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Time For Santa Fe To Get Serious About Pedestrian Rights

November 2, 2009, 12:00 am
By Corey Pein
Today's Journal North Journal Santa Fe Santa Fe Journal* has a rather enraging story about an artist, Paul Pascarella, who, after getting hit by a passing vehicle, got a ticket for walking on the wrong side of the road. From the Journal (subscription required):
Pascarella was walking on a narrow road recently when he was hit by the side mirror of a passing pickup. Pascarella was walking with traffic, not facing it — which, as Pascarella later found out in the hospital emergency room, is a definite no-no.


A State Police officer visited him at Holy Cross Hospital in Taos, heard his story, read him the state statute on which side of the road pedestrians are supposed to use and gave him a warning citation.

Speaking to the Journal, NMSP spokesman Peter Olson didn't even come close to acknowledging that the officer might've made a mistake in judgment.
There's a sort-of-happy ending (spoiler: the guy who got hit gets a new jacket), but the real takeaway from the story is how terrible things are for anyone who's not driving a car—preferably the largest four-wheel drive vehicle available—in Northern New Mexico. Albuquerque is doing more for cyclists and pedestrians than Santa Fe. You'd think local officials might find that embarrassing.

Instead, the general attitude is not too different from the state cop who cited a pedestrian for getting hit by a car. Or from this guy:

633688223442831510-roadrage
Last night, I went to pick up some groceries at Sunflower (sorry, Zane; sorry, Co-Op—but Sunflower sells beer). After locking up my bike, I saw a scene brewing in the parking lot. An older woman who'd been crossing the parking lot with her bags was scolding a driver in a sedan who'd nearly hit her. "Pedestrians have the right of way," she said. Which happens to be true. A middle-aged man who'd seen what happened stood there to back her up.

The driver, who was younger and bigger than everyone around, was having none of it. He got out of his car, shouted at the woman—"I wasn't going to too fast or nothing!"—and got close enough to the man to throw a punch. That looked like where things were headed, and I tried to get in between them, telling the driver to cool it.

I was thinking, "What kind of shitbag almost runs over a woman carrying her groceries, then gets out of his car not to apologize and see if she's OK, but to brawl with the witnesses?"

The lady had a guess. As the driver was getting back into his car, she spat at him, "Go home and beat your wife!" To which he replied, "White trash bitch!" and drove away to points unknown.

Even if this dude wasn't a wife-beater, he clearly had an anger problem. But, as any daily car commuter can attest, simply being on the road and behind the wheel in traffic is enough to make any normally sane person gnash his teeth and curse at total strangers. There must be a better way. Matter of fact, there is. It's just that nobody in Santa Fe is talking about it. The most recent episode of NOW on PBS focuses on the transportation infrastructure in Denmark. You'd think a story like that would be a snooze, but it's frankly inspirational. Watch it and ask, "Why can't we do that?"



* I've noticed some confusion about what the Albuquerque Journal's special Santa Fe edition is actually called. The website is no help, see?

journalnorthOr is it...

journalsantafe

Until I got an email from the editor, Mark Oswald, I hadn't heard "Santa Fe Journal," but it's his paper, so we'll just go with that.

 

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