Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Albuquerque vents as teenager fights for his life

The news this morning of a 16 year old cyclist getting hit and then dragged 50 feet by a van driver, who didn't realize he hit the cyclist and stopped because he thought he had a flat tire, was pretty upsetting. As NM bicycle commuters know all too well, Albuquerque drivers are notoriously bad drivers. Case in point: Allstate Insurances "America's Best Drivers Report." Albuquerque is ranked 76 out of 193 metro areas (in case you're wondering the worst is our nation's capitol). Another case in point: Albuquerque Drivers Blog. Don't tell this to Mr. Glen Rosales, Columnist for the Albuquerque Journal. Rosales thinks "Albuquerque is one darn bike-friendly town" (column below). Gosh-darn it!

News of the critically injured bike rider generated 46 comments at the news article webpage. Some comments were thoughtful and encouraging, and other comments typified the ages old confrontation between vehicle drivers and bicycle riders, some equally sharing in stupidity.

Concerned Citizen posts:
I am surprise we don't see more stories involving bicyclist in the news. I personally have had to slam my brakes because they do not follow the law of the road...They run stop signs, red lights, get into the lane of traffic without looking or announcing their intention.
Brutally Honest posts:
They [bicyclists] are a menance on the road to cars and a danger on sidewalks to walkers.
Cyclist-Motorists posts:
I'm TIRED of the "I didn't see him" excuse. It's not an excuse. We motorists are SUPPOSED to be WATCHING the road, our surroundings, etc. At least that's what they taught me in Driver's Education 50+ years ago...
Cyclist and Driver posts:
Cyclists are like any stereotyped group - some are considerate, follow the rules, and work hard to ride well with other traffic while some don't. Some drivers work hard to drive well with other traffic and are safe and considerate while others don't. The point is we're all people who can be safer if we look out for each other and avoid getting aggressive towards others on the road - whether we're pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, autombile or truck drivers.
WeNotMe posts in response to Concerned Citizen:
Yeah, it should be completely legal to hit and kill a bicyclist if they aren't following the law because we said so! I also should be able to shoot you if you're pissing me off.
Albuquerque is the least bike friendly town I've ever seen.
Sick of Elitist Cyclists posts:
Sure, bud. We are spending millions for your stupid hobby by widening roads, restriping roads, pointless public service announcements, etc. But it is still not enough for your ilk. Move to Portland, if this city isn't bike friendly enough.
... And so and so forth.

After reading these posts you just want to run out your front door and jump on your bike and hit the roads, no? One thing for sure, I'll see you brave souls early tomorrow morning at the Railrunner. Wear your helmets and watch out for Sick of Elitist Cyclists and WeNotMe; them dudes roll with bad Karma.


Duke City's a hotbed for cycling enthusiasts

By Glen Rosales
For the Journal
Folks around the country are slowly becoming aware of what many in the local cycling community already know: Albuquerque is one darn bike-friendly town.
With more than 400 miles of bike paths, trails and lanes — twice that of New York City — the Duke City is a crown jewel for cyclists. It recently drew the attention of a blogger for the online Erik Smillie listed Albuquerque among the top-10 burgeoning bike scenes in North America.
“With mountain trails in the Sandia range next door and flat roads in the city, Albuquerque has options along with its near-constant sunshine,” he wrote.
The weather is just one of myriad reasons that such bike-friendly feelings are so pervasive and why the League of American Bicyclists lists Albuquerque as the third most-friendly bicycle city in its population group, behind Portland, Ore., and Austin.
As Smillie noted, there's proximity to top-notch mountain biking trails. City routes crisscross and bisect Albuquerque, providing commuters with plenty of variety. City buses are equipped with bicycle holders. And even the Rail Runner train has the means to transport bikes.
Then there's the 16-mile Bosque Trail along the river and the new Silver bike boulevard, both of which add significantly to the positive cycling experience.
The bike boulevard along Silver was, in particular, a coup for Albuquerque cyclists, said Ben Savoca, vice president of the advocacy group BikeABQ. The boulevard travels Silver beginning at San Mateo in the east to 14th Street just west of Downtown. It then bends north to Mountain, then follows that west to connect with the Bosque Trail.
Although cars can still use the route, the speed limit has been significantly reduced and signage along the way gives cyclists the right to use the main traffic lanes, providing a relatively safe haven to ride, Savoca said.
“We're really proud of it,” he said. “It's a place where anyone can bicycle, regardless of their skill level. You don't have to worry about traffic speeding by you at 50 miles per hour.”
It's an idea that has been in the works for several years and was just recently implemented, Savoca said.
That's the way many of the current amenities cyclists enjoy began.
Stephen Williamson, a longtime Albuquerque rider, said the city has come a long way in a fairly short amount of time.
“We have some great advocacy groups here,” said Williamson, who owns and operates Active Knowledge, an organization that uses cycling and multisport adventures as a means of building character and esteem. “The city has a wonderful bicycle and pedestrian program that they're going into the schools with, teaching bike safety.”
It wasn't too long ago, however, when things were far more dangerous for a cyclist, he said.
“When I first got here, I had bottles thrown at me. I had guns and knives drawn on me,” Williamson said. “That doesn't happen too often anymore. Fifteen, 20 years ago, it was like I was an alien on the street. People would look at me as if I was crazy. I would ride the trails and be the only one out there. Now you can see 50 or 60 riders in one hour.”
Charlie Ervin, owner and operator of Two-Wheel Drive, has been part of the bike scene in the city for more than 30 years and was on the Greater Albuquerque Recreational Trails Committee in the 1990s, helping shape the city's current status.
“The ideas and things that we started discussing years ago are finally starting to happen,” he said. “It takes years for these things to finally happen.”
He traces a lot of the progress to the gas shortages that occurred in the early 1970s, and everything has finally come to fruition in the past decade or so.
“I think the city is doing a good job of finding funding and doing things with that money that really benefits the community,” Ervin said. “I think we're one lucky bunch of bike riders.”

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