • WHERE WILL THE FIRST CIQLOVIA BE LOCATED?
This is a map of the proposed route.  Stars signify areas with concentrations of programing.

This is a map of the proposed route. Stars signify areas with concentrations of programing.

 
  • Old Town ABQ
  • Downtown ABQ
  • Old Route 66 (Central)
  • The BioPark
  • The Rio Grande Bosque
  • The Silver / 14th / Mountain Bicycle Blvd.
  • The 50 Mile Loop

The route includes commercial clusters, residential districts and cultural centers.  This provides ample opportunity for partnerships.

  • Stores and restaurants can bring their wares and tables into the street, providing a new venue for promotion.
  • Neighborhood organizations can use this event for outreach to residents and non-residents who might not know about their projects.
  • Cultural gems, including the BioPark and the museum cluster around Old Town, can take advantage of the high volume of people in the streets to fundraise and provide information about city services.
  • Health and wellness services will be integrated into the entire route.
  • WHEN WILL THE FIRST CIQLOVIA OCCUR?

The first CiQlovia will take place on September 21, 2014.

Eventually, every Sunday in Albuquerque will have a CiQlovia.  Different streets all around the city will be closed off to cars and opened up to people.  For now, we are focusing on a single event.

Sunday in September makes the most sense for a variety of reasons.  Sundays have the least amount of vehicle and bus traffic on the roads.  September has great weather, a limited number of conflicting events and many tourists in town for the Balloon Fiesta and ¡Globalquerque! (September 19-20, 2014).

Autumn in ABQ plays host to a wide variety of unique events.  We picked the date in order to avoid conflict with other major fall events.  These events include:

  • The Balloon Fiesta – occurs at the beginning of October.
  • The Duke City Marathon – occurred after the Balloon Fiesta in 2013.
  • The Day of the Tread – occurs in late October around Halloween.
  • Dia de los Muertos Parade – occurs in early November.
  • WHO WILL BE A PART OF CIQLOVIA? 

The short answer is everyone!  CiQlovia will be an inclusive event.  Anyone can easily be a part of the festivities.  We are aiming to attract people who want to be outside and participate in physical activity, engage with local businesses and see the cultural gems of Albuquerque in a way they never have, on streets full of people.

SPONSORS & FUNDING 

Potential funding sources fall into two categories: local and national.

Donations from businesses will be collected and allocated through the Community Health Charities of New Mexico non-profit and the Healthier Weights Council.  Their coalition of public health organizations will provide a framework for support.  We will also seek financial support from county commissioners, the City Council and the Office of the Mayor.

Below is a list of some partners that come to mind, but we will continue to look for more:

V = potential volunteers

I = potential in-kind donations

National Corporations:

REI – V, Target, North Face, Starbucks – I, Costco – I, Sam’s Club – I, Wellbridge (Sports & Wellness), Blue Cross / Blue Shield, Wilson & Company, Big 5, Dicks Sporting Goods, Sprouts, Comcast, Double Tree Hotels, Sysco, Great Harvest Bread Co., AAA

Local Corporations:

Dions, Flying Star, PNM, Presbyterian, Century Bank, Blakes Lotaburger, State Employees Credit Union, NM Bank and Trust, Sore No More, Sandia Resort, Creamland, Affordable Solar, Casa Esperanza, Lovelace, Intel – V, Fidelity – V, Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation

Local Businesses:

 La Montanita Co-op, Bike Shops – I + V, Sport Systems, Local Radio Stations – I, Local TV Stations, Fiat of ABQ, Garcia Subaru, ABQ Running Store, ABQ Journal, Garcia’s Tents – I, El Pinto, ABQ: The Magazine, Klinger Construction, Renewal by Anderson, AIKEN Printing, The Garity Group

All the businesses and organizations along the proposed route:

Flying Star / Satellite Coffee, Seasons, Routes Rentals & Tours, Cocina Azul, Barelas Coffee House, Arrow Supermarket, Java Joes, Bosque Baking Company, Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice, Firenze Pizzeria, Mullen Heller Architecture, Southwest Organizing Project, Cocina Azul, New Mexico Tea Company, Studio Southwest Architects, BASE Design and Build, Siegel Design Architects, G + G Advertising, Infill Solutions, Downtown Medicine, ACLU of New Mexico, Barelas Child Development Center, Southwest Women’s Law Center, Lowes Grocery Store, Gold Avenue Corridor, Golden Crown Panaderia, Bosque Bakery, Old Town Farm / Bike-In Coffee

Others?

Other natural partners:

BernCo – Debbie O’Malley + others, CABQ, MRCOG / NM Rail Runner, Bueno Foods, National Hispanic Cultural Center, Parks & Rec (CABQ) – Chuck M., BikeABQ, Duke City Wheelmen – Jennifer Buntz, BioPark (CABQ), Warehouse 508, 516 Arts, ABQ Ride, Albuquerque Museum, Natural History Museum, Explora Children’s Museum

Other Possible Partners:

 Focus Ink, The Downtown Growers Market, ABQ Convention Center

BUDGET & OUTREACH

Once the route and budget have been finalized, the CiQlovia team will begin reaching out to these partners.  Sponsorship levels will be as follows:

  • $0-100: Bronze
  • $100-500: Silver
  • $500-1000: Gold
  • $1000+: Platinum

Gold and platinum level sponsors will be advertised heavily on t-shirts, the CiQlovia website, etc.  The names of the levels align with the bicycle friendliness assessment system used by the League of American Bicyclists in their Bicycle Friendly America program.  More information can be found here: http://www.bikeleague.org/bfa#community.

