On Thursday, the DC Council will hold a hearing on road safety for people walking and biking, spurred by two cyclists killed by drivers in July. In a cruel twist of fate, just before the hearing could happen, DC had another pair of deaths — one on a scooter and another on a bicycle. People are rightly furious that the District is not doing more.
A bus driver crushed Malik Habib on H Street NE on June 28 after his bicycle wheel got stuck in a streetcar track. Then, a truck driver killed Jeffrey Long on M Street NW. In the latter case, District Department of Transportation (DDOT) officials quickly removed parking spaces to make the bikeway more visible.
On September 21, an SUV driver hit Carlos Sanchez-Martin on a scooter in Dupont Circle, killing him. A memorial ride is planned for 5:30 pm Wednesday night at New Hampshire and O (Sonny Bono Park), including what might be the first-ever “ghost scooter,” a white-painted scooter similar to the “ghost bikes” that memorialize cyclist deaths. But residents didn't even have time to get from fatality to memorial before a speeding driver ran a red light, police say, killing Thomas Hendricks Hollowell at 12th Street and Constitution Avenue NW on Monday.
The wife of bicyclist Tom Hollowell killed yesterday on Constitution Avenue NW at 12th. Police say the driver ran a red signal at a high rate of speed hitting Hollowell without stopping. Carol Regier says she’d like to ask the driver what was the rush. #News4 @nbcwashington pic.twitter.com/cajoJ1zDwm— Chris Gordon (@ChrisGordonNews) September 25, 2018
In response, resident Daniel Schep made the above countdown clock, similar to those that remind people about safety at potentially dangerous job sites.
In this most recent case, there seems to be fairly clear wrongdoing from the driver, and a lot of people on Twitter asked why camera enforcement at red lights has nearly disappeared.
Remember this the next time someone whines about speeding and red light enforcement cameras. Another preventable, unnecessary death on our roads. https://t.co/77nb97FsHJ— Martin Di Caro (@MartinDiCaro) September 25, 2018
Others ironically noted that the District has continued to restrict the numbers of dockless bikes and scooters while not limiting “dockless cars,” or that the federal government was secretly making contingency plans to shut down Metro if safety problems continued, while motor vehicles continue to ply the streets after killing four.
Officials will have an opportunity to talk about their plans on Thursday. The imperative to take swift action — already massive — just doubled.
DC has set a goal in its sustainability plan for 25% of trips to happen by walk and bike (and scooter?). How can we hit this target? Improving safety has to be part of the solution. Join GGWash for a panel discussion, featuring DDOT director Jeff Marootian on October 11.