Burque’s Silver Avenue: A Failed “Bike Boulevard”

I’ve finally given up on Silver.  A half-ass “bike boulevard” can sometimes be worse than no accommodations for bike riders at all.

I used to ride it often, Cornell to Prez/I-25, back when it was part of my commute home to the South Valley. Even then I preferred going up MLK on the way to work. The simple reason being that at least MLK gets one across I-25; the jaunt up Coal zig-zagging to Silver at the hospital also involves the unnecessarily bike-unfriendly Coal Bridge.

But let’s face it. The Silver “Bike Boulevard” has always been a cyclist’s pain in the ass. Parked cars making for poor sight lines, little to no respect for the 18 mph speed limit, more parked cars, irregular stop sign patterns. And no way across I-25.

In doing some Internet Roto-Rooting, I came across then Councilor Cadigan’s resolution calling for Silver to become a bike boulevard. Amid the “whereas” resolution hoopla is this provision:

SECTION 7. It shall be a City of Albuquerque priority to secure funding in the 2009 Transportation Improvement Program to include a bike boulevard crossing of Interstate 25 at Silver Avenue.

Stop laughing.  Okay, you/we can stop laughing now.  But speaking of laughter, just for grins here’s a Street View screenshot of where Silver meets I-25:

silverdead

 

Sure would love to have been at the first working meeting where a “bike boulevard crossing of Interstate 25 at Silver Avenue” was discussed. The meeting probably lasted about ten seconds, but the laughter lasted a good half-hour.

So the Silver Bike Boulevard was doomed from the start, but what made me finally realize I simply prefer taking Coal or MLK up and Lead down between Nob Hill and Downtown isn’t I-25, it’s the rest of the purported “boulevard” between I-25 and Carlisle.  Coming back from a old retired guy “coffee klatsch” at Central/Carlisle the other day, I started down Silver and made it to Tulane before realizing: “I’m really rather dreading this trip down Silver, which is strange considering it’s a ‘bicycle boulevard’ and all.” Soon I was flying down Lead at a speed just below the rushing downhill traffic, having not had 13 stop signs, a scary University crossing, 50,000 glances over parked cars at intersections and a skater in a pear skull cap flitting back and forth in front and around me.

I’m done with Silver.

More than anything, those of us interested in cycling infrastructure and unfortunate terms like “bike facilities” should always keep Silver in our thoughts as an example of how NOT to improve cycling in Albuquerque.  Expedient, cheap projects made seemingly glorious by name association is worse than having done nothing at all.  Let’s learn from the Silver fiasco and make damn sure nothing like it happens again.

Okay, I hear you laughing again. Damn cynics and their chortling.

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