Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Safety Concerns from WABA

Last Friday night, a DC cyclist was killed while biking on Southern Avenue, SE. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association will be holding a candle-light vigil this Friday night and is calling for changes to increase safety throughout the city. I called WABA Executive Director Shane Farthing to talk about the issue.

While Farthing calls for what WABA terms the 'right to safe travel', he tells me he's not pointing fingers. Farthing explains, "It appears that in this case Mr. [David H.] Willams was in a difficult spot for cyclists, because it was a large road with traffic traveling at higher speeds. We just want to ensure that all people have the opportunity-- and the right-- to travel safely."

Williams was struck by one vehicle, then a second. Police say the driver of the first vehicle wasn't sure that someone was hit, but stopped. Witnesses say a second vehicle then hit Williams. Police are continuing to investigate.

From WABA's perspective, Farthing says, "this sort of an event should always trigger a look at the infrastructure in place." Farthing says it's especially important as the District and Arlington get set to launch a regional bikesharing program. "We are encouraging people to bike, and in doing that, we need to make sure that we are appropriately protecting their safety with infrastructure dedicated to cyclists."

But Farthing says, it's not a my-safety-vs-your-safety question. "It's all public space. It's not my space or your space. We don't need to see each other as competitors. It's not a war to be won...we all have to work together."

Here's information from the WABA news release:

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) expresses sympathy and condolences to the family and friends of David Williams, a fellow District cyclist who was killed Friday evening while biking along Southern Avenue, SE. Mr. Williams was reportedly struck by two separate vehicles.

WABA will install a "ghost bike" memorial for Mr. Williams along the 1400 block of Southern Avenue as part of a candlelight vigil Friday from 7pm to 9pm. A bike, painted white, will be locked near the crash site to serve as a visible memorial to Mr. Williams, a somber reminder of the consequences of such collisions, and a quiet statement in support of cyclists‟ right to safe travel."

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