D.C. Bike Advocate’s Death Highlights Slow Progress Toward Safe Streets

Volunteers installed a ghost bike for Dave Saloesh on Florida Avenue NE. Photo:  Erickson Young on Twitter
Volunteers installed a ghost bike for Dave Saloesh on Florida Avenue NE. Photo: Erickson Young on Twitter

Looking back, D.C. bike advocate Dave Salovesh’s writing — about the need for better safety protections for cyclists in D.C. — seems almost prophetic.

D.C. bike activist Dave Salovesh was killed on Friday.
D.C. bike activist Dave Salovesh was killed on Friday. Photo by Karen Ramsey via WUSA

Before he was killed Friday by the driver of a stolen van on an unprotected stretch of Florida Avenue NE — a street with no bike amenities — Salovesh had written, “Separating bike lanes from general traffic, and keeping motor vehicles out, is the best thing cities can do to keep people bicycling safe.

That was in 2015. Just a few weeks ago he added:

Salovesh and other DC cyclists were always ready to fill the gap left by local government. Once, according to the Washington City Paper, they used pool noodles to demonstrate how D.C. could physically protect cyclists from driver making U-turns across the Pennsylvania Avenue protected bike lane.

Members of Salovesh’s circle cited his death Friday as evidence that the city — and Mayor Muriel Bowser — have not done enough to live up to Vision Zero, the city’s stated goal to entirely eliminate traffic deaths.

This is the intersection where Salovesh was killed. Photo: Google Maps
This is the intersection where Salovesh was killed. Photo: Google Maps

Late last year, Alex Baca, formerly of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, now with Greater Greater Washington, told Streetsblog that D.C.’s Vision Zero efforts have been falling short under Mayor Bowser. Baca called the city’s efforts a “marketing effort,” more than a serious effort to overhaul streets for greater safety.

“You’re not seeing DDOT really do anything that looks like Vision Zero in a measurable fashion,” she told Streetsblog.

Fatalities are down slightly so far this year, but the city reports there have been 99 serious traffic injuries so far this year. About 10 percent of those were to bicyclists.

Salovesh, 54, was an IT worker. Cops say the driver who killed him was speeding when he ran a stop light in a stolen Grand Caravan. The alleged driver, 25-year-old Robert Earl Little Jr., was charged with second-degree murder.

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