Category Archives: initiatives

What Bicycling Can Do

When Lance Armstrong wrote about his comeback from cancer, It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back To Life, he struck a universal chord.  The bicycle does so many things for individuals and society.  It’s a vehicle for networking and moving forward.  Here are opportunities to get more involved and learn about what the bike can do for you and your community.

Bike Summits
February 8 -9, 2016 – Colorado Bicycle Summit, Denver, CO
March 7-9, 2016 – National Bike Summit, Washington, D.C.
April 1, 2016 – Arizona Bike Summit, Mesa, AZ
April 5, 2016 – Utah Bike Summit, Salt Lake City, UT
April 23, 2016 – New Mexico Bike Summit, Las Cruces, NM

Interdisciplinary Conferences
June 13-15, 2016, International Conference on Transport & Health, San Jose, CA
August 30 – September 2, 2016 – 5th IENE International Conference on Ecology and Transportation
November 16 – 19, 2016, 6th International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health, Bangkok, Thailand

Check out the latest editions of Centerlines from the National Center for Bicycling and Walking to see more of what’s happening on the national and global stage around bicycling.

Mountains

Bicycling outdoors immerses us in exquisite places like this, even on a simple commute or lunch ride

ABQ Bike Tramway Trail

ABQ has a great multiuse path system. Here is the Tramway Trail from the Candelaria bike/ped bridge

ABQ bike Paseo del Norte Trail

The Paseo del Norte trail climbing up into Bear Canyon for more close up views of the Sandia Mountains

Corrales

NM tram

Tramway Boulevard from the Candelaria bike/ped overpass

La Luz trail

Foothill roads such as La Luz can take you right up into the Mountains (watch for snow and ice!)

 

Creating Sustainable Streets

There are complex factors underlying good walking and bicycling environments.  The layout of streets and cities is fundamentally important.   The basic structure of cities changed with the advent of mass travel by automobiles.  By the 1950’s cities were sprawling outwards and people were being encouraged to drive longer distances to work and to meet other necessities.  Streets were designed in longer blocks and for higher speeds and maximized for throughput.   This graph shows one of the undesirable consequences of this. (from Bad Street Design Kills People)

garrick-graph_1

Districts built before 1950  “display triple the walking, four times the transit use, six times the bicycling, and immeasurably more charm” (A. Schmidt, Street Design).  But most of the land in Albuquerque and in all Southwestern cities was developed after 1950.  Albuquerque went form 35,000 people in 1940 to 97,000 in 1950, and grew to 200,000 by 1960.  We have upwards of half a million residents today.  Phoenix went from 100,000 in 1950 to 1.5 million today.  A sprawling network of arterial streets and urban space has been prioritized for fast driving.

The Comprehensive Plan and Rezoning process in Albuquerque is a big opportunity to shift the structure and direct the growth of our city.  Making a city that is safe for bicycling begins here.  This means focusing on quality and building places that endure.  Denser, mixed use development locates more destinations within easy reach of bicycle travel, and utilizes the bicycle’s agility, maneuverability and compact footprint to best advantage.  Incentivizing stronger transit systems through transit oriented development makes cars optional and delivers people within walking and bicycling distance (1-3 miles) from every destination.  Enabling people to move via high speed transit all over the city would help build a more connected and livable city.  Citizens can spend more time and allocate more resources for doing what they want to do, and spend less time and money on driving.  This frees us up to generate economic power.

Part of this sustainable urban revolution involves incorporating ecosystem vitality into social spaces.  “The interest in complete streets is part of a growing demand for retooling the rights-of-way in cities to reflect changing values that citizens have now,” says Clark Wilson, senior urban designer, with EPA’s Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation. “Federal departments and agencies are responding by, for instance, including criteria related to livability and sustainability. This approach not only addresses community values, but also is more fiscally sound because of multiple objectives being met with limited funding.” (quoted from Sustainable Streets)

Although the challenge of delivering broader benefits through the design of public spaces is daunting, the expansion in value and the benefit for the public generated by such efforts is worth it.  If we invest now we’ll get eightfold benefits down the road.  This is an economic development opportunity we can be ambitious about, something we can incentivize, a common challenge that unites people and restores nature.  The building blocks for sustainable cities are sustainable streets.  We’ll get better results if we change our view of streets and redesign them  to include all forms of human movement beginning with the indispensible ones, walking and bicycling.  We can create streets that intentionally deliver ecosystem services.  When can create streets to serve a robust economy that matures with connected, equitable, and safe communities.  We’ll spend more time being here rather than passing through.  We have an opportunity to accomplish something great as a generation, and embark on a path of discovery.

References:

The Centerlines newsletter from the National Center for Bicycling and Walking (bikewalk.org) is here:  http://www.bikewalk.org/newsletterarch2015.php

http://www.streetsblog.net/2015/12/01/bad-street-design-kills-people/#more-166214

Sustainable Streets https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/publicroads/11marapr/02.cfm

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/

Focus on Bicycling and Walking

The US DOT blog ran this headline last week.  “Collaboration the key to improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety.”  It was announcing the release of a report following up on the Road Safety Assessments that were performed across America with a focus on bike and pedestrian safety.  Here’s the report:  https://www.transportation.gov/ped-bike-safety/pedestrian-and-bicyclist-safety-assessment-report

As part of the Safer People, Safer Streets initiative, the FHWA partnered with local agencies and stakeholders all across the country to look at pedestrian and walking conditions, and reported back on what they found.  Their holistic approach cuts across disciplines and agency boundaries, building new communities of practice.   This effort is a strategic realignment, placing people at the center of transportation, not any one travel mode.  Bicycling and pedestrian facilities are key components of a complete transportation system.

