Editorial: It’s time for APD to put the brakes on street racing

The 1979 dystopian movie classic “Mad Max” and its “The Road Warrior” sequel are replete with the roar of souped-up cars and motorcycles as they tear through the Australian desert in a post-apocalyptic future.

That soundtrack is one thing if you’re a fan of the films and Mel Gibson, who plays an unhinged policeman in a saga of societal collapse, murder and revenge as he becomes embroiled in a violent feud with a savage motorcycle gang.

It’s another if you’re sitting on your back porch trying to enjoy an Albuquerque evening after the sun has painted the Sandias and retired for the night. Unlike the movie, you can’t turn off the real-life soundtrack that punctuates the peace and quiet of city nights.

So it’s welcome news Mayor Tim Keller has directed the Albuquerque Police Department to create a working group to focus on speeding and street racing in the city. It’s not just a terrific nuisance that disturbs law-abiding citizens. It also has deadly consequences. As the city pointed out in a Nov. 15 press release, “APD says street racing in several areas … has contributed to a large number of fatal and serious crashes.”

So not only do residents need to seek shelter from the whine of “crotch rockets” and “Fast and Furious” wannabes, they would be taking a real risk to venture out in their own car on some of the city’s major streets to grab a late night snack at a Taco Bell or McDonald’s.

Give the mayor credit for paying attention to the outpouring of complaints from Burqueños on social media sites like Nextdoor.

In the words of one resident of Montgomery North: “When we first moved into this neighborhood in 2007, one of our great joys was sitting in our beautiful backyard. We would enjoy the peace, and often with the fall coming we would enjoy the serenade of an occasional owl. Now, after 10 minutes we retreat into the house with disgust as motorcycles race and roar down Montgomery. As I type this, their engines are screaming away. With the impending sale of our house, I will miss our dear neighbors, but I will NOT miss this.”

From a resident of Echo Ridge Del Norte: “It’s crazy tonight. I live on Osuna; it is ridiculously loud.”

From Arroyo del Oso North: “So sad. Albuquerque has changed so much. And not for the positive.”

Stardust Skies North: “I counted at least 30 different races last night. …You would think at least a cop or two would be sitting somewhere on Montgomery, but it seems like they gave up on it.”

Another from Montgomery North: “It’s not just weekends anymore. It goes on all week. I’m absolutely sick of it. We’re moving in a month or so, and I’ll be glad to be away from it.”

And there have been posts in which residents say they called 242-COPS asking for relief and enforcement of traffic laws – and urge people to call the mayor and City Council members.

The city in announcing the crackdown said it will involve the Albuquerque Police Department working with other city departments and gathering community input. It identifies current racing hot spots as stretches of Montgomery, Coors, Paseo del Norte, Eubank and Unser.

That covers an awful lot of the city and makes clear this a widespread problem that presents a danger to the community and is a detriment to the quality of life in Albuquerque.

So it’s fine for the city to “gather input.” But there’s plenty of input readily available. That makes it incumbent on the mayor and his interim Police Chief Harold Medina to get it in gear and tell a suffering public what the city actually plans to do about this – ASAP.

Editor’s note: City officials have announced they plan a crackdown on illegal street racing and plan to lobby state lawmakers for stiffer penalties for repeat offenders.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. 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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