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Traffic Victims PHL

Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia gathered on the north side of City Hall to remember the 64 people who’ve been killed in Philadelphia traffic violence in 2019, so far, and to call upon the City and State governments to enable legislation that will make streets safer in Philadelphia, and around the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The event, commemorated on the third Sunday of November each year, around the world, was Philadelphia’s first, and came about because of the emergence of Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia, an organization founded by the surviving family members of several people who’ve been killed while traveling on Philadelphia’s Streets.

World Day of Remembrance is intended to remember the many millions killed and injured on the world’s roads, together with their families, friends and many others who are also affected.

It is also a day on which we thank the emergency services and reflect on the tremendous burden and cost of this daily continuing disaster to families, communities, and countries, and on ways to halt it.

The Philadelphia event was attended by more than 50 people and our speakers included Bishop Gregory G.M. Ingram of AME Church in Philadelphia, State Sen. Larry Farnese, Laura Fredricks, Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Sarah Clark Stuart, and Philadelphia Managing Director Brian Abernathy.

Over the last several months, Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia has been able to make several changes in city policy. Among them: the PPD’s Police Foundation approved a grant for the Accident Investigative Division to purchase a Crash Data Retrieval System software/hardware to read “event data recorders” (black boxes) of motor vehicles involved in crashes.

And, the PPD is now maintaining a publicly transparent Fatal Crash database of crash fatalities and status of AID’s investigation.

This database, on OpenDataPHL, is an important advancement that 1) documents traffic crash fatalities and victims in a real time fashion by AID and 2) provides information on the AID’s decision about whether to charge, not charge, give a citation or if the case is continuing to be investigated.

Those were two big asks, and big wins, for Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia and the Bicycle Coalition. And while we appreciate the PPD’s Accident Investigation Division for these changes, our goal is to make sure the crashes don’t happen–and when they do, they are less severe and do not cause the deaths of the road users involved.

Which is why a key point of Sunday’s event was to bring attention to House Bill 792 and Senate Bill 565 in the state Legislature. That legislation, the senate version of which was introduced by State Sen. Larry Farnese, would make it easier for cities and towns around Pennsylvania to install parking-protected bike lanes.

The House passed the legislation in the spring by an overwhelming 200-1 vote. Since then, though, it’s been stuck in the Senate Transportation Committee.

While speaking, Farnese called the Senate Transportation leadership “reckless” for sitting on the bill for nearly six months, and called on everyone in attendance to call leadership on Monday, demanding a vote. (You can do that here.)

After the speakers were done, members of Families For Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia Latanya Byrd, Channabel Morris, and Aaron Javsicas, read the names of all traffic violence victims in 2019, so far. Sixty-four people, that we know of, have been killed so far while traveling Philadelphia’s streets.

Randy LoBasso

Author

Randy LoBasso is the policy manager at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

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