Category Archives: multimodal outlook

The Quiet Catastrophe

Door to Door by Edward Humes book cover“He ultimately makes clear that transportation is one of the few big things we can change—our personal choices do have a profound impact.”  —book review of Door to Door

Edward Humes has a book out today called Door to Door. The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation.  There’s an essay introducing the book in The Atlantic.  A main theme is the high prices we are paying for cars.  Knowledge about the cost of cars is critical to understand, yet somehow it alludes our conscious grasp.  Jim McNamara, a sergeant with the California Highway Patrol, says the car problem is “massive but diffuse. Whether it’s climate change or car crashes, if the problem doesn’t show itself all at once—as when an airliner goes down with dozens or hundreds of people on board—it’s hard to get anyone’s attention.”
Here are some quick facts.

  • since 9/11 more than 400,000 men, women, and children have died on America’s roads
  • California Highway Patrol spends 80% of their time responding to car crashes
  • MIT calculates that 53,000 Americans die prematurely every year from vehicle pollution
  • Car crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 1 and 39
  • each week car crashes take American lives at a rate equivalent to four airliner crashes

What do we do?  Change our perspective on driving.  Status quo fixes like adding traffic lanes “only attracts more cars.  It’s called the rule of induced demand and it’s like trying to solve overeating by loosening your belt,” Humes writes.  We can start by taking driving more seriously. Gone are the days when driving seemed carefree.  Building local scale economies for food and energy and simplifying our lives helps.  Think of this as opportunity for innovation.

Resources:  Edward Humes’ website has several press releases on his new book.
http://www.edwardhumes.com/
Facts and quotes for this blog post are from:
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/04/absurd-primacy-of-the-car-in-american-life/476346/
https://hbr.org/2016/04/why-the-future-of-e-commerce-depends-on-better-roads

the good outing we had Sunday at Golden Open Space stays with me for days

good outings, like Sunday’s walk at Golden Open Space, stay with me for days.  Still snow on the Sandias

Mobility as An Inclusive and Sustainable Concept

“Transportation in the world today is on the cusp of a major revolution.”  –Jim Hackett,  chairman of Ford Smart Mobility LLC, in Ford’s announcement of this new venture

“The world is becoming more crowded and urbanized, air quality is a global issue, and customer preferences are changing rapidly.  The Ford Smart Mobility plan was established…to address these trends and to make people’s lives better.”  —Ford Smart Mobility LLC press release

Ford is leading the auto industry in becoming more than about selling cars.  They’re adapting to the changing circumstances of our times by opening up to a more inclusive concept of mobility, akin to traditional energy companies investing in renewables.  This evolution of business strategy is about responding to social demands, staying relevant, and getting out on the leading edge.  According to George Will’s column in the Washington Post, car ownership is declining among young U.S. adults and Americans are driving less.  The average new car loan is huge, $28,000.  China is the largest market for new cars now, surpassing the U.S. and Europe.

The smart mobility concept follows Silicon Valley’s approach to technology.   Like social media technology serves to develop human conversation and increase sharing, mobility is being seen as a way to better connect human communities.  Before joining Ford, Jim Hackett, Ford Mobility’s chairman, was involved in shifting office environments from isolated cubicles to an open space system where employees had more freedom to choose where they worked, more stimulating social interactions, and increased opportunities for learning and collaboration.

As we evolve mobility in America, it is important to connect our changing experience with the world.   In China, the lure of the car as a status symbol seems as powerful as it was here in the 1950’s.  In a NY Times article, a Chinese consumer explains that life without a car is viewed as intolerable.   “It’s so that we don’t have to walk,” he said.  But we know cars work best as part of a broad and diverse portfolio of transportation choices.  For sustainability, cars have to compliment the most intelligent, simple and efficient transportation systems we know of, walking and bicycling.  And focus on giving everyone access to economic opportunity, social mobility, and healthier lives.  Communities with examples of how to do this will be in high demand and positioned to have a profound impact on shared prosperity on a global scale.

