Cyclist Rick Beard killed in St Louis hit-and-run; Cyclists to gather June 30th 8am to ask STL for key changes

After local cyclist Rick Beard was killed in a hit and run collision Friday night, St Louis area cyclists have been meeting, demonstrating, and discussing with the media what needs to be done to make streets safer for people who bicycle and walk.

Rick Beard
Rick Beard

Today St Louis area advocacy group Trailnet released a statement with important information about this issue and a list of changes and improvements the city must make to address safety issues for people who bicycle and walk in the city.  Trailnet is calling on the city to reduce the number of bicycle and pedestrian fatalities from its current rate--higher than the national average--to zero by 2019:

Trailnet Calls on City to Eliminate Pedestrian and Bicycle Fatalities

Death and injury in any form are unacceptable. Our city is often focused on violent crime, rightfully so. But this conversation ignores another major contributor to deaths and injuries--traffic violence.

From 2009-2012, 49 people were killed while walking or biking and 1,496 were injured. This is more than one person a day hit by a car while walking or biking in St. Louis City. Another fatal crash occurred on Friday, killing a bicyclist in full reflective gear. These traffic deaths are preventable and can by eliminated by prioritizing people on foot and bicycle, the most vulnerable users of the road.

Mayor Slay has made it a focus of his administration to make St. Louis more walkable and bikeable, but without a multi-sector action plan and strict enforcement of traffic violations this will not be accomplished.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has continually named St. Louis as a Pedestrian Focus City, because the rate of drivers hitting pedestrians is so high. Thirty-six percent of city traffic deaths are pedestrians.

The City of St. Louis must get serious about keeping residents safe and make a commitment to the people of this city. In order to achieve a walkable and bikeable city, eliminating injuries and deaths must be a measurable part of the City's Sustainability Plan and include the Departments of Streets, Health, and Public Works.

There are two main ways to decrease traffic crashes: change the behavior of the people using the road, and change the physical engineering of the road.

At minimum, Trailnet urges the City to:

 - Set a goal to eliminate pedestrian and bicycle fatalities (e.g. Zero fatalities by 2019)

 - Increase enforcement of traffic violations that injure and kill people: speeding, running red lights, turning violations, and running stop signs

 - Hire a Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator with the expertise to design and implement safer streets for people walking and biking

 - Set a plan to:

 - Begin utilizing FHWA recommended traffic calming measures such as high visibility crosswalks, speed bumps, and roundabouts

 - Update and adopt the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan

 - Pass policies to create safer streets such as no texting while driving

Zero is the only acceptable number. If you live, work, or play in the City of St. Louis, call Mayor Slay today at 314-622-3201 and ask him to set a timeline to eliminate pedestrian and bicycle fatalities.

Concerned cyclists will gather next Monday, June 30th at 8 a.m. in front of City Hall at the Tucker Street entrance to ask for safer streets.

In an article on St. Louis Public Radio's web site, Rhonda Smythe of Trailnet explained why the city's Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator position, in particuliar, is important:

Smythe emphasized Trailnet’s recommendation for the city to hire a Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator devoted to designing safer streets that meet the needs of drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.

“In my research, I was unable to find any other major metropolitan area without one of these positions,” Smythe said.

Mayor Francis Slay has stressed developing better bike lanes as a priority project if the transportation sales tax passes in August. Maggie Crane, spokesperson for Slay, says that hiring a Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator is a possibility if the tax passes.

“There are a lot of options but they take money,” Crane said.

Share this:

Want better bicycling and walking in Missouri?
We rely on the support of members like you.  Please join, renew, or donate today.