Monthly Archives: September 2015

Designing and Educating for Bicycling

Every effort to promote bicycling hinges on a clear understanding of how bicycling works in the context of the overall transportation ecosystem.  The guiding principle for bicycling is commonly referred to as vehicular cycling.  A more modern term is bicycle driving.  It is the basis for safe coexistence with traffic and conforming to the rules of the road.   If you’ve ever operated your bicycle on an ordinary residential street, going with traffic, then you’re already doing it.  Bicycle driving is what is taught in the Safe Routes To Schools curriculum, and every other bicycling education program.   Complete Streets is the design aspect for bringing bicycling into the mainstream by designing streets for bikes.  The educational component is bicycle driving, and it instills confidence for people to be fully empowered to use bicycles to travel anywhere.

The Bike League’s curriculum and all bicycling education programs are designed “to create a mindset that bikes are treated as a vehicle” (from becoming an instructor).  This mindset instills a sense of proportional responsibility and is the basis of appropriate relationships for bicyclists to all kinds of traffic and traffic control devices.  This mindset shared by all sets the tone for great streets and trails.  On the multiuse trail this principle guides bicycles to yield to pedestrians and equestrians, gauging travel speeds accordingly.  On the road the bicycle driving principle means the most predicable, safe, and visible way to move is with the vehicular traffic flow.  Even when there is physical separation between motorized traffic and bicycle traffic, such as with a protected bike lane, the motions of the two traffic streams must always be coordinated and mutually aware.  This is especially true at intersections, driveways, and parking zones when traffic mixes and the cooperative environment depends on predictable movements, communication, awareness, negotiation, and common rules to which all traffic adheres.  Complete Streets policies support design environments that welcome bicycle traffic and lower traffic stress so that people have a better chance to positively orient to the road with whichever mode they choose.  A Complete Street is as an inclusive place and built on the underlying structure of relationships between varying types of traffic.  Traffic skills education is a complimentary factor that facilitates pleasant travel by fostering order and raising awareness.  Design and education work in tandem to promote good bicycling.

Most people have some reservations about bicycling because they are not clear how bikes fit in.  Forward looking solutions include education for drivers to respect all kinds of traffic, and treating bicycles as an equal vehicle, welcoming diversity.  Most bicycle traffic occurs on roads without a designated bicycle facility such as a bicycle lane.  A regular travel lane needs to be at least 14 feet wide for it to be safely shared side by side by a car and a bicycle.  Seeing bicycle traffic using a general travel lane may look different than what we are used to.  I trust we are acclimating to bicycles as a normal component of traffic and civic life in the mainstream, just like we are welcoming diverse religions, cultures, and lifestyles.  Change takes a new attitude, an open mind, and in the case of roads, traffic calming and the conception of an inclusive space.

Bicycles are good for the transportation ecosystem.  As we design and educate better for bicycles, include bicycle traffic in our engineering metrics and traffic flow analysis, and we learn more about what bicycling can do for us and we do it more, things are going to get a lot easier, safer and more attractive.  The quicker we can make these changes, the sooner we can move ahead.  In the Southwest, Utah and Colorado are already in the bike friendly top ten.

For understanding bicycling, I’ve benefited from the generosity of the creator of  For the last two years, Ed has suggested reading related to bicycle law, roadway design, engineering, and traffic behavior.  He has a “do it yourself” entrepreneurial attitude and continues his education, applying critical thinking and analytical skills to practical experience to spur progress.  Ed responds cordially to questions, and links people to resources.  Always there to foster more informed dialogue.  Some of the lessons were tough, like the lessons from a cyclist who was killed by a hit from behind on a charity ride in Cornville.  Ed’s analysis and documentation is brave and courageous, like the novelist Cormac McCarthy’s willingness to tell the story of violence in Western culture and its continuum past to present.  AZ Bike Law is my August 2015 Bike Org of the Month.  Thanks for your diligence and enthusiasm Ed.


