Over 100 cyclists rode in honor of traffic crash victims; pedestrian and bicyclist deaths reach 40-year high
PHILADELPHIA, PA – Today, over 100 families of traffic crash victims, community members, and faith leaders gathered on World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims to demand that lawmakers pass road safety legislation that reverses the epidemic of road deaths on Pennsylvania roadways.
In Philadelphia, 115 people have been killed in crashes so far this year, outpacing the number of people killed in 2022. On November 6th, the 10th person riding a bicycle was hit by a driver and killed, and 52 pedestrians have been fatally struck.
The group urged state officials to fight this rampant safety crisis by passing impactful legislation such as reversing the ban on parking protected bike lanes (HB 1283), a nationally-deployed and proven design solution; authorizing the use of automated speed enforcement statewide (HB 1284), which has been deployed on Roosevelt Blvd since 2020 and has decreased crashes by 36% as of 2021; and establishing a Jay Alert system to catch hit and run drivers and decrease dangerous and reckless speeding through residential neighborhoods (SB 730).
“[My daughter, Emily Fredricks, age 24] was killed tragically, traumatically, and in a preventable traffic violence crash,” said Laura Fredricks, a co-founder of Families for Safer Streets Greater Philadelphia. “World Day of Remembrance is about families like ours coming together to support each other with the hope that those in charge of our legislature and infrastructure will make swift, swift changes to save lives so that no other family has to go through the rage, the anger, and the trauma of losing a loved one to traffic violence.”
“On every World Remembrance Day, I am moved by the courage of this group of people whose loved ones have been killed by drivers. As members of Families for Safe Streets, we must keep speaking up and fighting for change. I stand today honoring my niece, Erin Wilson, who was struck and killed as she crossed Lehigh Avenue in Philadelphia in 2016. I strongly urge my colleagues in the Assembly to pass the legislation needed to keep the Automated Speed Cameras and expand the program to roads like Lehigh Avenue where Erin was killed,” said Representative Mary Jo Daley. “It’s time we take serious and impactful steps to advance Vision Zero and end the rampant safety on Pennsylvania’s roadways.”
“The World Day of Remembrance is an important and solemn commemoration of the lives lost to traffic violence,” said Kelley Yemen, the Director of Complete Streets at the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability. “The City continues to install complete streets projects that are proven to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes. We call on our state partners to reauthorize and expand the automated speed camera program. Speed cameras on Roosevelt Boulevard have saved dozens of lives, and, with the state’s go-ahead, will make other high crash corridors safer. Working together, the City, the Commonwealth, our partners, and community groups can make Philadelphia streets safer for everyone.”
The Philadelphia event is one of hundreds happening on World Day of Remembrance across the globe and the U.S., which is experiencing a 16-year high in roadway deaths – and the highest number of deaths amongst people walking in 40 years.
“As majority chair of the House Transportation Committee, I know that pedestrian safety and bicycle safety on our roads is of the utmost importance,” Representative Ed Neilson said. “Fatalities on roadways are always tragic because they are avoidable. My job as chairman is to help enact legislation that will implement solutions and avoid a tragic scene for everyone, which is why I introduced HB 1284 to extend and expand Pennsylvania’s automated speed enforcement programs. I look forward to working with my Senate counterparts on getting this important legislation to the Governor’s Desk before these critical programs expire.”
Traffic violence is avoidable, with many cities around the US making great strides in decreasing or eliminating roadway fatalities. In Hoboken, NJ, for example, pedestrian and cyclist fatalities have plummeted over the last five years after simple street redesigns — including parking protected bike lanes — that prioritized safety for all road users rather than automotive ease.
In the U.S., the calls for change are particularly urgent, given that In the past two years, almost 20 percent more people died in traffic crashes, according to National Safety Council (NSC) estimates. That’s more than 46,000 people each year. U.S. pedestrian deaths are at the highest level in 41 years and cyclist deaths reached a 46 year high.
“Thank you State Representatives Burgos, Daley, Parker, and Bullock for standing with us today and for moving this important legislation forward in the State House,” Sarah Clark Stuart, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, said. “Thank you to the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability, the Streets Department and PennDOT District 6 for joining us as well. In order to reach zero traffic fatalities we must all work together.”
The group was calling on state officials to address the traffic violence by passing meaningful legislation such as HB 1283 (Parking Protected Bike Lanes) and HB 1284 (Automated Speed Enforcement) and SB 730 (Jay Alert), which would increase protection for vulnerable road users, help catch hit and run drivers, and decrease dangerous and reckless speeding through residential neighborhoods in Philadelphia.
Photos by Chris Young, office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability.