The Albuquerque City Council recently passed Council Bill Number F/S O-17-51 to improve safety in the city and reduce the occurrence of Albuquerque pedestrian accidents and related issues. Under the ordinance, pedestrians are prohibited from occupying certain locations absent an emergency, including those near highway entrance and exit ramps and medians. The new ordinance also prohibits pedestrians, in the absence of an emergency, from engaging in physical interactions or exchanges with drivers and other occupants of vehicles. Similarly, occupants of motor vehicles within travel lanes or intersections are prohibited from engaging in physical interactions or exchanges with pedestrians unless an emergency situation makes the interactions or exchanges necessary. Signs are anticipated to go up soon to advise people of the new city ordinance.
According to a KOB 4 article, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico has expressed concerns that the ordinance violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because of its impact on panhandling. The ordinance does not discuss panhandling; it does discuss alarming statistics concerning pedestrian fatality rates in New Mexico in general and in Albuquerque in particular.
Among the statistics cited in the new Albuquerque city ordinance is the fact that New Mexico, as compared to other states, had the highest rate of pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents in 2014 and the seventh-highest rate in the year 2015. The city of Albuquerque is said to have had the second-highest rate of pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents among U.S. cities with a population of over 500,000 in 2014. As Albuquerque-specific statistics go, the city ordinance explains that among all of the pedestrian and bicyclist accidents involving crashes in New Mexico, more than 40% of the crashes occurred in the city of Albuquerque, and over 80% occurred around intersections. Hopefully, the new measures will reduce accidents and improve safety.