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Bike to Work Week: The Survey (Updated)

May 11, 2009, 12:00 am
By Corey Pein
Hot on the heels of SFR's own commuter survey, the Santa Fe Metropolitan Planning Organization is out with a two-page survey, geared mainly at cyclists and timed to Bike to Work Week.

I filled one out last week. You should too—even if you're not a cyclist—although it's a bit of a pain to print out and mail the PDF. Better to just pick up a form at one of this week's many Bike To Work events.

(Update: Or use this fill-out-able version of the survey PDF, released late yesterday: Click to download.)

The best part of the survey is the essay question, natch. Not to try to influence your answers, but I suggested: Bike boxes at dangerous intersections, a "rolling stop" law for cyclists at lower-traffic intersections, and smoother shoulders, among other things. Last year I wrote an article for SFR's sister paper in Portland with many more suggestions for bike-ped improvements that could work in Santa Fe.

Last week I got a letter from Severn Thomas of Livingston, Montana, who'll be riding in the Santa Fe Century on May 17, "in the 'Obama' jersey."

"As a serious recreational cyclist I have been the target of frequent verbal abuse; had bottles, trash and other projectiles thrown at me; been threatened with bodily harm; and nearly run off the road by several motorists," Thomas writes. "Cyclists are not simply going to go away, and brazen attempts made by ill-tempered and irresponsible motorists to deny cyclist's rights will only radicalize elements on both sides."

Granted, there are plenty of irresponsible cyclists. Not two hours ago I passed a guy cycling the wrong way, in traffic, past the new convention center downtown. But as I cyclist, I know that Thomas is right.

On Sunday morning, headed south on Agua Fria, the driver of a big, shiny blue pickup tried to force me out of the rode as I merged out of the right-turn-only lane approaching an intersection. He then spent a moment honking at me as we waited for the light to turn green, only quieting down when I made it clear, by shouting, that I had a right to the road as well.

Even worse, a few weeks ago I had a similar experience with a city bus while at a red light on Guadalupe at Alameda. I could hear the bus creeping forward behind me. When I turned to look at the driver, he motioned that he wanted to take the right turn on red, which would've required me to enter the intersection on a red light. By creeping forward, he was essentially forcing me into cross traffic. This was a city bus, mind you.

Has any cyclist in Santa Fe not had several experiences like this?



Back to Thomas. He makes a good point: "What is missing from most discussions is the simple fact that the vast majority of cyclists are ALSO motorists and seem able to function responsibly in both arenas...The share-the-road ethic is the ideal but it requires buy-in from all parties—including local and state government. It also requires equitable infrastructures."

Santa Fe lacks both of those key elements, as any regular cyclist can tell you.

Evidence: Tom Sharpe's Bike to Work Week story in today's Santa Fe New Mexican. He offers a seven-mile route from the Plaza to Santa Fe Place. I do this ride every weekend. It's really very pleasant—once you get to the Rail Trail at West Cordova Road. But Sharpe's story, presumably meant to encourage novice cyclists, offers a detailed litany of just how hairy riding in Santa Fe can get.

"Starting at the Santa Fe Plaza, you have two choices," he writes. "The legal but more dangerous option..."

Riders should never have to make a choice between "legal" and "safe," but those are the facts.

Later, he writes, "The trail ends abruptly at Alarid Street. If you continue straight between the bollards, you will drop off the curb...Dismount, walk cross Alarid and continue on the sidewalk for a tenth of a mile to the northeast corner of Cerrillos Road and St. Francis Drive."

Oh, St. Francis and Cerrillos. How we hate thee!

Sharpe had a nasty accident there, thanks to the railroad tracks, and was saved only by his helmet. The same thing happened to me, but luckily, I only sprained my heel.

He advises "bicyclists crossing here to stay off the motorized roadway and use the button-controlled pedestrian crossings." I'm not convinced this is any safer. If traffic's light enough, I'd suggest making an illegal crossing over Cerrillos onto Early Street, popping out onto Cordova, and riding on the sidewalk down St. Francis to Alta Vista, where you can connect to the Rail Trail.

Anyone with a better suggestion on how novice cyclists should treat that nasty, stupidly designed clusterfuck of an intersection, please comment below.

 

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