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On Philadelphia’s Boulevard of Death, a “Too Frequent Tragedy”

The hardest part about advocating for safer streets is seeing the real-world consequences of ill-planned roads and the effects of state and city officials who kick the can instead of doing something about real problems facing ordinary Philadelphians every day.

Today, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia met the Gabay family on Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philadelphia for a short memorial. This family recently lost 21-year-old Daniela Gabay, who was killed by a driver while crossing Roosevelt Boulevard on February 5. Wreckage from the crash was still noticeable on the grassy median, and a small memorial had been set up to remember Daniela.

Gabay is the latest victim of traffic violence on the Boulevard. And unfortunately, these sorts of incidents are commonplace on this small stretch of street.

As Streetsblog reported today in a story called “Philadelphia’s Boulevard of Death”,

Roosevelt is a death trap. At 12 lanes wide, it’s basically an at-grade highway through densely populated city neighborhoods. Every year, there are about 700 crashes and 10 traffic fatalities on this single street. At Roosevelt and Large, the site of the fatal crash last week, two sisters were killed in a collision just a year ago.

More than 10 percent of all of Philadelphia’s road fatalities happen on the Boulevard, even though it represents just 0.6 percent of city street. The speed is 45 miles per hour, but that is largely ignored, and every year, we have the unfortunate statistics to prove it.

At today’s event, Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Sarah Clark Stuart spoke about the need for the Pennsylvania Legislature to pass Senate Bill 172, which would create a speed camera Pilot program on Roosevelt Boulevard. The bill, championed by Republican John Taylor, has been stalled in Harrisburg since last year. The Bicycle Coalition and other advocates have been traveling to Harrisburg since 2016 to advocate for the bill.

Speed cameras have been proven to reduce crashes along corridors like Roosevelt Boulevard, and, even when there are crashes, reduced speed often lessens the severity of the crash.

Among those who joined the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and the Gabay Family today were former Coalition intern and all-around good guy Travis Southard, and State Rep. Jared Solomon, who supports SB 172.

Long term, of course, the Boulevard needs to be re-engineered, similar to what happened to Queens Boulevard in New York City. But we believe speed cameras would help pedestrians and drivers stay safe in the short-term.

This is a Vision Zero issue. The Bicycle Coalition is not pushing for cycling on Roosevelt Boulevard; quite the opposite: It’s not recommended. But Vision Zero, a core value of ours, is about safety for everyone, no matter which mode of transportation they choose.

That’s why we will continue advocating for the Gabays and families like them all over the city. At today’s memorial, we put up a sign to note that a pedestrian was killed in this spot, so that people are more aware of how dangerous Philadelphia’s streets are.

And there are more where that came from. We will continue putting up these signs at every spot a pedestrian is killed in Philadelphia throughout 2018, to help raise awareness to this issue.

It’s daunting to look at the stack of signs in our office and know that, more than likely, they will all be used throughout 2018.

Our city and state officials have the knowledge and power to help curb road deaths in Philadelphia. Inaction is not an option.

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Topics: Crash, Featured

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