One outcome of the December 2015 Vision Zero Conference sponsored by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and Jefferson Hospital, was the launch of a unique webpage to track traffic fatalities in Philadelphia.
In order to help raise public awareness about Vision Zero and the extent and magnitude of the problem of traffic fatalities, the Bicycle Coalition collected data from the Police Department, PennDOT, and media reports to launch PHLtrafficfatalities.org with the support of generous donors, Jason and Angela Duckworth.
The site provides information on each person who died, the type of crash, any available information about the crash and the victim, and a map of all fatalities.
Until this page went live, it wasn’t possible to get a “real-time” update on how many people had been killed in traffic crashes in Philadelphia, who they were or where the crashes had occurred until at least one year later, when PennDOT released the previous year’s data. Although homicides are tracked by the Philadelphia Police Department on their webpage, traffic fatalities are not reported in a similar fashion.
Most Vulnerable are Suffering
While the number of traffic fatalities in Philadelphia dropped to a historic low in 2016 (76 as of December 29th, including two deaths on interstate highways), the number of pedestrians and bicyclists killed remains stubbornly high.
In fact, the percentage of both pedestrians and bicyclists killed (53%) is at its the highest percentage since 1997. Pedestrians make up the bulk of that figure, numbering 36 out of 76 (47%) and that percentage is the highest since 1985.
The takeaway from 2016 is that although traffic crashes killed fewer people this year, the percentage of pedestrians killed rose and the overall trend line since the early aughts continues to be disturbingly upward.
More needs to be done to save the lives of the most vulnerable road users (pedestrians) while at the same time bringing down the overall number of men, women and children killed in traffic crashes.
This is why Mayor Kenney’s Vision Zero policy is so important.
2016’s most vulnerable populations and deadliest roads
Sadly, eight children and youth, three of which were walking or running across a street, were killed in 2016.
Twelve seniors (over 65) lost their lives; ten of which were pedestrians. And one person killed was a disabled woman in a wheelchair.
Eleven died in hit and run crashes, most of which were not solved.
Twelve people died in crashes on Roosevelt Boulevard. Four people died on Bustleton Avenue. Three lost their lives on Lehigh Avenue. Five persons died on MLK, Kelly and Lincoln Drives. Three persons, included two young children, died in one crash on Henry Avenue. Many of these crashes were fatal because of speeding.
The four bicyclists who lost their lives in 2016 Jamal Morris and Matthew Mattson, and two others were killed on West Market Street (Jamal Morris), Frankford Avenue (Matt Mattson and one other), and Aramingo Avenue.
The 7th Council District had fourteen traffic deaths, plus three others on roads that border the 6th and 9th Districts; the most traffic deaths of all ten Districts.
The 7th District was also found by the Azavea 2016 Summer of Maps project to also have the greatest density of fatal and severe injury crashes over a five year period.
We need to keep the momentum going in 2017. Vision Zero will be an important tool in the coming years to bring down the number of traffic deaths in Philadelphia and the Greater Philadelphia area.
What can you do now?
We will be delivering the petition to City Hall in the coming months to show the city how many people in Philadelphia support making our streets safer for everyone.
Stay tuned for more activism on Vision Zero this year, including Mayor Kenney’s Vision Zero Taskforce and our 2017 Vision Zero Conference, on March 1.
Lastly, please consider supporting the work of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia by making a donation.
We are a people-powered organization and all your donations are tax-deductible.