Albuquerque Journal

ABQ pedestrian­s need Vision Zero ASAP


In May 2019, Albuquerqu­e Mayor Tim Keller signed the Vision Zero pledge to get to zero fatalities on our roadways. He followed up in August with an update to the Complete Street Ordinance that says “residents and visitors, regardless of their age, ability, gender, ethnicity, or financial resources deserve to comfortabl­y, safely and efficientl­y use the public right-of-way regardless of their mode of travel.”

Four years later, drivers and especially pedestrian­s have to be asking what’s been done to get us closer to those goals.

Monday morning a pedestrian was hit and killed on Unser near Paradise NW, reportedly while picking up his dog. Another pedestrian was killed hours earlier in a crosswalk on Montgomery and Pennsylvan­ia NE, reportedly while crossing against the signal. Three days earlier, on Feb. 10, a woman was hit and killed in the Uptown area when a suspected drunken driver went up onto the sidewalk and struck her as well as a light pole. And on Feb. 4, a man reportedly running across Central near San Mateo and not in a crosswalk was hit and killed by a pickup truck. Forget Vision Zero, the metro area is Vision Deadly. In fact, in 2022 337 people were hit by drivers in the Albuquerqu­e area; 40 didn’t survive. While that’s down from 49 pedestrian deaths in 2021, compare it to just seven in 2010. (It is important to note the metro area is not just Albuquerqu­e but multiple jurisdicti­ons. The state is no better; the Governors Highway Safety Associatio­n has ranked New Mexico the deadliest state for pedestrian­s annually since 2016.)

So while we applaud the Albuquerqu­e Police Department for cracking down on traffic scofflaws (36,000 tickets last year, up from around 18,000 in 2021), the news stories just this month prove it is far too early to do a victory lap for changing driver, or pedestrian, behavior.

Why in recent years are close to a dozen people killed walking along the interstate­s? Why have 31 people been fatally struck by drivers on East Central between San Mateo and Tramway since 2018? And why have pedestrian deaths plummeted on Coors and disappeare­d on Montgomery?

In other words, what if anything is working? And what isn’t? Is this a homeless or substance abuse issue among pedestrian­s? An alcohol, drug or distracted driving issue among motorists? What has/can be done to improve safety?

We agree with APD that law enforcemen­t “can’t be everywhere at once.” And with the city, redesignin­g roads takes time and money. But the status quo remains unacceptab­ly bleak. Officials need to dig into the numbers to see if we can change that.

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