Fires, garbage, human particles spoil roads for locals and vacationers, »Albuquerque Journal
VANDALISM MAKES TRAIL WORK HARDER: In a recent letter to the editor, Van Eldredge had an important follow-up to the news that Albuquerque relies on a handful of employees to maintain 160 miles of bike paths.
“I can testify that our local multi-purpose bicycle / pedestrian lanes are in dire condition,” Van writes via email. “However, I would like to point out that a significant amount of the damage was not caused by weather or normal use, but by criminal activity. Multiple arson attacks occurred on both the Bosque Trail and the North Diversion Trail.
“Illegal campers have left trash and human debris, making the Interstate 40 path between Eubank and Tramway Boulevards essentially impassable,” Van continues. “What was once a commuter route for UNM students and hospital staff off University Boulevard has instead become a drug and human trafficking route. Calls to 242-COPS and 311 made no changes. Calls and emails to the mayor’s office did not solve the problem. Former Albuquerque City administrations used Albuquerque police officers on bicycles to patrol the path system and protect our citizens. In the past, enforcement of laws prohibiting waste, drug and alcohol use, vandalism, theft, and bodily harm has been widespread. With only a limited number of maintenance personnel available to work on these trails, it seems tax-wise for the city to take some preventive measures. It is counterproductive to have a crew repair the path only to be damaged by criminals days later. “
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And Van adds that it’s bad enough that the locals have to endure this – but what impression does it make on visitors?
“The Masters Road Nationals will begin in a few weeks, and the Balloon Fiesta will return in October. These events have the potential to showcase our community trail system, but unfortunately, in their current state, it would actually be embarrassing. … As someone who grew up cycling on the Hahn-Arroyo-Trail in the late 1970s, I can certify that the deterioration in the past three years is the worst I have ever seen. Something really has to be done soon, otherwise we risk losing this local treasure. “
As a matter of fact.
APD / FCS IMPLEMENTATION AND ACHIEVEMENT: Jessica Campbell, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Parks and Recreation Department of Albuquerque, collected information from the Albuquerque Police Department and Family and Community Services. She says, Van “addresses an important point: These trails are important to our department and those who use them and should be presented to tourists and visitors to Albuquerque.”
And so the city combines enforcement and public relations. “The area commands Southeast, Northeast and Foothills send their cycle officers on patrols on the trails,” explains Campbell. “In the NE they are often on the paths along the diversion canals, and in the SE they walk on the paths along I-40, near Jerry Cline Park, under the bridge along I-40 at Carlisle and west of Eubank the “Los Altos Golf Course. We think it’s important to meet our community members who are not staying where they are.
“Our officials work closely with the Family and Community Resources Department to make sure these people are connected to resources that are taking them off the streets. Ultimately, people living in camps need safe, affordable housing with supportive services – which is why the city has increased funding for supportive housing programs by 73% since fiscal 2018. The Gateway Center project is underway and will soon serve as a necessary liaison center service provider for those who need it most. “
By now, cyclists know they can call 311, 242-COPS, Parks and Rec at 768-5353 or Family and Community Services at 768-2860 if they have problems. With people’s limited powers to patrol and service 160 miles of hiking trails and growing crime and homelessness, our public servants are betting specific – and polite – heads-ups.
The editor of the editorial page D’Val Westphal deals with commuter problems for the metropolitan region on Mondays. Reach them at 823-3858; [email protected]; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.