Bike in Philly

William Lindsay (Photo via Lauri Webber)

Earlier this week, Philadelphia learned about the death of William Lindsay, 32, killed by an out-of-control hit-and-run driver while bicycling along Ridge Avenue in North Philadelphia on Sunday. Lindsay’s death is the third in 2020 — and the third in the last month. Given a blatant crime occurred (fleeing the scene after killing a cyclist), the police have offered a $5,000 reward for information. If you know anything about the incident, please step forward.

Like the first two bicyclist deaths of 2020, Lindsay was riding his bicycle along a stretch of road that has long since needed traffic calming. This section of Ridge Avenue, like the section of Henry Avenue where Sam Ozer, 17, was killed; and Kelly Drive, where Nadir Nafis Holloman Jr., 18, was killed; are untamed roads where motorists feel comfortable breaking the speed limit, and can do so with impunity.

All of these roads — and the many we listed in this story, and countless others — were not designed for city living and have long since needed engineering changes to keep motorists under control. Many of these are high-speed roads dividing neighborhoods and are responsible for a disproportionate amount of vehicular carnage in Philadelphia.

Like Ozer and Holloman, Lindsay was a skilled cyclist who leaves behind devastated family and friends, many of whom have already reached out to the City of Philadelphia and PennDOT, demanding they take action in light of these recent tragedies.

What’s additionally distressing about these three deaths, and the additional (at least) 44 people who have been killed in Philadelphia traffic since the year began, is that this was anticipated. Cities around the globe saw motorists driving more aggressively and faster since the pandemic began. Many cities took swift action in light of that. Philadelphia did not.

A platform to address this issue, and others, was even created by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, 5th Square, Feet First Philly, and the Clean Air Council, which addressed this and several other issues which would become prominent during the COVID epidemic. That platform, Recovery Streets, was endorsed by 20 neighborhood, community and environmental organizations (so far), but our pleas for major sections of that platform, like a protected bike lane network, more closed and slow streets, have not come to fruition, yet.

The city needs to address these issues before we see more preventable deaths on our streets. William Lindsay, Nadir Nafis Holloman Jr., Sam Ozer, their families and friends, and countless others who’ve experienced traffic violence, deserve better.

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