Pedestrians have right of way but need to stay safe - Albuquerque Journal

Pedestrians have right of way but need to stay safe

PEDESTRIANS RULE IN TRAFFIC LAW, NOT PHYSICS: Angelica Martinez routinely crosses Tramway at Cloudview/Encantada on the green signal, yet “drivers turning northbound on Tramway seem to forget that pedestrians have the right the way when crossing at a crosswalk on the green.”

Angelica has called the Albuquerque Police Department “to find out my rights as a pedestrian and was told that as long as I’m crossing on the crosswalk and on the green light I have the right of way … Needless to say on daily basis I’ve almost been hit by drivers who don’t respect pedestrians.”

On one Saturday, “a car going west on Cloudview turning north on Tramway sped up and turned right in front of my dog and I, then a car going east on Cloudview turning north on Tramway came within feet of running over us, then two other cars came from the same directions respectively and also didn’t know the traffic laws with respect to pedestrians.

“I love to walk my dog and have found that regardless where I cross any street, very few drivers respect pedestrians.”

It’s a routine occurrence – state traffic data shows 38 pedestrians killed through June of this year – between three and nine a month. And Angelica has followed up her original email with others recounting similar multiple near-death experiences from her daily walks.

According to the state Driver’s Manual, “crosswalks define the area where pedestrians may cross the roadway. You must yield to pedestrians in or about to enter a crosswalk. Not all crosswalks are marked. Be alert for pedestrians when crossing intersections.”

And according to state statue 66-7-334, “when traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is in the crosswalk.”

But as Angelica has figured out, having the traffic law on your side isn’t as important as having the laws of physics on your side. Until drivers obey the law regarding pedestrians, having the right of way doesn’t keep you safe.

Some of those 38 pedestrians might tell you that if they could.

WHAT’S THE LAW ON THOSE DRONE DRIVERS? Recently I. Keller was walking in the foothills and was agitated “to hear and then see two drones overhead being ‘driven’ by people on a balcony … which backs onto the Open Space. Birds were fleeing, and several seemed to be chased by one drone, a couple of dogs on leash bolted, and oh, the bunnies were running. Any animal with acute hearing must have been scared. Not to speak of all the hikers being pretty upset.”

And so I. asks via email “what is the law? We thought no motorized vehicles on any of the Open Space trails, so wouldn’t drones be included in this regulation? If this is the case, then we need to be loud and clear about the use of drones over any Albuquerque Open Space area.”

Barbara L. Taylor is director of Albuquerque’s Parks and Recreation Department. She says “drones are becoming a bigger topic by the day! The parks ordinance prohibits the use of model aircraft of any kind in our park system, with the specific exceptions of Balloon Fiesta Park, where use needs to be scheduled, and Maloof Airfield, which is open to model aircraft of all kinds at all times.

“Open Space is a different matter. In the case of Open Space we do not have a specific prohibition on the use of drones, aka quadcopters. However, there is an explicit prohibition against harassing wildlife.”

Taylor says city ordinance 5-8-6 (F) states “Wildlife. No person shall harm, hunt, pursue, molest, harass, trap, collect, or remove any mammal, bird, reptile, or amphibian animals or eggs or young of said animals on/from Open Space Lands or Regional Preserves.”

And she adds “I was really saddened to read (the reader’s) description of the harassing activity, and I would hope that there will not be a repetition. The city’s 29,000 acres of Open Space are an amazing amenity to the citizens of Albuquerque. It puts Albuquerque in the top tier of cities according to the Trust for Public Lands annual ranking of 70 cities throughout the country. We depend on folks to behave in a reasonable and responsible way that respects the habitat and other users.”

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.


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