By Katie Burns, Development Fellow

Bike in Philly

Photo by @mikocue

On Sunday, July 26, about 500 community members embarked on a twelve-mile bicycle ride that started at Dell Music Center in Fairmount Park, looped City Hall, and ended at Laurel Hill Cemetery in honor of the four lives taken this month by vehicular violence. 

The ride was organized by the friends and family of Will Lindsay, 32, who was killed in a hit-and-run crash while riding his bicycle in early July; and also included the family members of victims Sam Ozer, 17; and Nadir Nafis Holloman Jr., 18; whose lives were also lost in the past month while riding their bicycles. 

The ride ended on Ridge Avenue outside the Laurel Hill Cemetery entrance, where the community organizers dedicated a “ghost bike” on behalf of Will, an all-too-common tradition in the cycling community as a roadside memorial to cyclists killed by motor vehicles. 

The victims’ families spoke about the importance of pushing toward a world with zero traffic deaths, and urged elected officials to take immediate action in response to the state of driving in the pandemic. 

Our July 22 op-ed published in the Inquirer highlights the need for immediate action from Mayor Kenney to protect our community and prevent further deaths on our streets. 

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia was proud to support this grassroots event, acting as liaisons, ride sweeps, and blocking traffic when necessary to ensure a safe ride. 

Our staff additionally played a supportive and collaborative role behind the scenes supporting the vision of the organizers and assisting with the necessary community connections needed for the ride’s success. 

At the end of the ride, our staff were able to hold off cars at either end of the block on Ridge Ave. to shut down the street to motor vehicles other than public transportation, and allowed a space for the community to own the road for a few minutes (while letting SEPTA buses through when necessary.)

Through our team’s outreach and engagement efforts, the event representation included bike clubs around the city, community members on Indego bike share bikes, and State Representative Donna Bullock. Laurel Hill Cemetery provided a supportive role in aiding with the placement of the ghost bike.

In addition to supporting the planning and community outreach leading up to the event, BCGP staff members including Brenda Hernández Torres, Lor Song, and Alejandro Utria marshaled traffic throughout the ride and down Benjamin Franklin Parkway, in an effort to corral and protect the crowd to deliver the utmost levels of safety and understanding for all participants. Volunteers from as far as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, also stepped in to help block intersections and several water stations along the route popped up, for which riders were very grateful!

It was a major priority of our organization to deliver successful support for this community-led effort because it is crucial to our mission, and the work of Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia, to eliminate vehicular violence against all road users. 

In addition to the ride, Will’s community organized a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for both our work and the work of our friends at Neighborhood Bike Works. We are honored and extremely humbled to be named in this donation, and will use the funds to continue our efforts to ensure our streets are safe for all. 

Check out some news coverage from the event:

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