Getting Coffee Shouldn’t Be So Dangerous in Wells Park

Read about a new coffee shop in Wells Park this morning in “Downtown Albuquerque News.” Nice hyperlocal (that’s a good thing) online news source, you should check it out. 

Coffee shop Casa de Luna at 5th and Kinley is another step in the transformation of eastern Wells Park from generally non-residential along the lower numbered streets (1st through 5th particularly) north of downtown to a mix of industrial, small offices, established homes, and other places to live and exist, (e.g., having a cup of coffee). Here’s a bird’s eye:

5th and kinley

Over the past fifteen years or so, this part of Wells Park has added:

  • Casa de Luna
  • a St. Joseph’s Community Health Center
  • Cuarto Apartments

and several other small retail and service offices, now sandwiched between places like “Albuquerque Driveshaft and Axle” and “Central Paint & Body Shop.” It’s an interesting mix, one that also includes the Johnny Tapia Community Center and adjacent Wells Park itself, slightly out of bird’s eye frame above, lower left.

A big example is Cuatro, a 56-unit affordable housing apartment complex focused on those 55+ in age and/or with special needs. Sited on what was for years an abandoned used car lot, Cuarto dramatically increases the number of those living amid the car repair shops in the neighborhood.

There’s only one problem. Roadway infrastructure on those numbered streets, and those crossing such as Bellamah NW, hasn’t transformed along with the neighborhood.

So, streets still zoom drivers to/from downtown & I-40 with scant signalized intersections and remarkably few striped crosswalks. As prime example, 5th N.W. between Mountain NW and I-40 has zero fully signalized intersections, zero striped crosswalks, and one forlorn continuously flashing yellow light at Bellamah (St. Joseph’s Health Center), a distance of roughly 4,000 ft.

Thus, for over three-quarters of a mile anyone trying to walk across 5th would be “at fault” if hit by a driver, arguably even at the forlorn flashing yellow at Bellamah, as that crossing, too, does not have a striped crosswalk. The same lack of crosswalks is found on nearby 2nd St., scene of a walking hit and run death in 2016, one in which the victim was dragged 600 feet between Aspen and Kinley NW.

In encouraging transformation of Wells Park, the City of Albuquerque must also provide resources reflecting this transformation. In terms of roadway infrastructure in Wells Park, the City has done a very poor job, leaving the neighborhood more and more unsafe for the increasing number of residents wishing to walk to the increasing number of retail shops, restaurants, and offices nearby.  We can’t build and revitalize neighborhoods economically if we don’t make it safe enough for neighbors to visit such places.

As prime example, wishing and enabling the best for its new coffee shop Cafe da Luna, shouldn’t we make it safer to walk across 5th NW at Kinley from an apartment complex less than 400 feet away by installing a signalized crossing at this intersection?

Shouldn’t we have already done this, probably years ago?







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