Category Archives: ABQ bikeways planning

Small Movements Add Up to Big Data

We received a map at the Greater Albuquerque Bicycling Advisory Committee meeting Monday afternoon that shows bicycling activity across Greater Albuquerque.  The data is from Strava and uses Global Positioning Systems in smartphones or bicycle computers to track activities of people who have downloaded the application.  It’s part of the information era that is changing the way we perceive, study and understand our lives in relation to the places we live in.

Strava heat map New Mexico Greater ABQ

Above is a screen shot of Strava’s heat map (free online) for Albuquerque and Santa Fe.  You can zoom in and see anywhere activity was recorded in great detail down to the street and trail level.  You can also zoom out and look at activity across the U.S.A. and around the world.  Making bicycling visible like this is a bicycling geographer’s dream.  Check out the squiggly line in the image below flowing west-east across Iowa.  Any guesses as to what that is?

Strava RAGBRAI signature

It’s a signature from the ride across Iowa, also known as RAGBRAI.  Over 10,000 people participate.  A rolling city on two wheels.  This data coincides with the 2014 RAGBRAI route map.

RAGBRAI 2014 signature

Our Metropolitan Planning Organization has purchased spatial data through the Strava Metro program to analyze and better understand active transportation in our region.  This information on where and how people are using travel modes besides motorized vehicles is a key component in the planning toolkit.  It will be a valuable data set to use along with traditional traffic surveys being newly adapted to capture information on walking and biking activities.

NBC 2015 Challenge

The National Bike Challenge uses Strava and similar Apps to hold a competition to see who can ride the most.  In 2015 New Mexico came out # 23 in the Nation (see image above) during the challenge period (May-Sept.)  It is good to use technology to incite some healthy competition.

NBC November NM # 14

For November New Mexico is currently 14th in the Nation (see above).  Finding beneficial ways for applying Strava and similar active transportation trackers like Human has just begun.  We have yet another way to make bicycling more visible, raise awareness and make it even more fun.  It is heartening to be harnessing technology for healthy and sustainable development.

Sign up for Strava
Register for the National Bike Challenge
Just Ride

Further Reading:

Southwest Cycling Times

I don’t know if bicycling and walking are especially hot topics or if I am just tuning in more, but I’ve found a plethora of good stories in the news.  Here’s a brief summary of individual articles with a link for further reading if a topic strikes your interest.   Though the literature surveyed here always has national and global implications, my approach is looking at issues from a regional perspective based on issues that are of particular interest in the Southwestern U.S.

The League of American Bicyclists released their report on Bicycle Friendly Universities.  University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University remain at Bronze status.  Lots of room for improvement here to move up to Silver, Gold, all the way to Platinum.  Campuses are always a locus for walking and bicycling culture.  Places to build up from!  Both ASU and UofA register at the Gold level, and Utah’s largest two State universities come in at Silver.  Colorado and New Mexico both have some room for improvement.  My alma mater Univ. of Nevada at Reno made it to Bronze.  Look for UNLV to step up.  Bicycling and learning go together.

Dallas lost its bike coordinator to a private firm in Denver, Colorado.  This story covering that transition looks into Dallas’s history integrating bicycling transportation and touches on the process of opening up more choices for active transportation in a city built with cars in mind.  Texas’s motto is “Drive Friendly The Texas Way.”  Very important to put this in context with everyone we encounter on the road, not just the folks traveling in the same way we are, that look like us.  I can see a photo shop opportunity for including bicycles in this sign.

drive friendly

Building bicycle friendliness is an incremental process.  The work that Dallas’s bike coordinator put in carves the way for the next steps and gives us something to build on.  I see a lot of cars with Texas plates in New Mexico and Texans love to come here for our mountains and cultural roots.  So bicycle friendliness there matters here too, bicycles matter everywhere.  We are definitely one nation interconnected and interdependent.  I also think interchange of people–people switching jobs, etc.–can be a good thing.  That is what keeps NY City vibrant and relevant, the influx of new ideas and culture, and the migration of influential people.  Mix it up.

