Unfinished Albuquerque Rapid Transit Stop Contributes to Death on East Central

Having examined many pedestrian fatality police crash and investigation reports in the past few years, one extremely common thread is the strong tendency to blame the victim, regardless of other facts. Phrases such as “the victim was wearing dark clothing,” “had drug paraphernalia in a backpack,” and “was not crossing in a designated crosswalk” are rampant, even in cases of hit-and-run and other definite transgressions by the assailant.

The December 2020 case of victim Mark Rivera is much different; in fact, the concluding paragraph of the supplemental investigation subtly, yet strongly implicates the City of Albuquerque as accessory to the crime.

As alluded to in the investigation paragraph obtained through IPRA earlier this year, On December 10th, 2020, Mr. Rivera was struck and mortally wounded by an still unknown thief riding a stolen motorcycle on East Central at the still unfinished Albuquerque Rapid Transit (A.R.T.) stop just west of San Pedro. The perpetrator fled and remains, to my knowledge, at large today.

Mr. Rivera was attempting to cross Central in his wheelchair, using the ADA-compliant ramps installed both at the uncompleted stop and onto the sidewalk. That unfinished A.R.T. stop and corresponding sidewalk ramp still look like this in 2021, at least last time I checked a few weeks ago:

Looking eastbound via Google Streetview in April 2019
Mr. Rivera used this access point to start crossing eastbound Central

The unfinished A.R.T. stop at Laguayra Dr. is ~500 feet west of San Pedro and ~700 feet west of the signalized intersection at Alvarado. As is true throughout East Central, shops/restaurants and other reasons to cross Central are plentiful, yet signalized crossings are widely spaced. Many intersecting streets such as Laguayra create “mid-block crossings,” leaving travelers such as Mr. Rivera with the oft-dangerous choice between minutes upon minutes of walking/rolling to the nearest signalized crossing (which are often highly dangerous themselves) and the much quicker direct crossing.

But with A.R.T., the crossing at Laguayra was quite different back in December 2020 and remains so today. Not only does the unfinished bus stop provide a far safer median refuge than is true elsewhere along Central, there are the ADA-compliant ramps further encouraging use, particularly by those using a wheelchair.

Finished A.R.T. stops have H.A.W.K. signals and/or crosswalk striping formalizing status as a “real crossing.” The unfinished stop at Laguayra has everything but a H.A.W.K. and/or painted crossing stripes. Let’s look at that concluding paragraph from the supplemental investigation again:

In looking through upwards of 200 pedestrian fatality reports since 2016, I’ve come across nothing remotely as indicting of roadway conditions and engineering as this statement: “Perhaps if here had been a marked crosswalk for pedestrians, drivers would have been more cautious.”

ABQ Ride and the City of Albuquerque did not kill Mark Rivera. There’s apparently still a free man out there who did. But the City played a role in Mr. Rivera’s death, strongly encouraging use of a crossing without finishing the job to make that crossing suitably safe.

It says so right there in the investigatory report.

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