References:
Automakers Expanding in China May Soon Face Weakening Demand, by Keith Bradsher,
NYTimes, March 28
Car Automakers Redefine Mobility Again?  by George F. Will, Washington Post, March 23
Ford Smart Mobility LLC Established to Develop, Invest in Mobility Services; Jim Hackett Named Subsidiary Chairman, in Ford Media, March 11, 2016, Dearborn, Michigan

the built environment at Salinas Pueblo Missions was a blend of Puebloan and Spanish

the architecture at Salinas Pueblo Missions joined Puebloan and Spanish styles to create a new blend

 

Bicycles in the American Tradition

“It’s completely clear to me that we’re in a midst of a total revolution in the way we get around…the street does not belong to the car, it has to be shared, get used to it.”
–Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, interview in 2012

The bicycle is the most common vehicle used in the world.  In America we are emerging from an era where “development of a transportation infrastructure focused almost exclusively on the private motor car” (from FHWA, A Recommended Approach for Accommodating Bicycle and Pedestrian Travel).  With movements such as New Mexico Complete Streets and multimodal transportation planning, we are seeing an unprecedented amount of collaboration across sectors and between disciplines and communities to change the built environment and diversify mobility culture.  The result is a disruption of the status quo and more equity in transportation, and the emergence of a bold movement toward active transportation and a culture of health.

Bicycles have been here all along, but are becoming more visible now.  To a lot of people seeing bicycles using the road looks different.  It reminds me of the acting cast of the Broadway Musical Hamilton which recasts Alexander Hamilton’s story with black and Latino actors.

In an interview on Charlie Rose, Ron Chernow, the musical’s historical advisor and popular author of American history, said:  ‘When I sat down to watch Hamilton, I thought my God all the actors are black and Latino.  What is the director doing?  But then watching the show I forgot what race or ethnicity they were.  The show is showing us who we are now.  Historically, people felt excluded from America.  This show is one of the greatest advertisements for diversity we’ve ever had.  It announces the arrival of a new generation in American life…this is the new face of America…and the beautiful thing is this new face of America, people who might have felt excluded before, have embraced American history.’  America’s inclusion and accommodation of diversity and expansion of our values is our greatest ongoing story propelling us forward toward a more perfect union.

For all Americans to have equal opportunity at a healthy life, it is important that we include active transportation choices in our everyday roads for routine travel to work, school and extracurricular activities.  To embrace diversity of travel modes on our roads is to help usher in positive change.  Health is a palpable kind of wealth that can easily be shared and there is no limit for how much of it there is to go around.  We are redefining life on the road.  It feels good.

Daveed Digs, who plays Thomas Jefferson in the theatrical musical production Hamilton, says about his experience on the show.  ‘This is the only time I’ve ever felt particularly American…it gives value to whoever you are…This show says you are part of the history of this country, what you are doing is leading up to the next moment.’–on Charlie Rose, The Cast of Hamilton (worth listening to!)

picture setting

view of Salinas Pueblo Missions monument, a place that stirs the imagination

CenterLines, the Active Transportation Digest

CenterLines, the National Center for Bicycling and Walking’s biweekly news bulletin, covers current developments in the world of active transportation in North America.  It’s a one stop source for all things bicycling and walking and more.  If you’re just beginning to investigate active transportation, an experienced professional, or somewhere in between, CenterLines is a smorgasbord of opportunities, ideas, and ways to make new connections.  It covers research, policies, events, conferences, job listings, trainings, news and ways to get involved.  Here are a couple content examples from the most recent CenterLines issue published on March 23.

* Health Impacts of Active Transportation in Europe
This study measured the health impact of increased bicycling and walking in six European cities.  Increases in cycling to 35% of all trips improved health the most of all the scenarios analyzed in the study.  The research team concluded that “Increased collaboration between health practitioners, transport specialists and urban planners will help to introduce the health perspective in transport policies and promote active transportation” for substantial benefits.