People ask a good question.   How are we going to pay for better bicycling infrastructure?  This article The True Costs of Driving  shifts the way we think about paying for roads and puts it in terms of how much our transportation choices cost.  Clearly bicycles add value with no risk to our future, and with direct improvements to health.  Bicycling is a good choice by any metric.  We can’t afford not to invest in bicycling infrastructure, especially for the benefits to our health.

We’ve all heard about Colorado’s commitment to bicycle infrastructure.  Well how about Oslo’s.  They’ve got it right, that bicycling is in the interest of everyone in the city, not just the traffic department.  A new holistic forward looking framework is developing that sees bikability and walkability as being issues that go way beyond transportation.  They are central to sustainable urban development.   Making every city a place where ordinary people can bicycle is the future.

River Fall splendor

The Fall colors on the Bosque Trail along the Río Grande light it up


Trail Survey Placing Albuquerque’s Trails on the National Map

“We’re really excited to be in Albuquerque because you have an incredible trail system.”
–Dr. Tracy Hadden Loh, RTC’s director of research.  (Quote from ABQ Business First)

The last couple weeks I’ve been out working on a trail survey as part of the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy’s nationwide T-MAP project.  It has been incredible to be working outside and talking to the public using Albuquerque’s wonderful trails.  The project is helping measure the beneficial impacts that trails and active transportation networks are making in communities, including improving transportation, health, and spurring local and regional economies.

T-MAP (Trail Modeling and Assessment Platform) is designed to lead to more trail construction and give local agencies a better idea on where to focus improvements.   T-MAP creates ways to quantify and explain how investments in trail systems pay off in terms of health and transportation savings, and increases understanding of the economic stimulation greenways instigate.  Aside from savings in health and gains in transportation efficiency, trails lift quality of life and open up transportation choices, making Albuquerque and Bernalillo County stand out as attractive places to invest, work and live, raise a family, retire, and vacation.

This project was in the news last year when Albuquerque was selected as one of 12 cities nationwide that would participate in this survey.  Check out the links to those stories below.  KRQE has some excellent video.  I am looking forward to the next phases of this multi year project, including seeing how the modeling and assessment tools develop, and then are deployed to create the next generation of trail building.  See you out on the trails, Albuquerque.

D.C. group chooses ABQ for trail monitoring project on KRQE News
This story includes video of people using the trail past our survey site at Erna Ferguson Library on the Paseo del Nordeste Trail.  ‘The data collection will give us a better understanding of how important our trail system is for commuting, errands, quality of life and exercise.’

Albuquerque’s urban trail use captures national focus from Albuquerque Business First
More coverage of the T-MAP survey putting us in the national spotlight for cutting edge research fueling trail and active transportation network research and development.

Here’s the link to the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy’s T-MAP project.

It has been quite a week for me with changing weather and lots of work

It has been quite a week in Albuquerque with changing weather. Takes time to adjust to the chill!

the funky weather did have some nice side effects. This was actually a double rainbow

the funky weather did have some nice side effects. This was actually a double rainbow

My evening ride up La Luz gave me a peak at the snow adorning the Sandia Crest

My evening ride up La Luz gave me a peak at the snow adorning the Sandia Crest

High Level Champions for Bicycling

After the final no there comes a yes
And on that yes the future world depends.
No was the night. Yes is this present sun.
                          –Wallace Stephens

Change can come quicker than we think with the right kind of leadership, approach, discipline and solutions to see changes through.  We have to keep urging our leaders to move bicycling and walking forward.  But if we want America to be leading and innovating transportation solutions, we must also get going ourselves and lead the way.  This requires action.  It can’t wait.

Health, transportation, and energy are all interconnected.  Transportation is right up there with energy for carbon emission sources.  From the EPA’s US Sources of Greenhouse Gas.

