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Choose Your Own (Bar) Adventure

SFR's 2011 guide to navigating Santa Fe's nightlife

January 19, 2011, 1:00 am

Credits: Illustration by Adrian Hashimi

Going out, Getting down and going home…safely.

Both the City of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County have made great strides in adding and improving pedestrian and bicycle paths in the past few years. Hoofing it to catch a show or meet some friends for a few drinks is easier than ever. But just because you’re not hurtling through space in tons of metal, glass and plastic doesn’t mean you can throw safety and responsibility to the wind. According to the most readily available statistics, from 2008, 38 percent of fatally injured pedestrians age 16 and older had blood alcohol concentrations at or above 0.08 percent. That percentage rose to 53 percent after 9 pm. Only 14 percent of drivers involved in pedestrian deaths had as much alcohol in their systems. So drunk pedestrians walking in front of sober drivers can be as much of a problem as drunk divers hitting sober pedestrians. Remember two things: If you’re too drunk to drive, you’re probably drunk enough to be arrested for public drunkenness and, even on nice, well-lit sidewalks and trails, it’s best to walk with a friend, especially after dark.

Bike Riding
Pedal power is a near-ideal way to make the scene in Santa Fe, especially if you’re not straying too far out of town. Just remember that you’re still operating machinery, and Santa Fe’s uneven streets, strange curbs and rail tracks mean you need to keep your wits about you at all times. Bicycles have the right to use the roads because they’re legally defined as vehicles. That’s a double-edged sword because it means that, yes, you can be issued a DUI for riding your bike drunk. The state Department of Public Safety didn’t return a call inquiring whether or not current laws would strip a drunk bicyclist of his or her driver’s license. If you’re going to bicycle to bars, remember to have good, operable lights on the front and rear of the, er, vehicle, and always wear a helmet, preferably one without beers strapped to both sides.

The simple answer is, don’t do it. To gauge how many drinks you can have before you’re likely to hit the legal limit, check out our chart on page 19. But remember that such charts are only the roughest guidelines and there are many variables in determining blood alcohol content. If you’re going to drive, keep yourself well away from reaching the limit—there’s a level of drunkenness where you’re subject to legal charges when driving, but your judgement and coordination is probably compromised before you hit that point. This is one case where it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry.

In a perfect world, public transportation would be the best way get your reckless on and still be safe and sane. We’re lucky to have the bus system that we do, but budget cuts have taken a toll on its usefulness for the nightlife crowd. Last November, weekday buses that used to operate until
11 pm dropped an hour and now stop at 10 pm. If you’re going from downtown to the south side, that means you’ll have to catch your bus shortly after 9 pm. Saturday buses stop even earlier, and don’t get us started on Sundays and holidays. If you like to drink in the afternoon and go to bed early, you’re all set.

Grabbing a cab is the best way to go if you have some distance to cover and don’t have any sober friends to lean on. Capital City Cab does a stand-up job, and cabbies are generally on the prowl at closing time. Still, there’s only so many of them so, if you’re planning on taking a taxi, it’s best to call and order one well in advance (think 40 minutes)—you can stand on a corner in Santa Fe for days without a cab just happening by. Santa Fe County’s CADDy program subsidizes rides on Friday and Saturday between 5:30 pm-2:30 am: Cab rides for one or two people are a flat fee of $5 and rides for three or more are $10. To use CADDy, call 995-9528 and don’t forget to tip the driver. We think there’s room for another cab company in Santa Fe—maybe one with an after-hours specialty, and we’re hoping it’ll be a fleet of alternative energy tuk-tuks, possibly powered by the alcohol-rich breath of the passengers.

By far the most stylish way to bar crawl in downtown Santa Fe, pedicabs are easy to spot loitering near downtown bars, and they’re happy to take you as far as, well, the Railyard. It’s lovely to hop in the back with a friend and watch some fit young thing port you about, but the range is sadly limited. Would it help if we added pedals for the passengers? As with a regular cab, don’t forget to tip your pedicab operator. To make a reservation, call 577-5056.

Designated Driver
If you know you’re going out and you know you’re going to drink, the designated driver is the all-around winner. We know it sucks to be the one to corral your blind-drunk friends and remind them that, no, they don’t want to hook up with their ex or pee off the balcony at Koi but, on the other hand, it can be entertaining and, in the era of Facebook and Instagram, you can get immediate revenge. On the other hand, prudence might suggest retaining embarrassing photos and video for future blackmail use.

In lieu of teleportation, which the Chinese are working on, Santa Fe could obviously use some innovative, late-night transportation options. But in the meantime, we’ve got to work with what we’ve got and please, everyone, be smart and be careful out there.

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