Dave Salovesh, a friend to many local cyclists and road safety advocates, was killed by a speeding driver on Florida Avenue on Friday, April 19. His loss has shaken many people, including many of our contributors. Here's what some of them have to say about Dave as an advocate, and as a friend.
Rachel Maisler says,
Dave was the inspiration for my advocacy. When I wasn't sure I was doing the right thing, he was my gut check. More importantly however, Dave was a friend who was everywhere. From the Hains Point 100 to Happy Hour, Dave knew what was important. He truly cared for those around him, and even those he didn't know. He was a tireless advocate who we should all be thanking for making DC safer. But we all know life is precious and our elected and appointed officials CAN AND MUST do more.
Canaan Merchant is grateful for his advocacy:
I didn't know Dave but I'm grateful for his efforts.
Here is a clear example showing that all of this bike advocacy isn't about lifestyle preferences or an issue of balancing things like parking or fears over congestion. It's a literal life and death issue that most of us get involved in not because of principle or preference, but because we all have stories of times when getting from A to B was dangerous simply because we don't have safe streets.
Baltimore-based Brian Seel adds,
I never met him either, but his death has really hit me to the core. Most of my bike miles are commute miles, so I don't do a lot of biking for sport, which seems to be something that he cared about (biking for utility). He cared about safe streets and reguarly took pictures of cars in bike lanes making the environment unsafe. He obviously a confident rider, and he got between someone who was willing to use a vehicle as a weapon. It's fortunate that this person will likely see justice, but that might not have been the case if this was a suburban soccer mom that hit and killed him, stayed at the scene, and said “sorry, shit happens.”
The thing that I think is scarier is that Baltimore has much worse bike infrastructure than DC. I read that the Florida Avenue corridor had a plan and was in the budget, and that it will now be a higher priority (not sure if that's true or not… just what I read). In Baltimore, we barely have anything in the works, and the stuff we do have are these tiny little one off projects and things that have drug on for years.
Its frankly these kinds of things that make me extra nervous to get on the road. But then I realize that is the exact opposite of what Dave would have wanted. So I rode today… for you Dave. Thanks for your advocacy. RIP.
Bryan Barnett-Woods writes about tough decisions:
Friday evening I found myself scrolling through his twitter feed and all of #bikeDC, and this hit harder than I think I realized; it's been stuck with me since. The idea that anyone – regardless of being Vision Zero advocates – would want the streets to be designed in a way that their children can bike to school safely shouldn’t be revolutionary. It needs to be the absolute minimum.
When my son was born 1.5 years ago, I stopped bicycling to work. Part of it was definitely time (I work in Upper Marlboro, MD), but the bigger issue was fear of getting hit. Even if it is not someone maliciously trying to hit me, there are no protected facilities and all it takes is a person texting, checking an email, or just driving too fast to react for me to be killed in a collision. The motorist of course would say I came out of nowhere, and that would be that. My heart goes out to his family.
I don’t regret the decision I made to stop bicycling to work. I do regret that I had to make that decision in the first place.
Anita Kinney says Dave did bicycle advocacy right:
Dave and I got to know one another after I pushed WABA to use the #wmatabikepool hashtag after the Metro shutdown in 2016. As a first generation Latina, I’ve always felt uneasy in bike advocacy spaces (and to a lesser extent, the planning field writ large) because of their overwhelming whiteness and accompanying class privilege. I want to honor Dave as an ally and a champion of accessibility and inclusion in the cycling movement.
David Edmondson adds,
I've been asking myself, “How do I mourn for someone I don't know?” I'm in California seeing family this week so I wasn't able to be part of the ghost bike laying ceremony. I asked my mom what she thought—generally a wise choice to ask one's mom—and she said you need to acknowledge that your community was injured and grieve for that loss. I certainly do.
But also, since we are acutely attuned to road dangers and the personal nature of these kinds of deaths, I think it's also about knowing that this is just one more death in a long line of them. I'm going to mourn by visiting the sites in my hometown of two galvanizing deaths in my advocacy: Celeste Machado, a high schooler who was killed while jogging and Hailey Ratliff, who would be 18 today but was killed at 12. Neither death did anything to spark change despite the public outpouring of grief.
I hope to God that Dave's death doesn't fade away like all the others. Too many people die on our streets, and he should be one of the last.
Readers: Did you know Dave, or were you touched by his advocacy? Feel free to share your thoughts and memories below.
We at Greater Greater Washington are grieving the loss of a contributor and friend to many in our community on Friday, and the tragic death of a pedestrian on Sunday in Anacostia. Today will be devoted to articles about road safety and our memories of Dave Salovesh and Abdul Seck. There will be more actions in the coming days, and if you’d like to hear about them, sign up using the form below.