US Greenhouse Gas Emission sources by sector 2013

I’ve noticed similarities in the way we talk about energy and transportation.  In energy we note how small the proportion of energy that is produced by renewable resources is, just as we note how transportation is dominated by the automobile.  We can think of this as how imbalanced our energy and transportation portfolios truly are,  increasing our sense of urgency to incentivize simple, low cost solutions.  Once we convert to systems that support renewable transportation and energy, the sources of power are free.  Fully utilizing renewable sources to their potential empowers the roll they play in advancing society.  This strategy of inclusion with an emphasis on diversity has been a huge factor in advancing American society.

The reasons we have to do this are clear.  Carbon emissions are a real problem, a problem we have to face.  The problem with cars goes beyond carbon.  The carnage is beyond bearing.  We are losing nearly 40,000 lives every year in the US due to car crashes, and over 2 million people are injured or disabled.  Car crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans traveling abroad, and crashes are the leading cause of death among young people ages 15-29, and the second leading cause of death worldwide among young people ages 5-14.  The problem of excluding walking and bicycling is most deeply impacting vulnerable populations including young people, who for the first time in a long time have lower life expectancies.

What I see are the brightest leaders adapting and understanding, such as the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim.  He sees that this is a time of transition.  He’s trying to get everyone onboard. This kind of adaptation means we are all having to reeducate our selves, because things are changing so rapidly.   Jim Yong Kim has a five year old son and his vision for the world involves seeing the world through his son’s eyes, also through the eyes of the regular person who uses public streets to get to work each day.    Jim Yong Kim on changing transportation:

We [the World Bank] have evolved over time. We have an evidence based set of deeply held values.  Ending poverty, boosting shared prosperity.  Evidence is good you need to include people.  You need to include women.  The evidence is overwhelming we have to do something about climate change.  For us, working on transport is part of this morale responsibility we have to cities of today and the future generation.”  –Jim Yong Kim, World Bank President

He goes on to say in this interview that “if you do green transportation right, it pays for itself in terms of human health and well being, as well as economically and environmentally. It’s a win win win” and “the Introduction of bus rapid transit lanes is dramatically part of the win win win situation.”  What I see developing here is a framework that changes the way we do things.  It is developing quickly and we need to accelerate it more.  We need local leaders and residents to step forward and show how bicycling and walking makes going green rewarding and affordable.  Unleashing the power of renewables is a natural and creative way to live, a good way to exercise our common human traditions and be healthy and share in prosperity.   We are surrounded by an abundance of resources including one another.  Let the breeze, our lungs and legs, the sun and surface winds do the work for us, and share in the harvest.

Flower opening


Statistics on the casualties of road crashes are from the Association for Safe International Road Travel.

Jim Yong Kim’s quote is from the Shaping the Future of Urban Transport event from the 10th annual Transforming Transportation conference, hosted by the World Bank and EMBARQ .

The childhood obesity epidemic was reported in the NY Times in 2005.

Artists are increasingly shaping the way we perceive the environment.  Check out the events at 516 ARTS in Albuquerque this coming week including

The World Bank has programs focusing directly on improving road safety, and designing sustainable cities:

And the World Bank has this Conference:
Thursday January 14 – Friday January 15, 2016, World Bank Headquarters, Washington D.C.

Dr. Jim Yong Kim is the first medical doctor to be head of the World Bank.  He protested the World Bank when its policies were failing in the early 1990’s.  Now he’s President of it.  Now that’s an adaptive organization!
“Health is not an expense but an investment.”  — Jim Yong Kim, Aspen Institute interview
on transforming development

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

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

August Light

The outdoor life in and around Albuquerque is exceptional.  One of the great amenities, a natural attractor, is the beautiful open space.  I’m amazed at the places that are within reach by bicycle from our home in Albuquerque.  Here are some cell phone pictures from recent rides.

road and sky

The Sandia Crest National Scenic Byway is a treasure. For sure one of the prettiest roads around.

