Downtown bike lane project pranks Albuquerque mayor

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ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Careful with what you see and hear Wednesday, after all, it is April Fool’s Day, and that hasn’t stopped some from even trying to prank Albuquerque’s mayor.

An online article popped up Wednesday, showing Mayor R.J. Berry announcing a new, expensive project for cyclists that had a lot of people guessing. But the response from the mayor’s office, may be just as surprising for some.

For lots of cyclists in Albuquerque, the idea of making more room on the road is something they can get behind.

“Being that I am a bike rider myself, I think it’s a good idea,” said Fred Williams, a native Albuquerque resident.

“I would love it,” said Patrick Plagenhoef, another Albuquerque cyclist.

On Wednesday, it was almost as if their hopes were answered. Online, a news article popped up with a bicycling bombshell: Mayor Announces Buffered Bike Lanes for Downtown.”

The post came with a picture, showing blue-prints for 13 miles of downtown bike lanes, all painted in turquoise. The article also claimed that the lanes will go on the Lead and Coal corridor, MLK Jr. Boulevard, Tijeras and Broadway Boulevard. In many of those places, bikers are forced to ride in traffic.

“I think they should have more of them,” said Williams.

“I’m all for the safer bike buffering,” said Plagenhoef.

According to the article, the cost of the project is about 4.7-million dollars.

But as KRQE News 13 learned Wednesday, the story was even news to the mayor’s office.

“It looks like components of a real picture that has been doctored,” said Mayor R.J. Berry’s Chief of Staff Gilbert Montaño as he looked at a copy of the article Wednesday.

Montaño says the picture is a fake, and so is the article.

“No we didn’t have any part in making that,” chuckled Montaño.

So who did it? A local downtown advocacy group called “Urban ABQ.” The group admits the photo and article are fake.

“Yeah we made it all up, yeah it was completely fabricated,” said Leila Salim, a member of Urban ABQ.

Salim says the group would really like to see bike lanes downtown. The group played the “April Fool’s” prank to start a conversation.

“Maybe people will get excited about it actually happening and we can have a little push with the mayor’s office,” said Salim.

Turns out the mayor’s office says it’s listening, and appreciated the prank.

“It’s something that ironically has been in any of the discussions at top levels,” said Montaño.

Urban ABQ says if they can help make the bike lanes become a reality, even if it’s through a prank, it’s worth it.

“It’s a fun way to get those conversations started and then hopefully encourage people to get involved,” said Salim.

Urban ABQ says nearly seven-thousand people have seen the article on Facebook so far and shared it about 40 times. The group plans to update the prank with the truth shortly, but hopes to continue talking about and advocating for the idea.

As for a real downtown bike lane plan, the mayor’s office says there’s no timeline, but they’d like to have one drafted in the next year.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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