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World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

A somber commemoration of people killed in crashes takes place around the state this weekend, or thereabouts

Image: Walk San Francisco

The 2023 World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims takes place this Sunday, November 19, mostly. Cities throughout California will mark the occasion in remembrance of loved ones and neighbors who have been killed or seriously injured in traffic. Like the annual Ride of Silence, it is an opportunity to honor victims and to advocate for safety so that their numbers don't keep rising.

And they have been rising precipitously in the past few years, 2023 being no exception. According to Leah Shahum at the Vision Zero Network, the urgency for action is ever more urgent. "An estimated 42,915 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes nationwide" in 2022, she wrote in an October post. This reflects more than a ten percent increase over the number of fatalities reported in 2020. It's worse for people on foot: pedestrian fatalities increased thirteen percent in the same time period.

Sixty communities in nearly 35 states are leading activities for World Day of Remembrance, supported by a variety of organizations including Vision Zero Network, Families for Safe Streets, It Could be Me, and Road to Zero Coalition.

San Diego

Circulate San Diego and Families for Safe Streets San Diego will kick off their events on Friday, November 17, with a candlelight vigil to honor the 283 people killed in the region in 2022. Guest speakers will include crash victims and their loved ones, as well as local elected officials. The vigil will begin at 4:30 p.m. at Civic Center Plaza, 1200 3rd Ave in San Diego.

The same groups will also host a community walk and bike ride on Saturday, November 18, starting at El Prado Bridge where it meets Park Blvd, at 10 a.m. Families for Safe Streets San Diego is also organizing a visual reminder in the form of empty shoes: 283 pairs of them, representing those pedestrians and bike riders killed in San Diego County in 2022. They will be placed on the steps of the Civic Center Fountain during the events.

The organizers are advocating for three specific, cost-effective safety solutions: Improving the fifteen most dangerous intersections in San Diego County; Adding protection to 75 miles of bikeways during upcoming repaving work; and rapidly implementing San Diego's updated Complete Streets policy, which calls for an update to the city street design manual as well.

San Francisco

Walk San Francisco is organizing a gathering across the street from City Hall at 4 p.m. on Sunday, November 19. The occasion will be marked with a short walk around the Civic Center Plaza and the creation of a temporary memorial on the steps of City Hall.

Fresno

Fresno's Active Transportation Advisory Committee invites residents to join them in marking World Day of Remembrance with a bike ride to Roosevelt High School at 2 p.m., followed by speakers including City Council members and families of victims of road fatalities at 3:30 p.m. They also plan a candlelight vigil at 5 p.m. to end the evening. Meet at City Hall.

The Fresno organizers are advocating for:

  • expanding the city's Safe Routes to School Program to include all schools in FUSD and beyond in the city of Fresno
  • a Vision Zero resolution with a robust and equitable outreach program around the new Vision Zero plan
  • a roadside memorial policy that allows memorials to stay up as long as the families maintain them

Los Angeles

So Cal Families for Safe Streets, Street Racing Kills, and Jeri Dye Lynch are organizing a gathering at 2 p.m. at De Longpre Park, 1348 North Cherokee Ave. to commemorate the over 300 people killed in traffic in Los Angeles in 2022, a five percent increase over 2021 and a 29 percent increase over 2020.

Crash victims, families, community members, road safety advocates, and local decision-makers will commemorate the crashes and urge the city of Los Angeles to address excessive speeds on our streets. They will create a heart-shaped memorial and walk to one of the crash sites.

"The broader community is encouraged to attend in solidarity. Your participation is deeply meaningful to victims and loved ones. Together, we shine a light on these tragedies and the urgent need for change," write the organizers. Further details can be found with an RSVP to this page.

Malibu

The Malibu community will gather to commemorate the 58 lives lost on Pacific Coast Highway since 2010, including the four Pepperdine students who were killed by a speeding driver in October. The event will include an art installation of "ghost tires," and a call to action to the California Department of Transportation to slow down and fix PCH. Organizers say Caltrans did a study in 2015 which provided a list of safety improvements that could be made to PCH, but they have not been acted on.

"State Senator Ben Allen, County Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath, the Malibu Mayor, City Council, and the Sheriff's department have all pledged effective change on this 21-mile stretch of PCH," write the organizers. "The department that has the power to make this change is Caltrans, and they have not yet come to the table. We invite [all] to attend this World Day of Remembrance event and add your voice to those who support traffic safety and effective change on PCH."

The event will commence at 10 a.m. at the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Webb Way in Malibu. Organizers also warn attendees not to stop or attempt to park cars along PCH.

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