Category Archives: Albuquerque Bike Culture

The Return of Cycling Transportation

“When we bring the buffalo back, we’ll bring the people back because we’ll re-learn how to structure our lives.”  –Jim Stone, Yankton-Sioux Tribe, Return of the Bison

The bison is America’s new national symbol, sharing the stage with the bald eagle.  This is a great story.  It’s the story of conservation as a guiding principle of our nation.  It’s the story of a nation embracing the character of a place and relearning our native culture and inheritance.

Native to America

Photograph: Josh Barchers/AP from a story in The Guardian online, “Return of the Bison”

I would love to see the bicycle adopted as our national vehicle.  Like the bison, the bike is a way to structure our lives.  Bicycles have been with us, but it is taking time for us to appreciate them and give them the large scale transportation networks they need to reach their fullest potential.

Crazy Cactus on La Luz

For the last seven weeks I was “bikeless” while I healed from an injury.  I drove a car more than usual, and found myself feeling disconnected, separated from my surroundings.  I felt anxious.  You would think separation from aspects of life in the city would increase comfort, but it fed my fear.  I was startled by beginning my day hurtling down the highway at 70mph amongst 80,000 pound trucks and 6,000 pound SUV’s.  I didn’t feel safer, rather I felt more afraid.

Specialized with Sandia Peak on La Luz

I started riding my bicycle outside again this week.  I feel so much better.  Cycling transforms road anonymity into neighborly relations.  I’m moving at safer speeds, and the mass of my vehicle doesn’t constitute a danger to myself or others.  I’m nimble and freer.  Cycling helps me feel a part of my surroundings and that I’m making a more humane transport environment.  Cycling restores my connection with the beauty in Albuquerque.  It makes good sense to me.

La Luz bliss

Credits–the first photo is from an article in The Guardian called Return of the bison: new American national symbol tells story of strife and credited to Josh Barchers/AP
The other photos are from my first rides this week.

Pedalling Circles Changes the World

Albuquerque celebrates Bike to Work Day on May 20.  Every day can be bike to work day.  But it takes only one day to get the habit rolling.  If you keep up the practice of biking to school or work, you can change your life.  Daily bicycling creates a more vital life.  A vital person energizes those around them.  By changing yourself you influence the world.   Make a bold decision.  Leave a legacy.  Ride your bike, or walk, to school and work today.  You can win a prize.   

ABQ BTWD Poster2016

Details on the Greater Albuquerque Bike to Work Day event are here–
https://www.cabq.gov/parksandrecreation/events/bike-to-work-day

The Bicycling Movement

“As more people join in it’s less risky.” –Derek Sivers, How to Start a Movement on TED

This TED talk reminds me of what it takes to get safer streets for walking and bicycling.  It takes a few forward thinking people to recognize that active transportation makes a lot of sense and when we join in and invite our friends we make beautiful dance steps in our streets.  Next time you see someone walking and bicycling, have the courage to follow and become a leader.  Here are pictures from the bicycling life around Albuquerque, early March 2016.

Bosque family cycling

Impact and coffee

flourish

Kimo

blossoms up

Resources: Check out SINC’s facebook page  (Social Impact through Nonprofit Community) for the Impact and Coffee events on Tuesday mornings.  https://www.facebook.com/SINCNM/

Bike Friendly City

I don’t know if you follow Stephen Clark on Twitter, but you should.  Stephen used to be the bicycle coordinator for Boulder, Colorado, and now he leads the Bicycle Friendly Community program at the League of American Bicyclists.  Stephen visited ABQ last April.  He shared this story via Twitter on Minneapolis’s ascent to bicycle friendly Gold Status.
How Frozen Minneapolis Became a Biking Mecca

SVEDC mural time

I don’t think there’s any one formula for bicycling success in a city, and it has to be an ongoing and authentic process.  But there were a couple key factors in Minneapolis that sparked the journey.  The elected leadership began advocating for bicycling improvements, working with community-based organizations including the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition.  Then they earned a 25 million stimulus to support new biking and walking infrastructure that tied the active transportation networks in with their “long-standing heritage of parks, trails and outdoor recreation.”  They started downtown and connected neighborhoods working in sections.  Ridership kept growing and the city’s identity coalesced around bicycling and walking.

