Aug 18 - 24, 2011 

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ABQ DANGER MAP!

Albuquerque is a tough little piñon—a big old city trapped in a small town’s body. We love it here. But all of that natural splendor and quirky charm comes at a price. Mastering Albuquerque takes street smarts. If you want to thrive, first you have to survive—and finding the pitfalls is half the battle.

So, based on the most recent available data, here’s the battleground. Good luck navigating it, citizens of Burque. (Click below for our interactive Danger Map.)

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Arsenic Water

Everyone knows arsenic is a poison, but did you know it's in your water too? Low levels of arsenic in your glass are naturally occurring. The Environmental Protection Agency says that drinking water must have fewer than 10 parts per billion of arsenic to prevent harmful effects of long-term exposure. According to the 2010 report by the Albuquerque Bernalillo Water Utility Authority, these water zones have as high as 8 parts of arsenic per billion. It’s worth keeping an eye on. Check your zone here: bit.ly/abqarsenicwater. (EK)

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Bicycle Deaths

Ghost bikes are descansos (roadside memorials) that remind us of cyclists killed by vehicles. Although the New Mexico Department of Transportation documents more than 100 deaths of bicyclists in New Mexico since 1989, only 10 ghost bikes haunt Albuquerque’s streets. The Duke City Wheelmen Foundation installs ghost bikes when a friend or family notifies the group of a death. Jennifer Buntz, the group’s founder, says the Duke City Wheelman began memorializing fallen comrades in 2010. For more information on the individual memorials, how to install a ghost bike or to get involved, visit dukecitywheelmen.org. (EK)

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Car Crashes

We can't always blame it on the booze. Sometimes bad drivers are just bad drivers, particularly on Paseo del Norte. A report by UNM’s Division of Government Research breaks down the 50 worst intersections in the state based on data from 2007 through 2009. Paseo del Norte at Coors as well as at Jefferson tie for the No. 1 spots with 391 crashes apiece. Coors and Paseo is slightly more dangerous, as 118 of those crashes (or 30 percent) were fatal. (Paseo and Jefferson comes in at 110 fatalities, or 28 percent.) More intersections to steer clear of: bit.ly/abqcarcrashes. (EK)

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Corporate Coffee

Beware the coffee! This is the very McDonald’s where, in 1992, Stella Liebeck ordered a 49 cent cup of joe and then spilled it on her lap, resulting in burns, a successful $2.8 million lawsuit and a flood of hacky jokes from every two-bit comic in the country. Although most people have heard of the case, many don’t realize that the coffee was so hot (180 to 190 degrees) that Liebeck suffered third-degree burns requiring a skin graft, or that McDonald’s had refused to grant Liebeck’s initial request for just enough money to cover her medical expenses. Regardless of your take on the lawsuit, we recommend that if you buy coffee anywhere, you not hold the cup between your legs while driving. (TB)

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Dangerous Dogs

Since 2005, seven dogs residing in zip code 87121 (south of Central between 98th Street and Coors) have been monitored by the city. The pups that are determined dangerous are licensed, sterilized, microchipped and cannot leave their owner’s property without an adequate leash. Two of the dogs are named Rufus, including one very intimidating Chihuahua. If you have an unfortunate canine run-in, visit 1.usa.gov/abqbaddogs. (EK)

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DUIs

Although we can't tell you which roads are guaranteed to bring you home safe on a Friday night, we can tell you which to avoid. Data gathered by UNM’s Division of Government Research between 2007 and 2009 ranks the odd little intersection where Central and Zuni merge (they’re parallel elsewhere) as No. 1 in percentage of accidents involving alcohol, with 11.8 percent of the 34 crashes caused by intoxication. To see how your intersection ranks, go to bit.ly/abqcarcrashes. (EK)

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Homicides

Eight months into 2011, and APD is already reporting 17 homicides throughout the city. Only two of the cases remain unsolved, says Sgt. Trish Hoffman. Officer-involved shootings are not included in those numbers. To see what’s near your address, go to crimemapping.com. (EK)

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Kirtland Air Force Base

Kirtland Air Force Base is a morass of frightening stuff—namely, nuclear weapons and a massive jet fuel hemorrhage. Although Air Force head honchos neither confirm nor deny numbers, an estimated 2,000 nuclear warheads lie in underground storage at the base. If the threat of a Duke City nuclear holocaust isn’t enough, there’s also Albuquerque’s version of the BP spill. Millions of gallons of Air Force jet fuel creep closer and closer to southeastern Albuquerque neighborhoods every day. The base says the fuel seepage originated during a ’50s era pipe leak. Although it hasn’t hit drinking water wells, it has reached the monitoring wells and is nearing reserve water sources. (EK)

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Red-Light Cameras

A contract with Arizona-based Redflex expired in Oct. 2010, and we thought they were gone. No such luck. A month later Mayor Richard Berry reinstated red-light cameras at 14 intersections throughout the city. Not only do the cameras catch you red-handed, estimates say that an additional $370,000 was needed in tax money to keep the program in place. On average, 73 citations are issued per month and make up one-third of the city’s moving violation tickets. Data from 2010 put the intersection at Central and Coors as the clear frontrunner, with 3,036 citations issued between January and August. Add that to 4,385 citations at the same intersection in 2009. Fines are $75 and can be paid by mail or online. The question of whether to keep the system in place goes to Albuquerque voters on Oct. 4. For more on these robocop cameras: 1.usa.gov/abqredlightcameras. (EK)

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Sandia Labs Mixed Waste Landfill

The EPA says the Sandia Labs Mixed Waste Landfill isn’t a threat, but a 2011 report by Citizen Action says otherwise. The mixed-waste landfill lies directly above the main source of water for 600,000 Albuquerque residents. From 1959 to 1988 the landfill was used for disposal of low-level radioactive materials. Contaminants include nickel, cadmium, nitrate and chromium, all of which can cause nasty health problems with overexposure. What’s more, Mesa del Sol—a “green” community development touting that its “respect for the environment result[s] in a healthier, simpler, more sustainable way to live”—just broke ground adjacent to the site. (EK)

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Sex Offenders

Hide your kids, hide your wife and keep that mace handy, especially if you live in zip code 87108. The New Mexico Sex Offender Information Page, developed by Department of Public Safety, lists 146 registered sex offenders in the area south of Lomas and east of Carlisle. To see who’s hiding out in your zip code, visit: bit.ly/abqpervs. (EK)

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Superfund Sites

A Superfund site is a polluted area that the federal government has determined is harmful to public health or the environment and is in need of immediate cleanup efforts. Lucky Albuquerque has three.

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Tales From the Blotter

Here are highlights from the June 2011 Albuquerque Police Department Monthly Report (cabq.gov/police/reports). They happened in a ’hood near you. (EK)

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