World Day of Remembrance Events Urge Safety Over Speed
Imagine city, state, and federal leaders having access to a proven vaccine for a public health crisis that took the lives of more than 1.3 million people worldwide each year. Yet, for some reason, they did not utilize it to the fullest extent. Instead, they focused on encouraging personal responsibility to try to lessen the damage, while looking past the influential, higher-level strategies that only they could institute to ensure health and safety.
This is the experience for many who gathered across the globe on the 25th annual World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims to memorialize loved ones lost to preventable traffic deaths. More U.S. communities than ever participated on November 15, 2020, to urge local, state, and federal leaders to shake off the widespread complacency toward more than 1.3 million lives lost – and many millions more deeply impacted – in traffic crashes around the world each year. This includes an average of 40,000 traffic deaths in the U.S. each year, with a disproportionate number of people killed while walking and biking.
Following is a collection of World Day of Remembrance events and calls to action led by local communities in their push for Vision Zero, safe mobility for all. From Charlotte, North Carolina to Tampa, Florida and St. Paul, Minnesota to Tempe, Arizona activities included candlelight vigils, online memorials, public displays of shoes representing those lost, memorial walks & bike rides, and more.
Doing What Works to Save Lives: Safety Over Speed
World Day of Remembrance organizers across the country called on leaders to utilize the proven strategies that will stem the epidemic of traffic violence, particularly by prioritizing safety over speed.
More than 45 communities have committed to Vision Zero, acknowledging that they can make changes to advance their goal of zero traffic deaths or severe injuries. It is an undeniable scientific fact that lower speeds and roadways designed for lower speeds reduce the occurrence and severity of crashes.
In our cities, where we encourage walking, biking and transit as ways to combat climate change and benefit our communities’ health, why are we designing streets and setting speed limits that literally kill, when we have a choice to do better. It’s a choice of prioritizing safe mobility or allowing slightly faster but substantially more perilous conditions.
On this year’s World Day of Remembrance, members of Families for Safe Streets were joined by community advocates and Vision Zero champions within the public and private sectors to unite their voices for change. In remembering sons, daughters, parents, grandparents, friends, co-workers, and classmates lost to preventable traffic crashes, we call on leaders to recognize their responsibility to prioritize life over speed and convenience (or, what is more likely, over perceived speed and convenience).
“Families for Safe Streets members from across the country remembered their loved ones who were killed and seriously injured, poured out their hearts, and demanded that our local, state and federal leaders act with urgency to end this preventable public health crisis. We know the price of failed leadership — forty thousand Americans dead and millions seriously injured, year after year, for the past 100 years. The US is rated as one of the most dangerous high-income nation in terms of traffic safety. These are not just statistics. Each number is a life lost like my 12-year-old son, a family shattered, and a community left grieving.”
—Amy Cohen, Co-Founder, Families for Safe Streets
Several events organized by Families for Safe Streets preceded Sunday commemorations, including a Faith Leaders’ Forum, a Twitter Town Hall, an art workshop, a storytelling forum (the video recording guide here), and a webinar about managing speed for safety. More info here.
Denver, CO, has a Week of Remembrance: During the week of November 15th – 21st, Denver Department of Transportation & Infrastructure and Denver Streets Partnership will host a virtual Facebook event to honor victims of traffic crashes and their families, and reaffirm our commitment to the fundamental principles of Vision Zero and making our streets safer for everyone, together.
