23 El Pueblo Train Track Cycling Crashes and Counting

We’re approaching two dozen reports from cyclists who have crashed here…

el pueblo tracks

Helped by others, including Nancy Tipton from the Albuquerque Journal, a steady stream of reports have come into BB the last few days from cyclists who have crashed trying to cross the railroad tracks on El Pueblo NE.

Numbers and details from reports so far include:

  • Oldest Incident: 1994
  • Latest Incident: October 18, 2018
  • Injuries beyond “road rash”
    • 3 fractured wrists
    • 1 severely broken thumb requiring pins (we have x-rays of these long, long pins, but will spare you)
    • 1 broken pelvis
    • 1 case of Traumatic Brain Injury
    • At least 3 concussions
    • 1 shoulder injury
    • Several cases of bicycle damage
    • More photos illustrating injuries than you ever want to see
  • Pending court cases in response: 1 that we know about
  • Previous legal settlements: 1 that we know about
  • Common Element in 3 crashes: Victims were riding to the Balloon Fiesta, having never ridden El Pueblo before
  • Number of 311/911 calls in response: Fewer than you would think. More than one case of broken bones was reported in which the victim was just driven to urgent care by a relative.
  • Memorial Quotes: 23 or 100%, including the following from different victims:
    • “Completely destroyed my helmet”
    • “The helmet most likely saved my life.”
    • An ambulance attendant told the victim’s uncle that the nephew’s crash was, “third in a string of bike accidents that morning.” (Balloon Fiesta)
    • Took bike to Cycle Cave to get fixed and was told “they get about two wrecks a week from that crossing.”
    • And more than one statement that: “I have never ridden over those tracks again!”

It’s hard to pick a favorite report so far, but this one from a regular BB reader includes an observation that perhaps says more about these crossings than any other:

Roughly 17 years ago I was riding from my part-time job at Honeywell on Jefferson to my full time job at Comanche and Princeton. As I rolled carefully down El Pueblo and across the tracks, I was slammed to the pavement.

I clearly remember tucking my chin in so that my head just tapped the strategically placed curb on the north side of the road. While my head was safe, I could feel the results of having my ribs slammed into my spine for weeks. The bloody mess that was my right thigh healed up pretty fast.

The thing that caught my attention, as I gathered my things and straightened out my bike so I could continue on to work, was all of the detritus from previous crashes. Shards of reflectors, screws, bits of helmets let me know I wasn’t alone. For what that’s worth.

This place is a hazard.

No, El Pueblo crash victims, you are most certainly not alone. Speaking of which, have you told us your story? We’ll be taking them on an ongoing basis as we move forward in passing the stories/incidents along to those who can, and should (and must), get this situation fixed. This work includes some public records requests from which we will share info as we get it.

We’ve been wrecking on El Pueblo since at least 1994. Keeping that in mind, we’ll patiently “work the system” and any ideas/avenues you have toward that end are hugely appreciated.

Thanks for the stories. Keep ’em coming.




7 thoughts on “23 El Pueblo Train Track Cycling Crashes and Counting

  1. I came to Albuquerque for ballon fiesta in 2002. I was on a tandem bicycle with friend when our front wheel jambed into groove beside rail. We both went flying thru the air; she landing on her shoulder, I slamming into curb. My left elbow was put in a cast at an urgent care on Montgomery. When I returned to Eugene, OR I had an MRI that revealed multiple fractures. I now have 3 plates and 14 screws embedded there. Can’t believe that hazard is still eating cyclists. An ironic twist that is almost unbelievabe is that in June of 1970 I lost the lower part of the same arm at the hands of an out of control car on Montgomery Blvd, also on a bicycle.


  2. Mr. Galvan: Thanks for your report; sorry it happened and, unfortunately, continues to happen. Just to follow up, do you recall contacting any authorities that might have a paper trail (311/911, call to City, etc.)? Noting your mentioned trip to urgent care, I’m guessing not, but ask as we’re trying to piece together how many times government/State/rail company/etc. might have heard from victims. – Scot


  3. About two years ago I tried crossing the railroad and crashed. It entailed some bruises, new helmet, repair to wheel on bike and purchase of bike clothes. Upon arriving at this railroad now, I get off the bike and cross on foot. I have crossed other tracks before such as Mountain Road, Lamy etc. without difficulty.


  4. Mr. Stanley: Thanks for your report. Between the comments here and new email reports, we’re up to about 30 instances. Of course, this is just a fraction and it’s interesting to consider a ballpark figure for how many have actually crashed there over the years. Perhaps we’ll find out a bit more along those lines when our public records request come back. – Scot


  5. My wife and I were riding at this area one weekend I looked back to check on her while on are ride and saw she had crash hard and was laying on the road and the train tracks. She had bad road rash and a sore hip, but not broken also had pulled her groin muscle.
    It is very dangerous especially for people who don’t ride a lot or have no too little experience with train tracks.
    the angle of the track to street is a big problem.


  6. Mr. Wagner: Thanks for taking time to report. One aspect of the point you make about riders without years of experience is that such riders make the excellent choice to avoid traffic and such by riding to Balloon Fiesta. Then they get to the tracks on El Pueblo. – Scot


  7. I haven’t crashed here, but did cross this a couple weekends ago. It had been a while, and had forgotten it was so dangerous. Vaguely reasonable infrastructure over I-25, giving you a false sense of a reasonable bike route, then dumped straight into hell. I am fortunately very well acquainted with crossing tracks (used to do it twice daily. I learned the hard way, when I was young and bouncy.), and survived this area in the past as well as on my most recent visit to this 4ish blocks of hell. The key here going west is when you approach, to cross to the south side of the road and ride directly into on-coming traffic. If you don’t, you won’t get the angle right, and you are pretty well doomed. If course, riding head-on on a semi-blind curve into often speeding, commercial traffic has it’s own hazards…


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