Thursday, October 8, 2015

Diddling Around With Albuquerque

We (not the editorial we but we the people) had a municipal election yesterday.  A whopping 8% turnout.  Not sure if that's 8% of registered voters or just of those people of voting age living in the City of Albuquerque--aka Burque or just ABQ.  Not important.  It's a dismal number because most of us know that it's useless to vote for any of the politicians that were running.

Oh, sure.  We elect a new politician every now and then.  It takes them about a year to start doing the same damn things the old politician was doing, sometimes doing them even better (worse?) than the old one.  Case in point:  A couple mayoral admins ago, the city started converting perfectly good traffic lanes to bicycle lanes.  It's an if-you-build-it-they-will-ride-their-bicycles mentality.  When we finally got a conservative mayor into office, I expected this nonsense would stop.  After all, everyone continually complains about lack of jobs; and employers don't move jobs into a city just because their new employees can ride their bikes to work.  (Unless the employer is a totally Californicated liberal moonbeam microchipped dotcom 3D animation studio tofu for breakfast lunch and dinner type--and they don't give a flying rat's patoo about Albuquerque even with the bicycle lanes).

To be fair, movies are made in and around Albuquerque and New Mexico--a couple infamous TV series, too.  But I guarantee none of them want their people to show up for shooting on bicycles.  They roar into town with motorcades sufficient to carry a UN full of dignitaries, and convoys of industrial-sized wheels enough to carry on a major offensive in a third-world country.  Not many bicycles, though.

In case you were wondering, I'm telling you the nonsense of converting traffic lanes to bicycle lanes is continuing, depriving residents who do actually need to drive to work of both sufficient roadways and sufficient parking, sometimes in front of their own houses.  Since Albuquerque has never seen its way clear to outlaw overnight street parking, which would make the city look a lot better to outsiders, suddenly taking away on-street parking spaces is problematic at best, a slap in the face to local residents, and a pander to the bicycle lobby.   (I respect anyone who can pedal a bike more than a block at Albuquerque's altitude, and don't suggest we should deprive anyone of the opportunity to do so.  Let's just be smart about it.)

Another interesting diddle is the transit service.  This consists of the bus system and the Richardsonian (not architecture but former Gov. Bill Richardson) commuter train called Rail Runner Express, for which the State of New Mexico is and will be grandly paying for years to come.  The bus system has three subdivisions, that I can see:  The normal bus routes, the so-called Rapid Ride (faster? No.), and the on-call system for disabled and elderly.  Collectively, the bus systems is known as ABQ Ride.  As far as I can tell, the bus system is under-utilized and not particularly convenient.  Sure there are peak times when the buses are full, but then there are times during any day you can see an ad-wrapped bus scooting up the street with nobody on board, convenient for nobody but the lawyer who bought the ad.  (They sell ad-wrap advertising to cover the windows and keep you from seeing this, I think.)  So now the mayor wants to start a BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) by taking more than the usual bike lanes from Old US 66, aka Central Avenue, the city's only iconic business thorofare.  It's feature controlled signalling for cross traffic, special bus stations in the medians, and other golly-gosh fru-fru.  Believe me.  That's what the Rapid Ride (vapid ride?) was supposed to have.

Meanwhile, the Rail Runner was supposed to stimulate TOD (Transit Oriented Development), and hasn't.  The only thing that developed is a drain on the treasury.  And everybody goes ga-ga for these improvements every time they're introduced and nobody ever . . . EVER . . . thinks about the cost of maintenance and depreciation of these systems once they're built.  Only the best way to get federal funding so some connected contractor can have a new Porsche and his crews can have a job for a few months one year.

I'll keep my vote to myself.  Thank you very much.

©2015 C. A. Turek -
Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.