Burque’s Rainbow Striped Intersection and Walking Equality

As you know, Mayor Keller recently announced installation of a rainbow striped crosswalk at the corner of Central Avenue and Morningside.


Here the photo without Twitterification to better show the striping:

keller on central

While some are complaining about the $30,000 spent: A. This is a great idea, not only for this weekend’s Pride Parade, but for roadways users (around 20,000 a day) to see and remember on an everyday basis that love is love and equality legally exists (or should) for all; B. Many of those complaining are precisely the reason why the striping is such a great idea. Pissing them off is essential.

Speaking of equality, here’s an anecdote that gets to another issue of inequity illustrated, in this case unfortunately, by the intersection of Central Ave. and Morningside.

My 74-year-old mother and I walked across this very intersection only a couple of weeks ago. She was visiting and, as always happens on a Mom visit, we went to antique stores. You might now know this, but in addition to the world’s greatest bike shop (Two Wheel Drive, seen above), Central and Morningside is heavily lined with antique and vintage clothing shops.

So my Mom and I walked precisely where Mayor Keller is in the photo above, pre-rainbow striping. At 74 my Mom is still pretty spry, but she did bust her big toe a few weeks back and was slightly hobbled during her visit; for example, climbing Boca Negra to see some petroglyphs quickly proved to be a bad idea.

We crossed Central at Morningside two or three times during our antiquing, and besides having to wait quite a long time after hitting the “beg button,” I also noticed that the crossing time really wasn’t sufficient to get my Mom safely across the street. We had to skedaddle and my Mom’s big toe really wasn’t up to skedaddling.

The experience reminded me that I’ve recently been told that the City of Albuquerque sets all crossing times for a walking rate of 3.5 feet per second. This is the rate generally ordered by the “Bible” of such things, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD); however, there is a provision in the MUTCD regarding:

Guidance 10:
Where pedestrians who walk slower than 3.5 feet per second, or pedestrians who use wheelchairs, routinely use the crosswalk, a walking speed of less than 3.5 feet per second should be considered in determining the pedestrian clearance time.

So, to be truly equitable to all roadway users, we really must set crossing rates that fit the typical user of a particular intersection. Take, for instance, intersections lined by antique shops. Not to generalize, but antique shops have a clientele generally consisting of 74-year-old moms.

As it is not impossible, but illegal and ill-advised, for sons driving their 74-year-old Mom to simply crash through the antique shop’s front window, thus making crossing of nearby intersections unnecessary, it would make sense for the crossing time at Central Avenue and Morningside to be set at a slower walking rate or, as MUTCD also advises:

Option 18:
18 At signalized locations with a demonstrated need and subject to equipment capabilities, pedestrians with special needs may be provided with additional crossing time by means of an extended pushbutton press.

No, Albuquerque doesn’t have any “extended pushbutton press” crossings either. Not a one. I asked.

So while the Mayor looks real cool walking on that rainbow striped crossing, and that striping is fabulous and important, did you notice the time left for the Mayor to cross Central when the photo was taken?

Oh, you didn’t? Well, here’s that photo again:

keller on central

Yeah, that’s a 1, and it sure looks like Mayor Keller has at least a few more feet of Central to cross. Better put an “extended pushbutton press” or slow the expected rate for users at this intersection.

To not do so would be inequitable. A strange, illogical outcome at an intersection newly celebrating equality and love for all, including a son’s love for his 74-year-old Mom.


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