"Roads & streets are more than connections from point A to point B. They tell stories, some of them tragic, that are worth remembering."
It is with this slogan in mind that MassBike participated in World Day of Remembrance, an international vigil and memorial event to remember the many millions killed and injured on the world’s roads, together with their families, friends and the many others who are affected.
This past Sunday, hundreds of vigil members gathered in the cold outside the State House; we named aloud, one by one, those killed by traffic violence in the state in 2018. We placed yellow flowers on the steps of Boston City Hall and wrote chalk messages on its entryway for everyone in City Hall to read. And we heard the personal, heart wrenching, tragic stories of those who lost their loved ones to needless traffic crashes.
World Day of Remembrance is part of a call for faster action in our state to make our roads safer for all of us. Working as part of the Vision Zero Coalition, MassBike and our advocacy partners strive to reach a goal of zero traffic fatalities on our roads, to push our government officials to do more, quickly, to prevent deadly crashes by reformatting laws and regulations and investing in safe, equitable street infrastructure.
Adding to the day’s action, this year’s World Day of Remembrance was preceded by a ghost bike dedication ceremony for Meng Jin, a 24-year old cyclist and Boston University graduate student struck and killed by a right-turning dump truck near the Museum of Science on November 9. The ghost bike ceremony reminded us of the dangers of our roads, the value of the lives lost, and how much work we have left to make our roads safe for people who walk and bike.
Meng’s ghost bike is a place marker at the site of tragedy. These markers are placed on roads through the Commonwealth and MassBike traveled across the state to broaden public awareness of traffic deaths by placing white silhouette cutouts of human figures near fatal crash sites in Boston, Cambridge, Springfield, Worcester, and other cities with high crash rates. You may have seen these as you pass by on the roads and they may make you stop for a minute and contemplate the value of human life.
There’s work to be done to protect us all out there.
Working with The Joe Lavins Fund Steering Committee, (Joe was tragically killed in a crash with a large truck in Porter Square, Cambridge in 2016), MassBike, alongside members of advocacy groups LivableStreets Alliance and the Boston Cyclists Union, created an 11-minute video "Safer Trucking In Changing Cities" (available to view at no cost at here) to provide truck driver education about how to deal with the challenges they face driving in an urban setting. Read more here about the urgent need for safer trucking and our focus on education.
On the state level, the Vision Zero Coalition is gearing up for a Day of Action on January 23rd for the 2019 legislative session. This lobbying effort will bring constituents to the State House to advocate for distracted driving and hands-free cell phone usage bills, as well as press for the House of Representatives to pass "An Act to Reduce Traffic Fatalities" that would require side guards on state contracted trucks, a 3-foot minimum passing law, and other safety initiatives designed to save lives on our roads. Leading up to the Day of Action, we will be calling on you to join us, to send your voice to the State House so your local legislators can hear why these issues matter to you.
We’re striving for a day when our roads are safe for all of us, when we have zero traffic fatalities, and we’re grateful and thankful for the tireless work of our advocacy partners pursuing this noble goal. We're thankful for our members, supporters, and business partners who join us in this work.