A message appeared in the Bicycle Coalition’s inbox this morning concerning Jamal C. Morris, the cyclist who was struck by a hit-and-run driver early Saturday morning. The message was from one of Morris’ friends, who told us that after several days in the hospital, Morris had passed away.
The piping designer and Drexel graduate was found early Saturday morning at 45th and Market Streets after being struck by a motor vehicle while riding his bicycle. According to police, there was no evidence on the road to determine what type of vehicle had struck Jamal. Police are looking for anyone with information on the hit-and-run crash to come forward.
On Tuesday, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia Executive Director Sarah Clark Stuart and Communications Manager Randy LoBasso met Morris’ family and friends at Penn Presbyterian Hospital.
“He really was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He never said anything bad about anyone and was always there to make you smile or put a positive spin on something that was going wrong. Whenever anyone would ask him ‘How’s it going?’ he would reply ‘Only getting better,’” said one of his friends. “He never knew how to be negative and I admired that about him. The other thing that I, along with anyone else who knew him, would admire him for was his love for his bike. He would ride it everywhere. Day or night; rain or shine.”
It’s time the city and state take action to make sure hit-and-run crashes like the one that killed Jamal end. That’s why Philadelphia needs a Vision Zero Task Force, a Vision Zero Goal and a Vision Zero Action Plan.
Bicyclist fatalities were way up through 2015, with hit-and-run fatalities making up a large portion of those. According to statistics obtained from the Philadelphia Police Department, there were six hit-and-run fatalities in 2014. In 2015, there were at least six pedestrians, two bicyclists and three others hit by hit-and-run drivers.
Hundreds of people are killed or injured in traffic crashes each year. The city’s cyclists and pedestrians have been left vulnerable long enough. This is not OK. A Vision Zero policy is needed to make tackling this issue a priority.
It’s time the state of Pennsylvania extend its red light camera program and legalize speed cameras so drivers are incentivized to slow down and, when crashes do occur, police are more easily able to identify the motor vehicle involved.
Police say they currently do not have footage of the crash.
The Bicycle Coalition is currently advocating for three pieces of state Legislation related to better camera enforcement as part of a Vision Zero action plan.
HB 950 – Extend the Red Light Enforcement Program to the Year 2027
SB1034 – Create a Pilot Program for Photo Cameras on Roosevelt Boulevard
SB 535 – Allow local police to use radar for speed enforcement
If you’re interested in helping make Philadelphia’s streets safer through safety and red light cameras, we urge you to call your Senator and tell her or him to pass HB 950, SB 1034 and SB 535 now.
Long term, we’d like to see this street, and others like it, reworked with protected bike lanes. In the meantime, this state legislation is something that can make a difference now.
It’s important the city and state work on these issues to avoid these kinds of horrific crashes in the future.