A Modest proposal that’s good for everyone
Most people I know hate government. They hate all government of all flavors. Party affiliation doesn’t matter. People have lost faith in government for the most part. Government is fractious, even at the local level. Politicians settle scores passively aggressively and reward their cronies through the same means. Government is synonymous with gridlock and dysfunction.
Yet even though most people really hate government, few have totally lost faith in it. The optimists among us reason that as long as we have basic infrastructure and services, then government isn’t totally broken…yet. I tend to agree. As long as the streets are paved, the bridges aren’t collapsing, the drinking water is okay and lights go on, then we’re not yet ready to live in Mad-Max style anarchy. (Cops shooting people has done a lot to erode more faith in government and society, but that’s another issue entirely.)
So about those roads…
People here in Los Alamos seem to be obsessed with roads. We like our roads here. The County of Los Alamos spends millions each year making sure that the roads are good. Wait, scratch that.
More accurately, the County of Los Alamos spends millions each year…on roads. Mostly they try to make sure the roads are good for cars and motorized transportation.
The Roads in Los Alamos are okay for the most part, but there are some real issues for non-motorized travelers. Take the sunken water meter shutoff on Diamond Drive near the entrance to North Road and Ridgeway Drive. Hit that sucker with your bike tire and you’re going down—maybe for the count. Trinity Drive in general is a hellish place for bicycles. New Mexico 501 leaves a lot to be desired, despite having been repaved recently. West Road is a fool’s gamble, particularly in low-light conditions. Ride on that pothole-pocked path of sketchiness and you’re asking to damage your wheels or your body.
Let’s not even get started about the stretch of N.M. 4 from N.M. 502 to the Back Gate. There is nothing good about that road for a bicyclist, and I believe the only reason that section of road hasn’t had more fatalities is due to it’s simple remoteness.
Get road managers out riding bikes
So how do I know about the faults in our roads? Simple. I ride my bike on them. So here’s my proposal: People who are in charge of roads and streets, or people who are in charge of getting and allocating money for roads and streets should ride bicycles.
Let me repeat that:
Every bureaucrat who is in charge of roads and streets, and every politician who is in charge of securing and allocating money for roads and streets should ride a bicycle.
And they should ride often.
Doing so would put them in touch with the roads.
Riding a bicycle allows a person to see the roads up close. The little flaws that go unnoticed at 35 miles per hour stick out like a sore thumb when you’re straddling the saddle of a bike. The potholes and imperfections that cause cyclists to swerve out into traffic become readily apparent when all of a sudden you are forced to swerve out into traffic to avoid going ass-over-teakettle onto the pavement.
Here’s Little Jimmy’s challenge to our State Representative, Stephanie Garcia Richard; and our Los Alamos County Council members: Come ride with me and other cyclists around “the Loop” one weekend, and around Los Alamos and White Rock on another pair of weekends.
After those rides, I’m betting that there might be a serious effort to do something about N.M. 4—particularly since it’s the gateway to Bandelier National Monument. The Los Alamos County Council might even realize that their Public Works Department might be placing the wrong emphasis in their street maintenance programs.
If you agree, please send email messages to the following people (sample subject and text to get started is already filled in), and let’s get started on making government less odious:
Philo Shelton, director of Los Alamos County Public Works
If enough people are interested in this, we’ll schedule a ride with these folks, and maybe it will help restore some people’s faith in government. And create safer roads and streets for all bicyclists.