Members of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Vision Zero Alliance, State. Rep. John Taylor and Philadelphia resident Latanya Byrd gathered in the East Wing of the state Capitol on Tuesday to call for increased pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorist safety on Pennsylvania roads.
Speaking from the state Capitol, Alliance members called upon the Pennsylvania state Legislature to pass several bills — especially, it was noted, Senate Bill 172, which would allow Philadelphia to implement proven safety measures along Roosevelt Boulevard in Philadelphia.
Roosevelt Boulevard is Pennsylvania’s most dangerous road, accounting for 10-15 percent of all vehicular traffic deaths in Philadelphia, yearly.
“Roosevelt Boulevard makes up one half of one percent of all roads in the city of Philadelphia, yet 13 percent of the people who die in crashes in Philadelphia die on the Boulevard,” noted Stuart. “It is a disgrace and an abomination that one roadway is allowed, year after year, to be responsible for so much loss of life, agony and suffering.”
Between 2013 and 2017, 63 people died on Roosevelt Boulevard, 27 of whom were pedestrians.
Roosevelt Boulevard passes through many different types of neighborhoods, from far Northeast Philadelphia, through North Philadelphia, to parts of Northwest Philadelphia, and the victims of the Boulevard represent every demographic of the city.
In attendance at the Capitol was Latanya Byrd, whose niece, Samara Banks, and three of Banks four children, was killed on Roosevelt Boulevard by speeding drivers in 2013. Byrd has since become an advocate for a safer Roosevelt Boulevard in Philadelphia.
“The purpose of me being here today is the result of a horrific tragedy. Today I feel as though if we don’t ask for what we need, the need keeps getting bigger, and sometimes we have to ask others for help to save more lives,” said Byrd. “Since my niece passed, there have been 50 deaths on the Boulevard. We need to say, ‘No more.’”
State Rep. John Taylor (R-Phila), who introduced the Roosevelt Boulevard bill, also spoke at the press conference.
“I have a particular front row seat to the tragedies on Roosevelt Boulevard because I live just a couple hundred yards away,” noted Taylor.
The number of pedestrians who are killed on the Boulevard is “downright unacceptable,” Taylor said.
Also in attendance was Nick Rogers of the Clean Air Council.
“People often assume environmentalists hate cars, and only care about pedestrians, or bike riders, or people taking transit,” noted Rogers. “I want to point out, though, that this issue is about people, and about their dignity.”
Jason Duckworth, of the Vision Zero Alliance, also spoke for the business community about this issue.
“It’s been concluded that within one year of installation, these systems will result in the reduction of fatalities and injuries by 20-40 percent,” noted Jason Duckworth of the Delaware Valley Smart Growth Alliance, citing a study from the National Institute for Highway Safety.
Alliance members are also circulating throughout the Capitol, meeting with legislators, asking for their support of Senate Bill 172, and several other pieces of legislation.
All Alliance members called upon the leadership of the state Legislature to bring Senate Bill 172 up for a vote immediately.