Advocates and community members are gathering for a vigil in front of the park where two individuals were killed by a driver last week. The vigil will take place on Thursday, July 18 at 5:15 p.m. at 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. These deaths mark the 13th and 14th traffic fatalities in the District this year.
NBC Washington reported that the two victims were sitting or sleeping on a bench at Monroe Park, located at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 21st Street NW when at about 11:45 p.m. the driver of a Yukon SUV drove off Pennsylvania Avenue and through the park, striking and killing the two people.
The two were pronounced dead at the scene.
Improving the western corridor of Pennsylvania Avenue NW has long been on the radar of the District Department of Transportation. The Downtown West Transportation Study has been underway since 2016. In fact, just three weeks ago, DDOT held a community meeting to present the latest iteration of plans aimed at improving infrastructure for pedestrians, bicyclists and bus users.
“Safety improvements to Pennsylvania Avenue have widespread support,” said ANC2A Vice Chair and 2A01 Commissioner Patrick Kennedy. “The proposed safety improvements might have made a difference in this crash, but unfortunately the project hasn’t advanced at more than a snail’s pace in two years.”
By mode of transportation, pedestrians have suffered the most traffic violence this year. Of the District’s 14 traffic fatalities to date in 2019, eight have been pedestrians. In 2018, 14 pedestrians were killed by drivers.
Advocates and community members are demanding complete streets that prioritize pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit users (in order of vulnerability), then drivers. They are pressing elected and appointed officials to act swiftly to fund and implement complete streets policies. In the immediate term, they are calling for District agencies to be more responsive when the community request changes for safety.