Another Pedestrian Fatality and the Need for Deeper Understanding

The rising epidemic of those killed walking Albuquerque streets included one more person earlier today on/near Tramway and on/near Comanche/Candelaria.

I include all the “on/near” and other “/” as early news reports aren’t more specific; however, if this latest death is like 99% of other pedestrian fatality reports, it’s as specific as we are ever going to get. The case of Eliza “Justine” Almuina, the 6th Grader killed right next to her middle school at Louisiana and Natalie is the exception. In few cases do we even get a name for the deceased, much less a story on the humans involved in this epidemic.

That said, it is ultimately not the job of journalists and news outlets to cover this epidemic to the extent necessary to develop public policies that truly address the problem. Yes, there is a “story” out there desperately in need of more coverage, and more specific coverage, but there are “stories” out there crying out for depth regarding countless issues. General news outlets aren’t equipped to handle and relate the nitty-gritty detail needed to make change happen. This is particularly true with a subject like pedestrian fatalities, where victims are almost always seem as “them,” never “us” to the point of being referred to only as “vehicle” and “pedestrian” in an “accident.”

And that’s where efforts like Better Burque can and should step in. Deepening general news to the point of information and analysis needed to effect actual public policy change is a huge job…but somebody has got to do it.

To this point, BB has admittedly only scratched the surface a fraction beyond the general news outlets. Far more depth is needed. We at BB will internally discuss how that might be done, capacity, of course, always the biggest issue. Input from readers is always welcome, particularly on how we might perform this civic service. We have some ideas, but we need more..and we need you, frankly.

walking university menaul
A woman walks across University just south of Menaul back in May. BB was there to chat with a TV crew about the death of someone walking nearby a few days prior. We need to get past such “sound-bite” chats.

If you’re interested in doing more to deepen understanding of the issues touched upon by Better Burque, send us an email.  We most definitely need contributors, but we also need folks with insights on things like Uniform Crash Reports, collecting/displaying crash data, and information on specifics regarding individual cases (e.g., in what lane, in which direction, was the person struck?).

Ultimately, we also need the human element and reach out for those who might be willing to contact those involved and craft stories on victims, both drivers and families of the deceased, as was done very well in the story on Justine Almuina linked above. Full disclosure, I’ve personally tried to force myself into making such contacts, but it’s not in my research DNA. Putting these people through my questions and feeble attempts at sensitivity isn’t going to happen. But someone who can do a far better job of eliciting these stories is definitely needed.

Until we or somebody around town gets to that deeper level of information/analysis, we’re going to keep seeing stories with “vehicle” and “person” involved in an “accident.” And the numbers of those killed walking our streets will, apparently, continue their record-smashing rise. True, public policy isn’t only changed based on information/analysis, and contacting governmental officials and office-holders is important, too, but as long as we see the victims of this epidemic as merely “them” effecting change via political/bureaucratic means will be nigh impossible.

Let’s get beyond “them.” Let us at BB know your ideas and offers to help.

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