Please be kind to persons bicycling, walking, rolling, driving autos and commercial vehicles.  Drive with care and caution.  Forgiveness and understanding.  We are all learning.  Gracias!

long Crest road

Achieving World Peace Through Bicycling

It was an incredible week of bicycle racing in Richmond, Virginia culminating in Peter Sagan storming to victory in the road World Championships.  Post race Sagan declared bicycling is a force for bringing the world closer together and said he was largely inspired by the refugee crisis.  My favorite image from the World Championship races is this one of the winner of the Women’s road race crossing the finish line unbelievingly.  Her expression is incredibly touching.

Elizabeth Armitstead winning Worlds, in the moment. Picture from

Elizabeth Armitstead winning Worlds, in the moment. Picture from

I blogged about Peter Sagan last November.  He’s right up there with Merckx, Lemond, Indurain.  The cycling legends.  Why?  You can’t exactly put your finger on it.  He’s showing us something new, ways of riding cycling has never seen before.  He’s so good at everything.  We all knew he could sprint, but then this year in the Tour of California he won the time trial and finished sixth on the difficult stage that concluded with an ascent up monstrous Mt. Baldy.  Sagan finishing 3rd in the sprint on stage 8 to secure a few bonus seconds that delivered overall victory for him and his team in the General Classification.   He excels at entertainment too.

To understand Sagan in context, you have to remember he’s not even a road bicyclist.  Sagan is a mountain biker.  He just happens to be good at the road, too.  If he can deliver on world peace like he can deliver in bicycle racing, I’ll be writing more about him.   He already has stated his intentions of bringing the world closer together through sport, and I believe he is going to do it.  Sagan is flamboyant and charismatic.  Great performers have those qualities plus talent, skill and determination.  They like to show off.  They like to share.  Show us peace.  Inspire good will.  Let the reign of bicycling bring peace, prosperity and health for generations.

The next generation currently competing

The next generation at the Tour of Utah’s Kids Race

I like to use my own photos for my blog posts but for this one, I needed some outside sources.   The first photo is from and the second one is from

Road Diets and Safety Measures

We love our American streets but there are many planning and design devices to make them even better.  The Pedestrian Bicycle and Information Center is offering a free 12 part seminar series for improving walking safety.  Street designs for walking as a primary and dignified travel mode set the foundation for building a culturally rich and lively community environment.

Here’s a brief announcement highlighting the 12 part seminar series:

pedbikeinfo pedestrian safety 12 part series Fall 2015

This series will provide participants with an in-depth exploration of some of the countermeasures and design strategies that can be implemented to improve pedestrian safety. Each of the 12 sessions will feature detailed information about countermeasures and design strategies, supporting research and guidance, as well as case studies highlighting examples of implementation from around the country.

  • Crossing Islands and Raised Medians
  • Road Diets
  • Marked Crosswalks
  • Curb Extensions, Bulb-Outs and Neckdowns
  • Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons
  • Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon
  • Leading Pedestrian Intervals
  • Pedestrian Safety at Interchanges
  • Lighting Strategies
  • Traffic Calming
  • Pedestrian Safety at Roundabouts
  • Transit Stop Improvements

Led by national experts in pedestrian safety countermeasures and design, this series of webinars will be highly valuable for engineers and public works staff who are involved in roadway design. Each presentation will be followed by a discussion period involving a question and answer session with the presenters.  Those who attend the live sessions will be provided with a certificate of attendance for 1.5 hours of instruction. The webinars will also be submitted to the American Planning Association to be considered for 1.5 CM credits.

Changing the culture around driving, walking and street use occurs simultaneously with upgrading road designs.  Making cultural adjustments can be one of the more challenging aspects of any street redesign project.  A basic part of the approach is providing facts to the public, elected officials, and transportation staff to address fears or misperceptions.

When a community meeting was held in Los Angeles to discuss traffic flow on a street with a new configuration, an 11 year old boy stood up to deliver comments that stunned the crowd.  He said, “I don’t understand why driving a car makes you think you’re more important than someone else.”  And he called out the behavior of adults for their horrifying words and violent actions harassing, intimidating and bullying fellow citizens on the road.  This young person expressed the incredible power of clear human wisdom, empathy and an egalitarian mindset.

