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Albuquerque Hits a New Low With Cruel Response to Pedestrian Deaths

The Albuquerque City Council isn’t interested in fixing intersections like this, where a driver killed a pedestrian last week. Photo: Google Maps

The lengths that lawmakers will go to avoid doing anything substantive for pedestrian safety would be comical, if the consequences weren't so serious.

In New Mexico, drivers have killed 51 people walking so far this year. But rather than using its resources to rein in speeding, failure to yield, distracted driving, or other driver behaviors that maim and kill, Albuquerque City Council is using its resources to -- get ready for this -- harass people who panhandle on the side of the road.

City Council Member Trudy Jones sponsored legislation making it illegal to both beg for money from motorists and for motorists to interact with pedestrians. The bill is called the "Pedestrian Safety Ordinance," and Jones claims it would "make our streets safer and curbs safer," but it's a transparent attempt to use traffic safety as a fig leaf to cover constitutional issues with panhandling bans. The council passed it unanimously.

In an embarrassing editorial this weekend, the Albuquerque Journal defended the legislation as a boon to public safety even though there's absolutely zero evidence that it addresses the causes of pedestrian injuries and deaths.

Meanwhile, last week, a driver struck and killed a pedestrian at the intersection shown above. If the City Council truly cared about protecting pedestrians, it would allocate resources to fix this kind of high-speed street design. By laying blame at the feet of the city's most vulnerable people, council members are shirking their own responsibility to make streets safer,

Good grief. (Thanks to reader Khalil Spencer for bringing this to our attention.)

More recommended reading today: Writing at Medium, Darin Givens explains how the Braves' new suburban stadium is totally out of reach for anyone who relies on transit. And BikePortland reports that the Senate GOP's tax bill does away with a modest benefit for bike commuters while retaining the much larger and more destructive parking benefit.

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