ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The University of New Mexico (UNM) will be adding a center for pedestrian and bicyclist safety to combat traffic fatalities. The western part of the country is one of the most ideal areas to study these types of situations, officials claim.

The center will be a tier-one University Transportation Center funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation and will receive $2 million a year for five years. The funds are a part of grants secured from the Biden Administration’s infrastructure package.

“About 20 percent of the fatalities on the road are pedestrian or bicyclist fatalities, and New Mexico has had the highest pedestrian fatality rate for six years,” Nicholas Ferenchak, an assistant professor, said. “Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg set a goal of zero U.S. traffic fatalities, and while that is a lofty goal, we would like to reverse the national trend and come up with solutions to make our roadways safer by focusing on the most vulnerable road users: pedestrians and bicyclists.”

Researchers will focus on ways the city can make streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. They will also be looking into the socioeconomic factors and equity issues that led to crashes.