Bear Canyon trail

In Albuquerque we have a competitive advantage with our geography.  Even if you’re into snow bikes, just go higher.  Minneapolis has “four full-time city planners dedicated to pedestrian and biking matters”.  That focus, networked with a broad alliance of supporters, committed leadership, dedicated funding, and a creative spirit, weaves together all of the community-wide assets, most importantly by nourishing social connectedness between land and people.

Trek on top

Albuquerque is a great city for bicycling.  I feel very lucky to be here.  Bicycling dovetails into everything else we’re doing from addressing climate change to creating inclusive growth with economic innovation.  From caring for human health and well being, to energy efficiency and wise land use.  Moving bicycling forward is an affordable solution, and quite fun.

References:
Here’s the article on Minneapolis:  http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/01/16/frozen-minneapolis-became-biking-mecca/78920880/
Photos: 1 the mural at the South Valley Economic Development Center.  2 Commute home today on the Bear Canyon Arroyo trail just west of Wyoming Blvd.  (fresh snow on the mountains is so pretty).  3  Sunday on top of the Sandia Crest looking South, what a high.
Federal Resources are available, read more here:  http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/livability/newsletter/january_2016/index.cfm

Strava Connects Athletes with Planners

Strava technology blows my mind.  Strava has united what I’ve always done, bicycling, with my current project in long range transportation planning, design and education.  I’ve always thought the best way to advocate for bicycling is to do it.  I’m good at that.  With Strava, a free application that tracks your movement with GPS from a device as simple as your current cell phone, our riding becomes visible to planners and elected officials.  It literally makes your riding count and show up as evidence on how much and where people are bicycling.

If you’re riding and you’re not on Strava, please sign up for Strava for free.

La Luz piñon

This makes a huge difference.  Metro Planning Organizations have been counting cars since the 1970’s, but systematic counts for pedestrians and bicyclists have not been programmed as well.  So the lack of statistical “evidence” that people are walking and bicycling has been detrimental to justifying the allocation of funds for making improvements.  Strava says “nearly one-half of all rides on Strava in denser metro areas are commutes so Strava Metro data gives great insight into the needs of those riding for transportation.”  Strava is doing us all kinds of favors, including breaking down false divides between people that bike for health (“sport”) and for those that bike for transportation (“utility”).  People bike for all reasons, just like we use cars.

Winter ride

Aside from the social networking you can do with Strava, such as tracking your friends’ rides, and taking pictures and uploading them to rides (the photos on this blog post are from my rides on Strava), you are serving a greater purpose too by making your riding more visible and making it part of a big data set.  Strava is my bike org. of the month for December 2015.

S14 descending

Sign up for Strava:  http://www.strava.com/how-it-works
Follow me on Strava:  https://www.strava.com/athletes/1817826

References:
http://metro.strava.com/faq/
http://metro.strava.com/
http://labs.strava.com/heatmap/#6/-120.90000/38.36000/blue/bike

from Strava Metro

Strava Metro is a data service providing “ground truth” on where people ride and run. Millions of GPS-tracked activities are uploaded to Strava every week from around the globe. In denser metro areas, nearly one-half of these are commutes. These activities create billions of data points that, when aggregated, enable deep analysis and understanding of real-world cycling and pedestrian route preferences.”

Here’s a little heat map screen print from our bicycle rides in Albuquerque:

Strava Heat ABQ 2016

Freedom Horses

When my mother was here visiting she said Albuquerque has more people bicycling and better walking and bicycling infrastructure than any place she’s seen.  This reminded me it is important to take stock and be grateful for what we have.  She looked at the extensive multiuse trail system, all the bike lanes and the pedestrian/bicycle bridges and figured there were some forward looking people behind this.  Plus tons of people bicycle.  I appreciate the riding here.  The bicycling is good in much of the city and on the edges, and it gets better as you ride out.

Serene

These photos are from rides past the Hagan ghost town, the Los Lunas loop, and a walk on the river

Hagens ride

Hagens road sculpture

Hagens wild horses

Las Lunas toward Laguna lands

If you’re looking for clean air, diverse cultures and landscapes and open vistas the Albuquerque area has these resources.  You can go in any direction and experience beautiful country.  There  are wild horses running on the northeast shoulder of the Sandia Mountains.  Freedom horses.