* The International Mtn. Biking Assocation (IMBA) World Summit is in Bentonville, AR
November 10-12, 2016 Arkansas welcomes the IMBA summit, which gathers together mountain bikers, public land stewards, the business community and advocates of all kinds.  I was just in Arkansas visiting my grandmother and it is an incredible place to bicycle (blog posts here).  When IMBA came to Santa Fe in 2012 the local scene “got discovered.”  Certainly Northwest Arkansas will experience a similar recognition for their beautiful countryside and the way local communities have wholeheartedly embraced cycling as a way to explore the Natural State.

*CenterLines has a Quotes R Us section.  “Our ultimate goal is to improve the economic and environmental health of American communities and the personal health of the people who live there.  To achieve this, we will reconnect America with trails in the same way that railroads once connected people and places.”  –Keith Laughlin, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy President

CenterLines is free, published online and open to the general public.  It is a good place to start and come back to when you want to grow your understanding of the quickly expanding frontiers of the active transportation world.  The presentation is not flashy, but the content is deep, diverse, and leading edge.  The National Center for Bicycling and Walking is my Bike Org. of the Month for March 2016.  Keep up the important work that you are doing.  Arigato.

benches

Spring bloom outside of Mesa Vista Hall on the main campus of UNM in central Albuquerque

Investing in People with Bus Rapid Transit

“Developers gravitate toward places where they see investment happening.”
–Lillian Kuri, on Cleveland’s Health Line

On March 21 Albuquerque City Council voted 7-2 to launch the Bus Rapid Transit project on Central Avenue, our historic main street.  The debate surrounding this big change was passionate.  The project aligns with core economic values by increasing efficiency in the transportation system, and reducing the per capita transportation footprint.  Transit oriented development is a creative process for structuring development around connecting people, creating inclusive economic growth, reshaping the City’s form and updating plans for the future.

Realizing the game changing impacts of this project depends on how well we embrace the opportunities.  If we move forward with a spirit for advancing common goals by leveraging transit’s benefits, Bus Rapid Transit can promote cultural and economic growth, ecological stability and integrity, and a healthier and forward looking City renowned for its vibrancy and innovation.  Here are a few opportunities Bus Rapid Transit on Central opens up.

  • Street ergonomics improve by tailoring infrastructure to support essential mobility freedom and efficiency for people, with traffic flow structured on pedestrian movements
  • Improving public health and pleasure by generating walking during routine daily activities
  • Opportunity for retooling the way construction, transportation and development are done
  • Creates jobs and trains a skilled workforce for sustainable development that can be scaled
  • Sets a leading example as New Mexico’s largest city for sustainable urban development and lifts the quality of experiences for public life in shared spaces, with health at the center
  • Enables ABQ to welcome more population growth without adding traffic congestion
  • Increases connectivity and mobility in our City while reducing car dependency

Welcome ART, ABQ Rapid Transit!  This is an historic moment for Albuquerque.  I’ve been writing consistently about sustainable urban development.  Here are a few blog posts and quotes.

“[the] City is looking forward, not backward.”
“Public works projects…catalyze a cultural shift in thinking about what kinds of policies and infrastructure we should be investing in.”
Reflecting Emerging Values in the Built Environment, September 3, 2015

“Leading edge transit is an integral aspect of the new American dream.”
“A transportation CEO would see this is as easy executive decision to make.  It’s…efficient..”
The Mystery of Albuquerque’s Development, September 18, 2015

“Quality of place is important too — numerous surveys have shown that the physical and intangible features of a city are associated with higher levels of happiness and better health.”
Health and Transportation in Cities, December 11, 2015

“We have to imagine a revitalization of Central Ave. that invites more businesses and people in”.
Land Use Planning and Better Walking and Bicycling, January 21, 2016

sprinkles

Spring is blooming in Albuquerque

Changing Perceptions of Our Streets

I found a good example of model language for a community wide vision for complete streets from Change Lab Solutions, “law and policy innovation for the common good”.   We are in the public comment phase now for the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Comprehensive Planning and Zoning update process.  Now is a good time to chime in.  Here’s an example of what kinds of changes citizens can ask for pertaining to the way we structure our city going forward:

Transportation Vision Statement: The community of Albuquerque envisions a transportation system that encourages healthy, active living, promotes transportation options and independent mobility, increases community safety and access to healthy food, reduces environmental impact, mitigates climate change, and supports greater social interaction and community identity by providing safe and convenient travel along and across streets through a comprehensive, integrated transportation network for pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation riders and drivers, push scooters and skateboarders, and people of all ages and abilities, including children, youth, families, older adults, and individuals with disabilities.

