Today, there’s a deadly car crash virtually every week in the region. Back in 1938, we didn’t look at these things in such a blasé manner.

The excellent @councilofdc Twitter account, the official one for the District’s legislature, tweeted, “Back in 1938, the DC government and the Washington Post ran death flags up a pole if someone died in a car crash.”

Image from the Washington Post via Twitter.

Only recently, with Vision Zero, are governments like DC’s making it a serious priority to end traffic deaths. But there are eighty years of cultural expectations around street design and driving speed which make it difficult to really design streets for safety.

Looking a little less far back, @councilofdc also tweeted about 1997, when former council chairman and civil rights lawyer Dave Clarke (for whom UDC’s law school is named) lay in state in the Wilson Building. Note his means of transportation, right next to his casket.

Fortunately, it wasn’t a road crash that took Clarke — sadly, it was brain cancer.

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.