Councilor Benton Proposes Closing Selected Streets to Non-Local Motor Traffic

Following actions taken in a multitude of cities worldwide, Albuquerque City Councilor Isaac Benton is tonight introducing an “Active Streets Initiative,” a Resolution that, if passed, would enable the City to close some streets, actually quite a few streets as shown below, to anything but local motorized traffic, making them much more comfortably accessible by non-motorized users.

seattle closure
Example of Seattle’s “Safe Streets Initiative” in action. Begun a few weeks ago, the Initiative now proposes that 20 miles of that city’s streets be permanently closed to non-local motorized traffic. (Photo: Ken Lambert/ The Seattle Times)

Begun in the wake of the pandemic’s affect in reducing motorized traffic and increasing non-motorized use, initiatives such as Benton’s seek to provide socially-distanced options for non-motorized users during times such as these, while also providing the chance for neighborhoods to see what life can be like if their streets are made far more comfortably available to them.

One provision in Benton’s proposal denotes the types of streets eligible for such action (note bolding below):

SECTION 2. The following criteria shall be considered, at a minimum, to  determine whether a street would be a good candidate for the Active Streets Initiative:

a. The street does not carry transit services.
b. The street is classified as a collector or local street
c. Access plans shall be considered for roadways that have abutting  businesses, including the need for on-street parking, space for takeout,  dropoff, pickups, or outdoor table service.
SECTION 3. The Administration shall identify the first set of roadways within two weeks of the adoption of this Resolution and shall make the City Council and the public aware of what roadways have been chosen. These roadways shall remain closed until the current public health order and all social-distancing directives have been lifted.

Street classification tends to be one of those obscure technical constructs that hampers transportation advocacy because many folks don’t know what “collector” means or which streets are considered “collector or local street” versus “arterials” and other designations.

To demystify that obscurity a bit, here’s an interactive map from MRCOG illustrating how area streets/roads/stroads/and highways are so classified.

Tingley SW Collector
Example from map linked above. Yup, Tingley SW is a “minor collector” and hence would be eligible for “Active Streets” closure in Councilor Benton’s proposal.

Yup. A look at the MRCOG map shows that a great many streets fit “collector or local” classification, including many that are not on transit routes as well (e.g., Tingley SW).

Also worth noting is the quick turn-around proposed (and also bolded above). Two weeks from adoption is important in large part because Albuquerque has been slow in reacting relative to other cities. While it is utterly uncertain what social orders may come from Governor Lujan Grisham in coming days/weeks/months, quickly implementing road closures through Benton’s initiative, if passed, will be both essential and politically fascinating.


3 thoughts on “Councilor Benton Proposes Closing Selected Streets to Non-Local Motor Traffic

  1. Anonymous: Thanks for your feedback. I’ll assume “BS” stands for “Block Streets” which while not called for directly in the legislation is an interesting idea. Thanks.


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