City Council votes to hold hearing on high rate of traffic deaths

A cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run in Northeast Philadelphia last year.
A cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run in Northeast Philadelphia last year. Photo credit NBC10 Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed a resolution to once again explore why the city continues to see high traffic fatalities despite measures intended to prevent them.

The hearing’s sponsor, Isaiah Thomas, began his pitch for the hearing by lamenting the death of beloved Masterman teacher Kevin St. Claire, who was hit by a car while riding his bike in Roxborough and thrown across the road, where he was hit by another car.

“No one should ever lose their life in a manner like that,” he said.

St. Claire’s death brought to 10 the number of cyclists killed by drivers so far this year.

The first hearing, two years ago, was in response to the spike in fatalities during the COVID-19 shut down. Thomas says Council learned some disturbing facts at the time.

“We found that over 80% of our car accidents took place on 12% of our roads,” Thomas said. “We also learned that it was the way our streets were designed that often put us in a position to cause these accidents — on top of the fact that, when fewer people are on the road, people are inclined to speed and drive a little recklessly.”

Thomas says Council approved spending for better technology for police to investigate crashes, and he wants to see if it’s helping.

“We want to examine where we are now, a couple years later, we want to look at what technology has been purchased, what investments have we seen in infrastructure and do our best to try to make sure people can travel across Philadelphia in a safe way.”

Fatalities have decreased modestly, from 166 in 2020 to 133 in 2021 and 125 last year. But there have been 115 already this year, including a record 10 bicyclists killed by drivers, putting 2023 on track to match or exceed 2022.

Featured Image Photo Credit: NBC10 Philadelphia