No announcement yet.

Letter to the Editor on ADA trail

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Letter to the Editor on ADA trail

    I wrote the following to the editors of the Albuquerque Journal. It was published today. There is a new ADA trail in town that has generated considerable angst. While I understand the concerns of residents, I wanted them to better understand the position of those less mobile. You never know what boat you are going to be in until you are in said boat. Most of us don't plan on living a life with a disability. - D

    The other day I had a chance to ride the controversial ADA trail in the bosque. And I cried. Instead of finding large swaths of the river forest bulldozed and a grotesque path at odds with nature, there was a discreet ribbon tucked into the trees. And for the first time in nearly ten years, I was back in the heart of the bosque, experiencing all of its wonders—the Rio Grande, the cottonwoods, the migrating birds, the solitude. I was overjoyed to the point of tears.

    Multiple sclerosis may have robbed me of my legs and so much more, but I refuse to let it plunder my spirit. This off-road trail, one of the few I can actually ride with my hand trike, is a boon to anyone who is mobility challenged. It currently may only be a scant mile and a half, but it is without question a transformative 2,700 yards. I eagerly look forward to the Montaņo extension.

    I speak for all of my disabled friends when I thank Mayor Berry, City Councilors, and the Parks and Rec department for making what was impassable passable. And I thank the citizens of Albuquerque for their understanding of how significant it is that the intimate treasures of the bosque are part of all of our lives, regardless of physical limitations.

    Dave Bexfield
    Dave Bexfield

  • #2
    Why has this trail generated angst?


    • #3
      Originally posted by Cvfactor View Post
      Why has this trail generated angst?

      This had be curious as well! It sounds like a fantastic trial that is making nature available to all. What in the world about it is upsetting to people?


      • #4
        It's rather complicated. The bosque runs right through the middle of Albuquerque and folks naturally are quite passionate about protecting it. Opponents, who in general want to leave the trails in their "natural" state and view any accessible improvements that change the rutted dirt trail as a negative, view the ADA trail as a six-lane highway destroying nature. But in reality it's a 6-foot trail preserving nature. Still, it's change, and folks don't like change. When I was a healthy mountain biker, I rode these single track trails. So I get it. If I were healthy, making them double track would not be high on my want list. Now would I have fought gimpy folks at public meetings? Probably not.

        Here's a story in the local paper...
        Dave Bexfield


        • #5
          Thanks for explaining. I can understand disliking change (who doesn't??) and wanting to preserve nature.

          Fighting disabled people and what looks to be a minimal impact change that opens nature to them? That's bad karma...


          • #6
            A few years ago when I was walking better than today I walked the Bosque trail from Montano to Central avenue and back (over 10 miles). I miss those days.
            Last edited by Fit Paul; 01-05-2016, 12:15 AM.


            • #7
              Some comments submitted to city about this proposed accessible trail. I am not kidding. I could not make this stuff up. - D

              "The new crusher-fine trail to the south has a hard, uniform surface. This may be OK for the
              occasional visitor to the Bosque (and of course for wheelchairs), but walking on such a surface
              on a regular basis could cause joint damage in many of us."

              "I think we’ve already made reasonable accommodation for the disabled in the bosque."

              "Our voice matters most because we already use the trail."

              "If handicapped people really want to experience that one part of the Bosque they
              can get a buggy to ride in so that a friend can push them along and they too can enjoy the purely natural trail. You don't need to build anything to bring people to nature, people who truly appreciate it, seek it out."

              "If part of the idea of creating groomed trails in the bosque is to allow users with disabilities or
              the need to use assistance to access river views, then create a trail loop to and parallel to the river for a short distance at a point that currently is open and without vegetation cover."

              "People who want to walk near the river are perfectly happy with the way the "river trail" is now. And there are exactly zero wheelchair people using the trail from the bio park to I-40. There is no call from wheelchair people for an extended trail. If they want one, they could use the bike trail. Kick the bike people off, and put them on the gravel road. It will give them a better workout than the paved trail. Bike people act like terrorists."

              "It appeared to me that hard dirt of the current "trail" gave adequate accessibility to wheelchair users without creating a noisy crusher fine surface that disturbed the peacefulness of the trail and drives wildlife and bird away."

              "We do not endorse a six foot wide gravel covered trail--a ridiculous width even for one wheel chair!"

              "The “alternatives” prepared by the city were all just plans for the wanton destruction of the environment. These options were like asking someone what they would prefer, cancer, polio, or AIDS. The crowd at the meeting (people who love the bosque) was overwhelmingly opposed to the road-like [accessible] trail through the bosque."

              "I support making the bosque accessible to those in wheel chairs, to those with mobility issues and to families with children in strollers. I do NOT, however, support pushing forward..."

