Google Streetview of Diamond and Park Ave.

Google Streetview of Diamond and Park Ave.

On April 29th at 7:20pm, 22-year-old Rachel Hall was riding her bike through the intersection of Diamond and Park Ave at the north end of Temple’s North Philadelphia Campus when she was struck and critically injured by a hit-and-run driver.

According to several news sources, Ms. Hall remains in critical condition and is currently on life support. Police have recovered the vehicle and the 18 year old driver, who only had a learner’s permit. The driver has contacted police and may face minor charges.

This is the third high-profile hit-and-run this month in Philadelphia. On April 13th, two young children — 4-year-old Lateef Wilson in Kingsessing and 2-year-old David Aliea in Kensington — were killed by drivers in separate crashes. The driver in Wilson’s case was supposed to turn herself in although the last found press report on April 17 indicated that the Police were still waiting for her to come forward. No suspect has been found in Aliea’s case.

The conviction rate of hit and run drivers is extremely low, which makes you wonder: why do people would flee at all? An article published this morning reveals the PPD’s reluctance to convict motorists that maim or kill bicyclists and pedestrians.

“This is the time of year when people are going to be out and there are going to be accidents,”a spokesman for the PPD commenting on the recent hit and runs stated in a recent article on the subject. The article also states: “The other two people in the car are not expected to face any charges.” This, despite the fact that witnesses have stated that one of the occupants encouraged the motorist to leave.

Diamond St is very wide (47 ft.) and poorly marked at Park Ave. It’s treated as a minor intersection and lacks the typical crosswalks and 4 way Stop signs, which probably means that the Rachel was struck at a speed greater than 25 mph. However south of Diamond the sidewalk of Park Ave becomes Liacouras Walk, the major north south pedestrian way on the Temple Campus.

Tragic crashes like this one are unnecessary and avoidable. Our next mayor and City Council need to adopt a Vision Zero policy which will make crashes and the resulting injuries a thing of the past.

A Vision Zero policy for zero deaths and serious injuries in traffic assumes human beings are prone to making mistakes when operating heavy machinery. Forcing motor vehicles to slow down via speed cameras and better enforcement could go a long way to making streets safer.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Rachel and her family and our sympathies go out to the families of Lateef and David. If you have any information on any of these tragedies please contact the Philadelphia Police Accident Investigation unit 215-685-3180 or submit an anonymous tip online

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