As the District reinvigorates its Vision Zero initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2024, a group of traffic-safety advocates will host a memorial walk downtown on Nov. 15, in memory of the 10 pedestrians whom drivers fatally struck on D.C. streets in 2018.
The group will meet at 13th and K streets NW at 5:15 p.m. and proceed in silence down 13th Street to the Wilson Building, the seat of the D.C. government. The activists are demanding that officials “improve pedestrian infrastructure and enforce violations like blocking the box or crosswalks in the hopes of preventing future fatalities,” according to a release. A moment of silence will be held at the end of the walk and participants are encouraged to wear white.
There will also be civil disobedience: The activists will “block a crosswalk for 10 minutes and place one pair of empty shoes in the crosswalk for each person killed this year,” according to the office of Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, who plans to participate in the walk.
Drivers have killed pedestrians in five of the District’s eight wards this year, per data that the organizers of the walk compiled. Ward 5, which covers much of Northeast, has experienced the most pedestrian deaths, with four since January. In addition to the 10 pedestrians struck and killed in 2018, two were struck in 2017 and perished this year as a result of their injuries.
So far in 2018, three cyclists and one e-scooter rider have also died in crashes on the city’s roads. The activists tracked the crashes and the known victims’ names using police reports. They ranged in age from 19 to 84. September was the deadliest month, with three fatalities.
Overall, 31 people have died as a result of crashes in the District this year, including drivers and motorcyclists. That is more than the 30 people who died in all of 2017, and a roughly 7 percent increase over the 29 deaths recorded by this point last year, official numbers show.
Facing this uptick, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration recently proposed various traffic-safety improvements, such as banning right turns on red at busy intersections, establishing dedicated pick-up and drop-off zones for ride-hailing vehicles, and keeping bike lanes clear.
This post has been updated with information from Allen’s office.