New plan focuses on improvements for bicycle safety

Document available to public on agency's website

The Daily Times staff
Mike Wulfert, left, helps costumer Matthew Yazzie with a bike selection April 17, 2017, at his store 505 Cycles in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — Bicyclists who want safer places to ride may soon see improvements on some routes. The New Mexico Department of Transportation’s new bike plan highlights ways in which the state can improve safety along state-maintained roads.

The creation of the plan spanned multiple years, and involved public meetings and input opportunities such as surveys. NMDOT approved the plan in December, and it is now available on NMDOT’s website.

Nearly 600 survey participants identified poor pavement and a lack of dedicated shoulders as some of the obstacles preventing bicyclists from biking along state-maintained roads. They encouraged the creation of more bike lanes and wider shoulders, more separated bike paths and increased driver education.

The plan categorizes state-maintained roadways based on priority and use.

U.S. Highways 64 and 550 in San Juan County are in the tier one category. The tier one roads can be used both for transportation and recreation. The plan states tier one roads also have the potential for tourism.  These roads typically have faster speed limits and a higher density of traffic. According to the plan, additional separation between vehicles and bicycles is needed for safety on tier one roads.

San Juan County also has several tier two highways, including New Mexico Highways 574, 170, 173 and 371.

Tier two roads have limited opportunities for bikeway improvements due to right-of-way constraints, environmental considerations or topography. They tend to have lower traffic counts than tier one roads, according to the plan. The plan states increased motorist awareness is needed for tier two roads.