A look across a sunflower field toward the Sandia Crest from Frost Road

A look across a sunflower field toward the Sandia Crest from Frost Road

NM 337 or "South 14" is like a ladder connecting the Tijeras Canyon corridor up to the high pines

NM 337 or “South 14” is like a ladder connecting the Tijeras Canyon corridor up to the high pines

We should conserve these spaces, nourishing the distinctive rural character with eco minded development.  Bicycling is a good way to enjoy this place in a sustainable, low impact and healthy fashion.  Open space for cycling and walking is essential to human life.

sunflower stance

take this road

Bicycling helps meet the Metropolitan Transportation Plan’s goal of generating more efficient use of the existing road infrastructure.  It’s part of the evolving transformation of a road ethic emphasizing clean, quiet, safe and satisfying transportation.  I see a lot of local residents out walking their dogs and getting exercise on the main roads in the rural East Mountains.   And I also see casual cyclists getting those bikes out of the garage and enjoying a ride on a country road.  These are indicators the ambiance and road ethic is safe and comfy for everyone.

Vallecitos Road

Vallecitos Road with Sandia Crest view, looking north, northwest


S14 on a nice day

There’s an inextricable connection between walking and biking.  The Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place conference explains:  “Then we evolved because we found common cause with walking: streets that are unsafe for biking are also difficult to cross for pedestrians.”  This linkage is apparent on the roads of the East Mountains.  There are generally no sidewalks, but the walking and biking is good.  I’ve seen mothers pushing strollers and elderly people walking with canes along these roads.   Right now the walking and bicycling in the East Mountains is thriving, and we can enhance it by developing ride share, park and ride and rural transit service.   Traffic is moderate, mostly calm, diverse, and everyone shares space while looking out for one another in the August light.  It’s personable.  When I told my neighbor how much I liked August in New Mexico he said just wait until you see September.  It is even more beautiful, he said.

Here are some traffic counts on the East Mountain roads in rural Bernalillo County.  Many of the roads are quiet.  Quiet is one of the most valuable and rare resources around.

Blue Horizons with SLO Initiatives

The photo below is Albuquerque’s main street circa 1960 from this article.  The article is a tough read (I don’t necessarily recommend it), but the picture shows where we are coming from.  This is the legacy we inherited and are redesigning to an environment that invites mobility freedom.


The San Luis Obispo Air Pollution Control District — — is doing some really cool things.  They have this character named Eco Man who draws attention to positive behaviors.  Getting to work and conducting business in an efficient way is good and natural.  Eco Man helps trigger those thought processes and points out the exceptional power in human decision making.  Eco Man is really corny.  I like him.  I could see him working at Esperanza in ABQ.

Another dimension of creating change is putting clues and signals in the landscape, such as  infrastructure for walking and biking, that make for attractive places.  One of the changes in infrastructure we are seeing pop up around Albuquerque is the sharrow.  It is cheap and basically gets more sustainability value out of the existing infrastructure by inviting people to bicycle where they are already should be bicycling.  It is a little “yes we can”.  Yes we can bicycle and walk more beginning today Albuquerque and the American Southwest.   The sharrow and things like “share the road” signs and bike lanes help activate the sustainable transportation potential.  Keep looking for ways to use the natural and built environment in healthy ways.

piñon road

natural probike/walk attributes are abundant.  Tijeras Canyon takes you to a plethora of country roads available to pedal and Tijeras Canyon itself is a wonderful cycle route, part of Adventure Cycling’s Route 66 cross country sojourn

Bear Canyon Arroyo I-25 Bridge

The bear canyon arroyo bridge over I-25 is a delight to ride especially around dawn and dusk

2015.8.27 sunset from Bosque Trail

The Bosque Trail along the Rio Grande green belt through the middle of Albuquerque is always perfect

2015.8.27 sunset from Diversion Trail

The high desert is so very pretty at night. Albuquerque is known for lovely sunsets, beautiful skies, visual splendor

