Automated enforcement for Roosevelt Boulevard passed Philadelphia City Council on Thursday, May 16, a huge step toward making streets safer for all road users in Philadelphia and moving toward zero deaths.
The legislation, introduced and championed by Councilperson Cherelle Parker, and co-sponsored by Council President Darrell Clarke, and Councilpeople Maria Quinones-Sanchez and Cindy Bass, is the end result of a three-year campaign that began in the state legislature.
The Bicycle Coalition and Philadelphia Vision Zero Alliance worked with Latanya Byrd, whose niece Samara Banks, and three of Banks’ children, Saamir, Saasean, and Saadeem, were killed by speeding drivers on the Boulevard in 2013, to get this legislation passed in the state Legislature. Byrd has become a champion for safer streets since that time, traveling to and from Harrisburg, writing letters, and advocating for this life-saving technology while co-founding Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia.
“The tragic stories of people being killed or seriously injured on Roosevelt Boulevard have become all too common, but this doesn’t have to be the case,” said Counilperson Parker, whose district includes two miles of the Boulevard. “We know that speed is especially deadly for people walking and biking, and that if we can get motorists to change their behavior and slow down, we can reduce crashes and save lives. The passage of this legislation is a victory for anyone who wishes to travel safely on Roosevelt Boulevard.”
Speed cameras have been shown to reduce crashes by between 17 to 39 percent and fatalities by between 58 to 68 percent. And given one of every five Philadelphia traffic deaths took place on the Boulevard in 2018, it was well past time this legislation pass.
Why does the Bicycle Coalition support speed cameras for the Boulevard? Not because we think people should ride their bikes on that stretch of road! Rather, we support it because we support bringing all traffic deaths—pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers—in Philadelphia down to zero. This is a step toward saving pedestrians crossing the Boulevard to get to work, school, or wherever, from being maimed by an out of control motor vehicle.
We continue to support Route for Change, a plan that would re-engineer Roosevelt Boulevard, but understand those changes will take time, perhaps several years, to complete. In the meantime, there is a crisis on the Boulevard now. This is a tool we have that will help bring down pedestrian and motor vehicle deaths, upon implementation.