January 14, 2012

albuquerque turning anti cyclist?

Below is a letter from an Alb cyclist and the response from Aziza Chavez, Policy Analyst-Councilor Alb NM.

This response reminds me of the recent crackdown on cyclists along Tramway Blvd. I'm really tired of "health and safety" being used as an excuse to strip citizens' rights. Cyclists can and do make choices with our "life, health and safety in mind." We do not need the city to do that for us. If the City wants to actually do something about protecting our "life, health and safety" I would suggest, for starters, putting up sings indicating "No Cell Phone" and enforcing the law against cell phone use while driving. Enforce the speed limit. Educate drivers and hold them accountable for their mistakes. Educating cyclists and hold them accountable for their mistakes is also part of what it will take to improve safety of all road users.

Bicycles are being pushed from one bad situation to another. Now avoiding the poor section of the MUP will require a detour on Jefferson and the Pan American Frontage road. I think Chappell is probably safer than that.

Albuquerque purports to being a bicycle friendly community and supporting multi-modal transportation options. This position completely flies in the face of that. Arbitrarily restricting access to City streets, for nothing more than the convenience of a very few commercial users, without due process or consideration for all the factors affecting all rightful road users is simply unacceptable. This sets a very bad precedent and the cycling community will not rest until the signs are removed and the City reconsiders it's position on this issue.

I strongly urge the City to reconsider its position on this matter and choose to do something that will actually make a difference.

The letter starts here:
Mayor Berry, Councilor Jones,

I am writing to you due to my concerns about the installation of "no bicycles" signage on Chappell between Singer and Osuna. There are several problems with this situation not the least of which is that it is contrary to ordinance stating bicycles are legal vehicles on the road:
(A) Operators of bicycles have the same rights as operators of automobiles in the use of streets, highways and roadways within the city, except as otherwise specifically provided herein.

(B) Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be subject to all the duties applicable to the drivers of motor vehicles, except as otherwise expressly provided in this Traffic Code and except as to those provisions of laws and ordinances which by their nature can have no applications; and each such person shall be subject to the same provisions and sections of this Traffic Code to which a motorist is subject.('74 Code, § 9-5-16.5) (Ord. 65-1974; Am. Ord. 19-2007; Am. Ord. 37-2008)

Further, there is no indication that a meaningful "engineering traffic investigation" as called for in the ordinance governing the placement of such restrictions actually occurred. Banning bicycles from this public street was undertaken as the first course of action. What about education? What about enforcement? There are other ways to address the issue that were not utilized. No input from the cycling community was taken, and GABAC, a long standing City committee that deals with bicycle issues was not consulted. The MUP that parallels Chappell is far from ideal. There is no controlled crossing at Singer, forcing cyclists to dodge traffic to cross as best they can. Even worse, the crossing at Osuna requires navigating a crosswalk that puts cyclists in the path of oncoming vehicles turning left as well as vehicles from the rear turning right. As highlighted by the unfortunate death of Scott Lane this week only 1/4 mile east of the Osuna/Chappell intersection getting across Osuna, and bike access in general in that area, requires significant improvement.

Most simply it appears this signage was placed at the request of the industrial business along Chappell with complete disregard for the rights and needs of other road users - the streets of Albuquerque to do not exist simply for the convenience and at the control of commercial users. The businesses along Chappell need to learn to "Share the Road", it is not their private domain.

This was the response to the letter:
Ms. Chavez: I have reviewed the ordinance (§8-1-2-15) and confirmed that DMD complied with its requirement. In accordance with §8-1-2-15, a competent registered engineer from DMD went to investigate the location and determined that the road was unsafe for both uses. While I am sympathetic to the inconvenience of the bicyclists, I believe life, health and safety trumps convenience. In light of the tragedies involving motor vehicles and bicyclists in the last two years, it was appropriate for DMD to take this action. Please let me know if there are any questions. David Tourek

Aziza Chavez
Policy Analyst-Councilor Trudy Jones Albuquerque City Council District 8 Phone: 768-3106 E-mail:

Response of the cyclist:
Thank you for getting back to me, does this "investigation" meet the requirements of a "traffic engineering investigation" and if so where can the public acquire a copy of the details and documentation? Where was this investigation reviewed and ratified? Why was GABAC not consulted or involved? This is simply someone taking unilateral action without due process or consideration for all the factors affecting all rightful users. I agree that life, health, and safety are the critical factors, but what you are saying is that the convenience of commercial users trumps the rights of other road users. If life and safety truly were a priority the intersections at Singer and Osuna would be addressed to make them safer and more viable for cyclists. The individual(s) responsible for this action are simply taking the easy way out by denying access to legal road users without investing any effort on their behalf. Claiming life, health, and safety does not absolve the investigator from performing due diligence and finding solutions that accommodate all users. What is the plan to address the issues with that area that results in Chappell being the most desirable route? It is unacceptable to consider placing "no bicycle" signage the final answer, it is NOT a solution and only serves the agenda of a single user.

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