Bicycle Coalition

Latanya Byrd and Nick Zuwiala-Rogers testifying at pedestrian safety hearing

Pennsylvania State Senators Lisa Boscola and John Sabatina held a policy hearing on pedestrian safety at Holy Family University in Northeast Philadelphia on Friday morning, as a way to study what can be done at the state level to make Philadelphia safer for pedestrians.

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and Vision Zero Alliance have been working on pedestrian issues for Philadelphia for a while now—and part of our mission has brought us to the state Capitol to advocate for several bills over the years, including an extension to the red light camera law in Pennsylvania, and the addition of automated speed enforcement for Roosevelt Boulevard.

At Friday’s hearing, Latanya Byrd, of Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia, testified in favor of additional bills that are currently sitting in the state Legislature, and noted the work she went through to get automated speed enforcement approved on Roosevelt Boulevard.

“Over the past 2 years I traveled to Harrisburg with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Vision Zero Alliance to meet with constituents on both sides of the aisle, telling my story, and asking for better safety measures along Roosevelt Boulevard,” Byrd said. “I wrote letters and made phone calls in support of a bill that would legalize speed cameras along the Boulevard.”

The issue is close to Byrd. Her niece, Samara Banks, and three of Banks’ children, Saamir, Saasean, and Saadeem, were killed by speeding drivers on the Boulevard in 2013.

In addition to automated speed legislation, Byrd testified in favor of House Bill 792, which would allow Pennsylvania to more easily create pedestrian plazas and parking-protected bike lanes on state routes, of which there are a disproportionate number in Philadelphia, when compared to other cities in other states.

“We know that pedestrian plazas and car-parked protected bike lanes make everyone, no matter what their mode of transportation, safer,” said Byrd.

In addition to Byrd, Nick Zuwiala-Rogers, of the Clean Air Council, spoke about the need for more pedestrian safety efforts in Philadelphia, noting the rate of pedestrian deaths in the city is on an upward trend.

They were also joined by Captain Overwise, of the Accident Investigation Division of the Philadelphia Police Department; Chris Puchalsky, of the Office of Transportation, Infrastrastructure and Sustainability; Rich Montanez, of the Philadelphia Streets Department; and several others.

Senators Boscola and Sabatina thanked those in attendance for speaking about these issues. The Bicycle Coalition, Vision Zero Alliance and Families for Safe Streets Greater Philaelphia will be traveling to Harrisburg for follow-up visits on these issues at the end of April.

For a play-by-play of the morning’s event, check out our Twitter feed, where we live-tweeted the hearing.

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