What is UrbanABQ.com?
This website is the result of a group of local urban planners who see the unrealized potential in Albuquerque. We see progressive urban oriented change occurring in similar cities (EX: the Tucson Streetcar) and we want to see similar actions here. We know the solutions but we don’t see them manifesting in the local built environment. There is an urban revolution occurring in America and we don’t want to see Albuquerque get left behind.
What does “urban” mean?
According to the dictionary, urban means “in, relating to, or characteristic of a city or town: ‘the urban population'”. According to this definition, anything related to the city of Albuquerque would be considered urban. However, much of Albuquerque is suburban, defined as “the residential area on the outskirts of a city or large town”(Merriam-Webster).
The difference between these two terms, the city and the suburb, have much to do with three elements:
1) mix of uses
3) population density
A mix of uses defines an urban place vs. a suburban or rural place. When I say mix of uses, I don’t mean strip malls + adjacent apartment buildings + wide car dominated arterials. Mix of uses, or mixed use, means having it all under one roof: residential, retail and perhaps offices as well. In older cities in America and Europe, 2-3 story buildings with this type of orientation are the norm. This style of development can be found in Downtown, Nob Hill and in other isolated portions of Albuquerque.
For another perspective of suburban vs. urban, refer to this post by Cap’n Transit: Know Your Suburbs.
Who said Albuquerque needed to be more “urban”?
The long term traffic count numbers paint a grim picture for Albuquerque. According to MRCOG, the regional planning agency, all of the Rio Grande river crossings will be at complete failure by 2035 (PM Peak Hour Traffic Projections, 2035). This means that they will be in constant gridlock, especially during rush hour. This is a result of the fact that most jobs are (and will continue to be) on the east side of the river according to current projections. However, most residential growth in the past couple decades has been on the west side of the river. The home/job divide continues to grow, leading to eventual gridlock.
The most viable solution, in our opinion, is increasing density on the east side of the river. The only way to prevent this predicted gridlock is by creating higher density mixed use development on the eastside of the Rio Grande. This type of development will not happen everywhere; most residential neighborhoods will remain untouched. Downtown, the Central Corridor, the San Mateo Corridor and other major corridors will be the location of this high density mixed use development. Rezoning will allow for lower parking minimums and higher density within the existing commercial strips. The arterials themselves will be reoriented with an emphasis on Rapid Ride/BRT, expanding existing sidewalks and the creation of additional bicycle facilities. This vision is not new; it continues to be discussed and integrated into future plans. This is not enough.
The time to do it is NOW.