Albuquerque is taking steps to make the city more bike-friendly.
Construction workers broke ground Monday on a four-week project to widen El Pueblo Road between Second Street and Edith Boulevard, near the Los Ranchos/Journal Center Rail Runner station. The construction is part of a combined city-and-county effort to make Albuquerque more accessible for bicyclists, Project Engineer Jeanne Wolfenbarger said.
“The width of El Pueblo Road is currently insufficient,” she said. “We are widening the shoulders so they are four feet wide to accommodate bicycle travel so both vehicles and bicycles can access it.”
During construction, two-way traffic will be allowed on El Pueblo Road, but Rail Runner commuters should factor in time delays and parking changes. Traffic will be detoured onto roadway shoulders, so no parking will be allowed there, but temporary parking will be provided immediately east of Edith Boulevard on the north side of the road.
The construction is consistent with the city’s Bikeways and Trails Master Plan, Wolfenbarger said. The plan’s vision statement calls for a safe and convenient access for bicyclists to all Albuquerque areas, so that bicycling is a viable transportation option that results in improved quality of life.
Improving the safety of bicycle lanes is a key component of achieving that vision, said Cathy Lopez, from the Bernalillo County Public Works Division.
“Safety is always our No. 1 concern,” she said. “Any design that we do always bears in mind the safety of the pedestrians, cyclists and motorists who will be using the road.”
Albuquerque is updating the existing bikeways master plan by integrating suggestions from the community and recommending changes to existing conditions.
Many commuters bike to the Rail Runner station, which creates heavy bicycle traffic, Lopez said.
“Right now there is no safe way for cyclists to get to the station,” she said. “There is great likelihood of an accident, so we want to improve the safety in this area.”
In addition to widening the street, parts of El Pueblo Road will be repaved, Wolfenbarger said.
Construction is scheduled to be done by May 9, Wolfenbarger said. She said the project is widely supported.
“We are trying to encourage bicycle traffic going to the Rail Runner station,” she said. “Citizens want to have that bike route, and people are happy about having pavement replaced.”