Doing proactive community engagement, outreach and education helps people experience the power and excitement a good walking and biking network unleashes, and helps us open to the possibilities for improving health, social connectedness and economic growth.  We want to live in a world that recognizes, values and activates our inherent powers.  We want environments designed for health and mobility freedom.  Walking and biking are basic elements of human living, as important as clean air and water.  They are part of the basic constitution of human rights, required for people to survive and thrive and live together.  It makes sense that our everyday culture and environment is designed to support these beneficial activities.  Walking and biking are essential elements of the good life sustaining the American dream.

Federal Highway Administration road diet guide:
Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide
Bicycle Safety Guide and Counter Measure Selection System
Here’s the link again to the upcoming 12 part series on pedestrian safety by
The comments from the 11 year old person are here.  It is one of the most articulate statements I’ve heard on the frankness necessary to call out and eliminate barbaric behavior on roads.  I found this story from Steve Clark, from the Bicycle Friendly Community program.

Cycling World Championships with Tilford

Road World Championships are happening this week in Richmond, Virginia, USA.  Road Worlds were last on US soil 29 years ago in Colorado Springs in 1986.  US cycling was breaking onto the world scene then.  Greg Lemond was the first non-European to win the Tour de France in 1986 in its 73rd annual running.  He was phenomenal.  Lemond grew up in Reno, NV, and that is where I began cycling in earnest.  Western roads nurture climbing ability and make for exciting bicycling.   Since 1986 cycling has grown in equity and inclusiveness, spreading around the world.  Now there are teams from Asia, Africa, South America, all over.  And the upcoming generation of North American riders race stupendously and with honor, a la Lemond.  Cycling is a true global sport, much bigger than soccer.  Cycling’s usefulness for promoting health, social connectedness, efficiency and sustainability make it stand out above all.

Brandon McNulty wins bronze at Road Worlds, Junior Time Trial. Brandon is an alumnus of the Landis/Trek team

Brandon McNulty wins bronze at Road Worlds, Junior Time Trial. Brandon is a graduate of the Landis/Trek team.  An Arizonan.  The places cycling takes you!  Photo from Tilford’s blog

Steve Tilford is at Richmond covering worlds.  His blog opens up cycling in a unique way, giving access to an insider’s view with great depth.  He is a practicing racer, and highly accomplished.  Cyclesport is closely intertwined with culture and civic life where it is thriving in America, in places like Durango.  “Durango probably has the best trail system of any town in the United States.  The city itself is so supportive of cycling it should be the city that every other one in the country tries to emulate.” (Durango Dirty Fondo).   In the last few weeks Steve’s been to Cross Vegas where Governor John Hickenlooper announced 100 million to make Colorado the best bicycle State ever.  And Steve’s covered himself with mud at a mountain bike race in Wisconsin called Chequamegon.  He also raced with the pros at St. Louis doing four criteriums, and reported from the US Pro Challenge in Colorado.  Steve will roll you into the world of cycling with a humble, expansive perspective.   We get tips on developing technologies and enduring traditions.  He introduces us to great people, and has a genius for relating the mundane routines that lead up to peak cycling experiences.  He lights up the landscape of cycling for all of us.  Steve’s worlds coverage illuminates the biggest one day race of the year.


For July 2015 Steve Tilford’s blog is my bicycle org of the month.  I’m a couple months behind on designating my bicycle org of the month, but I’ll catch up.  The world of cycling is composed of so many diverse champions.  Steve has been wheeling for decades and is getting stronger.

flower greet and bike parking

Clarifying That Bicycles May Use Full Lane

A published study uses empirical evidence to show that the “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” sign works better than the “share the road” sign for raising the perception that bicyclists are an expected presence on the American road.  While “share the road” was a well intentioned campaign, the ambiguity of the message decreased effectiveness.  Clearer is safer.   Here’s the study:


The Bicycles May Use Full Lane sign is a standard sign in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.  It may be used on any road regardless of speed limit.  It explicitly states a principle that is essential for the safe operation of a bicycle, and improves relations between bicycle and motorized traffic by educating the public that the road is designed to serve bicycle as well as motorized traffic.  For guidance on deciding when you should use the full lane, see this piece, “Where to Ride on the Road“.  It is from the excellent resource at  and collates the best advice on choosing positioning from leading bicycling authorities.

