Summer Series Issue 1 – A Continuum of Civic Action

Stephanie Martin

Vision Zero Albuquerque is part of an international movement to eliminate pedestrian and cyclist fatalities. After a 12-year-old student was killed at a crosswalk near Cleveland Middle School earlier this year, organizer Lee Ratzlaff encouraged the City of Albuquerque to adopt a Vision Zero Plan, but says community involvement as well as political action is necessary to counter autocentric culture in New Mexico. Vision Zero wants to empower citizens to “take ownership of our streets,” Ratzlaff says – to create solutions to roadway hazards and dangerous driving behaviors. Examples of projects that any citizen or small group of friends, neighbors, coworkers can do to help improve traffic safety in Albuquerque include chalking intersections and crosswalks with bright, colorful designs and posting “slow down” signs along roadways.  This kind of guerilla-type city planning is also known as “tactical urbanism.” “Beautification encourages drivers to slow down,” Ratzlaff said “but, of course, don’t put yourself at risk of harm with this kind of action.”

Vision Zero’s recent Weekend of Action called upon drivers to slow down and for citizens to raise awareness of traffic safety concerns by chalking, making signs, writing letters to local officials, and documenting hazardous transportation conditions such as sidewalks in need of repair, non-working streetlights, and cars parked in bike lanes. Citizens can report safety concerns any time, and even upload the precise location and photos, using the City’s ABQ311 app. Ratzlaff said she recently used the ABQ311 to report a broken bike-crossing button and the button was fixed the next day. Even a small thing like reporting a broken button can make a big difference for our city’s cyclists and pedestrians. “We don’t want anyone to die just trying to get somewhere,” Ratzlaff said.

Vision Zero is working with the International District, Presbyterian Healthcare Services, and ABQ CiQlovia to raise awareness of cyclist and pedestrian safety. In October, CiQlovia will be held in the International District, where streets will be closed to cars for the event, and Vision Zero will be there. Another Weekend of Action is also planned for October, Ratzlaff said. For more project ideas and information about Vision Zero and the next Weekend of Action, follow @visionzeroabq on Twitter and Instagram and join the group on Facebook.

As part of our effort to improve public safety at the street level in Albuquerque, Two Way Street has partnered with the Vision Zero Albuquerque initiative to provide public education surrounding the City’s local Traffic Code and all local traffic laws that impact pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists alike.  Over the next few months Two Way Street would like to collaborate with Vision Zero Albuquerque in the following efforts:

  • Use Brick Light Nights as a testing ground for Two Way Street’s proposed Creative Placemaking Project displaying provisions of the local Traffic Code on sidewalks along Harvard St. – this is intended to provide public education that would help bolster Albuquerque’s street vending culture.
  • Coordinate a “Public Safety In-Vestment Drive” that involves crowdsourcing surplus reflective vests to provide our street vendors and also to give to other panhandlers and other pedestrians – this is intended to increase the visibility of people walking on the street and is intended to be a community-driven response to pedestrian incidents in Albuquerque. 
  • Continue to add various tactical urbanism events to Vision Zero Albuquerque’s toolbox for implementing in different neighborhoods throughout the City.

 

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