Monthly Archives: October 2015

Crest Fiesta

While Mai took our guests to the balloon ascension this morning I pedaled the back road from Albuquerque that runs between the Sandia and Manzano ranges and then on up the Sandia Crest.  Bicycling truly is renewable transportation.  It’s a special kind of renewable power that is human sourced.  The more you use it, the more power you produce.  My rides lately have been shorter with work and family priorities, and I noticed the Crest was harder with less practice.  It was a good day to take it slow, be social, and explore the colors, sights and sounds of Fall.

big sky

line up

Crest Fall showing

There are people from all over the country visiting New Mexico this week for the Balloon Fiesta, and many are checking out the other attractions as well.  I saw so many out of State plates today.  At the base of the Crest in the piñon forest people were gathering pine nuts.  I’m guessing most of them were locals.   At the observation deck at the top people were climbing out of their cars stiff legged, yawning and stretching tight backs, arms in the air, loosening up for the final wind up the walking path that leads to the top of the Sandia Crest.  Almost every trip with a car or bike is finished off by walking.  And so it is on the Crest way up above 10,000 feet.

mi happy road

tall lady

the grove

As always people at the top are eager to talk.  As I was sipping a coke, taking in the scene and putting on my SESES wool jersey, and arm warmers, I met a gentlemen from Detroit who loves Trek bikes.  He owns a couple.  I asked if he had heard of the slow roll rides founded in Detroit and indeed he had.  I would like to get some of that good vibe going in ABQ.  I know a lot of neighborhoods are doing walks together, and hosting farmers markets.  Let’s bike together too.  I met a woman who asked me how the descent was, and if the brake pads got hot.  I said oh, the brakes take it no problem, bikes weigh nothing next to cars.  You could do it too.  She smiled.  People are curious about riding.  Walking at the top people say good idea to ride your bike up, the descent must be fun, the hard part is over, kids say wow.  Everyone smiles.  It sure is a lot of fun riding with an open canopy and intermingling with the trees and people.    Everyone I talked to was having a good time.  I was too and let people know the biking here is great, try it out.  What a great way to take in the colors.  I am grateful for the Crest road to bicycle on.  Every day the Crest is a Fiesta, or wherever you decide to take a ride, ¡Fiesta!


thrust bundle

Fall color bloom


Planning for a Healthy Legacy

“Architecture is a background to life…not life itself.”  –J.B. Jackson

For September 2015 the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County are my “bike organization of the month”.   Together they have embarked on a two year process of updating the Comprehensive Plan.  This ambitious project is crafting a framework for better integrating bicycling and walking into our everyday living environment.  This planning framework guides the way our region grows.  Bicycling, walking and transit fit into the context of strengthening our community and function as mechanisms for achieving broader goals such as having more mobility choices, an ecologically sustainable economy, better public health, a city built to human scale.  A practical approach is exactly how bicycling made its way into my life.  Biking worked for low cost and agile commuting, but also made me feel good.  I gradually developed more uses for biking including weekend travel, social rides, taking on challenges such as racing, and it became a kind a complete instrument around which my life would grow.  It has helped me develop discipline, meet life’s challenges, and focus on health and well being every day.



hello sunshine

As municipalities look forward for solutions to stay in business for the long term, deliver better services to their residents, and attract newcomers and sustainable tourism, it is clear that planning for robust walking and bicycling networks is the way to go.   I was reading an article on downtown Ciudad Juárez in the Official 2014 El Paso Visitors Guide.  “The nightlife infrastructure built in the twenties and thirties buoyed Juarez’s entertainment industry well into the seventies.”  But the anything goes perception had negative consequences and did not draw visitation that had positive lasting impacts.  We have a chance to leave a legacy of health and also sway advantageous economic development by attracting a workforce seeking a healthy life centered on personal growth, education, innovation, advancing connections with society and the natural world, while respecting & highlighting the assets that make us grateful to live here.

cactus alighting

river bloom

keep growing up

I’ve heard good questions being asked at community planning events.  How do we help people feel more comfortable outside of our cars?  What makes a good street?  How can we make places where people want to stay and spend time, not feel like they want to rush through?  How can we make living arrangements where our time is spent efficiently, and our travel time is pleasant & useful for exercise, doing work, talking to friends?  Good bicycling, walking and transit networks help with all of these factors for improving quality of life and livability.  We have work to do to make it easy, safe and efficient to move freely around the city without a car.


sky walk

echoes of light

“It is always that which strikes us as commonplace or absurd which indicates that we are not open to one of the mysteries, for such sentiments are the protective mechanisms which prevent our framework from being shaken.” (Bloom xxii, The Republic of Plato).  Is it commonplace to drive a car everywhere, absurd to travel by bike, take transit and walk?  What does the way we are building our city and city streets say about our mobility choices?  There are plenty of people bicycling and walking now but we need to do more to make these modes viable choices for everyone, so people feel at ease, secure, and free to move around.

