Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Albuquerque in 2035

Been poking my way through Mid-Region Council of Government's 2035 Metropolitan Transportation Plan and let me chime in on what I think it says about ABQ.

First, you know the development on the westside, southwest heights, and Rio Rancho?   Well, there's more of that in our future. Here's a quote:

By 2035 the projected level of growth combined with an imbalance between housing and
jobs will result directly, and indirectly, in:
  • a doubling of vehicle miles traveled per day from 16 million to 32 million
  • a leap in vehicle hours of delay from 400,000 to 1.5 million
  • one million daily trips across the Rio Grande (doubled from today)
  • a reduction in the labor markets captured for key employment centers
  • a compromised quality of life (which is often a key factor when employers are
  • choosing where to locate their businesses)
  • higher transportation costs which reduce housing affordability

Second, you think your commute sucks now?   Not much is gonna change.   And the only way to really keep it about the same is to improve the bus/train system.  Check it out:

Can We Build Our Way Out?
Preliminary analysis using the region’s travel demand model was performed to show the
magnitude of shift required from single-occupant vehicle (SOV) mode to transit modes in
order to meet the anticipated increase in river crossing demand. For example, in 2035
30 to 35 percent of travelers will need to be riding transit or using another non-SOV
mode to maintain reasonable vehicle speeds on Paseo del Norte. The other river
crossings showed similar results, reinforcing the need for projects that support reliable
people movement across the river.

Yep...good bye Single Occupancy Vehicles.

But now for some juicy bits about biking.  Let's start with this acknowledgment, "A significant challenge to increasing the use of alternative modes such as walking and bicycling is changing people’s perceptions, which in large part is accomplished through education efforts."   Right...let's end the perception that biking is not a viable way to get around our fair city.  It is.   The more of us who do it; the more the planners will design our roadways with us in mind.  

But this is not to say that biking/walking as it stands right now doesn't have some problems and pose some risks.   They write, "Safety is a considerable challenge because bicyclists and pedestrians take on
disproportionate risk with every trip, particularly in New Mexico and its urban areas."  Albuquerque doesn't compare favorably to other cities in bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities.  The report simply tells many of us what we already know, biking/walking is downright dangerous here.

The report really does contain a wealth of useful information about what getting around Albuquerque looks like and what it will look like.

What's guiding their decision making? It's nice to see that the Obama administration's Department of Transportation has implemented some forward thinking initiatives in regards to making cities more livable.

Ultimately, though, planning can only do so much.   The rest is up to us.   So talk to your county commissioner or city councilor and demand that our streets are safer for bikers and pedestrians, then park your car and enjoy the fresh air.

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