Photo of George Clemmer's ghost bike memorial, next to the Protected Bike Lane installed after the tragic crash (Credit: Peter Cheung)
Sunday, November 20th, was the World Day of Remembrance for victims of traffic crashes. From Boston to Pittsfield, events were organized across the state to recognize fatal crash victims and each person impacted by fatal or serious crashes on our roadways. In 2022, eight bicyclists in Massachusetts tragically lost their lives on our roadways. We remember Eric Brolin, Sandy Gray, George Clemmer, Stephen Conley, Richard Daly, Michael Wilson, and two publicly unidentified bicyclists lost this year. Traffic fatalities are more than just a number on a page, but a real person who is remembered by family & friends.
Each year, World Day of Remembrance is a solemn reminder as to why MassBike continues to work towards a day where there are no more fatalities on our roadways. Below we've collected stories about how fatal crash victims were remembered across the state this year.
In Boston, the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition, of which MassBike is a member, marked the occasion by laying down over 2,000 yellow flowers at the Massachusetts State House, one blossom for each person killed or seriously injured in a crash in 2022. MassBike's Executive Director, Galen Mook, spent time at the Boston vigil where he greeted visitors and heard stories from tourists who stopped by the memorial. "We spoke with people from all corners of the country, everybody knows someone affected by traffic violence," reflected Mook.
In addition to helping coordinate World Day of Remembrance events statewide, the MA Vision Zero Coalition sent a letter to legislators demanding the passage of H.5103, An Act to reduce traffic fatalities — crucial legislation that could drastically improve traffic safety.
Walk Bike Springfield & the Holyoke BikePed Committee co-hosted an event at the Springfield Library. Walk Bike Springfield volunteers created a pair of yellow shoes for every fatal crash victim in Hampden county, 48 pairs in total.
The event included remarks from advocates, Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman, and those impacted by fatal crashes. Proclamations from Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno recognizing World Day of Remembrance were read.
George Miller (shown above) spoke about his wife Gayle Ball, who was killed last year while crossing State Street while leaving the Springfield Central Library where she was a librarian. Deborah Huber of Walk Bike Springfield led a tribute to the Hampden county crash victims. As she read the details of each crash, event attendees attached white ribbons with each victim's crash date to the pairs of shoes. Together, the participants created a touching memorial to the 48 lives lost.
WalkBike Worcester and District 5 City Councilor, Etel Haxhiaj, hosted an event in front of Chandler Magnet to honor the eight fatal crash victims who died in Worcester this year. Etel Haxhiaj, District 5 City Councilor, called for every dollar spent on transportation in Worcester to support safety. Worcester Mayor, Joseph Petty, recognized November 20, 2022 and every third Thursday of November as World Day of Remembrance in Worcester.
"It’s a moment to literally and figuratively slow down and to recognize the terrible toll that road traffic causes worldwide, and even more so for people on foot or on bicycles," said Karin Valentine Goins of Walkbike Worcester. "And it’s also a chance to recognize that good things are starting to happen in terms of transportation in Worcester, to a more data-driven model that prioritizes safety, equity and sustainability and what we really need is public support."
Pittsfield City Hall lit in Yellow with a white ghost bike for World Day of Remembrance (Credit: Ricardo Morales)
The City of Pittsfield lit up facades at all downtown locations in yellow in honor of World Day of Remembrance. In their World Day of Remembrance Press Release, Pittsfield's Commissioner of Public Utilities, Ricardo Morales, made a commitment to increasing roadway safety citywide.
“Traffic-related deaths are preventable, and the city of Pittsfield wants to highlight changes that will make our city safer – including re-designing our streets as well as providing safe spaces for people walking and bicycling,” said Morales. “We need to keep changing our streets into places where we can use them safely, no matter which type of transport we use, whether driving, walking, or biking.”
World Day of Remembrance for victims of traffic crashes is held on the third Sunday of November each year. For more information, please visit visionzerocoalition.org/wdr.
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