Category Archives: Socioecological Dimensions of Bicycling

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.

Roads as Generators of Health

There’s a new guideline out for structuring the design of the built environment around the goal of cultivating health and wellness.  It is called The WELL Building Standard.  One of Albuquerque’s original innovators, Kris Callori at EDI Integrative Consulting, recently earned her WELL AP credential according to Albuquerque Business First’s People on the Move report.

bright array

Elena Gallegos paintbrush

The International WELL Building Institute is a public benefit corporation whose mission is to improve human health and well-being through the built environment.  WELL is a “fourth sector” organization.  They combine the organizational powers of corporations with the orientation of nonprofits by focusing their mission and goals on delivering benefits for the greater good.

Elena Gallegos paintbrush fire

You can download the WELL standards from their website.  Their work touches on the interface of buildings and the transportation system.  Transportation systems are one of the most influential parts of the built environment in terms of wellness and human health.  Can you imagine what it would be like if we built streets around walking and bicycling first?

Elena sprinkles

Indian Paintbrush array High Desert
Photos:  from a walk this Spring in the Sandia foothills above Albuquerque

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

Crescendo of Sunrise

Here are three photos of recent sunsets and four from today’s sunrise.

sunset

Sunset oh

Sunset tree

Dawn and mountain forms

Dawn eruption

Dawn

dawn glow

On Nathan’s ride yesterday we talked about the value of transportation corridors where people can feel comfortable and safe.  We need to relax and rejuvenate together.  Here’s an article by Tim Beatley that discusses the value of urban trails.  We are working to improve trails here.

“A well-developed urban trail system delivers substantial health benefits, helps to entice and tempt residents outside, and is recognized as a key positive attribute of quality of life. And it can provide important ecological connections and movement corridors for the many other species with which we share urban spaces.”  –from The Value of Urban Trails by Tim Beatley

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!)

 

Socioecological Dimensions of Bicycling Cities

The more I try to understand bicycling transportation the more nuanced my sense is of the connections to every other part of our lives, the complexity.  I just read an article that touches on this complexity.  It is called The Bicycle is a Catalyst for Nature Conservation and it appears on a nonprofit collaborative called The Nature of Cities that explores cities as ecosystems of people, nature and infrastructure.  It is not a perfect article but it gets better as it goes along and does a good job exploring.  We seem to be entering a fundamental shift in the way we think about our cities, from places environmentalists abhor and run away from, to being harbingers of the change towards more sustainable, equitable and connected ways of living.  In conserving nature we enable the conservation of humanity and discover more about ourselves.

Here’s a snapshot of organizing themes from the article, and a couple quotes:
_____________________________________________________________________

More bikes=more connectivity, awareness, compassion, and innovation
More bicycles = more space for nature
More bicycles = less pollution, more resources
More bikes = more environmental justice

“I recently visited a suburb of Johannesburg.  Ecologically dull, aesthetically grim, traffic congested, socially segregated, it is dominated by roads, car parks and shopping complexes—a superb example of bad urban planning, a suburb designed for cars not people. Yet it resembles much of the modern world—a world that is rapidly transforming through low-density car-infatuated urban sprawl.”

“Green infrastructure generates multiple ecosystem services that support human wellbeing including education, recreation, spiritual fulfilment, storm water absorption, climate regulation, and food production.”
_____________________________________________________________

We can plan, design, and build a more vibrant city if we set out to do that, and work together to produce the kind of results we envision are possible.  There are many points of light in this vision.  What we can realize is more than we have yet dared to imagine.  What would happen if we made walking and bicycling the fundamental organizing principles of cities?

Full article here:

http://www.thenatureofcities.com/2013/04/28/the-bicycle-is-a-catalyst-for-nature-conservation/