DC-FSS members attended an event on May 11 hosted by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA). Speakers addressed the need for investment in infrastructure to make alternatives to driving safe, reliable, affordable, and accessible. DC-FSS was pleased to be asked to give remarks alongside Congressional Bike Caucus members Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC).
More on the event from Business Insider.
Remarks from DC-FSS Steering Committee member Jessica Hart:
Thank you, Jeremiah and WABA, for inviting me to speak today on behalf of DC Families for Safe Streets.
My daughter, Allison Hart, loved to go on family adventures. One of her favorites was a destination not far from here. She’d climb in the bike trailer and sing along to Moana or Hamilton as we rode to Yards Park to splash in the fountain and get some ice cream on a hot summer day, her cheeks rosy from the heat, her blond hair wet with sweat and fountain water.
Allie was killed on September 13, 2021 when a driver failed to come to a complete stop or look for pedestrians. He struck her as she rode her bike in a crosswalk one block from our home. She was killed on impact, five years, two months, and twenty-six days old.
Lily Shambrook spent her early years during the COVID shutdown, going on adventures with her dad Tim around Chicago. She was an inquisitive and joyful little girl who loved being with her friends, swimming, and visiting the Art Institute of Chicago.
Lily was killed on June 9, 2022 when a truck was illegally parked in a bike lane. As her mom biked around the truck, she was clipped by a passing semi-truck, knocking over her and the bike. The semi ran over this sweet 3-year-old girl.
Matt Keenan was excited to see his 1-year-old son grow up, to teach him music and to play sports together. His wife Laura told me that Matt was a passionate person, full of life, who could make anyone feel seen and heard. The kind of person who made you want to say, “yes!” when you were with him.
Matt was killed on September 14, 2021 when he was riding his bike in a bike lane in San Diego. A driver going the opposite direction crossed the yellow line and hit him head-on. A new dad cruelly taken from his wife and baby son.
DC. Chicago. San Diego. And there are so many more stories like this. Thousands of people dying violent, traumatic, preventable deaths on American streets every year. Allie, Lily, and Matt all paid the price of a society that refuses to build the infrastructure that can protect our most vulnerable road users. Paint is not protection.
We’re here today to experience some of the protected bike infrastructure in Washington, DC. And it’s true, DC has a great network of bike facilities. But it is nowhere – nowhere – near enough. Vision Zero is failing in DC, it is failing in too many communities across the country, in part because it lacks funding. Here in DC, we’ve seen some positive legislation like the Safer Streets Amendment Act or the Vision Zero Omnibus Bill that prioritize building a city in which every resident and visitor has the right to safely travel, no matter what mode they take. But this legislation can’t bring about the change we so desperately need if it’s not funded, followed, and enforced.
Some of you here today have the power to make a difference. To fund infrastructure that builds complete streets, where you can safely get around outside of a car. To reduce the red tape that hampers bike and pedestrian projects way more than any highway project. Congress can pass the Sarah Debbink Langenkamp Active Transportation Safety Act that would ensure something as simple as side guards are retrofitted to the sides of large trucks, saving lives.
Let me close by saying this: as we ride today, think about how it would feel to bike without any barrier between you and the multi-ton vehicles that pass. Or how it would feel to experience that split-second between being killed and having a close call. Think about seeing your child, your partner, your parent or friend or colleague or neighbor dying in the street. Would you do everything in your power to stop that?
I would. Because Allie and Lily and Matt and every other victim of traffic violence deserved to live. The very least we can do is give them a legacy that leaves behind safe streets for all users.