ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Weeds, trash and tent city — a bike trail between popular tourists spots like Old Town, Sawmill and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center has seen better days. Residents say they want a change. Josh Shainin says he’s used the past year working from home to explore his neighborhood on foot.
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“I just tried to experiment, walking from my house to 12th Street and then from there to Old Town and that’s when I took the bike path,” said Shainin, who lives nearby. “I think it could be a beautiful bike path if they cleaned it up.”
However, he says the stretch of trail between 12th and Rio Grande — about three-quarters of a mile long — has large cracks, overgrown weeds and trash. There are also tears in the fencing where the homeless have set up encampments.
Just a few months ago, KRQE reported on the city’s efforts to clean up trash at the nearby Rio Grande intersection. City Councilor Isaac Benton serves that district, and as a cyclist, he says it’s a trail he avoids.
“That trail is an unusual facility to begin with,” said Benton, who serves District Two. “The maintenance is not good, no question about it, and there’s definitely been quite a bit of homeless camping. I don’t ride that trail and I don’t think few other people do. I think the main reason is you know, you’ve got a freeway wall on one side and a chainlink fence on the other. There’s just not any real destination there.”
The trail is maintained by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, but the area behind the fencing is apparently the New Mexico Department of Transportation jurisdiction. Benton says, either way, it’s a spot in need of TLC.
“It’s a lot of length, of course, to maintain, and a lot of fencing, as the video shows, that needs to be repaired,” said Benton. “I’d rather see maintenance done on trails that are more useful.”
Shainin posted a video of the trail over the weekend that already has more than 10,000 views. He hopes the trail gets fixed up and is marketed as a convenient path for tourists to take.
“The way it is now, it just seems really rundown,” said Shainin. “I could see the city putting signs saying, ‘this way to Old Town,’ ‘this way to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.’ Making it really nice, repaving it.”
The Department of Family and Community Services says their outreach team is working with the homeless set up along the bike trail to get them connected with resources away from that spot. Lisa Huval, Deputy Director of Housing and Homelessness, issued the following statement:
“We have been made aware of the situation on this particular stretch of bike path and our outreach team began making initial contacts with individuals early last week. We are committed to meeting our community members who are unhoused where they are and connecting them to the resources needed to leave the street, or in this case – the bike trail. We know that ultimately people living in encampments need safe, affordable housing with supportive services which is why we have increased funding for supportive housing programs by 73% since FY18. After we provide notice to encampment residents and information about available resources, we work closely with Solid Waste, Parks and Recreation and any other relevant department to ensure our public spaces are welcoming. We do need the community’s help to bring these issues to our attention. The best way to report graffiti, litter, weeds and more is by calling 311.”
KRQE News 13 reached out to the city to find out if there are plans to fix the trail. They say there are only a handful of employees handling more than 50 miles of trails and hope to get to that one soon.