              "Those of us who are Christian or Jewish have an obligation to exercise proper stewardship in
              safeguarding our earth entrusted by God, graciously receiving the good things she has to offer, not exploitation for personal gratification or gain. The city apparently does not comprehend good stewardship and is hell bent on going forward with a proposed destructive project beginning on February 15. Their only concern is to build a wide, high speed wheelchair racing strip along the Rio Grande."

              "I do not believe that extension of the system is required by the ADA, and I believe
              that the experiences available to disabled citizens which are presently constructed
              are adequate for those with special needs."

              "I live close to the Bosque in an area that already has a 6 ft crusher trail and I do NOT like the idea of it continuing. I don't understand why if we have the one we do already for folks who need better access, why we need another."

              "I worry about the animals who have to cross the trail but can't cross quickly, like box
              turtles and toads, or snakes, that people will often run over on purpose, even though the snakes in the Bosque are harmless. The multi-use trail also does not serve the needs of people who want to have solitude or truly enjoy nature."

              "In order to provide river access to cyclists and people with disabilities, perhaps a small viewing
              area could be cleared somewhere in the portion of the trail that does run along the river,
              preferably in a spot where vegetation is already sparse."

              "An improved trail would be nice, but not at the expense of the very habitat and its denizens. A
              trail by definition should allow the passage of people and animals, but what is wrong with single file?"

              "I believe the City's claim that the 'trail' needs to be 6ft wide to accommodate wheel chairs is false."

              "I know of no one who supports this project."

              "I want to start by stating I am against any improvements/expansions on the trail... As a grandmother, I want to leave future generations areas of open river that they can enjoy as I have had the opportunity to do."

              "[The trail] should be moved away from the river bank ensuring the safety of wheelchair users."

              "I am not opposed to wheelchair access in the least but do not feel that wheelchairs require a minimum of 6 feet of trial width."

              "Most trails should be kept the width of one wheelchair... Bicyclists are unable to really observe the nature around them."

              "I seriously doubt that wheelchair bound folks will travel a trail all the way from I-40 north to Campbell Road and back again in a day."

              "I work for students with multiple disabilities and therefore am a very strong advocate for accessibility. However I have seen wheelchair users able to use some of the existing trails- and there are additional spots at the
              Nature center and between Central & 1-40 already established as more accessible zones. The entire bosque does not need to be accessible. We must respect the wildlife first and foremost and that means not intruding on their space."

              "I do not support any of the improvements proposed... I believe there is ample and easier wheelchair access to the Bosque in many other parts of the city."

              "During the past week I have walked through the Phase 2 area four times. Some places were
              muddy and in need of help, but a surprisingly large part of the present riverside trail was not
              muddy and provided pleasant walking and was firm enough to support wheelchair traffic."

              "I have not observed cyclists slowing down as they approach pedestrians, and most do
              not even give a courtesy alert as they approach. This is almost universally true for cyclists in groups. I also almost never have observed a cyclist stop, or even slow down, to actually look carefully at anything in the environment."

              "Keep the trail open but put obstacles [logs] that slow bicycles without significantly impeding pedestrians. This trail is not, of course, intended to be accessible. (Though my wife and I managed it in her wheelchair a couple of years ago and later with her rollator when she no longer needed the wheelchair. This is not to say it was easy, but we are old backpackers who are not easily deterred.)

              "I favor keeping any wide [accessible] path as far from the river as possible for as long as possible... I personally favor keeping a [non-accessible] pedestrian-only footpath along the river... While it would be better for wildlife to eliminate the river edge path, this narrow, quiet path where you can hear the river is the whole reason I go."

              "The lady who pleaded for more wheel-chair access did not address any of the concerns about minimally disturbing wildlife habitat, as if human access should take precedence.
              there in the first place."

              " I utilize the bosque several times per week. I very much enjoy the trails that are
              currently in place and I believe that they are sufficient for meeting the needs of the public,
              including people in wheel chairs."

              "Wheelchair users will almost certainly be driving to any trailhead, so the existing Central to I-40 trail should be more than adequate to serve their needs, and the trail north of I-40 would be unnecessary for them."

              "Keep the Existing trail open for pedestrian/equestrian use. That section of the Bosque is very well liked. I have seen back in Illinois and Wisconsin where bicyclist are a problem on walking paths. To mitigate the problem and discourage bikers from using trails designed for walkers/hikers, tree logs and old railroad ties across the trail are used to cause riders to slow down and dismount."

              " I support the effort to allow all users,
              including wheelchair users, access to the Bosque... Unfortunately [all accessible] alternatives are far too destructive of the Bosque for me to be able to support any of them. For this reason, I can only support [no action].

              "A six-foot wide, crusher fine trail provides wheelchair access, but it has downsides for the experience of nature in the Bosque."

              "Existing natural packed earth trails function very well. When walking such a trail after a period of protracted rain, followed by a brief drying period and then a night of light rain, I noted only two small (3-5’) sections in the center of the trail that were still slightly ponded."

              "When I have been on the existing crusher-fine path, my husband and I have found this path to be extremely noisy with every footfall creating a deep sound, scaring away birds and other potential wildlife."

