After five years of making the arduous trek in my car to CNM’s Westside Campus, this summer I was transferred to Main Campus—an easy bike commute. To mark the occasion, I donated my piece-of-crap, CO2-spewing Ford Escort to KUNM and became a biker.
Years ago the thought of giving up my car and relying on my bike was about as abhorrent an idea as listening to a born-again preacher ramble on about how much Jesus loves me (and, by the way, vote Republican) while being stoned. But in the last five years, while I was learning the intricacies of Albuquerque’s very bad corporate radio stations, the city has become way more bike friendly.
So there I am on my dinner hour, riding up Silver (the Bicycle Boulevard), rolling up to Cornell, making sure I am the only one at the four-way stop, and then riding through the stop sign when I get told to pull over into the alley by two bicycle cops who were staked out right there. The first cop informs me that I ran the stop sign and that bikes are supposed to follow the same laws as cars. He goes on to inform me that he’s only out there doing this because the Mayor’s Office has gotten a lot of complaints lately about bikers not obeying the traffic laws. He also basically stated that they were going to be out there every day for the next couple of weeks so I should warn other bikers what they were up to. Consider yourself warned.
Twenty minutes later I’m looking at my two warning notices and wondering a couple of things: 1) Evidently there isn’t enough crime in the city to keep these two fit, professional cops busy? And, 2) Why are there so many stop signs on Silver? If Silver is really supposed to be a bicycle boulevard, the major east-west thoroughfare for bikers, then shouldn’t it actually be conducive for biking? I know they’ve labeled it and have changed the speed limit to 18 miles-per-hour, but that’s not enough.
During rush hour in a car, I can travel up and down Coal and/or Lead at 30 miles per hour and only have to stop at San Mateo, Carlisle and University. On Central at roughly 6 p.m., I can make the same trek and, if I’m lucky, not even have to stop. Yet, the bicycle boulevard has a stop sign roughly every four blocks. Now, I can actually see the logic of stopping at University, Yale, Girard, Carlisle, Washington and San Mateo, but can someone tell me why I should have to stop at Buena Vista, Cornell, Stanford, Princeton, Richmond, Amherst, Hermosa, Solano, Aliso, Morningside and Monroe? Having to obey traffic laws on this bike boulevard is akin to riding a roller coaster where you never get to go down. It’s accelerate up the hill. Stop. Accelerate up the hill. Stop. Accelerate up the hill. Stop. It makes absolutely no sense, yet this is where we’re supposed to be biking?
So what to do? Well, maybe the solution would be to ignore Silver? If we’re supposed to obey traffic laws and thus under the blind eyes of Lady Justice are essentially cars, then maybe we should just start traveling up Central or Lead/Coal and actually take up a lane like a car? ’Cause if the purpose of traveling up Silver is to create a safe, bike-friendly route that is efficient, then Silver isn’t quite there yet.
As a warning the next time you pull up behind a biker on Central and want to curse the biker out because they are obeying the law and slowing you down, thank the mayor. Evidently, he's so worried about the city's budget woes he's stopping bicycles for not stopping. That's right. He's issuing citations to bicyclists.
Boys Gone Wild in an Agency Turned Rogue
In your face! That’s Jim Lane of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish on his Facebook page on Oct. 29. There he high-fives his staff, precisely: “We kicked butt yesterday.” How so? Lane, chief bureaucrat of the department’s Wildlife Management Division, is boasting of his/their victory at Ruidoso on Oct. 28 where a complicit Game Commission sided with the department on huge increases in killing bears and cougars for recreation and also (bogus) for public safety. The big losers here are not just large carnivora but conservation, scientific ethics and what’s left of the department’s public reputation. Except among hunters, cattlemen and Charlotte Salazar, it’s nose-dived to a disgraced kaput.
Who is this new guy on the block, Chief Jim Lane? I thought bullies of all sorts were out of season. But no, there’s a safe haven in state government with an onward push by Game and Fish featuring a devotee from the shady hollows of Kentucky. With this recent hire, the department has got itself a real gunslinger, a point man with plenty of good ol’ N.M. backing, to put our outlaw carnivores in their proper place. Wildlife conservation, it is said, began with Daniel Boone. How ironic that it ends with Kentuckian Jim Lane in New Mexico.
So don’t be fooled by the nice job they do with propaganda about conservation and science in their media offerings. It is but a smokescreen for reprehensible pioneer policies (Boone was a lone voice of restraint among his Appalachian peers). What the department really wants is more revenue for their coffers following the dogma that fewer predators (lions) means more deer and thus more licenses sold, and secondly, a lighter work load for stressful, budget-busting bear control operations during the “nuisance” season. They are practical people foremost.
The acrid smell of spent ammo rises like intoxicating incense as bravado laughter erupts around the coffee pot. Yes siree boys, “We kicked butt yesterday.” On to Clovis and those pronghorn. Is this what New Mexicans want from state government in these troubled times?
Yes and No
[Blog, “Pornotopia CENSORED has been cen ... canceled” Nov. 5] I'm all for following the rules and bending them a bit here and there. The trouble comes when the rules change every single time you look them up.
Without going into details—I'll leave those to Molly and Matie, who can speak with authority—what happened is this: The people planning Pornotopia chose a venue with appropriate zoning—playing by the rules—and called the city to make sure this was fine. They said, Yes, that's fine. Then, at the last minute, they said, No, that's not fine: We're now interpreting the zoning code in a way that forbids what you want to do. Incidentally, their interpretation also renders as "adult entertainment" any film that shows a bare boob. Even one. So the film festival was canceled.
The alternative show was planned around their new interpretation of the zoning regs—trying to play by the rules. But then the city decided that no, if that went down, they'd find some way to shut the event down. If not the zoning code, then some other law. I believe some of this happened in writing. The rest was done through phone calls.
Bottom line: How can anyone play by the rules when the people in charge are continually changing them and the course of action they approve one day will get you prosecuted the next?
Praise for Thai Vegan
[Restaurant Review, “Thai Vegan,” Oct. 28-Nov. 3] Thai Vegan popped up around the same time my partner and I decided we were going to stop eating meat, and it made the transition seamless and painless. We've eaten there over a dozen times and have taken friends and business associates who are always duly impressed. The food is served with genuine pride, and we are always recognized and fussed over—it's good when a restaurant feels like home. Thai Vegan rocks!
Letters should be sent with the writer’s name, address and daytime phone number via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also be faxed to (505) 256-9651. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be published in any medium; we regret that owing to the volume of correspondence we cannot reply to every letter. Word count limit for letters is 300 words.