Using the Tucson Cyclovia 2012 model and numbers, our running budget is somewhere between $50,000 – $100,000.  The final amount will depend on in-kind donations, volunteer support, etc.

In Tucson, ¼ of costs were labor, another quarter was for cops and barricades and the other half was a variety of other smaller expenses.

Regarding revenue, about ½ of all donations came from small-scale sponsorships.

Sponsors will have first pick of location for their booth.  Other booths will fill in the remaining spaces based on interest from vendors.  Vendors will need to acquire a permit from the organizing committee to set up shop.  Different areas will be designated for certain types of vendors.  There will be a permitting system in order to properly accommodate people who want to participate in CiQlovia.

The landowners at the proposed nodes need to be contacted.  Since it will be a Sunday, use of parking lots should not be difficult.  We have identified the parking lot on the corner of Park and 9th as the most suitable location for a food truck and live music node.

  • ACTIVATING THE ROUTE

HEALTH + FITNESS

People on bicycles and people on foot will naturally be attracted to this event.  Attracting other demographics depends on activating the route with other forms of physical activity.  Multiple nodes will include outdoor yoga classes, stretching workshops, bike repair stations, etc.

Promoting alternative transportation will be an important part of this event.  ABQ Ride will be involved, as well as representatives from the Esperanza Bike Shop.  Parks & Recreation could staff a Bike Rodeo at one of the public sector nodes.  Local nonprofits such as Duke City Wheelmen and BikeABQ will be integrated into multiple nodes.  In Tucson, the event included a portable outdoor mini skate park.  There are unlimited methods for involving all members of our community.

ART + CULTURE

One of many amazing murals in Downtown ABQ.

One of many amazing murals in Downtown ABQ.

Activating the route with art and music will set this event apart from other ciclovia events across the nation.  Art is an important part of our local culture.  Although many people visit Santa Fe, far more live in Albuquerque, the cultural and geographical heart of New Mexico.  Public mural art is being legitimized primarily through the efforts of Warehouse 508 and 516 Arts throughout Downtown Albuquerque.  These organizations must be involved early on in the process.

We envision public art display, live painting, vendors selling art, live poetry readings, etc.  Interactive art would align with the goal of this event: activating the street as public people based space.

There are galleries all along the route with a heavy concentration in Old Town and along the Mountain corridor.

Live music will be located within the commercial nodes.  The fitness nodes will likely have recorded music so it makes little sense to locate live music in those locations.  Live music will provide a good complement to the food truck nodes.

GEMS ALONG THE ROUTE

The proposed route is lined with some wonderful local businesses.  Since many of these businesses are not usually open on Sundays, we will reach out to them and help them understand how important it will be for them to be open on CiQlovia Sunday.  In addition, they will be encouraged to occupy the street in front of their establishment in some way.  Narrowing the street using tables and chairs would provide an interesting visual experience for attendees.

Local merchants will be integrated into both the nodes and empty spaces along the route.  We will integrate strategies from Team Better Block into this event.  It will involve occupying vacant space with temporary pop-up businesses.  Established local artisans will apply to use these spaces through the same process they will apply for use of vacant lots and street space.

This event will have a fitness first focus and local commerce will be of strong secondary importance.  It will allow us to gain more partners, funding and support.

  • CONCLUSION

Every Sunday morning, cyclists, pedestrians, rollerbladers, skateboarders and many other users fill the Bosque Trail in Albuquerque, NM.  On CiQlovia Sunday, signs will direct users from the trail into the neighborhoods.  Many of these users will have never visited these areas, so the signs will emphasize the wonderment that will be found along the route.

CiQlovia is an opportunity for Albuquerque to show off our incredible diverse community.  Ciclovias have been done throughout the Americas but this will be the first CiQlovia!

I look forward to your feedback and thank you in advance for your support!

  • QUESTIONS?  COMMENTS?  WANT TO GET INVOLVED?

Coordinator: Dan Majewski – dan.j.majewski@gmail.com.

Graphics: Caeri Thomas, MRCOG – cthomas@mrcog-nm.org

Community Outreach: Richard Meadows, Bernalillo County – rmeadows@bernco.gov

Facebook:

UrbanABQ – https://www.facebook.com/Urban.ABQ

Complete Streets in New Mexico – https://www.facebook.com/CompleteStreetsInNewMexico

Bike Burque – https://www.facebook.com/BikeBurque

Websites:

UrbanABQ – http://urbanabq.com

New Mexico Healthier Weight Council – http://nmhealthierweight.com/?page_id=252

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