Early in the morning on July 28th, 16 year old Billy McWilliams was struck and killed while riding a bicycle by the driver of Dodge Charger. McWilliams is the 7th cyclist killed in Philadelphia since January of 2023 and the 5th fatal hit and run involving someone riding a bicycle. Although the vehicle has been the recovered, the driver is still at large.
Since 2019, there has been an increase in traffic fatalities, with 2020 being the highest on record in decades. As we move away from the pandemic, we have only seen traffic fatalities decrease minimally. This year is unfortunately no different. So far this year there have been a total of 62 fatalities compared to 75 at this time last year. The most troubling is the increase in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities.
We do not refer to these incidents as accidents because in every death this year there is a reason that the crash happened. Be it road design, distracted driving, speeding, or something else, our local, state, and federal governments can do something to prevent these deadly crashes from happening. Our society needs to invest in safety and enact common sense policies and laws: Legalize parking protected bike lanes, renew and expand Automated Speed Enforcement for dangerous roads across Philadelphia, regulate the size of vehicles on the roads, and help apprehend hit and run drivers by creating an alert to go out to auto shops after a crash.
The intersection where Billy was killed lacked protected bike infrastructure and because of the proximity to the highway, the roadway design encourages the driver to go so fast that when they hit McWilliams, the 16 year old was flung 200 feet away from the site of the crash.
Our heart breaks for Billy’s family during this time. If anyone you know has been involved in a crash or lost someone in a crash and is looking for a community please reach out to Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia (FSSGP) is comprised of victims of traffic violence and families whose loved ones have been killed or severely injured by aggressive, reckless, or careless driving, behavior enabled by a dangerous street design. FSSGP represents the full range of greater Philadelphia’s rich diversity and collectively demand an end to traffic violence.
“Family members shared a photo of 16yo Billy McWilliams – the victim of a hit&run accident this am on Woodhaven Rd near Byberry. Police say the driver who took off was traveling in a 2015 or newer dark-colored Dodge Charger. Police are looking for info: 215-685-3180”- Jennifer Joyce Fox 29 Reporter posted on Twitter.