Bikers Beware: City Plans to Balance Budget by Citing Bicyclists

After 5 years of making the arduous trek in my car to CNM’s WS campus, this summer I was transferred to Main Campus, an easy bike commute. To mark the occasion, I donated my piece of crap CO2 spewing Ford Escort to KUNM and became a biker.

Years ago the thought of giving up my car and relying on my bike was about as abhorrent an idea as listening to a born-again preacher ramble on about how much Jesus loves me and by the way vote Republican while being stoned. But in the last 5 years, while I was learning the intricacies of Albuquerque’s very bad corporate radio stations, the city has become way more bike friendly.

So there I am on my dinner hour, riding up Silver (the Bicycle Boulevard), rolling up to Cornell, making sure I am the only one at the 4-Way stop, and then riding through the stop sign when I get told to pull over into the alley by two bicycle cops who were staked out right there. The first cop informs me that I ran the stop sign and that bikes are supposed to follow the same laws as cars. He goes on to inform me that he’s only out there doing this because the Mayor’s office has gotten a lot of complaints lately about bikers not obeying the traffic laws. He also basically stated that they were going to be out there every day for the next couple of weeks so I should warn other bikers what they were up to. Consider yourself warned.

Twenty minutes later I’m looking at my two warning notices and wondering a couple of things: one, evidently there isn’t enough crime in the city to keep these two fit, professional cops busy, and two, why are there so many stop signs on Silver? If Silver is really supposed to be a bicycle boulevard, the major east-west thoroughfare for bikers, than shouldn’t it actually be conducive for biking? I know they’ve labeled it and have changed the speed limit to 18 miles per hour, but that’s not enough.

During rush hour in a car, I can travel up and down Coal and/or Lead at 30 miles per hour and only have to stop at San Mateo, Carlisle, and University. On Central at roughly 6 PM, I can make the same trek and if I’m lucky not even have to stop. Yet, the bicycle boulevard has a stop sign roughly every 4 blocks. Now, I can actually see the logic of stopping at University, Yale, Girard, Carlisle, Washington, and San Mateo, but can someone actually tell me why I should have to stop at Buena Vista, Cornell, Stanford, Princeton, Richmond, Amherst, Hermosa, Solano, Aliso, Morningside and Monroe? Having to obey traffic laws on this bike boulevard is akin to riding a roller coaster where you never get to go down. It’s accelerate up the hill. Stop. Accelerate up the hill. Stop. Accelerate up the hill. Stop. It makes absolutely no sense, yet this is where we’re supposed to be biking?

So what to do? Well, maybe the solution would be to ignore Silver? If we’re supposed to obey traffic laws and thus under the blind eyes of Lady Justice are essentially cars then maybe we should just start traveling up Central or Lead/Coal and actually take up a lane like a car? Cause if the purpose of traveling up Silver is to create a safe, bike friendly route that is efficient then Silver isn’t quite there yet.

As a warning the next time you pull up behind a biker on Central and want to curse the biker out because they are obeying the law and slowing you down, thank the Mayor. Evidently, he's so worried about the city's budget woes he's stopping bicycles for not stopping. That's right. He's issuing citations to bicyclists.

November 4, 2010

Views: 49

Comment by Another Mike on November 4, 2010 at 11:51pm
It seems like every other day in the campus area I'm about to run over a bicyclist who thinks he/she can just blow through a 4 Way after I've already stopped and am pulling forward -- especially on Silver at Princeton and Stanford.

And as far as heading West down Central is concerned, that's a BUS Lane and not a bike lane, right? I hope they head your warnings.
Comment by hettie on November 5, 2010 at 12:41am
mike, there is no 4-way at silver and stanford. maybe you mean cornell?
Comment by hettie on November 5, 2010 at 1:01am
I'm all for cyclists obeying traffic laws. if you're on a bike and you break the law and piss off a driver, the next cyclist that driver encounters may suffer for your idiocy. it puts all cyclists in danger when some of them act like morons.

but the bullshit thing about this "crackdown" is that apd has never made an extensive effort to deal with drivers who speed on the bicycle boulevard, endangering cyclists and pedestrians. and it happens every single day, I'd be willing to say hundreds of times. the bike boulevard in nob hill is full of unaware drivers, but it's particularly bad in university heights (student ghetto).

