In Albuquerque, NM, until last month, it was illegal for cyclists to ride on limited access roads — some highway — in the city. Police issued warnings to cyclists until the city’s most recent city council meeting, where the council members voted for a change in the ordinance.
Tramway Boulevard served as the catalyst for the council’s pro-bike decision. The road, with wide shoulders and plenty of space to accommodate drivers and cyclists alike, was at the center of the issue. “Tramway has been heavily used by cyclists for years,” Jennifer Buntz, board member of Bike Albuquerque president of Duke City Wheelman Foundation, told BikeRadar. “But technically it was against the law to ride on it, as it was a limited access street.”
Buntz says that she had ridden on the road since the 1980s, and that a decade ago the city didn’t even have limited access roads. As the city improved Tramway and other streets such as Coors and Unser, they passed an obscure ordinance that made it against the law to ride on the limited access roads.
“What I have been told is that there were those people who just didn’t like bikes, and they complained to the police,” says Buntz. “I find it hard to believe, but apparently these people search the city laws and called the police.”
The police in turn began to issue warnings, and often directed riders on Tramway to the multi-use pedestrian lanes that run parallel to the limited access roads. This may have sounded like an ideal solution, but Buntz stressed that the volume of traffic on the path, especially on weekends, can be very high. The pathways are also reportedly very popular with residents in the area and cannot adequately accommodate runners, walkers, roller bladders and cyclists safely.
The city council saw the demand on the multi-use lanes and decided to change the ordinance and allow riding on the limited access roads. This process happened in part because of pro-cycling city councilors took the time to draft the bill and followed up with a committee. The council did reserve the city’s right to post bike bans to certain roads, which will likely be reserved for safety issues.
“About nine people testified in favor of cycling,” says Buntz, who also took the time to collect about 130 signatures to support the change. “Two weeks later it went to a vote, and that passed through the city council.”
She says that the outcome is really helping to continue to make Albuquerque a great place to ride.
“Nobody was thinking of going backwards,” says Buntz. “It was a good outcome.”