Day of Remembrance for Victims of Traffic Violence

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Nearly 40,000 people are killed on our streets and roads every year – the equivalent of a major war that America fights annually, endlessly and always loses.

You or probably someone you know has been impacted by traffic violence.

Several years ago, while in a crosswalk near Dupont Circle, I was hit by car. Traffic stopped for me as a I crossed but then a driver decided to whip around the stopped cars and hit me. Luckily, it was a little Porsche that just scooped me up on its hood, leaving me unharmed.

Others, like my friend Dave Salovesh, weren’t so fortunate. Traffic deaths have increased every year in DC since 2015.

On Sunday, DC Families for Safe Streets spoke in front of the Wilson Building on a day of remembrance for loved ones lost to traffic violence. Survivors, loved ones and allies marched from Chinatown to the seat of the DC government in a plea for safe streets in the nation’s capital.

A poem was read to mark the solemn occasion. As we bowed our heads in remembrance, a huge flock of starlings took flight, traversing the sky in vast circles as the day came to an end. It felt like a sign that we weren’t alone.

There is a simple solution to the problem of traffic violence: return space to pedestrians.

Washington, DC would be a good place to start. Designed in the 1700s, the nation’s capital was never meant for cars. With narrow streets and short blocks, it’s a city that was built for pedestrians.

Yet, we’ve let cars go nearly everywhere in the city. And not just people who live here, but anyone in any kind of vehicle is allowed to drive into the middle of this densely-populated urban environment.

The result is frustration for all – drivers, pedestrians, cyclists – forced to fight for limited pavement in an increasingly lawless environment.

Mayor Bowser has stated that she wants DC to be a world-class city. Then do what other world-class cities have done: ban cars.

Cities from Madrid to New York have begun to ban or limit cars. Washington should do the same. We have public transport – the Metro. There is no reason anyone should drive downtown.

If the Mayor wants to reverse the trend of traffic deaths and make Washington a truly world-class city, then she can demonstrate her commitment by banning cars from downtown.

40,000 traffic deaths a year is not something we have to live with. Change is possible. It is time to end the silence on traffic violence.

Author: Joe Flood

Joe Flood is the author of The Swamp, a funny new novel that mocks the city America has come to hate.

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