Joy Covey helped catapult Amazon.com from a small company to the global powerhouse it is today. Earlier this year, on a bicycle ride in San Mateo County, Calif., she was struck by a delivery van and killed. She was 50 years old.
Joy is one of hundreds of men and women killed while bicycling or walking on our streets each year.
This has to change -- and a one sentence bill in Congress could do it.
Between 2010 and 2011 the overall number of roadway deaths dropped by 2 percent -- but the number of bicyclists killed increased 9 percent and pedestrians by 3 percent. These aren’t just statistics on a page. We see the news stories, like Joy’s, far too frequently; another life lost, another family and community member gone.
And yet, while people who bike and walk make up 16 percent of roadway fatalities, less than 1 percent of safety funding is directed to infrastructure that would protect those biking and walking.
Today, a coalition of bi-partisan House lawmakers introduced the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act, which will require the U.S. Department of Transportation to set specific safety targets for all roadway users -- not just motorists, but pedestrians and bicyclists, too.
The legislation gives US DOT the flexibility to determine the best method to meet these safety measures, and calls on our leaders to reduce the number of people biking and walking who are killed or injured on our streets every year.
A simple safety measure, this bill says clearly that the lives of all roadway users are important -- and creates accountability toward ending needless deaths.
Without it, people who bike and walk, like Joy, will remain in the blindspot of our transportation system.
Join this effort, and tell your lawmakers to vote for this straightforward, bi-partisan bill. Take action.
Late yesterday afternoon I received the following email in my inbox from Dave Cooper, a Lexington cyclist, a mountain biker, and an active cycling advocate in the area and I wanted to share it with you (thanks Dave!):
Dear Mayor Gray and members of the Urban County Council,
cc: LFUCG Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee
I am writing in regards to bicycle and pedestrian safety in Lexington, in the wake of the recent tragic death of Payton Griffith, the 12 year old girl who was killed last Wednesday while crossing a street off Eastland Parkway.
According to news reports, the girl was apparently walking in the crosswalk, but the driver has not been charged.
I find this very hard to understand. I realize this was an accident, and I feel badly for the driver. But are there no legal protections at all for pedestrians?
I am also very concerned about the accident two weeks ago where a cyclist riding in the designated bike lane on Winchester Rd. was struck and pinned under the rear wheel of a tractor trailer that was turning right near the Smucker's plant. I use this same bike lane frequently, and like most urban cyclists I have experienced the terror of getting the "right hook" when an inattentive or distracted motorist suddenly turns in front of them. But this tanker truck was carrying a very hazardous explosive material, and the driver of such vehicles must be held to a very high standard of safety. Still, according to news reports, no charges have been filed against the truck driver.
There is a recurring pattern in Lexington. Cyclist Rick Kerr was run over and killed by an SUV on Russell Cave Rd in 2012 and reportedly no charges were filed against the driver. In December 2012, Washington DC attorney Lauren Roady was killed while walking across Broadway in downtown Lexington, and no charges were filed.
It seems that in Lexington, motorists can run over pedestrians and cyclists almost with impunity, but I think that public sentiment is finally starting to change. Sadly, it has taken the tragic death of a 12 year old girl for people to begin voicing their concerns about these injustices.
Cycling has grown rapidly in popularity in Lexington, thanks in large part to strong leadership from some LFUCG council members and traffic engineers. The popularity of the Legacy Trail and the Second Sunday events is undeniable. But installing bike lanes and building bike trails is not enough. If cycling is to continue to grow, and if Lexington wants to be a truly progressive and bike-friendly city, we have to start protecting the safety of those who chose to walk or ride instead of drive.
Kentucky cyclists are starting to organize on a statewide basis to advocate for better safety conditions. There is a lot of work to do. The fractured cycling community in Kentucky must become more unified and organized, build alliances and speak with one voice. This will take time.
In the meantime, I urge our Mayor and LFUCG Council members to make bicycle and pedestrian safety a priority in the coming year. I ask our city leaders to speak publicly about issues of pedestrian and cycling safety, to make improvements in our traffic laws where possible, and to work with Division of Police to improve enforcement so that cyclists and pedestrians can navigate our city safely.
Lexington KY 40505