A few weeks ago, Steve Clark from the League of American Bicyclists visited Albuquerque to evaluate our ability to become a more bike friendly city. This fantastic article covers the exciting events which occurred on that day and what this all means for Albuquerque.
On Tuesday, April 8 Mayor Berry kicked off his 50 mile healthy travel initiative with a ceremony on a trail linking the Mile High District to Uptown in Albuquerque. This coincided with a visit by Mr. Steve Clark from the Bicycle Friendly Community program run by the League of American Bicyclists. The day’s festivities moved Albuquerque in healthy directions. Cities that rate highly as walk and bike friendly also rank as top places to live. Elected officials, professional staff, businesses and community advocates are working on this synergistic development.
We met at City Hall in the morning. The plan was to take a bike ride with Steve and look closely at Albuquerque’s transportation system from a bicycling perspective. First we had coffee and greetings. This meeting would be a fun one to do every day.
We stopped at Martin Luther King Jr Blvd to discuss multimodal improvements on the horizon
There are many different options available for bike infrastructure, so we will be explaining some of them and providing recommendations for where they might work in Albuquerque.
We would first like to apologize to anyone we may have led astray. Our intention was not to lead anyone on but to stimulate a productive dialogue about what we want to see Downtown and across the city.
And what a dialogue there was! Some of the comments:
“Improving our bicycling infrastructure is critical to maintaining the excellent quality of life in our great city. Visitors and residents are attracted to our active and unique lifestyle and I believe this project will attract more businesses and millennials to Albuquerque,” Mayor Berry said. “These new bike lanes will lay the groundwork for Albuquerque to be the most bike friendly city in the United States and will create economic opportunities and jobs throughout Albuquerque.” The plan was endorsed by Mi ABQ, a group of millennials actively working to improve Downtown Albuquerque.
Green painted bike lanes are cropping up all over major cities. The color improves visibility of bicyclists and their lane for drivers and has been shown to decrease accidents. But rather than going green, Albuquerque’s bike lanes will be painted turquoise. According to Mayor Berry, “Turquoise bike lanes will give our own local flavor to this growing worldwide trend.”
The $4.7 million project identifies 13 miles of on-street bikeways that will be completed by early 2016 and will serve to connect areas such as the Rail Yards, Innovate ABQ, and UNM. The streets slated for these improvements include Broadway Boulevard, 4th Street, Tijeras Avenue, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, and Lead and Coal Avenues.
The plan falls in line with recent measures by the City that focus on pedestrian, bicycle, and transit-related street designs — the Complete Streets ordinance, which passed unanimously at City Council in January, and a walkability analysis by renowned consultant Jeff Speck that was released in late 2014 and adopted last month. Speck’s report laid out principles for a useful, safe, comfortable and enjoyable roadway network, as well as recommendations for improvements to specific downtown streets.
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.
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.
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 VMT, the topic of this article.
Projections vs. Reality
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:
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:
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!
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.
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.
This campaign will be ending in 72 HOURS and we need YOUR help to make ABQ CiQlovía a reality!
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!
A diverse collective advocating for a better live/work/play, healthy and equitable city for everyone!