The People Left Behind By Car-Centric Planning

There are five schools within a mile of this location in Albuquerque. Photo:  Better Burque
There are five schools within a mile of this location in Albuquerque. Photo: Better Burque

The child walking in the dirt along this high-speed road in Albuquerque isn’t the type of person America has designed its transportation systems for.

Engineering formulas and public budgets typically focus on eliminating delay for motorists. A kid walking to school is an afterthought, or worse, an inconvenience in a system that aspires to scientific efficiency in moving cars.

The writers at Better Burque flagged this Google Street View photo as an example of how the city and county should be doing better for people on foot. It’s no surprise that a child is walking here:

There are five schools within a one-mile radius here, and many trailer parks, including the one noticeable in this Google Street View. One school, Robert F. Kennedy Charter, is mere feet from this kid.

Despite the obvious failure to design this street so kids can safely walk to school, when drivers harm pedestrians in this type of environment, it’s the victim who gets blamed. A few lines appear in the local paper failing to note anything about the configuration of the street or the driver’s behavior, and that’s the end of it. Patterns of preventable deaths resulting from known design flaws are treated as isolated tragedies we have no control over.

But car-centric roads and land use patterns endanger people on foot every day. They’re captured all the time in photos like this one in Nashville:

More people need to see what a hostile environment we’ve made for people outside of cars, so we’re going to do a crowdsourcing project. Do you have photos of people trying to navigate dangerous situations on foot? Either your own work or pulled from Google Maps? Send your images to angie [at] streetsblog [dot] org or tag them on Twitter with #walkinginthemargins.

More recommended reading today: PlanPhilly writes that job sprawl is part of what’s keeping many central Philadelphia residents mired in deep poverty. And Seattle Transit Blog explains how the region’s new transit fare card will work.

11 thoughts on The People Left Behind By Car-Centric Planning

  1. The first picture is a 2 lane paved road. No evidence to support that it is high-speed or analysis that there were any funds to do anything other than pave 2 lanes. The road diet activists aren’t even trying anymore.

  2. Typical misrepresentation from the road diet activists. There is literally a cross walk 10 feet behind this lady that can’t be seen in this photo.

  3. Went and took a look at the road myself, as I live in the city it’s in. There’s a strip of sidewalk in front of the school which ends right before the partition where the pictured child is.

    And, for whatever reason, there’s sidewalk on the one side of the road, but not the other. Funds were only cleared to install a sidewalk on one side of the street? Funds here in ABQ are so tight, that our ex-Mayor can install a $119 million dollar vanity project (Albuquerque Rapid Transit) through 9 miles of the city– perhaps the only 9 miles in the city which is already quite walk-able as it is. $13 of these millions come from tax dollars, some came from a federal grant, and the rest came from “other sources” as listed in their FAQ. We really can’t afford a simple paved sidewalk? I don’t believe that.

    There should obviously be heavy pedestrian and car traffic, as this area is only a few feet away from a school. Been near a school in the mornings and afternoons? I should think that would be a no brainer.

  4. A little homework would actually reveal that the city has been building sidewalk along that road over the years. It is still quite lacking, but the story implies nothing is being done.

  5. From

    I know I have told before of the moment in 1630 when the tiny ship Arabella bearing settlers to the New World lay off the Massachusetts coast. To the little bank of settlers gathered on the deck John Winthrop said: “we shall be a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world.”

    -Ronald Reagan (Well, his speechwriter anyway)

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