On Tuesday, October 5th, Yomar Rivera 17, was struck and killed while trying to cross at Adams Ave and Roosevelt Blvd around 7:30 PM. Yomar was returning from a job interview and was biking across the intersection when he was struck by a white Ford F-150 headed northbound diving in the inner express lane.
The driver of the truck did not stop and continued northbound on Roosevelt Boulevard. Yomar Rivera is the seventh bicyclist killed in 2021.
Seven bicyclist deaths is the most since 2015. It was also the 88th traffic death in Philadelphia in 2021, meaning we are on pace to see more than 100 traffic fatalities this year. Last year, of course, there were 156 traffic deaths. And while this year’s number will not be as high, it is still way above “normal,” proof that the City’s Vision Zero program needs to kick back into gear, lest it be deemed a failure.
Last year, Philadelphia defunded Vision Zero and chose not to restore those funds in its FY22 budget, and we are, in part, seeming some of the effects of those decisions today, as we have over the past year and a half.
Last year on June 21, 2020, Sam Ozer 17, was killed on Henry Ave while biking back from his dream job at Trek Bicycles. Ozer’s story is similar to Rivera’s in almost every aspect except that Rivera was not riding a mountain bike. Both were paving new trails for their futures, both were returning home to their family, and both had to ride their bicycles through a high injury network corridor that, structurally, remains unchanged even though countless lives have been lost because of its design.
The Roosevelt Blvd and Henry Ave are both a part of the 12 percent high injury network that contributes to 80 percent of fatal traffic-related crashes according to the Vision Zero Philadelphia 2021 Annual Report that was just released. In 2020, six bicyclists were killed, in 2019 two, in 2018 four, and 2017 three.
What we do know is that the COVID-19 pandemic has made people rethink using alternative modes of transportation such as cycling. It is time to rethink how to design our roadways with a Safe Systems Approach, legislate for collision avoidance systems for all road vehicles, and prioritize Vision Zero programming in Philadelphia. The old model of designing and redesigning every street for high speed cars is having an unbelievably devastating toll on Philadelphia’s families. And the snail’s pace at which projects move does not stroke confidence in the future of street safety, especially in places with wide roads like North and Northeast Philadelphia.
All of us at the Bicycle Coalition send our deepest condolences and sympathies to the Rivera family and community. Though the overall traffic-related crashes has decreased in 2021, compared to 2020, the disproportionate amount of accidents that still occur in the 12 percent high injury network in Philadelphia remain consistent. These death trap corridors continue to take away lives and steal futures from families. This is not acceptable and, at the very least, the City needs to refund Vision Zero now.