The key is a person bicycling has a right and responsibility to decide for themselves where to safely position on the roadway.  Fundamentals of bicycle driving include being predictable, visible, following the rules for drivers, anticipating and avoiding hazards.  It is common for operating conditions to necessitate that people bicycling use the general travel lane.   This sign affirms that right.  The study says that “The Bicycles May Use Full Lane signage showed notable increases in comprehension among novice bicyclists and private motor vehicle commuters, critical target audiences for efforts to promote bicycling in the USA”.   It also draws attention to the web of benefits that a growing understanding and a healthier practice of bicycling allows us to connect to, including realizing greater transportation efficiency and cost savings, increased health, reduced stress on the road, greater mobility freedom, the satisfaction of using our bodies, the independence of self reliance, and a higher quality, more attuned life.


Once again, here’s the study:
“Bicycles May Use Full Lane” Signage Communicates U.S. Roadway Rules and Increases Perception of Safety
More from on sharing the road.  This is where I first saw the study (Thanks Ed!):
The study was done by researchers as NC State University.  They are conservation biologists & “work to unravel the drivers of environmental behavior on which global sustainability depends.”  Bicycling is the most integrative, multidisciplinary, holistically beneficial activity on the planet.
A related post on the “Sharrow” lane marking:
A related misperception is that bicycles may not delay traffic.  In fact New Mexico is one of 42 States that make it explicit impeding laws only apply to motor vehicles.  This means that people bicycling are permitted to move at speeds that are fitting and natural for their bicycle travel.

The Mystery of Albuquerque’s Development

“Nobody would teach me anything!”
–Edward Van Halen on the impetus for developing his original guitar playing style

I saw some press in the Daily Lobo and ABQ Journal on the rapid transit project this morning.  This discussion is a leap for Albuquerque.  Though we can cite other city’s projects, we truly are learning how to do great transit in Albuquerque as we go along.  The Daily Lobo article shared this photo (below) of a rendering of a transit station.  And mentioned that the Federal funds would provide 80% of the project costs.  ABQ’s investment of 20 million could return about 2-3 billion in private investment along the Central Ave. corridor.  Private investors come to where the public sector is building a strong foundation for long term community improvement.

ABQ Rapit Transit station rendering 2015.9.18

It looks like a comfortable and relaxing streetscape.  I’ve heard different arguments based on fears about the shift in modes this change offers.  Because transit, walking and biking are many times more efficient than private motor coaches, the overall capacity for helping people enjoy Central Avenue will be enhanced with improved rapid transit service.  That’s why all world class cities have invested in superb transit.  A transportation CEO would see this is as easy executive decision to make.  It’s more efficient, safer and creates better options for everyone.  Rapid transit service spans the economic continuum and includes people that can’t afford spending $10,000/year on auto travel, or who want to invest their funds in education, family travel, or other enterprises.  It helps people save money, improves the environment, and it may come in handy for all of us to let a professional do the driving from time to time.

Competitive transit creates paradigm shifts in the transportation system.  With quicker, more user friendly and reliable transit service, it becomes possible for residents off of Coors on the West Mesa, and Tramway on the East, to ride bikes, walk, or take transit to the express line and commute in to their jobs, school, or for cultural activities throughout central Albuquerque using multi mode travel.   Since this type of project planning is new to Albuquerque I think it is natural there is a learning curve, and it is a process and investment to build up the public trust.  The framework should continually be refined and strengthened by public and private partnerships working together.  The re-creation of the heart of Albuquerque is an ongoing development.  Transportation is a powerful tool to align and structure cities and attract people.

This transit is a good opportunity for spreading the goodness of Nob Hill’s stimulating and vibrant action with new iterations driven by the local themes in diverse neighborhoods.  Same great service throughout the corridor, with variations in flavor and style.  This is the core ingredient for urban vitality.  Albuquerque has it.  If anything the new rapid transit proposal is not ambitious enough, but extending service or doing light rail is considerably more expensive.  And the transit authority is already talking about the next steps in expanding service and connectivity in the system along the airport hub and Paseo del Norte corridor, which is good.

