Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Editorial: Safer streets good for city and county

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Fresh on the heels of the city of Albuquerque’s attempts to pass a pedestrian safety ordinance anew, Bernalillo County Commissioner Walt Benson is trying to improve pedestrian safety in unincorporated areas of the county.

It’s a welcome move considering that public safety doesn’t begin and end at the city limits. Lowering New Mexico’s pedestrian fatality rate, perennially the worst in the nation, demands a multi-jurisdictional approach. More than 100 pedestrians were killed on New Mexico highways last year; from January through September this year, 59 have been killed.

Benson’s bill is not a carbon copy of the city’s legislation, which targets unsafe medians, but it touches on the same themes of keeping people out of harm’s way.

Benson’s proposed ordinance would prohibit anyone from obstructing or otherwise impeding movement on streets, sidewalks, medians and other public rights of way on “dangerous streets or intersections.” It would also ban camping in the same areas. Dangerous, in this case, refers to places with severe crash rates at or above the statistical mean.

Violations are subject to a criminal trespass notification prior to any potential citation or arrest.

Benson’s approach is sound. He’s piggy-backing on a recently passed county ordinance to ban camping in Arroyos, something officials said was intended to keep people from getting swept up by fast-moving water during storms.

“We have way more people dying from pedestrian deaths than flash floods, so I think this is warranted,” Benson said.

The proposed ordinance is now out for public comment and the commission is unlikely to take a final vote until at least December.

Meanwhile, the City Council is expected to vote this month on legislation that would make it illegal to occupy medians narrower than four feet on streets where the speed limit is at least 30 mph. It would also ban pedestrians from entering travel lanes on streets or highway ramps unless “legally crossing.”

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Passage of these ordinances could go a long way toward preventing fatal incidents involving vehicles and pedestrians. It’s a one-two punch the Metro needs to prevent unnecessary deaths.

This editorial first appeared in the . It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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