Sign memorializing pedestrian killed at corner of Whitaker and Wyoming in PhiladelphiaAccording to preliminary data from the Philadelphia Police Accident Investigation Unit’s Fatal Crashes report on Open Data Philly, 17 pedestrians were killed by motor vehicles in Philadelphia during the first quarter of 2020.

That represents an 88 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities when compared to the same period last year.

Pedestrians represent 56 percent of total traffic fatalities in 2020.

Overall, there was a 50 percent increase in all traffic fatalities (no bicyclists were killed during either time period).

While data for April is not yet available we know of at least one more pedestrian was killed on April 13th on the 700 block of Callowhill Street by a hit and run driver. And, on April 17, a hit and run driver struck a 21 year old female pedestrian at 17th and Diamond Street in North Philadelphia, leaving her in critical condition.

Philadelphia has not yet activated speed cameras on Roosevelt Blvd, but data from other sources indicate an increase in incidents of speeding in normally congested areas nationwide since shelter in place orders.

Six of the thirty traffic fatalities occurred between March 17th and March 26th, including two pedestrians and three single vehicle crashes. Half of the those crash summaries indicated that speed or red light running was a factor.

This current spike in traffic fatalities shows that the progress towards Vision Zero in the City is going in the wrong direction. The Speed Cameras on Roosevelt Boulevard need to be up and running as soon as possible, and such legislation cannot be the be-all, end-all solution to speeding in Philadelphia.

Additionally, as soon as construction can begin again, the City’s popular neighborhood slow zone program needs to be expanded and proposed protected bike lanes need to be installed as soon as possible.

In order to curb the neighborhood speeding brought on during the pandemic the City can follow the lead of places like Denver and Oakland where simple measures to curb thru traffic has allowed pedestrians and bicyclists to travel safer without crowding sidewalks. A Slow Streets program, like those implemented around the country and world, would help curb this increase in traffic violence.

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