The Federal Highway Administration has been working to establish a strategic agenda for advancing bicycling and walking transportation.  They’ve been developing resources, building recommendations and initiating projects to foster conversation and raise awareness around biking and walking transportation safety, access and choice.  This report gives a narrative of the effort so far and discusses projects under development and next steps forward.  It is a compendium of tools and resources for citizens, professionals and managers.

Here are some excerpts from the report.  Page numbers noted are from the PDF file.  Check out Appendix 4 of the report for a full list of resources and tools for active transportation.

“The assessments for the Secretary’s initiative focused on building relationships.” (p16)
“During the assessment, participants observed cyclists riding on the sidewalk rather than on the roadway, which while not prohibited in that area, could indicate that cyclists do not feel comfortable biking on the street.” (29)
“Comprehensively addressing a problem may require more than one approach, including both engineering and non-engineering solutions.” (35)
“Many agencies have an incomplete picture of the extent of the use of and demand for safe walking and bicycling facilities.” (37)
Many roadway designs, whether constructed decades ago or quite recently, have prioritized driver comfort and safety over pedestrian and bicyclist comfort and safety.  Observed characteristics of disconnected networks for non-motorists included: Wide, multi-lane roads, without pedestrian facilities such as a median refuge or high-quality bicycle facilities, that contribute to high speeds and increase risk of exposure for nonmotorized users. (20).

 

Improving on the Old Way of Doing Things

“The good news is the good old days were never the good old days.”  –Michael Bloomberg

La Luz moonrise over chamisa

“Roads are designed to move people…we have this unique method of transportation called walking…people are starting to ride their bikes more and more.”  “The only way to get people to respond to the good objectives of safety and sustainability is to explain to them why they today get a benefit by making the sacrifice.”  –Mike Bloomberg, 108th Mayor of New York and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Pino lean

“The evidence is catching up to the ethics.”  –Jim Yong Kim

Pino Trail ethics

‘Roads are designed to move people.  Focus on the movement of people.  Not just vehicles.’
‘We have to look at other ways to move people.’
‘Motor vehicle traffic hurts your economy.’
‘With increased pedestrian traffic, gross sales of businesses on the street level goes way up.’
‘You have to explain to people today what benefits they get from less traffic.’

Fly

Pino Trail fall woods

“Real innovations are low-cost and efficient.” –Andrew Steer, Pres. of World Resources Institute
“Transportation really is about people.”  –Jim Yong Kim, President of World Bank

Pino Trail on horseback

Pino Trail horsemounts

Pino riders

Pino family cycling

“The way we build our cities is about food security, health, education, it’s about everything we want to accomplish as a society.  Of course it is about sustainability…let’s start by focusing on transport.”  –Jim Yong Kim, World Bank from his conversation with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang

Pino Trail rust

Downtown cosmos

Ikebana October

Most of the quotes are from Shaping the Future of Urban Transport.  Pictures are from walks and bike rides on the Pino Trail, Pecos National Park, La Luz, and from gardens in Albuquerque.

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.

fascinating

light

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.

imprint

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

References:
Albuquerque + Bernalillo County’s two year long Comprehensive Planning and Zoning Code update process is detailed here at http://abc-zone.com/ .  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:
http://www.railstotrails.org/trailblog/

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:  http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/data/library/details.cfm?id=4348

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

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 cyclingnews.com

Elizabeth Armitstead winning Worlds, in the moment. Picture from cyclingnews.com

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

Credits:
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 cyclingnews.com and the second one is from https://www.tourofutah.com/about/mike-and-the-bike

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.

Resources:
Federal Highway Administration road diet guide:
http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/road_diets/info_guide/index.cfm
Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/publications/separated_bikelane_pdg/page00.cfm
Bicycle Safety Guide and Counter Measure Selection System
http://pedbikesafe.org/
Here’s the link again to the upcoming 12 part series on pedestrian safety by pedbikeinfo.org
http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/training/webinars_PSAP_countermeasurestrategies.cfm
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.

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.

Resources:

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.
http://vancouver.ca/green-vancouver/greenest-city-action-plan.aspx

The Daily Lobo’s article Central Rapid Transit Improves Commuter Flow
http://www.dailylobo.com/article/2015/09/plans-for-new-rapid-transit-system

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:

guignardposter-fall-2015-release

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.

bursting

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.

References:
A stunning story with great imagery, stats, and research on the San Juan Basin gas:
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/huge-methane-hotspot-american-southwest/

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:
http://utah-oil.com/

NM State planning:  http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/EnergyPolicy/
“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
http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/ECMD/

Jimmy’s blog:  https://pipelineroad7.wordpress.com/