ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A portion of Fifth Street in Downtown Albuquerque is sporting a new look, courtesy of Mayor Richard Berry’s 50-mile activity loop project.
On the west side of Fifth Street, between Marquette and Silver, the area typically reserved for parking — right next to the curb — is now a dedicated bike lane. Parking areas, meanwhile, have been moved further into the street, between the bike and travel lane.
It’s called a buffered bike lane, and while places like New York and Los Angeles have had them for years, the configuration is new to the Duke City.
Mark Motsko, a spokesperson for Albuquerque’s Department of Municipal Development, said it’s going to take time for motorists to get used to the revamped roadway.
“We’re asking for patience for people coming Downtown to learn the new configuration,” he said.
Motsko said the new configuration provides more protection for bicyclists and pedestrians. The design includes a marked off buffer between the bicycle lane and the new parking lanes so that passengers can open doors without obstructing the bicycle lane.
The travel lane has also been narrowed, and that tends to slow traffic down, Motsko added. He said no travel lanes were sacrificed.
Work on the project began last week and is scheduled to be completed by the end of next week.
The new look is causing confusion for some motorists. Earlier this week, cars were parked in both the new parking bays and in the bike lanes, despite “no parking” signs along the area.
Motsko said parking enforcement officers have been giving out warnings to those parked illegally. He said parking isn’t allowed on the bike lanes and there is currently no parking in the parking bays because crews need to finish putting up the signage, striping and symbols. That includes no parking in front of the assessor’s office, he said.
Once the markings are in place, crews will need to relocate parking meters to align with parking spaces. Motsko noted that the parking meters will remain on the sidewalks because it isn’t safe to place a stationary item in the middle of a lane.
The east side of Fourth Street, between Tijeras and Silver, is also getting a buffered bike lane as part of the 50-mile activity loop, but there is no parking lane between the travel and bike lanes. It does, however, feature a painted hatched buffer between the bike and travel lane.
Motsko said the city will be tracking how well the new buffered bike lanes work, and if they function well, they will be considered for other parts of the city.
The buffered bike lanes resulted in a loss of two parking spaces in front of the assessor’s office and two more further north. But with the reconfiguration of Fourth Street, Motsko said, there is a net gain of two parking spaces.
“Over the last year, by eliminating some unnecessary loading zones and restriping, the city has added 196 additional parking spots in the Downtown area,” he said.