Bike 2 Wherever 2022 is May 20, but Chris Sanchez, an avid bicyclist helping out at Sandia Cycles next to Eldorado High School, rides almost every day of the year.
“I usually commute 24/7, 365 days a year, unless it’s like 4 or 5 inches of snow,” Sanchez said. “I used to live in Portland, Oregon, which touts some of the best bike paths. I think Albuquerque has far better bike paths.”
Bike to Wherever Day changed from Bike to Work Day during the pandemic, when many people were working from home. According to bikethruburque.com, “It doesn’t matter where you bike – we just want to celebrate biking wherever it takes you.”
Bike Thru Burque emphasizes the importance of bicycle safety and explains that the city is committed to Vision Zero, a strategy used to eliminate traffic fatalities. The website says, “Bike Thru Burque increases awareness of people biking, which can help drivers understand how to safely share the road with other road users.”
Joseph Hinton, manager of Sandia Cycles, explained why he thinks drivers have a hard time sharing the road with bicyclists. “I think another problem is motorists just have a lack of patience and cooperation with cyclists even when they’re in a bike lane,” Hinton said. “And there are some places where you don’t have the option of a bike lane and you have to share the road with cars. People get upset because they get stuck behind someone; even a great cyclist on a standard bike can only manage 15-17 miles an hour, so a lot of drivers see it as an impeding traffic problem making them late because they’re already running late.
“You know, everyone’s always in a rush,” Hinton continued. “You can’t go up a block and turn around because you missed your turn? And then you hit somebody.” Hinton said bicyclists also need to be aware of the rules, explaining that some riders are not as cautious as they could be.
“Too many cyclists will run stop signs and run stoplights, or cruise through them. You know, they’ll just look and cruise through it,” Hinton said. “I don’t think that’s a problem, but it could be. It depends on where you are and who you are encountering. You know the driver’s distracted and they’re not gonna see you. Cellphones are a problem. Safety lights and safety vests, all that stuff, it’s an inconvenience for a lot of people, but it’s the smart thing to do. A lot of people don’t want to wear these bright vests, but it definitely makes you stand out.
“I see a lot of people riding at night with no lights in all black, no reflectors on the bike,” Hinton continued. “The reflector wheels will save you really quick, though, because those things just leap out at you.”
Hinton said riders should use the city bicycle maps with the highlighted routes to avoid dangerous intersections. “You don’t have to deal with those dangerous intersections like San Mateo and Montgomery, Menaul and Wyoming, Eubank and Menaul — all those intersections are deadly,” Hinton said. “One of the guys who used to run this shop years ago, he died recently, and they’re putting up a ghost bike for him. He was hit over there by Academy and Wyoming, over by the Whole Foods. It happens; it happens a lot.”
Sanchez said over the 40 years he’s been commuting on a bike he’s never been hit, but said he follows the rules and uses bike paths and lanes when riding. “I think a lot of the problem is people don’t get seen just like on motorcycles, but I think it’s safe, for the most part, in Albuquerque.”
Although not a self-proclaimed tree-hugger, Sanchez mentioned global warming and the fact that bicycling is “good for you.” He said, “I think it’s a necessity just because of gas prices. People aren’t going to pay $6 a gallon or $5 a gallon. There’s gonna be a threshold, and I think you’re in a good spot right now because it’s going to change and help people get ready . . . Out of necessity I think people are going to ride their bikes to work and stuff.”
As of 7 p.m. May 12, a total of 735 people committed to riding a bicycle on Bike to Wherever Day. To commit to ride, visit bikethruburque.com. Participants are eligible for free swag and discounts including $1 off pints at local breweries, 10% off at the Bike Coop, and 20% off at Routes Bicycle Rental and Tours, among other discounts.