              "I personally would like more people, and especially disabled people, to be able to experience the richness of this ecosystem, but I fear that building the trail per the existing design will negatively impact the environment, leading to the ironic and all too common situation that we humans will lessen the beauty and richness of the place in the act of letting more people in to see it. "

              "While accessibility is important, it must be balanced so as not to rob the trails of
              their natural characteristics. ... Please design the multiuse trail so as to slow down bicycle traffic in order to prevent accidents. Choke points, sinuosity, and logs or other features that cause cyclists to have to slow down in order to move around the feature, would all help to accomplish this goal."

              All comments can be found here:
              Dave Bexfield


              • #8
                I have to say, my favorite comment is the one about the poor animals that have to cross and the mean people who step on them to kill them. Their concern apparently is about the path and not people who would purposely kill animals?

                I'm glad they created this. Like you, Dave, it wouldn't have mattered to me in the past, but now that I have to be conscious of these things and could potentially need ADA trails, I really appreciate it.


                • #9
                  Hmmmm, all I have to say is that I hope all those comment writers stay Able Bodied for their entire lives, and never get an unwanted diagnosis. If changing their trail to accomodate the likes of us gets them unhinged, I doubt they would be strong enough to deal with the stuff we do.... Hmmmmm
                  Be thankful. Dream Big. Never Give Up.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Veronica View Post
                    Hmmmm, all I have to say is that I hope all those comment writers stay Able Bodied for their entire lives, and never get an unwanted diagnosis. If changing their trail to accomodate the likes of us gets them unhinged, I doubt they would be strong enough to deal with the stuff we do.... Hmmmmm
                    Yes!! I was trying to put my thoughts into a non-awful sounding sentence and just couldn't.

                    I can understand wanting to preserve nature, I want that too. But it doesn't seem that it will impact nature all that much to make this area accessible.

                    Some of those things that people are saying make me want to slap them, and then confine them to a wheelchair for a month to teach them the empathy for other they should have already developed!


                    • #11
                      Crazy, huh? One of the biggest complaints was the trail width, which I addressed in my comments to the city. Pullouts, even every 200 feet, wouldn't work. My trike doesn't back up and has an 18-foot turning radius. If I run into another me on the trail, someone is offroading if the trail is too narrow...

                      ...I was surprised at the number of people bemoaning the necessity of a 6-foot-wide trail while insisting that a narrower 3-foot-trail was a) better for the bosque and b) fine for the disabled if the soil was amended. This would be true only if the trail was restricted to travel in one direction and no passing was allowed. And it never rains. Otherwise people passing or encountering oncoming traffic will have to step (or roll) several feet to either side of the trail to allow passage, ultimately turning that 3-foot-wide trail into a 9-foot-wide trail, further intruding on habitat...
                      Dave Bexfield


                      • #12
                        Good job Dave! I think that unless someone has actually tried to maneuver around using assessible areas, that just don't get it! On that note, has anyone noticed that handicapped only elevators in public spaces, like museums, don't really get you to where you want to go? I was just at the Houston Musume of Fine Arts and the elevator placement didn't aide me very well. And once I found one that would take me to the area I wanted, it didn't come when I called it. I complained to the security guArd, who nodded and said it was slow. But even if it worked, it requires a lot of extra steps to get to it's out of the way location.


                        • #13
                          I saw that and a 3 foot wide trial doesn't work for anyone IMO abled or disabled.

                          I can pull a several point turn on my trike if I need to, but three feet is not very doable. I will end up falling off of the trial.

                          3 feet is not wide enough for 2 cycles to pass each other, its tough for walkers to pass each other. And 2 trikes or 2 wheelchairs? Forget it!

                          I agree - some people really don't understand the needs and mechanics of movement when you have something like a trike/chair/rollator.


                          • #14
                            Re: Letter to the Editor on ADA trail

                            As a long time resident of Albuquerque, I'm not surprised by this comments. Sadly, we have a lot of ignorant people in Albuquerque.


                            • #15
                              Coincidentally, I've just taken on the responsibility for representing my neighborhood in the development of the Highline canal, a ground floor opportunity to be a voice for nature, outdoor enthusiast's of all kinds, my neighborhood and of course the less than able bodied. While the Highline isn't exactly the Bosque, development of it will face many of the same issues.

                              At any rate, ActiveMSers looks like the perfect place to identify legitimate concerns from people with a wide range of disabilities. Dave has raised the trail width question and I see a potential problem with street crossings either under or over roadways - of which there are many on this trail. So I would invite all of your comments and suggestions on the issues you might forsee and I will keep you informed of progress as it happens. Not only might this help people in Albuquerque with the Bosque but in the end this may be beneficial to other communities.

                              This YouTube video is the first Salvo to get this project launched:

                              Last edited by AMFADVENTURES; 02-07-2016, 05:14 PM.