silver between cornell and yale is an absolute nightmare in the middle of the day when people are rushing to get something to eat on their lunch hour. just today, I watched a woman in an suv pull onto silver from harvard directly in front of a cyclist, making the guy have to slam on his brakes and actually hop off his bike to keep from crashing. she then floored it to the stop sign at yale, probably without even realizing she almost killed the guy on two wheels. where the hell was apd then?!

given that construction on lead and coal has caused a detour for cyclists onto the bike boulevard, the city would do well to police drivers, who are the most egregious lawbreakers on the silver ave and are far, far more likely to injure or kill someone else.
Comment by Another Mike on November 5, 2010 at 1:53am
Thanks for the correction, hettie. You are right. On Stanford, @ the 2-Way, I do have right of way as a motorist heading North or South, and am wary of the offenders. And I agree that that the area in which you speak of is a hazardous location for BOTH drivers and cyclists -- especially because of monkeys chatting on cell phones. And If the city really wanted to make money from ticketing, they should send APD to Zuni (near Highland) during hours in which the School Zone lights kick on.
Comment by Don McIver on November 5, 2010 at 7:47am
Thanks for commenting.

My point is really not about whether bikers should obey traffic laws or not. They should. My point is that if you want bikers to take the bike boulevard then make it friendly to bikers. Under the original proposal, BikeABQ wanted the city to remove all stop signs (with exceptions at San Mateo, Carlisle, Yale and University) on east/westbound Silver and replace them with traffic circles instead of stop signs. Not sure if I agree with that, but I do think they could reorient them (at Stanford, Hermosa, Solano, Aliso, remove the 4 way at Cornell, Monroe, and make Silver "Yield" at Morningside) and perhaps install a few "speed humps" to deal with cars. I shouldn't have to stop every few blocks if you want me to use the bicycle boulevard. The point of creating a bicycle boulevard is to lessen the conflict between cars and bicycles.
Comment by once banned twice shy on November 5, 2010 at 9:06am
Well, Don, you said that the reason the police are doing this "crackdown" is due to the number of complaints the Mayor's office is receiving regarding scofflaw cyclists. So my proposed solution is for all of us cyclists to start calling the Mayor's office with complaint about scofflaw motorists. I am being quite serious. Apparently the squeaky wheel gets the grease, so us cyclists need to squeak and squeal as loudly as possible. It makes me extremely angry to see how very little the traffic laws are enforced in this town--how about a crackdown on motorists yammering or texting on the phone? How about a crackdown on speeders on EVERY street. MLK has turned into a freaking nightmare because they narrowed it, yet motorists refuse to obey the speed limit and also refuse to give cyclists five feet when passing.

I think I'll pick up the phone right now--won't you all join me?
Comment by once banned twice shy on November 5, 2010 at 9:07am
Durrrr....that is supposed to be "complaints about scofflaw motorists."
Comment by once banned twice shy on November 5, 2010 at 9:09am
Oh, and I will add that the city did finally flip many stop signs on the stretch of Silver between Girard--remember that stop sign at Tulane?
Comment by Don McIver on November 5, 2010 at 9:40am
I'm not arguing that point. I'm arguing if you don't want me to ride down Central, Lomas, Lead/Coal and instead ride down Silver then make Silver bike friendly so that I don't have to stop every 4 blocks.
Comment by once banned twice shy on November 5, 2010 at 11:40am
What I am saying is that local bike orgs rant constantly about having equal access to roadways.

I'm going to respond to your trolling here by saying, yes, the local bike orgs do "rant constantly about having equal access to roadways" AND we rant constantly about wanting cyclists to follow the rules of the road, as we are vehicles. Bicycles always fare best when they behave as, and are treated as vehicles. That being said, as Don said, it sure would be nice if APD would enforce the traffic rules equally--that is, ticketing scofflaw cyclists AND motorists. As in motorists who speed and constantly pass cyclists too closely--which is probably why you don't like the Bike Boulevard.

Also, Mr. Tortuga, since you seem to be insecure on a bicycle, may I suggest taking a Safe Cycling class offered through the city? It will give you more confidence when riding your bicycle in traffic, and teach you some techniques to use to make you less fearful of the Silver Bike Boulevard.


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