The technical know how for designing complete streets is here.  We know how to empower the movement of people beyond private automobiles.  Here’s a good example of how we do that at a detailed level, from intersection design to lane widths and signal timing:
http://www.ite.org/css/online/DWUT10.html

We do that, we might be able to improve healthspan, a concept that combines longevity with quality of life.  Doug Seals is doing a talk at CU, Boulder on healthspan.   My work focuses on this intersection of health, transportation, and the opportunities to make improvements.  Supporting health in the environment and people is a mutual goal that takes care of our greatest economic assets, a healthy planet and a healthy happy empowered humankind.

piñon stand

Resources Focused on Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety

Here are a trio of resources for improving roads.  These are good tools for connecting communities together around caring for safer roads.  Now’s the time for responsible action.

Safer People, Safer Streets: Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Initiative  by the USDOT
Everyday Counts
initiative by the FHWA Center for Innovation
FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act), America’s five year transportation bill

In December 2015 Congress passed Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), a five year bill that increases funding for bicycle and pedestrian safety education, awareness, and enforcement. The FAST Act allocates additional funding for the purpose of decreasing pedestrian and bicycle fatalities and injuries that result from crashes involving a motor vehicle to States where the annual combined pedestrian and bicycle fatalities exceed 15 percent of the total annual crash fatalities in the State.  Of 20 States eligible for this additional funding, 6 are in the Southwest U.S., AZ, CA, UT, NV, NM, and TX.  Funding may be used for “training of law enforcement officials on State laws applicable to pedestrian and bicycle safety; enforcement mobilizations and campaigns designed to enforce State traffic laws applicable to pedestrian and bicycle safety; and public education and awareness programs designed to inform motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists of State traffic laws applicable to pedestrian and bicycle safety.”

The road diet program in Everyday Counts helps reconfigure roadways to encourage or accommodate a wider array of transportation modes.  It simplifies operation and helps to calm traffic, making it a more inviting place for everyone.  Crashes are reduced by 19 to 47 percent.

The Safer People, Safer Streets initiative has a family of programs including the Mayors’ Challenge, Road Safety Assessments, and Road Safety for Transit Patrons.  I’ve participated in two Road Safety Assessments in New Mexico and hope to do more and apply our knowledge.

There is also a Focused Approach To Safety program where eligible States may receive “technical assistance such as data analysis and action plan development from initiation to implementation; training and associated materials in a variety of formats, including classroom-based workshops or online webinars; support for a wide range of analysis tools and countermeasures”.  New Mexico is a focus State for pedestrian and bicycle safety.

statemap_fas2015

Looking forward to keeping you updated as we work with these programs.

Delicious Piñon Day

Saturday’s ride turned out to be an absolute gem.  I started out late and missed the group ride, but that turned out to work in my favor.  I took it slow and instead of feeling rushed I was enjoying being in the flow.  I was in a timefree zone all day.  Coming down Tramway I saw this balloon land.  And then on 313 north to Bernalillo I passed about 35-40 riders, a meet up group called the “cycling peeps.”  Mai discovered them online the other day.  They are an all women group with about 300 members.  No website, no complicated clubs, just an online meet up network dedicated to connecting for a common interest, bicycling beautiful New Mexico.

early morning shadow

E Mtn Sign

ABQ peeps

The day was glorious.  High sixties, light breezes, and a crystalline sky.  The warming air coupled with moist soil draws out the fragrances of the biosphere.  Normally a day this warm would be alarming for the evaporation rate but the USDA says the snowpack is above normal.   Just a good day to relax and enjoy.  I decided to take the long route to San Felipe, then east.

