Your Chance to Comment on State’s New Walking Safety Plan

You may not be excited to learn that NMDOT has released its draft Pedestrian Safety Plan.

This possible lack of excitement is quite understandable, even if you actually do care about walking safety, perhaps to the point of reading this blog. Given the opportunity to read a “State plan,” one almost immediately considers a nap, regardless of time of day. Besides, don’t most ‘State plans” just end up eternally unseen on that dusty shelf at the back of the office occupied by an inevitably revolving cast of state bureaucrats?

Yup, selling you on the need to read and comment on this draft isn’t easy. I’m trying honesty as my approach, and I’ll admit I have my doubts. What will get you to read and comment on what is an important policy planning document (really!)?

I know, we’ll focus on what we don’t like about it.

Nothing elicits engagement like whiny criticism. And we can also get all English teacher nitpicky and copy edit the damn thing. Nitpicking is fun, makes us reader/commenters look smart (not to mention making us look like superficial jerks), and everyone can play, because we’re all amateur/professional copy editors.

Let’s start with the latter focus and gaze upon a sentence on page 74 of the 87 page .pdf:

Despite the fact that respondents considered high traffic speeds to be a major barrier to
walking, they considered “lower vehicle speeds” to be among the least affective strategies for improving
pedestrian safety.

Yes, fellow amateur/professional copy editors out there will have spotted that “affective” needs to be “effective” in this sentence. Don’t we all feel smarter and better having pointed out this mistake? The added benefit here is that we discover said glitch way back on page 74, giving the false impression that we have read the entire draft carefully.

Then there’s content criticism, and I’ll leave most of that to you, dear Better Burque reader. Leaving the bulk of this job to you:

  • Makes me appear nice;
  • Negates the necessity to closely read the entire draft; and,
  • Perhaps unfairly pinpoints a single problem in what is generally a perfectly fine draft (for a plan that probably nobody in actual charge of pedestrian policy decisions will ever read, not that this is the fault of the draft authors).

The 14-page Executive Summary of the Draft (Note: 14 pages is too long for an Executive Summary) is highlighted by a graphic, an excerpt of which is screengrabbed above. While there is much explanative text throughout the Executive Summary and remaining pages of the Draft, those folks who do read this Plan will pretty much skim (blah, blah, blah) the text which explains in some detail the nuance and gaps in such statistics (e.g., law enforcement uniform crash reports are shit) and just focus any energy/memory devoted to this graphic.

And this graphic tells them that drunk pedestrians are the reasons why this Plan is being written and that almost all of these crashes happen in urban areas, so why should I give a rat’s ass here in Carrizozo about this city problem.

And maybe that shouldn’t be the impression left by such a Plan, even if it’s true nobody is charge is likely to read it. There’s also the fact that the Draft focusing 100% of its argumentative energy on reducing the numbers of those killed/injured walking our roadways, and 0% of its energy on the argument that we should do a much, much, much better job of encouraging walking across/along our roadways. Yes, reducing deaths/injuries is very important, but so too is getting people to walk more.

Apologies that I seem to have exceeded my intention of leaving everything up to you, dear reader. Make up for my mistake by making sure to both read the entire draft and submit your comments on it, even/especially if those comments are in complete opposition to my own.

In fact, angrily opposing my insipid thoughts might be just the energy ticket you need to overcome the lack of excitement elicited by the thought of reading a “State plan.” Comments are due by June 13th.

2 thoughts on “Your Chance to Comment on State’s New Walking Safety Plan

  1. Scot, could I talk to you sometime about your thoughts on this? I help run a transportation research program at NMDOT. I think there are important possible research topics related to pedestrian safety in NM, but I’d like to learn more from folks like you. I work with Shannon Glendenning on these topics some – she is quite thoughtful.


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