The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has made it a priority to bring more attention to pedestrian fatalities in 2018—and, 15 preventable deaths later, we are working to bring the message of pedestrian safety directly into Philadelphia’s outskirt neighborhoods, where the vast majority of pedestrian deaths take place.
Since the first pedestrian fatality of 2018, the Bicycle Coalition and volunteers have traveled to the intersections where fatalities have taken place and marked the intersection with a poster we designed for such tragedies.
The point of the poster is to spread awareness to those who use these streets and travel through these intersections. Too often, pedestrian deaths are met with a shrug by the general public, and the motorists responsible are rarely charged with a crime, or even issued a moving violation ticket or fine.
And things have actually gotten worse in recent years. Pedestrian deaths, nationwide, have peaked in recent years, as motorists become more and more distracted behind the wheel.
Thirty-eight of Philadelphia’s 99 traffic deaths, in 2017, were pedestrians—a percentage and numeric rise as overall traffic deaths have fallen.
Vision Zero is a policy, which the Bicycle Coalition supports, that seeks to make streets safe for all road users in all neighborhoods. It’s unacceptable that anyone is killed on Philadelphia’s streets, and extremely problematic that pedestrian deaths have seen an uptick in recent years.
Roosevelt Boulevard, Philadelphia’s most dangerous roadway, has helped claim the lives of 10 people so far in 2018 — which is more than were killed on Roosevelt Boulevard in all of 2017, and represents nearly 20 percent of all fatalities in Philadelphia, so far.
The posters we’ve brought out to these streets and intersections denote the place and date the pedestrian was killed. We have put up 14 so far this year, and the 15th will go up at Lancaster and Aspen on Wednesday, July 25, where a 61-year-old man was killed on Saturday morning.
All 2018 pedestrian, driver and cyclist traffic victims can be found at the Bicycle Coalition’s site, phltrafficvictims.org.
NHTSA data clearly shows that well over half the pedestrian fatalities have a contributing error on the part of the pedestrian that increased the risks, and may have been able to prevent the fatality if the pedestrian had not made that error. Blaming all the fatalities on the drivers is patently false. Safety requires careful behavior from BOTH the drivers and the pedestrians.
James C. Walker, National Motorists Association
I hope you are studying the accident report for each of these before placing such a sign. Just slightly more than half of such crashes are caused by pedestrian error. It would still be good to memorialize the person and recall the event, but the wording would have to be changed on many of the signs to be fair.