“To experience the landscape in terms of its inhabitants”,  J.B. Jackson encouraged us to ask questions about opportunities the landscape offers for making a living, for freedom of choice of action, for meaningful relationships with other people and the landscape itself, for individual fulfillment and for social change (from Teachers by D.W. Meinig).  When we ask questions that involve and engage our senses, empathy and vision,  we have a better chance of directing our powers for shaping our own environments.  An exceptional vision for the whole city is made up of unique individual perspectives.  We are an unfinished authentic city shaping a new legacy.

AZ Highway 82

dynamic Crest

Bike house

Albuquerque + Bernalillo County’s two year long Comprehensive Planning and Zoning Code update process is detailed here at .  Feel free to get involved.

Quotes from The Interpretation of Ordinary Landscapes: Geographical Essays by Donald Meinig  and  The Republic of Plato introductory essay by Allan Bloom

Check out the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy blog to see more on how building Active Transportation infrastructure is leaving a healthy legacy in communities and rural places:

When calculating how to place persons walking and bicycling into the roadway width, this information resource is helpful for engineers and all the departments working together to make great streets in Albuquerque:

All photos mine except the photo of bicyclists from Arizona and New Mexico, which is from this story:  Arizona Gets Approval for US Bicycle Route 90

Quebradas, or Breaks

At the O’Keeffe museum in Santa Fe, I once heard a docent tell a visitor that some people say Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings are abstract.  But in fact the landscape looks the way the paintings show.  That is how Quebradas appears east of Socorro.  Colorful and otherworldly but real.

Quebradas over creosote bush

color banded land


The swirls of rock and intricate detail impart a sense of being up close in a far away land.  The sky and hills flow.  Afternoon rain showers elicit the pungent fragrance of creosote bush.

dome framed by sky prickly pear

front and center

heaven knows

mysterious land

Arroyos spilling down from the fractured rocks give sustenance to varied life.  The alluvial sands harbor trees and shrubs in microclimates around every turn in the sinuous canyons.  The main road going through Quebradas is spectacular, but a walk out into this land reveals much more.


cycle of life


Quebradas carpet

A rattlesnake the color of creosote bush slithered across the road.  We watched vertical cloud development quietly erupting over the tops of colorbanded rocks.  Enormous silent space.  The ecotones fold Chihuahuan desert plants with piñon, juniper, and varied small shrubs.


harbor canyon


close in a far away land

wild ocotillo

With endless contrasts in colors, habitats and scales, the Quebradas backcountry byway is a startling road for a timeless journey.  The mysterious opens our minds and awakens our powers of sight.  Quebradas defies expectations, and so doing broadens our sense of life.

contrast in color and scale

mixed scales


open breaks

First Ground Zero at Trinity

The site where the first atomic bomb exploded is open to visitors on the first Saturday of April and October.  It is called Trinity Site.  We visited yesterday for the first time.  On my first trip to Japan I visited Hiroshima, the site of the second atom bomb explosion.  The Japanese have built a Peace Museum there.  The headlines from an American newspaper the day after Hiroshima are posted as an exhibit at Trinity.  When I read the lead to the story, I remembered the suffering this type of device incurred on humanity.  It is hard to remember but we must.

First ground zero

White Sands Missle Range


The area around Trinity Site is still used by the US Army as a testing range.  The White Sands Missile Range extends all the way from middle New Mexico to the southern borderlands where Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico meet around El Paso.   When you enter the security guards check your identification and then you drive in about 30 miles into the base to a large parking area on the desert floor.  From there you walk to the Trinity Site.  It was good to be amongst the people and hear everyone’s voices.  We were surprised by the large crowds.



the bomb

It is amazing how resilient nature is.  The desert looks normal around the first ground zero.  In Hiroshima there is a thriving city.  It was heartening to visit here with people, talk, walk together, and listen to stories.  Looking around the desert and mountains of New Mexico are so vast they seem to absorb it all.  The blast was big but it was enveloped by a larger presence.  This earth, the human story.  It is hard to imagine what we can do with this knowledge, but let it be good.

cloud at dawn