Kicking into Gear

After a bumpy ride, City Council prepares to vote on bicycle infrastructure proposal

A biker rides along the River Trail. If passed, a new resolution will work to execute a plan to improve crosswalks, sidewalks, roads and trails for bicyclists and pedestrians. (Julie Ann Grimm)

After two years of preparation, a series of delayed votes and several amendments, a new resolution—scheduled as of press time for a Santa Fe City Council vote on March 27—aims to amp up funding and resources for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure maintenance within the city.

The new proposal, introduced initially in January, would implement recommendations from the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee’s 2023 strategic plan, which targets a gold-level rating from the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly America program by 2033. Though it applied for gold in 2024, the city of Santa Fe in February received a silver rating, a designation Mayor Alan Webber described at the time as “good news—but not good enough.”

Despite the city’s bicycle aspirations, the resolution to improve city-wide infrastructure for bicyclists, sponsored by District 2 City Councilor and BPAC Chairman Michael Garcia and backed by the bicycle community, has hit several roadblocks. Most recently, Councilors Carol Romero-Wirth, Jamie Cassutt and Signe Lindell proposed amendments at a March 11 Finance Committee that delayed a vote by the full Council and mayor previously scheduled for March 13.

Despite the setbacks and his own reported disagreements with some of the amendments, Garcia tells SFR the proposal is in good shape after conversations with and new amendments from new co-sponsors Romero-Wirth and Cassutt, along with District 3 City Councilors Pilar Faulkner and Lee Garcia.

“I’m just excited to be moving forward with this resolution and beginning what I call the first of many steps to strengthening and building a strong and robust bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure that is accessible to our entire community,” Garcia says. “It is essential that the City of Santa Fe provides first-class services to our residents, and this resolution will allow us to begin making progress.”

Under the newest version of the proposal, city staff will create a formula to determine a ratio of funding between bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and that of vehicles; create a line item in the city’s operating budget for maintenance; and determine an appropriate amount of funding for the line item. While the resolution doesn’t specify a dollar amount, a fiscal impact report from January for crosswalk, sidewalk, road and trail work—among other activities—estimates $2.2 million in recurrent costs, along with an $860,000 one-time cost for software, asset inventory and equipment.

Cassutt says she became a co-sponsor in part to continue work she had done previously on a city multimodal transportation transition plan.

“This is a really important issue in our community. We hear a lot about people wanting a more walkable city, and we talk about how much more healthy individuals are,” she tells SFR. “There are so many different community members who will really benefit from us making sure we are prioritizing bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. We’ve really reached a place where I think this is a good piece of legislation.”

Yet BPAC, which consists of volunteers, wasn’t immediately convinced. At a special meeting March 19, several people on the committee lamented proposed changes in the amendment from city Finance Committee members that BPAC members said weakened the resolution due to “vague” language.

For instance, the original language called upon the city manager to designate the “appropriate entities and departments” to establish a regular inspection schedule for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and to “develop and maintain” a geographic information system to record the condition of said infrastructure. The amended version calls on the city manager to “continue to develop” an asset management and prioritization system, but does not mention a specific GIS system. The revamped proposal also makes no mention of an inspection schedule but, instead, directs the city manager to “develop an equitable, formulaic inventory assessment” that would help “inform” the city’s Parks and Complete Streets divisions’ budget requests.

“In reading the new language…it seems very, very vague. Maybe that’s the intention to keep it vague, but I’m wondering if we could make it more specific,” member Tony Gerlicz said at the meeting. “We had some real action words in the original language and now it’s ‘continue to develop.’ What does that mean? It sort of dilutes the whole proposal.”

Cassutt, however, says the changes help the proposal and “make it more understandable.” Original language within the resolution delegated the responsibility of determining the amount of funding entirely to the mayor, who leads the city’s budget process. Now, city staff will determine because “they are the experts,” Cassutt tells SFR.

However, Garcia says even if passed, the plan may not take effect until next year when city officials make the Fiscal Year 2026 budget, as it may be too late for its consideration in the FY2025 budget, hearings for which start in April.

“With that being said, there is nothing that would prohibit the mayor from including resources for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and that is something I will pay very close attention to as we begin the Fiscal Year 25 budget review process,” Garcia says. “If there are not resources, I will begin to advocate that we establish some type of funding that is solely dedicated for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.”

The original resolution received support from the Mayor’s Committee on Disability and Bike Santa Fe, a nonprofit bicycle advocacy organization. President Jenn Webber, who attends the monthly BPAC meeting, tells SFR that Bike Santa Fe has endorsed the resolution since its introduction, and continues to with the changes.

“We hear from our members a lot about the challenges they face cycling around town,” Webber says, noting cracks in the Rail Trail, icy trails, unswept bike lanes and more. “We know that this needs to be addressed in a more focused way.”

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