Bike lane addition, removal has citizens asking city, ‘Why?’

(Courtesy: Scott Hale)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The addition of a bizarre bike lane followed by its sudden removal has people questioning how the city of Albuquerque is spending money.

Back in late April, Encantado near Tramway was given a bike lane that residents say went right down the middle of the road and dead-ended at a guardrail. Parking lanes were also implemented on either side of the road. This project came at a cost of roughly $15,000, the city says.

“It made no sense, we didn’t know which side to drive on,” neighbor of 20 years, Jo Walsh, said.

Neighbors said the new striping was bizarre and confusing.

But what’s happened since April has those neighbors, along with Scot Key and other members of the Greater Albuquerque Bicycling Advisory Committee, asking the city, “Why?”

About a month later in June, the bike lane that suddenly ended at the guardrail was removed. The city says the removal cost $2,100 and was done because neighbors voiced concern over it.

Now in late August, all striping has been removed from Encantado as a road resurfacing project takes place.

“As a taxpayer, I’d be concerned and as a bike advocate, myself, I’m concerned because of the image it puts into bike lane jobs and infrastructure,” Key said.

“It was a lot of money that was wasted,” Walsh said. “In my opinion, there should be someone that would be held accountable for spending our tax money in such an awful way.”

The road resurfacing project was known about long before the addition of the bike lanes and parking lanes, and the city defends its decision to spend the $15,000 knowing full well it would eventually be ripped up.

The striping was considered part of a “pilot program” to target speeders on Encantado, the city says.

“By introducing a bike lane and parking lane, the actual driving lanes become smaller, or narrower, so it tends to calm traffic,” Melissa Lozoya said, with the Dept. of Municipal Development.

The city tells us that before removing the bike lane, it weighed waiting for the road resurfacing project to rip it up anyways or to remove it promptly at the cost of $2,100. The city said the issues raised over the bike lane were good enough to spend the money to remove it immediately.

While the City says it worked with District 9 City Councilor Don Harris on the initial bike lane and parking lanes project, Councilor Harris sent KRQE News 13 this statement that says he never asked for the bike lane. He went as far as to say it made “no sense.”

For years I had been advocating for a parking lane striping on Encantado similar to the parking lane in Four Hills on Wagon Train and Stagecoach. The parking lane is very popular in that neighborhood and it narrows the roadway, slows traffic, and makes it easier for people to get out of their driveway.

After a lengthy delay, without advising me that the road would be resurfaced soon, the Department of Municipal Development put a bike lane on Encantado which I never requested.  More importantly, the way the bike lane was done makes no sense and created a public safety problem.

It was only after there was a public safety problem that I was advised that the road would be resurfaced.  Because it was a public safety issue, I asked that it be corrected, and I refused to have Council funds pay for it because the job was substandard and contrary to our office’s request.

Nevertheless, eventually we will work through this and provide a good option for the neighborhood.”

“I think it shows a lack of communication between the departments within the city,” Key said.

When the road resurfacing project wraps up, which costs another roughly $30,000, the odd bike lane will not return. The parking lanes on either side of the street will, however.

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