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Drivers Call for More ‘Puppy Tracks,’ Arrows for Traffic Clarity

CAN WE GET A THROUGH-ARROW ON THE SIXTH STREET RAMP? Truck driver Lee Newman called to say the exit ramp from westbound Interstate 40 needs some additional signage for the through lane.

That’s because, although there’s a dedicated right-turn lane, a through lane and a left lane that allows drivers to turn left or continue straight ahead, Lee says drivers routinely try to turn left from that center lane, almost hitting drivers who go straight from the left lane.

Lee says he has called for additional signage — on the pavement or above the road — for six years, to no avail.

That may change.

Phil Gallegos, the public information officer for the New Mexico Department of Transportation’s District 3 Office, says he “will forward this query to our traffic engineer and see if there is anything else that can be done to prevent the center lane from turning left.”

And he attached an aerial photo that shows “there are already arrows painted on the asphalt” showing drivers to turn right from the right lane and to turn left/continue straight from the left lane. But he points out there is no “through-only arrow for the center lane. The overhead signs in place are already very clear about what each lane is allowed to do. Stay tuned. …”

CAN WE GET SOME PUPPY TRACKS FROM MONTE VISTA? Peter Ives called recently to say where the lanes of Monte Vista heading northeast turn right onto Lomas’ lanes, drivers don’t maintain their lane and there are near-collisions. He asks if the city could put down some of those dotted lines, known as puppy tracks, to help guide cars through the intersection safely.

Mark Motsko, who handles information for Albuquerque’s Department of Municipal Development, says that may not make things clearer for drivers.

That’s because there are already puppy tracks guiding Lomas drivers across the intersection because the two legs don’t line up. More lines could lead to more confusion.

But Motsko says Traffic Engineering will look at the intersection’s markings to see if any additions would increase safety.

CAN WE GET SKATEBOARDERS OFF THE STREET? An email from bronnie says the streets in her Northeast Heights neighborhood “have a significant slope. They have become very popular with large groups of skateboarders who come down the street in large groups at significant speed. Since there are curves in the street, one cannot always see ahead, and I feel this creates a safety hazard for others using the street. My question concerns the legality of skateboards on city streets. Do they have the same rights as bicycles, pedestrians and other non-vehicular traffic?”

Those groups have very different rights. Bicycles by law are considered vehicles and can take the lane. Skateboarders and pedestrians can not.

Back in July another reader had a similar skateboarder concern, saying they were flying down steep driveways, hanging onto bumpers and whipping around vehicles. And the Albuquerque Police Department said the skateboarders were breaking the law because they are considered pedestrians and have to travel up against the curb/on the shoulder of the road. City ordinance 8-2-7-7, “Walking Along the Roadway,” says “(A) Where sidewalks are provided, it shall be unlawful for a pedestrian to walk along or upon an adjacent roadway. “(B) Where sidewalks are not provided, a pedestrian walking along or upon a roadway shall, when practicable, walk only on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing oncoming traffic.”

CAN WE PARK NEAR A STOP SIGN OR CORNER? That question came in a while back from a reader who asks “what is the law about parking by a stop sign or near a corner? How many feet from each? So often I come upon a vehicle parked right up to the stop sign or right up to the corner. It is difficult to see oncoming traffic or make a turn.”

According to state Statute 66-7-351, “Stopping, standing or parking prohibited in specified places,” the places you can’t park include “within 30 feet upon the approach to any flashing beacon, stop sign or traffic-control signal located at the side of a roadway.”

As for corners, the state Driver License Manual states “drivers are responsible for making sure that their vehicle is not a hazard when it is parked. Whenever you park, be sure it is in a place that is far enough from any travel lane to avoid interfering with traffic.”

THIRTY-ONE ROAD DEATHS IN JANUARY: That’s way up over January 2011, when 23 people were killed on the road here.

Twenty-six of those were in vehicles, one was on a motorcycle, three were pedestrians and one was on a bike.

Alcohol was a factor in 11 of the deaths. Just eight of the people who died in vehicles were buckled in; the motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet.

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;; P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, NM, 87103; or go to to read previous columns and join in the conversation.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal