Letter To The Editor: Ensure Pedestrian Safety Before Building N.M. 502 Roundabout

Los Alamos

One thing I see missing from the pedestrian safety discussion about the roundabout proposed for N.M. 502 at Trinity and Central is any mention of the current pedestrian situation in that area.

The current situation is incredibly unsafe for all pedestrians who attempt to use the south side of N.M. 502 and access to the north side of N.M. 502 is so inconvenient and unsafe as to be unusable. 

For example, in order for anyone living in the area off Arroyo Lane to get to the nearest marked crosswalk in order to cross N.M. 502 they only have the following options, none of which are possible for anyone with mobility issues and none of which would change with the roundabout from the plans I’ve seen:

  • Walk to Smiths and use the crosswalk at the light there. This involves using the crumbling flight of steep stairs at the end of the complex to reach the Knights of Columbus parking lot and then crossing the unmarked intersection at DP Road.
  • Scramble through a drainage ditch into the Crossroads Church parking lot to get to the crossing in front of East Park Pool.
  • Actually walk on N.M. 502 in the street between Arroyo Lane and the Crossroads Church sidewalk as there is no shoulder or sidewalk, only a steep drop off, through this section.

Right now the drainage ditch is the option of choice for most people living in the complex as it is the shortest route to a crossing. There are a brave few, usually dog owners, who attempt to cross at Arroyo Lane in the unmarked crosswalk to get to the grassy area across the street; however that is a highly dangerous area to cross at as east-bound drivers regularly speed through that area and both east and west-bound drivers don’t expect pedestrians there as it is unmarked.

Instead of spending the massive amounts of money currently budgeted to build a roundabout to fix a problem that doesn’t even exist, how about spending a small amount of money to fix the current pedestrian problems in that area? How much would it cost to put some painted crosswalk stripes and curb cutouts on N.M. 502 at Arroyo Lane?  What about putting a real sidewalk between DP Road and the sidewalk at Crossroads Church? Fix the current safety issues, which put pedestrian lives at risk every day before fixing traffic congestion problems, which don’t exist.