Santa Fe’s Bike to Work Week has had to broaden its reach—too many people wanted to get onboard with events beyond just riding to and from work. They wanted to bring their kids, ride on trails and tour breweries. So this year, the event opened up and rebranded as just Santa Fe Bike Week, with events through May 20.
“There was sort of a reckoning,” says Erick Aune, senior planner with the Santa Fe Metropolitan Planning Organization. “There was a recognition that a lot of the events, whether it’s for kids in the Railyard or for bike clinics in the afternoon, were for everybody.”
It makes for a week of options that goes beyond the bike commuting basics and fix-a-flat clinics—though there’s that, too—to include bike-in movies, taking on a 20-mile gravel ride, or signing up for the iconic Santa Fe Century.
“The transition from Bike to Work Week to Bike Week was less of an evolution and more a moment of clarity for the working group behind this,” Bill Lane, marketing director for Bicycle Technologies International, writes in an emailed statement. BTI has been a key supporter of the event, and he says they recognized that the event had become inclusive, and its name should acknowledge that. “Our goal is a simple one: We want to entice even more people to come out to play on neighborhood streets and trails this year.”
In recent years, Bike to Work Week has piggybacked with Outside Bike and Brew, but the latter festival moved to Labor Day Weekend in September. The Tour de Brewer on May 19 will fundraise for Velo NM, the nonprofit arm of Bike and Brew, and event director Tim Fowler says there’s a little of both collaboration and competition.
Bike Week events will showcase the St. Francis Drive underpass in a ride from the Railyard Park to the Baca District. That underpass on the Acequia Trail is part of a master plan to make the city more bike- and pedestrian-friendly. But city councilors are now debating how, or if, to move forward with some of that plan’s projects.
When it came to organizing this year’s Bike Week, the city has handed off the reins for what now works more like a community-driven event. The week used to be buffered with mayoral proclamations and formal support from the city, says Aune, who has worked on the program since 2014. Now, people show up with their own ideas and initiatives, like city staff arriving to talk about bikes on buses. Anyone who wanted to add a component to the agenda was welcome—as long as they also brought an implementation plan.
“There is a variety of really active groups in the community that advocate and then participate in bicycling, whether it’s the group that’s organizing the Century or the Seniors on Bikes organizing regular rides, or Pedal Queens, or Tim Rogers and the community cruises,” he says. “You go down the list of all these disparate organizations, and they all have something in common; which is the spirit of A, bicycling, and B, advocating for bicycling infrastructure and a solid network of infrastructure in this community.”
That support will be put to the test later this month when city councilors debate whether to move forward with the Rail Trail Extension Project from Alta Vista Street to St. Francis Drive. The extension would complete the non-motorized, paved trail from the Railyard to Rabbit Road. The project’s inception dates to 2013 and has already required $210,000 to design, an estimated 39 percent of the total project cost, with just over $700,000 still to spend to finish it. Compare that to the $4.3 million spent on the underpass.
City Council directed staff to reduce the construction scope in February to save costs. But New Mexico Department of Transportation staff emailed city staff to express concerns with the safety impacts of that approach and to say they won’t issue right of entry agreements for only partial construction.
“We are not willing to allow the project to be built in pieces when that segmentation would channel more bicyclists into the South Capitol Station area, but not provide them a safe way past that area,” William Craven, rail bureau chief for the Department of Transportation, wrote in an email to city staff.
Public Works Committee members split over whether to kill or keep the project at a May 7 meeting. The question goes to the full governing body May 30.
“I think there’s an expectation from the community that these things are getting built,” Aune says. “So we’re trying to raise the awareness and let the community speak.”
After all, if bike advocates can wrangle a week of events, how hard can it be to fill the City Council chambers on a Wednesday night? Just get there early: There’s only the one bike rack for parking out front.
SFR is hosting a morning of coffee and a newspaper with our Marcy Street neighbors Mellow Velo and Ecco, plus Honey Harris live broadcasts The Big Show from 8 to 10 am on Wednesday.