Thursday, November 25, 2010

Biker's Beware

Bikers Beware:   City Plans to Balance Budget by Citing Bicyclists
                After 5 years of making the arduous trek in my car to CNM’s WS campus, this summer I was transferred to Main Campus, an easy bike commute.   To mark the occasion, I donated my piece of crap CO2 spewing Ford Escort to KUNM and became a biker.
                Years ago the thought of giving up my car and relying on my bike was about as abhorrent an idea as listening to a born-again preacher ramble on about how much Jesus loves me and by the way vote Republican while being stoned.   But in the last 5 years, while I was learning the intricacies of Albuquerque’s very bad corporate radio stations, the city has become way more bike friendly.  
                So there I am on my dinner hour, riding up Silver (the Bicycle Boulevard), rolling up to Cornell,  making sure I am the only one at the 4-Way stop, and then riding through the stop sign when I get told to pull over into the alley by two bicycle cops who were staked out right there.   The first cop informs me that I ran the stop sign and that bikes are supposed to follow the same laws as cars.  He goes on to inform me that he’s only out there doing this because the Mayor’s office has gotten a lot of complaints lately about bikers not obeying the traffic laws.   He also basically stated that they were going to be out there every day for the next couple of weeks so I should warn other bikers what they were up to.  Consider yourself warned. 
                Twenty minutes later I’m looking at my two warning notices and wondering a couple of things:  one, evidently there isn’t enough crime in the city to keep these two fit, professional cops busy, and two, why are there so many stop signs on Silver?   If Silver is really supposed to be a bicycle boulevard, the major east-west thoroughfare for bikers, than shouldn’t it actually be conducive for biking?   I know they’ve labeled it and have changed the speed limit to 18 miles per hour, but that’s not enough.  
                During rush hour in a car, I can travel up and down Coal and/or Lead at 30 miles per hour and only have to stop at San Mateo, Carlisle, and University.   On Central at roughly 6 PM, I can make the same trek and if I’m lucky not even have to stop.  Yet, the bicycle boulevard has a stop sign roughly every 4 blocks.   Now, I can actually see the logic of stopping at University, Yale, Girard, Carlisle, Washington, and San Mateo, but can someone actually tell me why I should have to stop at Buena Vista, Cornell, Stanford, Princeton, Richmond, Amherst, Hermosa, Solano, Aliso, Morningside and Monroe?   Having to obey traffic laws on this bike boulevard is akin to riding a roller coaster where you never get to go down.  It’s accelerate up the hill.  Stop.   Accelerate up the hill.  Stop.  Accelerate up the hill.   Stop.  It makes absolutely no sense, yet this is where we’re supposed to be biking?
                So what to do?  Well, maybe the solution would be to ignore Silver?  If we’re supposed to obey traffic laws and thus under the blind eyes of Lady Justice are essentially cars then maybe we should just start traveling up Central or Lead/Coal and actually take up a lane like a car?   Cause if the purpose of traveling up Silver is to create a safe, bike friendly route that is efficient then Silver isn’t quite there yet.
                As a warning the next time you pull up behind a biker on Central and want to curse the biker out because they are obeying the law and slowing you down, thank the Mayor.  Evidently, he's so worried about the city's budget woes he's stopping bicycles for not stopping.  That's right.  He's issuing citations to bicyclists.

November 4, 2010

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