2021 ABQ Walking Deaths #3: Mr. Miligan

34-year-old John Miligan was killed at about 6:00 PM on Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 by the driver of what is believed to be a black, 2000 Chevrolet pick-up while Miligan tried to cross Central Ave. at Charleston near the new International District library. The perpetrating driver first side-swiped the driver of another truck before apparently slamming on brakes while going “100 miles an hour,” according to driver of the side-swiped truck. Mr. Miligan, in the inside lane of westbound Central, was struck with such force that his shoes were knocked off, ending up some considerable distance away.

Of course we only believe it was a 2000 Chevrolet pick-up because the driver of said truck fled, and has, according to all crash and supplemental police reports, never been identified/caught. The case of John Miligan brings two unfortunately prominent tendencies in walking deaths together: 1. It was a hit-and-run; 2. It happened on East Central at Charleston.

For those who don’t head over there much, East Central at/near Charleston, especially at night, is about as close to 1960s-70s era Times Square NYC as Albuquerque gets. It’s a pedestrian-rich corridor, with more walkers doing more things than anywhere else in town. Unlike Times Square, even back in the 60s-70s, our own version has a posted 35 mph stroad running through it, the roadway engineering of which encourages drivers to go a bit, or a lot, faster than the posted speed. One such encouragement is the sizable distance between signalized intersections, which, of course, makes things more arduous/dangerous for the many folks trying to stay alive walking.

And as if all that isn’t enough to make East Central a veritable walking kill zone, there’s an additionally diabolical engineering “feature” in that Charleston and adjacent streets off-set through Central, meaning that they aren’t quite straight north-to-south:

“See Mom, no marked crosswalks ‘cuz the street doesn’t connect! Ingenious, huh?”

The engineering, walking abundance, and other factors all combine to make this stretch of Central a kill zone. Plain and simple. Sure, in this case the driver was speeding, greatly so it appears (although no useful surveillance video was found to verify anything close to “100 mph”). But as readers of Better Burque already know, and will get to know over and over and over again, there’s a never-ending number of walking deaths at/near Central and Charleston. Each of these many fatal incidents has “fault” such as speeding and, in this many cases such as this, the fact that Mr. Miligan was “attempting to cross outside of a marked intersection.” Yup, on the crash report this one is noted as “pedestrian error,” despite the driver’s speeding and fleeing the scene.

One might argue that Albuquerque’s “Times Square” is really Central through Nob Hill instead of Central at/near Charleston. Maybe this is true in that Nob Hill is today’s Times Square and Central/Charleston is Times Square in squalid days of yore. Walking Central through Nob Hill is far, far safer than attempting it anywhere near Charleston. Difference in relative speed between the two corridor sections is a big, perhaps the biggest reason, why.

If we’re not prepared to do what it takes to make Central and Charleston as safe as Central through Nob Hill we are essentially just consigning a certain, higher, number of walking Burqueños to their death. Me, I’d close Central Avenue through Charleston to drivers until we figure out a way to truly decrease the danger to the point it now sits. Heck, that’s what they did with Times Square.

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