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Families of road traffic victims rally for safer streets

San Diego traffic
Posted at 4:13 PM, Nov 18, 2023

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — In the wake of tragic incidents, San Diego residents unite on World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims to advocate for safer streets. Families and activists gathered near San Diego City Hall on Friday, sharing personal stories.

“It was Martin Luther King Day, and Kevin had gone out for an early morning bike ride,” said Nancy Cavanaugh-Wilson, whose husband fell victim to a traffic accident. “He was hit from behind by a drunk driver.”

“Matt decided to get a little exercise and ride his bike to the movies. He left our house in North Park. About 20 minutes later, he was on Camino Del Rio South in Mission Valley when a wrong-way driver crossed into his painted, narrow bike lane, and hit him head-on going about 35 miles per hour,” said Laura Keenan, whose husband was killed by a wrong-way driver.

Laura Keenan and Nancy Cavanaugh-Wilson were among many others who lost their loved ones in traffic accidents.

“My world turned upside down in an instant. Everything - the entire foundation I stood on crumbled,” Keenan said.

Both Keenan and Cavanaugh-Wilson, along with Families for Safe Streets San Diego, brought 283 pairs of shoes to the event, symbolizing lives lost while biking or walking in San Diego County last year.

“That’s an average of five people a week, 24 people a month,” Cavanaugh-Wilson said.

"Hopefully, our voices start to break through and humanize traffic deaths because each of these shoes was a person,” Keenan said.

According to Circulate San Diego, a local nonprofit focusing on mobility, there has been a 4% decrease in these deaths from 2021 (294) to 2022 (283) in San Diego County.

However, advocates press for more significant actions from the City of San Diego.

“We’re asking for the city to fix the 15 most fatal intersections, add 75 miles of protected bikeways along upcoming slurry projects, and also follow NACTO standards, which is the gold standard as they update their street design manual,” Keenan said.

City officials agree that more needs to be done, but they acknowledge some progress as they respond to these calls for action.

“At the end of the day, people shouldn’t just believe us because we say we’re going to do something. They have to see that action is taken,” said Sean Elo-Rivera, San Diego City Council member. “They see that through some of the changes that are being made, through the budget actions that are being made. But again, we have to do better on this front.”

“We need to prevent more of them from dying. We have the tools. We just need the political commitment to make it happen,” said Keenan.