Albuquerque Rapid Tranist represents a renewal of our whole city.  A big part of our identity and how we see things stems from how we move.  Being able to sit back and relax, talk to neighbors, and make travel time productive time whether for work, reading, or resting makes a huge difference in our capacity to enjoy the amenities living in this great city offers.  We don’t have to worry about being able to enjoy our driving.  We’ll always be able to do that.  Expanding mobility freedoms and welcoming diversity in America has been key to our success.  I would dare to say that leading edge transit is an integral aspect of the new American dream.


Vancouver’s Greenest City Plan is forward thinking, inclusive and smart.  We still have more sun.  And we have genuine, great, diverse people who deserve improvements.

The Daily Lobo’s article Central Rapid Transit Improves Commuter Flow

The Albuquerque Journal also had an article this morning that searches for a cohesive narrative on modern transit and how it supports economic and social mobility, and makes our transportation system more robust, flexible and accessible.

Pedaling the Sacrifice Zone

One of my college professors is publishing a book he has been researching for years, called Pedaling the Sacrifice Zone.   Dr. Jimmy Guignard is now Chair of English and Modern Languages at Mansfield University in PA.   He and his family live in countryside that is being fracked to tap into the natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation.  Here is his book’s cover:


Jimmy is an exceptional person.  He was a teaching assistant working on completing his PhD when I had him in my senior year for Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism.  I had added an English minor to my Geography major and this was a required course.  I had finally begun to enjoy learning and was opening up to the power of critical thinking skills and figuring out my way through this complex world.   Jimmy got to know me and made me feel important.  His father was a truck driver, as I had been and would be again after I graduated, and I remember Jimmy telling me how his father was always on the lookout for hawks and birds as he drove.  Jimmy had worked construction, as I had.  He was approachable and a great teacher.  Jimmy wanted to know what you thought and how you arrived there.   He made the connection between getting in touch through outdoor activities with studious learning and hard work.  I can’t wait to read this book, and I’m so glad Jimmy is sharing with a wider audience.

I’ve been surprised by the extent of gas and oil in New Mexico.  As a State, NM ranks 7th for natural gas and 5th for oil.   Pennsylvania is 3rd for gas largely due to the Marcellus Shale.


We have two UNESCO World Heritage sites, Carlsbad Caverns and Chaco Culture park, that abut our largest oil and gas production regions in the SE and NW corners of New Mexico.  It is a remarkable contrast seeing these different value systems of extraction and preservation juxtaposed in the landscape.  Without energy conservation, sustainable production guidelines, and a serious transition plan, this delicate balance seems headed in a bleak direction.  We need more nuanced economic metrics that measure the quality of what we produce with the energy we use and the efficiency with which we do it, rather than narrowly isolating the volume of production and consumption, which conflates waste and inefficiency with economic growth.

cliff slant

We have a methane hot spot over the four corners region because of leaking wells and infrastructure.  And high ozone levels, though not as extreme as the one’s seen in Utah’s Uinta Basin production region.  We need meaningful, sustainable jobs and energy, and we need a healthy environment for centuries to come.   We need a long term perspective and a serious discussion on how we can make the good life last.   I am looking forward to digging into Jimmy’s book and going for more rides to listen to the lands we draw our life from.

