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What’s the deal with sidewalk?

MAKING A FAST-BREAK OUT OF THE PIT: R. Wayne Hardie emails there’s “a situation that I and many other fans who regularly attend functions at the Pit do not understand.”

It’s about the sidewalk that runs along the west side of the building to César Chávez.

R. Wayne says “the problem is that there is a fence blocking the sidewalk, forcing the pedestrians to go into the street. The crosswalk on César Chávez leads to Bradbury Drive, which is where several of the parking lots are located. Before and after a Lobo basketball game there are tons of people using this sidewalk, coming from or going to this crosswalk, and it is a miracle that nobody has been hit by a vehicle.

“Maybe there is a reason for this fence, but none of us can figure out why it is there.”

Ironically, to keep pedestrians safe.

Scott Dotson, the University of New Mexico’s associate athletic director for facilities, says as part of the $60 million Pit rebuild crews installed handicapped-accessible ramps and rails for fans. This particular rail also prevents pedestrians from stepping off a sharp curb in their hurry to make tip-off or beat the crowd home.

Dotson says folks who are choosing to take three steps west to go into the road should be taking three steps east to follow the rail down the handicapped ramp to the crosswalk.

ANNUAL RENEWALS A SLAM TO ELDERLY: That from Charles Lacy, who says “it’s unfair to make seniors go every year” in person to renew their licenses when other drivers can get an eight-year license in person, then renew for another eight years online.

He says his eyesight and health are fine, and he’s moving back to Oklahoma, so the inequity won’t affect him, but it’s a “slam on the older people” to require in-person renewals every year after age 75.

The Motor Vehicle Division has said the requirement helps older drivers make the difficult decision on whether they should continue to get behind the wheel.

NO DRIVER TEXTING IS OK: After a reader complained about drivers who text at red lights and fail to look up and see the green, backing up drivers, Eileen Ross emails “shame on you for appearing to excuse texting drivers as long as they’re at a red light. Not only is it illegal to operate a vehicle while texting, it appears an excuse is in order if one is driving while only a ‘little’ drunk since it’s also not as flagrant a violation. Not only does texting at a red light hinder the progress of traffic and cause an obstruction, it sends a message to young drivers of the future that it’s okay. You missed the boat on this one.”

Point taken. Texting while idling is dangerous as well — it means you aren’t paying attention to your surroundings. But the original reader claimed texting at red signals is WORSE than texting while driving. Comparing a delay to a potential accident with injuries is a non-starter.

Eileen concedes that “perhaps a momentary hesitation before proceeding into an intersection is prudent and would avoid the T-bone accident caused by a red-light runner. Impatient drivers will just have to learn to live with the cautious drivers and chill out. The texters don’t fall into the cautious category, however, and place innocents at risk with their inattention.”

Assistant editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays and West Siders and Rio Ranchoans on Thursdays. Reach her at 823-3858; road@abqjournal.com; P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, N.M. 87103; or go to ABQjournal.com/traffic to read previous columns and join in the conversation.
— This article appeared on page A4 of the Albuquerque Journal

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