Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Bicycle Coalition Opposes New Santa Fe Police Chief Appointment

Note that as a BCNM Board member, I supported this letter.

Khal Spencer, BCNM Board Member
League Cycling Instructor 1173

Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales
Santa Fe City Council
City of Santa Fe
PO Box 909
Santa Fe, NM 87504-0909

Dear Mayor Gonzales and Santa Fe City Council members:

The Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico (BCNM) strongly opposes Eric Garcia hire as Santa Fe Police Chief, and the following factual account will show you why.

Lt. Garcia has historically shown a level of willful ignorance of the rights of bicyclists or at the very least, a lack of concern with following established New Mexico bicycle law, and has also demonstrated condescension towards the well-being of bicyclists.  Such attitudes and beliefs ill-suit the police chief of a city that prizes its League of American Bicyclists “Silver Bicycle Friendly Community” ranking and will likely create an uncaring or negatively prejudicial attitude toward bicyclists on the police force.

An example of Lt. Garcia’s stance on bicycling is that after Dr. Fronczak was killed while riding lawfully on a state bike route outside Las Cruces (see attached article), Mr. Garcia blatantly blamed the victim.

"There's an important message for bicyclists here," Garcia said. "It is recommended that bicyclists visit their local bike stores for brochures and information on recommended routes of travel, instead of riding on open roadways."
I (BCNM President Diane Albert) personally met with Lt. Garcia to discuss his wrong attitudes and interpretation of NM law, yet he remained adamant in his stance that it is unsafe for bicyclists to travel on public roadways.   Here is another Garcia quote from D’Val Westphal’s “Road Warrior” column (attached):

“Garcia says he has told cyclists that what they are doing is dangerous, hazardous, that they must yield right of way to vehicles unless they are in a designated bike lane, and they simply can not impede traffic.”;

We recognize that you have already offered Lt. Garcia the job and he has accepted.  BCNM respectfully asks that the Mayor and Councilors fully explore Lt. Garcia’s stance on bicyclists’ rights and his knowledge and understanding of New Mexico law in a public venue that would be open to bicyclists and bicyclist supporters.

Very Truly Yours,

Diane E. Albert, PhD
President and Board Member, Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico (BCNM)
League of American Bicyclists LCI #2292

Greater Albuquerque Bicyclists Advisory Committee member

League of American Bicyclists National Board Member


Steve A said...

Any word from the mayor on how the new police chief is going to start following the law?

Khal said...

So far as I know, no one in city government has acknowledged receiving the letter.

Have to admit I was not following the full list of finalists, but I don't live in Santa Fe. When we had a new chief candidate here, I emailed the Ohio Bike Federation to see if he had any bones to pick with cyclists. The OBF folks said not as far as they knew.

This really should have been a ball that the Santa Fe cycling community picked up and ran with. Not sure if they weighed in, but I never saw anything.