Our Dangerous Roadways: Coors & Rio Bravo/Dennis Chavez

Although it’s only a mile from my house as the crow flies, I made a very, very rare cycling excursion to the intersection of Coors Blvd. and Rio Bravo/Dennis Chavez Blvds. yesterday. If you’ve ever driven, biked, walked this intersection, you already know why I almost never go there, using any form of transport. If you’re unfamiliar with this highly dangerous nexus, here’s a satellite view:

rio bravo coors stop

Coming from the south and east, I rode up to Rio Bravo (because nobody anywhere close to sane would cycle up Coors Blvd. to this intersection) and west to the little red box you see on the northwest corner of  the intersection. I had to go to this corner because my meeting was at Albuquerque City Limits Restaurant (pinned in photo). I took the following photos from that northwest corner.


walking coors at rio bravo
I met this gentleman after he crossed Rio Bravo northbound. A regular walker on this stretch, he told me the orange pole was originally placed to be in the shoulder because impatient drivers were using the shoulder as a right-turn lane. Note both the lack of sidewalk and where the orange pole is now. He told me he prefers walking this westside shoulder because there’s no sidewalk along the eastside of Coors, either.


no side walk dennis chavez and coors
Looking west on Dennis Chavez Blvd. we see no sidewalk and a debris-filled wasteland around the “beg button.” Not pictured, as it’s on the opposing corner of the intersection, the same scene greets walkers trying to cross next to the Walmart Superstore. Walmart has a useless winding sidewalk not adjacent to Rio Bravo running east, but there’s no sidewalk at all at the northeast intersection crossing itself.


crossing rio bravo at coors
Another walker waits to cross Rio Bravo from the northeast corner. Note the 155 bus; you can’t make it out in the first photo above but there’s a bus stop on the shoulder (you know the one impatient drivers use as a right-turn lane?) southbound on Coors. Standing here is about as uncomfortable and vulnerable as it gets. Yet, you’re standing very near a Walmart and many other shops and restaurants. Hence the high number of pedestrians.
walking coors at rio bravo
Let’s go back to that first photo. Note the bag and what appears to be a fast-food drink. All these shops, restaurants and Walmart are at this intersection, many of them new, but walking to/from any of them involves what you see above.

Everybody complains about the intersection of Coors and Rio Bravo/Dennis Chavez these days, drivers in particular, as congestion has ramped up with the explosion of Walmart/shops/restaurants in recent years. But while the intersection is under-equipped to handle vehicular traffic flow, it’s deadly dangerous for those trying to walk here.

While the recently released regional “High Injury and Fatal Network” map (part of the new Regional Transportation Safety Plan Report) only notes the intersection as having a slightly above rate of pedestrian injury/death here, that data was collected 2011-2015, just to and prior to many shops/restaurants opening nearby. More recently, a walker was killed at/near here just last month.

Like many sprawl developments, this intersection has not been redesigned/improved to meet demand. For drivers getting to/from the growing number of businesses, it’s mostly just an aggravation. For those trying to walk to/from these establishments, it’s as though our roadways don’t take into account that humans without cars actually eat, drink, shop or even exist.

My short visit yesterday to the intersection of Coors & Rio Bravo/Dennis Chavez will not be repeated anytime soon. Long-term plans call for redesign/improvement of this intersection, but such plans are past-due. Sprawl is like that. You’d think, having so much experience with sprawl by 2018, that we would do such redesigns before anchors like a Walmart Supercenter even opened.

That we don’t illustrates many things concerning priorities and that prioritizing safe walking options almost always comes last. Most often it doesn’t come at all.




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