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Philadelphia’s bicycling community was saddened to learn of the death of Nadir Nafis Holloman Jr., 18, of West Philadelphia, who was struck by a motor vehicle around the 700 block of Kelly Drive on Tuesday night.

The Bicycle Coalition and our partners have attempted to come up with information about the deadly crash while respecting Mr. Holloman’s family during this difficult time, but have so far come up short.

Therefore, if anyone is reading this blog and knows something about circumstances of the crash, or would like to share information about Mr. Holloman, please email us at bike@bicyclecoalition.org or email Families for Safe Streets at families@bicyclecoalition.org.

The Bicycle Coalition and Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia understand traffic deaths are a menace in the City, and Mr. Holloman is now the second person killed while riding a bicycle over the last month.

While we don’t know the direct circumstances surrounding the crash which killed Mr. Holloman, we know what kind of no-brainer changes need to be made to make crashes like this one preventable.

First of all, it’s long past time the road on which Mr. Holloman was killed — Kelly Drive — receive upgrades to bring down deadly and injurious crashes. When the City of Philadelphia released its Vision Zero High Injury Network in 2017 (the 13 percent of streets in the City where 50 percent of all traffic injuries and deaths occur), many of the streets that needed obvious work were obvious to anyone who’s driven, ridden a bicycle, walked, or rolled in Philadelphia.

Streets like Lincoln Drive, Henry Avenue, Roosevelt Boulevard, and Columbus Boulevard are all part of the Network. As is Kelly Drive. Some of those streets and roads along the High Injury Network have, since the first Vision Zero Action Plan was released, begun receiving safety upgrades.

Kelly Drive along the High Injury Network in Philadelphia

The most obvious change that we believe should be made on Kelly Drive is finding a way to slow down drivers. The 35 mile-per-hour speed limit is not followed, and that is, in part what makes Kelly Drive so dangerous. And, by the way, don’t take our word for it; rather, do a quick YouTube search of “Kelly Drive” and you’ll bring up multiple videos of motor vehicles reaching 90+ miles per hour along the Philadelphia road. Something needs to be done.

That “something” could mean speed cameras, like those being installed on Roosevelt Boulevard this summer — though we’ve seen how slow-moving the state Legislature is when it comes to passing these sorts of speed control bills and, at that, has yet to come up with a statewide plan to end the piecemeal road-by-road process.

It could also mean other speed controls such as narrower lanes, or re-engineering the street with a road diet, so there’s less Fast and The Furious-style weaving on the park road that is too often used as an adjacent highway to I-76.

Additionally, the Recovery Streets Coalition — of which BCGP is a part — called for closing Kelly Drive to motor vehicles during COVID to allow for safer social distancing practices. That closure, along with the MLK Drive closure, could help keep folks safer while getting outside to recreate or commute. And given the anecdotal evidence of motorists speeding more due to roads being emptier over the last few months, it seems inevitable a motorist would use a nearly-empty Kelly Drive to pick up speed.

We have no information other than what’s been shared in the media about Mr. Holloman’s death on Tuesday night. We do know, however, that Mr. Holloman’s death, and the many injuries and deaths that have happened along Kelly are not inevitable. Change is possible.

Our hearts go out to his family and we will continue working with Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia to fight for safer streets, especially those along the High Injury Network, like Kelly Drive, where far too many families have lost their loved ones.

Randy LoBasso

Author

Randy LoBasso is the policy director at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

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