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Bicycling Advocates Call For Safety Considerations in Santa Fe

A cyclist riding a bike in a bicycle lane on a busy road.A personal injury lawyer discusses the dangers cyclists, pedestrians face

Bicyclists and pedestrians are vulnerable out on the road. One negligent driver can cause an accident that leaves them seriously injured. Bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities have been a problem in New Mexico. Many safety advocates are calling for better road designs to help keep people safe, starting with the Cerrillos Road project.

One day in 2017, professional cyclist Irena Ossola went for a bike ride in Santa Fe, her hometown. She was headed home as she approached a roundabout joining West Alameda Street and Siler Road. She slowed down in the bike lane as she prepared to go through the traffic circle. A car made a left turn into a driveway and struck her.

Ossola suffered a traumatic brain injury and multiple fractures. She was in the hospital for two months, and it was a full year before she considered herself “90% back to normal.” Her cycling career was over.

She feels the streets of Santa Fe need to be made safe for everyone, including bicyclists.

Addressing an ongoing safety issue

In 2019, there were 83 pedestrian deaths and 9 bicyclist fatalities in New Mexico, ranking it among the worst in the nation in those categories, according to National Highway TSA statistics compiled by the League of American Bicyclists.

Santa Fe ranks third statewide for pedestrian and bike accidents, according to the University of New Mexico’s Traffic Research Unit.

Now, the city has the opportunity to implement safe road design at a location that even experienced bicyclists have avoided – Cerrillos Road.

The New Mexico Department of Transportation is entering the final segment of the road’s redesign before transferring authority to the city.

Erick Aune of Santa Fe’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) said that considering the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists in projects like this is vital in helping to meet the city’s goal of creating a sustainable community. He noted that one section of the road saw 15 pedestrian and bike crashes every year, and a previous redesign made little change.

Estevan Gonzales, a transportation department engineer on the project, said the next segment is now in the study phase which will help determine the goals of the redesign. Officials hope the study will help find ways to maximize traffic operations for all modes of transportation while minimizing the environmental impact.

If you’ve been injured, get a legal warrior on your side

Aune and Santa Fe Public Works Director Regina Wheeler have posed questions to the NMDOT about the project. They’ve asked about reducing lane sizes, adding a pedestrian crossing, lowering the posted speed limit, and exploring other ways of improving pedestrian and bike safety.

Wheeler said the DOT has already made some modifications to the original design and appears to be embracing the feedback they’ve received.

Pedestrian and bicycle accidents can change the lives of victims in seconds. They are left with serious injuries. Medical expenses can add up very quickly and leave people wondering how they will pay the bills. But negligent drivers often deny doing anything wrong, and insurance companies try to find ways to pay victims less.

That’s why it’s important to have experienced legal representation. Attorney Andras Szantho of Szantho Law Firm fights for the rights of the injured. He guides clients through the legal process every step of the way and is determined to help them recover the compensation they deserve.

If you have been injured in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, or anywhere in New Mexico, it’s important to get legal advice as soon as possible. Contact us to schedule a free case evaluation.

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