crazy road

Cliff hugger

La Madera long view

Days like this epitomize why I love cycling in the Southwest.  I saw a youth soccer game on a field in San Felipe.  I looked for the herd of wild horses on the Hagan road but they must have been higher in the mountains today.  And after doing the nice loop around the Sandia mountains I climbed the Crest highway a little.  I went to mile nine.  When I turned around I could see clear to the snow covered mountains that rise above the sagebrush plains of Taos.  Great day.

dip in the road

William's road

bajada

Here’s the map from Strava:  https://www.strava.com/activities/492845078/embed/af925c6e552eb7159ff033943b5ff145360e654c

Late Winter Skies

I’ve been riding a lot this week taking advantage of an ease in weather, passing through Tijeras canyon between the Sandia and Manzano ranges, and breaking out into the open country of the piñon and juniper sprinkled east mountains.  At its best, Albuquerque has a feel of being a small community, but also a rural city, enmeshed in a perimeter made of open spaces and mountain vistas, and interlinked with agriculture, pueblos, and country living via green corridors.  To bicycle out into these unique spaces of the American West is simply wonderful.

San Pedro long view

piñon tree round

San Pedro lone Ponderosa tree

Yesterday I took a route through Cedar Grove, breathing in the cleansing scent of pine, admiring the long view north toward the white capped Pecos Wilderness, the Jemez, and the Sangre de Cristos.  Country manners prevail on the road as hands go up to extend greetings between passersby.  The spaces draw my imagination out and I become all breathing and legs.

lookng to Pecos near Cedar Grove

Gutierrez edge lines

Sandia range from the eastside

Sign

These landscapes at the wild, rural and urban interface are an important part of urban sustainability.  The open country of the east mountains, the agriculture in the south and north valleys, the pueblos, are all integral in a healthy culture that recognizes value in diversity.  Out here I am at a lose for words but my mind opens to an intelligence beyond human making, one that endures in the land itself.  My heart beats to the rhythm of a continuous renewal of life.

Loving Land from the City

“This is our world, where our health is woven together with biotic communities in a shared environment, and it is so clearly evident at Tahoe.”
–Peter Goin, Using Lake Tahoe photographs to blend art and science, UNR Nevada Today news

Living in the American West makes noticing the unique characteristics of place inescapable.  There are usually mountains rimming town and in most places piercing sun and deep blue sky.  The air is dry and water is rare and valuable.  In Phoenix, Arizona there is a bicycle club with a long tradition of sewing together people’s health with the lay of the Sonoran Desert lands.  They’re putting on a great race next weekend called the Valley of the Sun (VOS) stage race.

It is amazing how deep racing goes.  Included in the festivities is a Hand Cycling race.  “VOS has  been chosen by the United States Olympic Committee, U.S. Paralympics Cycling as one of six events in the US to complete a U.S. Paralympics Cycling Series. The goal of this series is to provide public awareness of health benefits and sport opportunities for those with spinal cord injury.”  VOS also has a kids bike race, rodeo, and safety clinic.  More information here:

Kids Bike Race, Rodeo, and Safety Clinic
Hand Cycle Race and Learn to Ride Clinic
All the events can be viewed at wmrc.org/

Every year volunteers from the White Mtn. Road Club put on the VOS series and it draws racers and spectators from all over the country.  The level of community involvement and deep knowledge of the growth of bicycling in the Phoenix metro region in that organization is phenomenal.  I was a fortunate enough to be a member for a couple of years and now I stay interlinked through strong bonds even from 500 miles away.  Bicycling makes one big family.

The White Mountain Road Club is my bike org of the month for January 2016.  Thanks for the work that you do!
____________

Here are a few photos from rides in the Sandia and Manzano ranges this weekend.  The strong El Niño is ebbing for now and the sun is out and the high country is becoming more accessible.  I start and end all my ABQ rides from home.   I am looking forward to the season.

rock cut

woven road S14

Bighorn

S14 tree

double pine on Sandia Road