Hagens freedom horses

Las Lunas bend

Bosque bliss

I saw so many people out bicycling today on Tramway Road and all over the city.  Bicyclists are a resilient community.  If you’re willing to mix it up and ride some dirt roads, multi use trails, and paved roads you can ride to the horizon and beyond.  I feel like you can ride forever here.   If we make the bicycling even better we’ll be more sustainable, healthier and freer.

freedom horses

Las Lunas range

I love these words from Cormac McCarthy.  Buy his new book The Passenger coming out soon.

That night he dreamt of horses in a field on a high plain where the spring rains had brought up the grass and the wildflowers out of the ground and the flowers ran all blue and yellow far as the eye could see and in the dream he was among the horses running and in the dream he himself could run with the horses and they coursed the young mares and fillies over the plain where their rich bay and their rich chestnut colors shone in the sun and the young colts ran with their dams and trampled down the flowers in a haze of pollen that hung in the sun like powdered gold and they ran he and the horses out along the high mesas where the ground resounded under their running hooves and they flowed and changed and ran and their manes and tails blew off of them like spume and there was nothing else at all in that high world and they moved all of them in a resonance that was like a music among them and they were none of them afraid horse nor colt nor mare and they ran in that resonance which is the world itself and which cannot be spoken but only praised.  From All the Pretty Horses, winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, 1992

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 https://www.strava.com/
Register for the National Bike Challenge https://nationalbikechallenge.org/
Just Ride

Further Reading:
http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/05/02/could-the-strava-app-provide-the-biking-and-walking-data-cities-crave/
http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/22842/heat-maps-show-where-people-bike-or-at-least-where-affluent-people-exercise-by-bike/
http://fortune.com/2014/08/29/improve-urban-infrastructure-theres-an-app-for-that/

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

References:

Statistics on the casualties of road crashes are from the Association for Safe International Road Travel.  http://asirt.org/initiatives/informing-road-users/road-safety-facts/road-crash-statistics

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 http://www.516arts.org/ including
http://www.516arts.org/index.php/programs-link/68-events/444-talk-public-art-and-activism-between-climate-culture-and-informational-space

The World Bank has programs focusing directly on improving road safety, and designing sustainable cities:
http://www.wri.org/news/2015/07/release-report-provides-urban-design-recommendations-healthier-cities-fewer-traffic
http://www.wricities.org/
http://www.wri.org/our-work/project/embarq

And the World Bank has this Conference:
http://www.transformingtransportation.org/
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

Bicycling as Climate Change Action

Stephen Clark on helping cities become more bicycle-friendlyA lot of it starts with infrastructure. It’s about having a balanced transportation system where people have choices. Most of my guidance is about how can we take this public space that’s already there and make it more inviting for people who choose not to be in a car — from signal timing, to intersections, to eliminating some of the travel lanes and making the bike lanes wider so people feel safer and more comfortable.  –from Bike League community organizer Stephen Clark

The Biopark in ABQ is breathes life into our people and economy through a strong environment

The Biopark in ABQ breathes life into our well-being and economy through a strong environment

I did not begin bicycling to reduce my carbon footprint, get healthy, feel good about the environment, lose weight, or be a good citizen. I got into it out of bare economic necessity.  Bicycling for transportation has saved me lots of money.  I discovered the other benefits inadvertently.  It was almost better without big expectations.  One of the beauties of life is by making simple, healthy choices you set off a chain of beneficial reactions without intention.  Finding this fundamental positive orientation is based on appropriate decisions.  The ripple effect of right action is amazingly strong.  Once we get started it is self-reinforcing.

Bicycling and transportation in general is related to every issue of our times that people care about.   Expanding the roll of bicycling to address these challenges gives us some traction.  In a world where awareness of the challenges we face is growing, we still struggle with what we can do about our concerns.  Bicycling is a force for adaptation and positive change.  The key is fostering the development of a mindset for making biking safer and easier so more people feel free to participate.   This investment returns intentional and inadvertent benefits for all.

