Sounding the Alarm on Bike-Ped Deaths and Injuries in D.C.

Every day, without fail, at least one Streetsblog Network blog brings us a new story about a cyclist or pedestrian who was killed or injured after an encounter with a motorist.

Yesterday the victim was a pregnant woman in Indianapolis; before that, a dishwasher in St. Petersburg, Florida. These individual tragedies seldom make national news, and if it weren’t for the infrastructure of mostly-volunteer-run transportation blogs around the country, these events would be largely invisible outside the victims’ home communities.

Every once in a while, however, there’s a situation that’s so appalling, it grabs attention on a larger scale. That, unfortunately, was the case yesterday in Washington D.C. A string of horrible collisions, including two separate incidents where children in strollers were hit by cars, prompted a response yesterday from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and D.C. Transportation Director Gabe Klein.

Dave Jamieson at Network blog TBD on Foot, brings us this report. Note the impressive response from Pat Burke of the D.C. police:

A woman, who had not been identified at the time of this report, was killed yesterday morning in D.C. when she was struck by a Cadillac and a bus. Her death was the latest in a string of collisions injuring pedestrians and cyclists in the metro area. Photo: ##http://www.tbd.com/articles/2010/10/pedestrian-struck-killed-on-i-270-20259.html##TBD on Foot##

In explaining why they’d gathered today, Klein rattled off a litany of high-profile crashes in recent days and weeks that left people maimed or killed. “I’m not saying all this to scare people, but in one sense we sort of need to,” Klein said. “As we become more urbanized, whether it’s here or whether it’s in Gaithersburg, there’s more tension between cars, particularly distracted drivers, and the pedestrians and cyclists. So my message is really that everyone needs to slow down.”

So far this year the District has seen 20 traffic fatalities, 11 of them involving pedestrians. According to D.C. police assistant chief Pat Burke, who spoke at the press conference, those are some of the lowest figures the city has seen in decades. “But these are not accidents,” Burke said. “They’re preventable incidents.”

For a full list of recent injuries and fatalities in the Capital area, visit TBD on Foot.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Virginia Bicycling Federation is launching a campaign to prevent the Commonwealth Transportation Board from spending money that could be used for bike and pedestrian infrastructure on improving highway rest stops. Publicola makes the argument for a region-wide impact fee on off-street parking. And Dallas Transportation Blog wonders whether the local community is ready to close a street to motor vehicle traffic for a temporary celebration of active transportation like last weekend’s super-successful CicLAvia event in L.A.

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