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The Step Into Cuba Alliance (the Alliance) is a broad coalition of local, state and national organizations and individuals working to increase opportunities for physical activity in the Village of Cuba, NM (the Village). A primary goal of the Alliance is to increase the walkability of Cuba to encourage walking as a convenient and low-cost form of physical activity. One of the areas of focus for the Alliance is US Highway 550 (US 550), a four lane, federal highway that bisects the Village and serves as Cuba’s main street. The Alliance is also working to make NM 126, leading from US 550 to the Village of Cuba St. Francis of Assisi Park, more pedestrian friendly.

US 550 is a primary route connecting Albuquerque to Northwestern New Mexico and Colorado. In Cuba, US 550 is estimated to have a traffic count of about 8,200 vehicles per day.1 Cuba’s health clinic, post office and other essential services are located on US 550, and the Village of Cuba serves as the commercial center for the area. Residents from within the municipality and the outlying areas visit Cuba regularly to retrieve their mail from the post office (there is no mail delivery service in the Cuba area), shop for food and other necessities, receive medical care, and obtain social services. Many residents of Cuba live within walking distance of the commercial center. Most roadways used by residents to reach services and businesses on US 550 do not have safe sidewalks or walkways. Additionally, on US 550 there are no traffic lights or stop signs, only two crosswalks, and the sidewalks are not continuous. In winter, snow removal from the highway leads to piles of snow on sidewalks and highway shoulders, obstructing pedestrian access.

The Village and the Alliance have been working with the NM Department of Transportation (NMDOT) to explore ways to make US 550 and NM 126 more pedestrian friendly. In 2011, federal funding was obtained and utilized to complete a new section of pedestrian-friendly sidewalks along US 550 on the south end of Cuba. Applications have been approved and funding has been earmarked for additional improvement projects along US 550 and adjoining roadways.

Pedestrian and bicycle traffic counts represent another way in which the Alliance and the Village have focused needed attention on US 550 and its intersecting streets. Faculty and staff from the University of New Mexico Prevention Research Center (UNM PRC), working with an independent transportation planning consultant and pedestrian and bicycle safety expert, organized the counting effort, trained counters and participated in the counting. Community members from the Cuba area contributed to the effort by conducting the counts as volunteers and paid workers.

This report provides data on the use of US 550 and intersecting roads, including NM 126, and the Village of Cuba’s St. Francis of Assisi Park by pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-motorized transportation (e.g., skateboarders). Baseline data were collected in 2010, and follow-up data collected in 2011-2014. The repeated counts document changes in non-motorized use following improvements to make the area safer and more attractive for pedestrians. Data from the counts have also been submitted to the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project, a nationwide effort to create a consistent, uniform collection and analysis system for non-motorized transportation.


Acknowledgements: This report was compiled by the UNM Prevention Research Center as a component of the VIVA-Step Into Cuba project and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Healthy Kids Healthy Cuba project. This report was supported in part by Cooperative Agreement Number 5U48DP001931 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Prevention Research Centers Program. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the CDC or the RWJF.



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