After the Dec. 12 death of 7-year-old Pronoy Bhattacharya, run down by an all-terrain vehicle while crossing Central Avenue with his family after visiting the River of Lights, the Albuquerque Police Department and state Department of Game and Fish announced a crackdown on the illegal use of off-road vehicles.
APD also admitted last Monday no citations have been issued for illegal operation of ATVs on city streets.
Journal readers say that lack of enforcement is at the root of road lawlessness across the metro area.
A VIOLATION ‘EVERY SINGLE DAY’:
Chris Manspeaker shares “every day I am on the road here, I have witnessed at least one person run a red light. Every single day. … Almost every day, I see cars traveling around town with no tags. Lots of people racing. Too many people speeding through school zones. Far too many loud exhausts heard in my neighborhood from miles away. …
“And yet in all that commuting time and witnessing, I have not seen a single traffic stop. Not a single one.”
In that vein, retired APD sergeant Dan Klein correctly predicted before the news conference “ZERO” citations have been written for 66-3-11, the no-ATVs-on-paved-roads state statute.
AND IT’S ‘ALL OVER’: Maureen Fitzgibbon adds “it’s the racing, running red lights, illegal mufflers. It’s all over the city. I live near Coors and hear it most nights. This affects everyone – motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.”
Mary Ann Conrad is “amazed at the lawless drivers on our streets here. I walk and bike regularly and am learning to watch for people who run red lights at every corner. As a driver, I have learned to beware from every side.”
MULTIPLE HIT-AND-RUNS: Jeanne Pahls says “when driving my son to school I see vehicles weaving in and out of traffic on I-25 and I-40. … Cars speed down Central by UNM nightly. Speeders zoom at ridiculous speeds on Coal, Lead and Zuni at 1 a.m. within 10 feet of … children’s heads on bedroom pillows. Sometimes these cars crash, spin and break through the walls of homes. …
“A few days (after Pronoy’s death) another hit-and-run driver killed a pedestrian on Coal two blocks from my home. Hours later, another hit-and-run driver crashed into my husband and son on Central by Wyoming. … Three days later a white Nissan drove on the wrong side of the road, nearly colliding head-on with four separate cars that swerved dramatically to avoid being hit, the fourth one our own. Can’t we as a city be more proactive?”
WHICH CRIMES MATTER? Jim Fisher blames “the mysterious level of importance the police department sets on violations. Whether driving an off-road vehicle down Central or a simple burglary, the assigned level of importance is clearly set by the department. Officers are reluctant to enforce laws which waste time that is better used for high-violence calls.”
WE NEED ENFORCEMENT: Dave Quick says “people basically drive any speed they want. … The problem in my eyes is no enforcement and letting people that do get busted let go with a slap on their hands.”
Jane Lockwood seconds that, adding “tragic effects have resulted from Albuquerque law enforcement … turning a blind eye to the vehicular lawlessness going on in our streets. I’ve been trying to be understanding about their staffing difficulties, but.” …
IT TAKES MORE COPS: Kevin says “there is an incredible shortage of police in Albuquerque, and those that are on the job are responding to very deadly serious crimes. Unless somebody has been run over by a car or has been murdered, the police simply aren’t going to show up. Not for something simple like the illegal use of ATVs.
“Two years ago a very serious crash at the intersection of Trumbull and Mesilla left one man seriously injured, a broken leg, and another man with a face bashed in and bloody. I called the police. … About four hours later the police came and (because civilians had cleared the scene) they were very skeptical about my call. So this is what you’re dealing with.”
SO WHAT’S NEXT? Klein asks “have you walked the path from the parking lot on Tingley Beach to the Biopark at night? Darkness. Now the city is asking people to not cross at Tingley and Central, but to use the bike trail and walk under the bridge. Have you walked under this bridge? Homeless people, trash, graffiti, etc. – certainly not the best way to show off Albuquerque.”
And he says the new way into the River of Lights does not address the lawlessness readers are so frustrated with. “So, Mayor (Tim) Keller and (APD) Chief (Harold) Medina, what is the traffic plan going forward?” … Citizens have been complaining about the off-road vehicles, crazy motorcyclists and road-rage drivers for many years, and the leadership of the city and at APD has failed to do anything to address it. I expect this new tact(ical) plan to be a distant memory within a couple weeks. Oh, APD will trot out a video or two of some off-road vehicle getting cited and towed, but by mid-January it will be over, just like all the other initiatives.”
For everyone’s safety, let’s hope the city proves him wrong.
Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858; firstname.lastname@example.org; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109.