World Day of Remembrance memorial at Capitol building today. We want to work with transportation agencies to design roads so cars slow down. And we no longer say accident because these crashes are 100% preventable. 619 lives changed or taken in only five years. #speedkillsidaho pic.twitter.com/y5U8op7xrO— IdahoWalkBike (@IdahoWalkBike) November 16, 2020
City staff participated in the Mourning of Remembrance bike ride/walk on the Courtney Campbell Causeway Trail to honor victims & families of traffic crashes. Our City is committed to the #VisionZero mission of eliminating traffic deaths & creating safer streets for all. #DoR2020 pic.twitter.com/O7iwIuC23G— City of Tampa (@CityofTampa) November 15, 2020
Restored and decorated ghost bike for Natasha Caicedo, killed on her bike in 2013. Her widower held the first fundraiser for our first campaign for a protected bike lane. Sometimes the ghost bikes disappear, and people think we’ve forgotten, but we haven’t. pic.twitter.com/FlSm2Lcepl— 🚲Bike JC🗽 (@bikejc) November 15, 2020
Joint bike ride by bike groups from in and around Newark, led by our friends Newark Community Cycling Center @BikeNewarkNJ, spruced up ghost bike memorials for fallen cyclists today, in observance of World Day of Remembrance for Victims of Traffic Violence. #WDoR2020 pic.twitter.com/TOE09y5nAE— Brick City Bike Collective 🚲 (@BCBC_Newark) November 15, 2020
These are but a handful of the loved, valuable human beings who have been violently killed on #TODeadlyStreets, but we honour and remember every single person. We need far more action to build #VisionZeroTO to stop the #PublicHealthCrisisTO. #WDoR2020 #SpeedKills https://t.co/bLWn2JEGjP pic.twitter.com/QtHASUwpHG— FFSS (@FFSafeStreets) November 15, 2020
Today bridges + buildings across the state are lit up in yellow to honor World Day of Remembrance. Learn more about #WDoR: https://t.co/Hi9P0thaU1— LivableStreets (@StreetsBoston) November 16, 2020
See a bridge or building lit up? Share a photo with us! #WDoR2020 #VisionZero pic.twitter.com/DCobC0UaoL
City Hall is glowing yellow tonight in honor of all those who have been killed in traffic crashes, as well as survivors of crashes.— Walk San Francisco (@walksf) November 16, 2020
We hold these people & their loved ones in our hearts.#WDoR2020 pic.twitter.com/rHfZYNFc7M
On World Day of Remembrance, we recognize loved ones lost to traffic violence and honor their legacy. Because even one traffic fatality is too many. #WDoR2020 #SpeedKills #VisionZeroCLT https://t.co/FUh6WvaqFl— Charlotte DOT (@CharlotteDOT) November 15, 2020
While many cities and states were not able to hold World Day of Remembrance events this year with pandemic conditions and other challenges, many worked to elevate the importance in their everyday work, including Eugene-Springfield (OR), Seattle (WA), Maine, and others.
Chicago, IL, Cleveland, OH, Kansas City, KS, Champaign-Urbana, IL, Austin and all Central Texas organized virtual conversations, ceremonies, and observance.
Because 1 life lost on our roads is too many. Join us for World Day of Remembrance this Sunday to honor traffic victims & help our community make safe decisions. Every Person Matters. #WDoR2020 https://t.co/Yve6eVCjOT— San Antonio Public Works 👷♀️👷 (@SAPublicWorks) November 13, 2020
Happening Now: Join us at the Mall at Prince George’s as Vision Zero Prince George’s & the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ (MCOG) Street Smart campaign observe World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims & share the “Lives Shatter on Impact” exhibit. pic.twitter.com/KV70KgQKSO— PGCountyDPWT (@PGCountyDPWT) November 14, 2020
DC Families for Safe Streets created a virtual bulletin board where people can commemorate their loved ones.
Events were preceded by a video tribute from Zoleka Mandela, a global road safety advocate and the granddaughter of the late South African President Nelson Mandela. Zoleka Mandela lost her daughter to a car crash in Johannesburg at the age of 13. In this moving video, she speaks to the need for change, including prioritizing safety over speed, and lauds the work of Families for Safe Streets and other Vision Zero advocates.
Mark your calendar for the next World Day of Remembrance, which is held on the third Sunday of November (November 21, 2021), and please get involved to advocate for Vision Zero — safe mobility for all — for the next 364 days and beyond.
Join us in the call for safe mobility for all. Learn about and support the work of Families for Safe Streets, with 16 chapters in North America, and the Vision Zero Network, supporting local efforts nationwide. And please support your local and state advocates working for safety on your streets, sidewalks, and bikeways.
World Day of Remembrance of Road Safety Victims is an international event, recognized by the United Nations and the World Health Organization, which acknowledge traffic deaths to be a public health crisis – and one that can be prevented with strong leadership and investments in smart strategies.