By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer
In a report released Thursday from the Surface Transportation Policy Project, New Mexico was shown to top the nation for number of pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents. STPP reported the state’s fatality rate at 3.01 pedestrian traffic deaths per 100,000 residents.
The national rate is 1.68 per 100,000, according to the report. The report was put together to investigate pedestrian fatalities nationwide and whether the states were investing enough in pedestrian safety.
Joanne McEntire, coordinator of Albuquerque Alliance for Active Living, said she would like to see New Mexicans become more active in their lifestyle and cities become friendlier to pedestrians. But she understands why some may be worried to walk the streets.
“Everybody ends up paying for issues caused by a sedentary lifestyle,” she said. “It’s important as drivers to recognize that pedestrians have the right to use the roads.”
Clovis police officer David Lester said pedestrian deaths are not a big problem in Clovis. He only recalled one pedestrian fatality in the city last year, and said it occurred in the vicinity of Prince and 21st streets.
According to numbers compiled by STPP, Curry County had two pedestrian fatalities last year, bringing the pedestrian fatality rate per 100,000 residents to 4.40. However, in 2002 there was only one pedestrian fatality, and the fatality rate was below the state’s average at 2.22 per 100,000 residents.
Lester said many of the pedestrian deaths in the state seem to happen farther north, and are the result of alcohol abuse.
For instance, San Juan County in the northeast corner of the state had 10 pedestrian fatalities in 2002 to Curry County’s one. San Juan’s population in 2002 was 119,815, according to the STPP numbers, which would make its pedestrian fatality rate 8.34 per 100,000.
Clovis Traffic Superintendent Kevin Musick said he plans to improve the pedestrian walkways at Prince and 21st streets in the near future.
“Pedestrian movement is important, and we need to get these markings up to par,” he said.