wonder who helps determine the level of pedestrian safety in
your neighborhood? In cities around New Mexico, one man, with
teams of community volunteers, is doing just that.
LaValley, research scientist at the UNM Health Sciences Center,
improving pedestrian safety is a mission that can mean life
coordinates the New Mexico Pedestrian Safety Project, funded
by the New Mexico Traffic Safety Bureau (TSB).
59 New Mexico pedestrians were killed and 407 were injured,
according to the TSBs Division of Government Research
(DGR), based at UNM. DGR statistics show that pedestrian deaths
and injuries have been trending downward since the last increase
was recorded in 2001.
numbers on the decrease, LaValley and his walkable communities
groups have spent countless hours trying to improve safety and
access for pedestrians. His job is to help identify and recruit
communities in need of improved pedestrian access and safety.
Local residents then use grant money to help make improvements
to sidewalks, crosswalks and roads.
to LaValley, its a big task to encourage change.
have unique communities in New Mexico with pedestrian safety
problems that require unique solutions, LaValley said.
The groups we set up would like to solve their concerns
based on neighborhood involvement. This creates a sense of purpose
and buy-in from the rest of their community.
attended Tulane University and finished his biology and art
history degrees at UNM. After working in the private sector,
LaValley returned to UNM.
trying to solve pedestrian concerns around the state, he volunteers
as coordinator for outdoor projects at the Rio Grande Nature
Center. In addition to improving the center's ecology, LaValley
and others focus on restoring areas of the Rio Grande bosque
lost during fires that scorched hundreds of acres.
he does there parallels his efforts in pedestrian safety, he
both areas, you have to get people interested and involved for
things to change, LaValley said. Its all a
part of behavior modification making people aware that
they can make a difference in improving our communities.