Highlights Chaco purple and gold

Removing barriers is key to opening up the choice to bicycle for more people.  A lot of these have to do with mindset as well as infrastructure.  We can think of our public spaces as appropriate places for humans to exercise our inherent mobility powers.  We can modify our infrastructure design to reflect this, making it safer, easier and more inviting to biking and walking.  These are concurrent steps in the process, adapting our infrastructure, activities, and mindsets.  It takes infrastructure and culture.  Bicycle and walk more.  We need you.

When it comes to training our policy makers, technical staff and citizen advocacy groups, shaping a mindset for solutions-based, forward thinking approaches is as important as the technical skillsets required for building sustainable, diverse, resilient transportation systems. Adaptive skills, innovation and scientific knowledge informed by the humanities are part of the equation for developing a citizenship and leadership cohort capable of driving and embracing positive change.  We have to get people more involved and nurture an atmosphere focused on health.  Let go of false dualities and fear.  We can have a maturing economy and environmental sustainability.  We can have the freedom of choice for transportation, a continuum of options for moving people and goods.  Use your imagination.

Highlight purple hued juniper

I’ve heard people accuse bicyclists of being righteous, but that is baseless. It says more about the speaker’s feelings than me or what I’m doing when I bicycle.  I find bicycling humbling and difficult, honestly.  It makes you earn everything.  It is not easy.  And no matter how well I do it, there is always room to be better, a better mechanic, safer, more diplomatic, friendlier, a better neighbor.   There is no reason for people to feel guilty for riding a bicycle.  It makes you stronger by fine tuning your understanding of your own powers and their limits, improves your sense of empathy through vulnerability, changes your perceptions of your surroundings, and makes you more aware.  It helps me let go of fear-based biases and embrace humane solutions.  You don’t need to bicycle to be a good person, but we need a society that supports it.

No matter what your cause bicycling helps. It is the number one thing doctors prescribe for all ages.  It is the perfect transportation for middle income people leaving us more money for education, entertainment, our own enterprises, and philanthropy.   In fact, it is the perfect transportation for all people no matter your income, and it makes for a more egalitarian and interactive society.  Everyone bicycles.  If you need more social contact, bicycling helps you build relationships.  If you run a business, bicycling lowers your health care costs for employees by improving health, increases productivity and morale by improving fitness, and makes it easier for customers to park and have easy access.  If you are interested in democracy, bicycling builds strong communities.  If you are interested in a spiritual path, walking and biking don’t hurt.

And yes, bicycling cuts carbon. You don’t need to find a reason to bicycle, but there are a lot of good outcomes from doing it.  Oh yeah, it makes me much happier.  I forgot about that effect.

Resources:

Follow Stephen Clark from the Bicycle Friendly Community program with the League of American Bicyclists:  https://twitter.com/bfc_Steve
Here is the article the leading quote is from:  http://www.startribune.com/my-outdoor-life-bicycling-advocate-likes-what-he-sees-in-minneapolis/333064191/

http://vermontbioenergy.com/weekly-energy-action-seminars-at-uvm/#.Via3yLeFPqy
Stephen Clark spoke at a weekly energy action seminar on making bicycling safe and easier.  The series includes big hitters such as Al Gore and Roger Millar, Director, SmartGrowth America.  Most of the speakers are from the energy sector.

http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/leadership-institute/about
Complete Streets in not only a method of designing streets but a mindset for how we use our public spaces for a more inclusive, people friendly mobility environment.

http://www.paulsoninstitute.org/
Ecological security may be the most pressing issue as we partner with China in building a more sustainable economy that respects people and the environment.  Former US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is building an enterprise designed to discard the dualistic legacy of the either/or approach to economic health and the environment.  Instead he is pursuing a blended approach suitable to stewarding both.  Most business leaders see the challenge as spurring innovation.

http://www.aspeninstitute.org/policy-work/business-society
The Aspen Institute has a program that better aligns business success with the public good.

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.

ERNST-HAAS-Alberquerque-2716744-1024x641

The San Luis Obispo Air Pollution Control District — slocleanair.org — 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.

Transformation

curves

crow flies