Bad news always arrives via Twitter.
I saw earlier in the day that a cyclist was killed on Florida Avenue. The crash sounded horrific – a driver fleeing police had clipped a car and hit someone on a bike going the opposite direction.
The crash took place in the Trinidad neighborhood of Washington, DC. Neighbors, including friends of mine, had been complaining about Florida Avenue for years. Maryland commuters use it as a freeway despite the fact that it travels through some of the most densely populated areas of the city.
Ruby Whitfield was killed in almost the same spot in 2013 while walking home from church. A street is named in her honor. Plans were drawn to slow traffic on the street and put in a protected bike lane. Nothing was ever done.
Twitter then delivered the horror, as it has since 2016. The name of the cyclist killed was Dave Salovesh.
A flood of responses online: shock. Dave was the most confident city cyclist I ever met, one of those people who biked everywhere in all weather, with strength and power, determined to prove that the streets belonged to everyone.
I first met Dave at the Stop U-Turns Protest on Pennsylvania Avenue. I wasn’t an advocate. I was just there to take pictures. Dave wanted barriers put up to stop drivers from making u-turns across the bike lane. The demonstration took right in front of the Wilson Building, home to the notoriously unresponsive DC city government.
I thought nothing would come of it. To my surprise, Dave won. Curbs were put in so drivers couldn’t make u-turns across Pennsylvania so easily.
As I got more involved in bike advocacy, moving from observer to participant, I saw Dave everywhere, at every protest, rally and meetup. He was someone you could count on being there.
As @darsal, he was a ceaseless presence on Twitter, an advocate with a mission to make the streets safe for everyone.
Little-known fact: he also ran @DCBikeWX, a wonderful Twitter account that provided weather forecasts for local cyclists. He wasn’t a meteorologist but every day would look at the charts and develop a forecast, advising bike commuters when to pack rain gear or remember their gloves.
He was one of those people you assumed would always be around. Until he wasn’t.
On Easter Sunday, a ghost bike was installed where Dave died.
I couldn’t go. Couldn’t do this one. I’ve been to other remembrances for people killed on city streets, dutifully taking photos, my lens a shield against the raw experience of grief.
But I couldn’t do this one. It was too personal. I knew Dave.
On Easter Sunday in DC, another deadly crash, a driver running through a stop sign, smashing into a car and killing a pedestrian, no break from automotive mayhem even on the holiest of days.
Things have to change.
Will they change?
Dave believed that they would, because making the streets safe for everyone was the right thing to do.
Things can change. Email Mayor Bowser and demand safe streets. It’s time to stop the carnage.