Has New Mexico improved its bicycle safety?

New Mexico has not historically been the most friendly home for bicyclists. The state ranked No. 44 in the nation in terms of bicycle safety in 2017.

The League of American Bicyclists, which releases the rankings, published progress reports at the end of 2018 instead of full report cards. A year later, how does New Mexico hold up?

Peaks and valleys

The league mentions in New Mexico's progress report that two pieces of data continue to move up and down each year: the state's use of federal funding for bicyclists and pedestrians, and the number of bicycle traffic fatalities.

Looking at 10-year trends, New Mexico spent 2.1% of Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) funding on biking and walking. While this meets the league's Bicycle Friend Action requirement that states allocate a 2% minimum of FHWA funding for bicyclists and pedestrians, it is also one of the 10 largest decreases in funding across the country.

In New Mexico, there were 8.3 fatalities per 10,000 bicycle commuters over the past 10 years. However, in that same period, New Mexico experienced one of the 10 largest decreases in bicycle commuting - only 0.7% of commuters bike to work.

A statewide plan

The league noted that, at the time they compiled the progress report's data, New Mexico had not finalized its Prioritized Statewide Bicycle Network Plan. The plan, which launched in December 2018, aims to create "a sustainable framework within existing roadway reconstruction and major rehabilitation processes to incorporate bicycle infrastructure on state roadways."

When the league wrote its progress report, they said they hoped the program could lead to more predictable and increased federal data. It will be interesting to see how the plan addresses bicyclists' needs and if it leads to an increase in statewide bicycling while keeping fatalities down.

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