Lakeya Tillman contacted the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia on October 23 with a heart-wrenching story.
Her step-son, Tyrone Tillman, had been killed by a hit-and-run driver earlier this year, and while her message was one of thanks “for bringing awareness to all the reckless drivers in the city with no regard to cyclists,” what she needed was our help.
The section of North Second Street near Hunting Park, where Tyrone was killed, is exceedingly dangerous for road users and something needed to be done to make sure this did not happen again.
“This is just not for our son but for a community,” she said. “Tyrone Tillman’s death was not in vain.”
A few days later, Bicycle Coalition staff Randy LoBasso, John Boyle, Waffiyyah Murray, and Bob Previdi met with Lakeya and Tyrone’s mother at our office at 1500 Walnut Street. During that meeting, we were told many of the devastating facts of Tyrone’s death, as recounted in a Philadelphia Inquirer story:
Police would tell his father a driver hit him, stopped her car to look at the stricken boy, and sped off after a passenger in her car told her to leave.
Two people in another car wrote down the woman’s license plate number, called 911, and followed her until police arrived. Two more stayed with T-Jay as he lay dying in the street.
Allegedly, the person who hit and killed Tyrone attempted to remove the license plate from their car after the crash occurred. The suspect was taken into custody and then released.
An arrest was later made, on September 25.
After our meeting, we began speaking to several officials in numerous ranks of government. Since the crash occurred, an evaluation has been done to justify calming measures. But, as of November 5, the city had not received a petition from the community, which is a required step in order to implement traffic calming measures.
That section of street, which is relatively empty of residential housing for a city block, is regularly used as a place where people drive excessively fast, and even hold drag races.
This is of significance because there are so few community members living around that particular area.
There’s a school along the street, too, which makes this a particularly pressing issue. And we’ve made several recommendations to the Streets Department, many of which they are currently considering. We believe the most likely of those recommendations, which are available below.
We’ve also told the city that in the meantime, the street needs speed cushions to slow down existing traffic, and to stop reckless drivers from holding unlawful races.
The recommendations for traffic calming measures in these cases often come from a Councilperson’s office, and can start with an RCO or BID. The Bicycle Coalition contacted Councilwoman Sanchez’s office (Sanchez represents the area), who should be contacting local stakeholders for their input, as well.
We are continually working on this issue and will keep our members updated as this progresses.