Alibi V.19 No.31 • Aug 5-11, 2010 

Hail, Velocipede!

Trail-a-Week: Tramway

The autoless portion of the Tramway trail near Candelaria
The autoless portion of the Tramway trail near Candelaria
Betty Sprocket

"Gross," quoth my boyfriend when I told him I'd be riding and writing on Tramway Boulevard this week. "That road is home to the most aggro asshole cyclists in the whole city. I'll never understand why they insist on riding on the shoulder when a dedicated bike path is just 50 feet away."

I can see how this behavior would mystify someone who has only traversed Tramway in a car. But if you've pedaled down that path with any semblance of speed, you know the trail swerves, dips, narrows and climbs at every intersection, slowing you down and sucking the momentum right out of your wheels.

Except at rush hour, I prefer to ride on Tramway's shoulder. But the path is great, too, so choose your own adventure. If you're inexperienced or nervous in traffic, I'd suggest that you stay safely off the road. But if the non-linearity of the path starts to get you down, gauge your comfort zone on the shoulder for a block or two. You can retreat to the car-free trail at any intersection.

Pick this trail up at Tramway and Central—the Rapid Ride Red Line will take you there. Head north, in the shadow of the Foothills, as you contemplate all those slight, gradual changes in elevation you never seem to notice as you hurtle down Tramway in your Mazda. Long about Indian School, there's a hilarious prairie dog town with accompanying signage: Be sure to stop and salute your adorable native rodent.

The car-free bike path terminates north of Paseo del Norte at Tramway Road (one of the many eponymous offspring of the Boulevard), but I recommend shoulder soldiers continue down Tramway as it curves west toward I-25. You can pedal if you like, or just coast, chillax and gaze at the fields of cholla and the jam-packed parking lots of Sandia Casino.

Officially, Tramway's status as a city-sanctioned, bike-approved "Road with Wide Shoulder" ceases west of I-25 when Tramway turns into Roy. The shoulder is still plenty wide and remains bikeable all the way down to Second and Fourth Streets, but the easiest way to get out of the boonies and back to the city is to turn south on Edith. The shoulder is narrow, and there’s no path, but the road is sparsely trafficked this far north. It's the most direct way back to the car-free arteries of the North Diversion Channel trail (just east on Alameda) or Paseo del Norte. Home free.

The City of Albuquerque has vastly improved the bike trail map on its website. Thank you, The Man and your cadre of cartographic nerds. I'm sure I'm not the only Burque biciclista who really appreciates it. Take a gander at the new, interactive map and plan a safe, bike-friendly route before you roll out.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Betty Sprocket, professor emeritus of the Skinny Tires Department of the University of New Bikexico, is here to lecture you about Albuquerque's many magnificent bike trails. You'll learn about a new one each week, so please take notes and do remember to do your homework: Get out there and ride.