The places to ride here are amazing.  SLO has a few programs we could adopt for Albuquerque that would help incentive change here too.  I’m pulling these from their newsletter May 2015:
1) Wood burning device changout program.  They’ll give you $1,000 or $2,000 dollars to change over to a clean burning heating system.
2) Rideshare rewards.  They’ll pay you to choose an option other than driving your car solo to work or school.  It can be the bus, the bicycle, skateboard (kids are smart), telecommute, etc.
They also have a clean school bus program .  They are changing out older dirty diesel engines or adding particulate filters to make them cleaner.  This is critical since young people’s lungs are more vulnerable when developing, and also helps buoy mental attitudes when we see greener buses and heavy machinery operating with care.  I think we’ve got what it takes in Albuquerque and all we have to do is get behind initiatives that help us all and take a course of action to be a part of the positive change.  This is something that would be good to rush after.



crow flies

Getting Involved: Writing and Riding

Trek Hi Fi Alibi Brick

The Bike League sent me a reminder today to contact my US Senator about supporting a transportation bill amendment being voted on tomorrow.  Their message said:

“This amendment would ensure that the design of Federal surface transportation projects provides for the safe and adequate accommodation of both motorized and non-motorized users in the planning, development and operation of transportation projects!”

Click here to connect to your Senator.  It is essential to have the guidelines in place to support the development of an inclusive, balanced, affordable and accessible infrastructure so we have  healthy transportation choices.  Great walking and biking and transit is not only incredibly important now but it is a way to leave a positive legacy.  You don’t have to be a member of the Bike League to use their take action services.  My Senator, Tom Udall, respects word from his constituents and uses public input to guide his decision making.  Thank you Bike League for making it easy to correspond with our representatives on critical issues.  Rails to Trails Conservancy also has an action portal for this issue here .  Please let your Senator’s Office know what you care about.  These Federal decisions have significant impacts on setting the tone and scheduling the resource expenditures at local levels, where you live, walk and ride.

The most direct way of being involved is via bicycling every day.  I have done my dual duty today.  If you are looking for more riding, consider these two fine events this weekend.  These are small town based multiday cycling events in spectacular Southwestern country.

Capitol Reef Classic, Utah:
Salida 3 Day Cycling Classic, Colorado: or!salida-cycling-classic/c22rf

Reach out to your elected officials about your love for cycling.  Pedal every chance you get.  Both ways of being involved are worth every moment.  Arigato from the American Southwest!

arches and flowers

Diversity in Cycling: National Brotherhood of Cyclists

“The common ground for clubs that are part of the NBC network is their use of the bicycle as a vehicle for social change, community building and a commitment to improving access, participation and health for adults and children in the communities they call home.”
–from the article by Liz Murphy in the League of American Bicyclists News from the League

NBC Conference

The leading narrative in building up the bicycling culture in Albuquerque and New Mexico is the importance of reaching out to everyone so the benefits of bicycling are universally shared and enjoyed.  Our city and State is so diverse and varied the defining theme is diversity centering on the mosaic of cultures and different landscapes.  Focusing bicycling promotions on inclusivity and collaboration is key for shared success.  Programs that promote bicycling and walking such as Safe Routes to Schools and Complete Streets New Mexico are perfect vehicles to come together around because of the democratic interests of healthy lifestyles and affordable transportation access that help make better habitat for humans all around.

We have enormous opportunities to reconstitute and enliven our culture through making paradigm shifts in our transportation system.   I think there will be some good research and collaborations coming from the National Brotherhood of Cyclist’s conference “Equity in Motion” in Minneapolis this July.  The active transportation movement is about so much more than bicycling and walking.  It is about healing health disparities in communities with modest income, promoting bicycling infrastructure for everyone’s benefit, meeting people, welcoming all.  It’s about opening up the city for human powered movement to all destinations.

What I really love about this organization and conference is the shared principle of the bicycle as a tool for social change.  To ride a bicycle is to experience the world on a human scale in a way that grows our empathy and sensitivity.  The bicycle opens up a new angle on the pursuit of happiness and the American Dream, a dream that is richer when more people are contributing.  For June 2015 The NBC is my bike club of the month.  Thank you for inspiring us.

Equity in Motion: The 2015 NBC Bike Summit
Slow Roll was launched in Detroit by Jason Hall and helps citizens feel empowered in the transportation, health, and equity issues facing their communities.
Esperanza Bicycle Safety Education Center links bicycling to the full spectrum ABQ community