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Is it legal to park between the curb and sidewalk?

CAN A DRIVER PARK BETWEEN THE CURB AND THE SIDEWALK? Viki Teahan asks in an email if it “is illegal to park between the curb and the sidewalk? If so, which ordinance is that under? She explains that the space she is concerned about “is in front of property I own. The vehicle DOES NOT encroach or interfere with the sidewalk and/or pedestrian traffic. There is no street parking on that side of the road (as this is in the) University of New Mexico area with limited parking. The reason for the confusion is as follows: Some Albuquerque Police Department officers will write a citation for ‘PARKING ON THE SIDEWALK,’ other officers will not ticket and state that the vehicle is NOT on the sidewalk. I just need to know so I can advise my tenants correctly.”

Short answer? Yes, it is illegal.

Melanie Martinez, program manager and public information officer for the Department of Municipal Development, says, “It is important to note that these parking ordinances are in place to prohibit cars from mixing with pedestrians in areas that are designed for pedestrians. Cars parked in these areas may create safety hazards and blind spots for persons backing up and out of driveways.”

City ordinance makes this parking illegal, defining the sidewalk as the area between the curb and the property line. (Courtesy of Viki Teahan)

City ordinance makes this parking illegal, defining the sidewalk as the area between the curb and the property line. (Courtesy of Viki Teahan)

Now for the law.

“The ordinance that prohibits parking in the location mentioned by the citizen is in the Albuquerque Parking Ordinances, which are part of the Traffic Code,” Martinez says. “The specific section is 8-5-1-1 Stopping, Standing or Parking Prohibited, no sign required. The specific section under this ordinance is 8-5-1-1B On a Sidewalk. The definition of a sidewalk in the traffic code is the portion of the street between the curb lines or lateral lines of the roadway and the adjacent property lines intended for the use of pedestrians.

“Further section 8-5-1-1C prohibits parking within 3 feet of a driveway, private or public. A car parked in this manner appears to encroach within 3 feet either on the front or rear end to the adjacent driveways on either side of this property.

“Lastly, 8-5-1-1N specifically prohibits parking between the edge of the roadway and the edge of a sidewalk.”

CAN WE MAKE SCHOOL ZONES AN EMERGENCY? Socal92008 says via email, “I work near a school zone, and without fail, some cars go through at full speed. Instead of the flashing yellow lights, would the city consider using flashing lights like the ones used by emergency vehicles? I think those might get the drivers’ attention.”

Martinez explains, “The approved crossing signals are determined by a collaborative team comprised of Albuquerque Police Department, Albuquerque Public Schools and the city of Albuquerque.”

And while the team might consider going emergency on stationary signs, state law does restrict the use of flashing lights on vehicles. Statutes 66-7-6 (Authorized emergency vehicles) Section C and 66-3-835 (Special restrictions on lamp) Sections C and E state, “Only fire department vehicles, law enforcement agency vehicles, ambulances and school buses shall display flashing red lights visible from the front of the vehicle. All other vehicles authorized by the Motor Vehicle Code to display flashing lights visible from the front of the vehicle may use any other color of light that is visible.”

Those authorized vehicles include “emergency vehicles … snow-removal equipment and highway-marking equipment” as well as tow trucks that are removing or towing a vehicle.

APD has explained in previous columns that “only law enforcement can have forward-facing red and blue lights.”

AND HELMET LAWS, TOO? Karen writes in an email that “school zones with crossing guards are there to help protect our children. However, here are many children on their way to school on bicycles, skateboards, scooters, etc., that are NOT WEARING HELMETS which is a New Mexico state LAW! This law is IGNORED way too often, which puts New Mexico at the bottom of another list! Why doesn’t Albuquerque Public Schools security and other school districts have the crossing guards notify/enforce this law?”

Because crossing guards don’t work for APS.

Monica Armenta, executive director of APS Communications, says, “Crossing guards are city employees. Helmet safety may be addressed in individual classrooms, but I haven’t been able to find any district program on the subject.”

AND CHANGE THE SPEED LIMIT ON SPAIN? Meanwhile, robertwtull emails, “Please help me understand why Spain drops in speed limit from 35 mph down to 30 mph as it crosses Eubank, even though the lanes are identical on both sides of Eubank? Likewise, Wyoming, after it crosses Paseo, 40 mph drops to 35 mph on identical two-lane divided roads.”

It’s a designer thing.

Martinez explains, “Speed limits are set by the designer of the road. One of the criteria used by engineers is the road classification, such as residential street, rural roads, arterials, etc.” So sometimes it’s not simply the size of the road but what it runs through.

She says changing a speed limit to make it more uniform – which was done on Bernalillo County’s section of Golf Course Road earlier this year – takes “an engineering study.”

Assistant editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858;; or P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, N.M. 87103.