A stunning story with great imagery, stats, and research on the San Juan Basin gas:

Michael Collier has done incredible work documenting the changes in the land and people with the Uinta production fields with his An Unconventional Future coverage:

NM State planning:
“Breakeven costs for oil development cost to completion range from $52 to $70 in the San Juan Basin and $40 to $55 in the Southeast.” p. 41 NM Energy Policy and Implementation Plan
“Implement an education campaign to increase citizen knowledge of renewable energy and energy efficiency operations and investment potential. Explain the nature of renewable versus non-renewable energy resources.” p. 36 NM Energy Policy and Implementation Plan

“Beauty…is something that inheres between the congruence of the landscape and the strivings of the spirit.”  –D.W. Meinig, Reading the Landscape, an Appreciation of W.G. Hoskins and J.B. Jackson, from The Interpretation of Ordinary Landscapes: Geographical Essays  p. 232

NM Renewable Energy

Jimmy’s blog:

Upcoming Trainings for Sustainable Transportation / Livable Communities

There are a couple of free training opportunities for transportation professionals, agency staff and community advocates.   Here’s a short summary of three upcoming trainings:

Sept. 16, Shared Streets, Slow Streets.  Different modes of traffic synch up better at slower speeds.  Check out the flyer below for contact information, time, and location.
Sept. 22, Implementing Complete Streets Workshops, at the Mid-Region Council of Governments, 809 Copper Ave NW, 8:30am- 4:30pm.  Contact or 505-724-3639 for more information or to register.  This training looks at innovative urban design guides, pedestrian crossings, case studies, applications, and performance measures for complete streets.
Nov. 4, Signal Timing Manual, Second Edition.  12-1:30pm at the Santa Fe MPO offices at 500 Market Street, Suite 200.  Contact Keith Wilson at to register.  This is a Transportation Research Board webinar focusing on traffic signal applications for coordinating multi modal travel with an emphasis on tailoring approaches for local needs and improving level of service for pedestrians and bicycles.

Here’s the flyer for this Wednesday’s training:

Santa Fe MPO Sustainable Safety training

A Towering Blue at Chaco

The photos from the last Chaco Canyon post were from my cell phone.  The photos in this post are from Mai’s Nikon camera.  The Nikon images are better, but the landscape essence always comes through.  Chaco is a sensuous yet austere location.  The sky is so deep and the land is elevated right up into it.  The atmosphere is thin, bright and lucid.  Chaco feels centered in the Universe.  There are very few humans there yet it is not lonely.   The built environment is a book written on the land.  The only legacy we left at Chaco Canyon were footprints in the sand, and ash in the fire ring.  Our time there was quiet, a whisper to eternity, like a light breeze.


spilling up and running down

I appreciate more the way time spent in a landscape can work on you.  It was a subtle thrill being in Chaco Canyon for three days and two nights.  Living outdoors in the vivid morning light, long summer day, and under evening skies soothed us.  Magnificence is out in the open at Chaco Canyon, on every surface.  Cherishing being present and paying attention sharpens life.

star spangled flowers

horses show

stone colors

One of the mysteries harkening forth at Chaco is what is means to develop a sustainable society.  It is apparent at Chaco that we are a part of nature and the forms and monuments we make are made up of this raw material and return to it, just like we do.  If we combine the analytical tools we have with history, writing, science, and add multicultural perspectives with the values of thinking seven generations ahead and beyond, you realize we can accomplish a lot now that future generations will be grateful for.  We have explored to the ends of the earth and we solidly understand this is our one and only home.  At Chaco home feels good.


a tall glass of blue


Chaco speaks to universal human values beyond short term economic boom and bust cycles.  The oil and gas industry in the San Juan Basin has created a sprawling industrial infrastructure web across the plateau landscape.  This energy won’t last long, but the remediation legacy will, and permanent changes are happening in the atmosphere, on the surface, and below ground.  The precious fossil energy fuels our journey.  But what is our vision for where we are going with this development.  The lesson of taking care of the landscape that takes care of us is a principle that guides us.  Sustainable development is a creative, forward looking, purposeful work.

ball yard


ruins and cliff

light as air

With the Antiquities Act of 1906 we increased our valuation of this Chacoan heritage.  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognizes Chaco as a world heritage site.  One notable aspect is much of the building and infrastructure such as roads appear to have aesthetic values above all else.  Their major function was to serve as a cultural center and to express and direct a world view.  These sophisticated elements of society imbue our lives with meaning and gratification beyond basic necessities.  Chaco tells stories of human beings reaching out to make sense of our works on this earth.  Chaco is a great place to ride your bike, walk around, look, think and listen.  Absorb the place.  Stay awhile.