Transforming Pain into Power: Philadelphia Launches a Families for Safe Streets Effort
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On Tuesday, April 30, a group of safe streets and bicycle advocates from around Pennsylvania traveled to the state Capitol to advocate for four pieces of legislation. Led by the Bicycle Coalition, Vision Zero Alliance, and Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia, our group met with the representatives, or representatives’ staff, of 40 legislators.
Among the advocates who traveled to the Capitol with us were the Fredricks Family, whose daughter, Emily, was killed while bicycling in Center City, Philadelphia, in 2017; and Liz Daley, whose daughter, Erin Wilson, was killed by an out-of-control driver while crossing Lehigh Avenue in North Philadelphia in 2016.
Their combined advocacy on these issues has been incredible, to say the least. Here are short summaries of the legislation we were in Harrisburg to support:
Protected Pedestrian Plazas and Pedalcycle Lanes. This bill is a technical fix to the vehicle code and allows vehicles to park along a curbside bike lane. The same bill was passed in the last session 187-0. It was introduced during this session in the House as HB792 by Rep. David Maloney (R-130). Senator Farnese introduced SB565. Click here to support this bill.
Hand-Held Cell Phone Ban. This prohibits the use of hand-held cellular phones (hands free cell phones are permissible) while operating a motor vehicle on the roadways of the Commonwealth.
Vulnerable Highway User Protections. This bill defines the term “Vulnerable Highway User” and increase the penalties for a person convicted of careless driving that results in either the death, serious bodily injury, or bodily injury of a Vulnerable Highway User.
RADAR for Local Law Enforcement. Senator Scavello (R-40) has a co-sponsorship memo about a bill he will introduce to permit their local police to use radar for monitoring traffic speed.
Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia gathered in the cold at March 11th and Spruce Streets Thursday morning, outlining a list of demands for the City of Philadelphia and law enforcement, alongside several bicyclists and safe streets advocates.
While there, FSSGP founding members Laura Fredricks, Anne Javsicas and Latanya Byrd spoke about the work their organization is currently doing, what they’ve already accomplished, and, most importantly, why they are working to end traffic violence in Philadelphia. To continue reading the story please click on the Families for safe Streets Button below.
Truck driver ordered to stand trial in Center City baker’s bicycle death
by Tommy Rowan,Updated: April 17, 2019
COURTESY OF THE FREDRICKS FAMILY
The 28-year-old who was driving the trash truck thatstruck and killed a bicyclistin Center City in 2017 was ordered on Wednesday to stand trial in the death.
At a preliminary hearing, Municipal Court Judge Charles Hayden ordered Jorge Fretts of Philadelphia tried on all counts, including homicide by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter, and recklessly endangering another person in the death of pastry chef Emily Fredricks, 24.
If found guilty, Fretts, who is free on bail, faces a maximum of five years in prison.
In making his decision, Hayden cited Fretts’ failure to obey a yield-to-bicyclists sign and use a turn signal.
“Just for the record,” he said, “I once worked for the largest solid-waste disposal company in the country, so I know these trucks well.”
According to video from inside the cab of the privately owned truck shown during the hearing, and testimony from Police Officer Mark Eib, the incident happened Nov. 28, 2017, during rush hour on a busy Tuesday morning at 11th and Spruce Streets.
Fretts, wearing a red baseball cap and blue jumpsuit, was making a right turn from Spruce onto 11th when he crossed into a bicycle lane and hit Fredricks.
A split second before impact, both Fretts and a passenger in the truck saw the biker and yelled in unison, “Whoa, whoa, whoa!”
At issue was whether Fretts used a turn signal, obeyed a yield-to-bicyclists sign, checked his mirrors before turning, and was distracted by a smartphone earbud in his right ear.
Defense attorney David S. Bahuriak said Fretts looked both ways, checking the road before turning. He argued that it was not a crime to have an earbud in one ear while driving and that it was impossible to tell from the evidence whether the device was on or off. He said Fretts had to contend with the truck’s multiple blind spots.
“Despite his best efforts, he still couldn’t see where she was,” Bahuriak said.
He noted that Fretts did not leave the scene.
“He was distraught then, and he’s distraught now,” Bahuriak said. “This was an accident, Judge. It was terrible, but it was not a crime.”
Prosecutor Steven Patton said that Fretts’ failure to see the biker constituted "criminal recklessness.”
Patton said the intersection was known for its high volume of pedestrians and a busy bike lane.
“And this man wasn't driving a Honda Civic," Patton said. "He was driving a 32-ton industrial vehicle.”
Patton said Fretts drove past a yield-to-bicyclists sign, and ran into Fredricks, who was riding straight and had the right-of-way.
“She was visible in the passenger-side window had the defendant looked,” Patton said.
Gold Medal Environmental, the company that owns the truck Fretts was driving,reached a $6 million settlement with Fredricks’ family in September and also agreed to contribute $25,000 a year for the next five years to an organization dedicated to safe streets in Philadelphia.
Fretts’ next court appearance is scheduled for May 8.
February 27, 2019
Emily Fredricks’ Ghost Bike
More than a year after Emily Fredricks was killed by the driver of a private trash hauler in Center City, that driver is being charged and has been arrested. The District Attorney’s Office will be making an official announcement at 11:30am on Wednesday.
The driver is charged with Homicide By Vehicle, Involuntary Manslaughter, and Recklessly Endangering Another Person. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia welcome this update in the case.
But this in no way makes up for what happened to Emily and her family.
The unnecessary death of Emily Fredricks while riding her bike to work in November 2017 was a tragedy, and both the charges against the driver and the settlement her family was given last year do not make up for it. Since that time, four cyclists and dozens of pedestrians and motorists have been killed, needlessly, while traveling on Philadelphia’s streets.
The Bicycle Coalition is continuing to work with Emily’s family and the rest of Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia, which will hold a press conference on the morning of February 28 (tomorrow morning) to update Philadelphia on what our group has been doing since our members helped advocate for the passage of a red light camera extension in 2017, and a speed camera bill in 2018.
That press conference will be held at 11th and Spruce Streets. In an awesome show of solidarity, our press conference is being independently joined by a human protected bike lane. All are welcome to attend.
It’s worth noting that this situation—in which a driver has actually been charged in the death of Fredricks—is sort of unique.
We released a report this week showing how few drivers in Philadelphia (about 16 percent) are ever charged with a crime for killing pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists.
While this number is alarming, the goal of our group is not to see more charges for traffic violations, and not to see more people stopped by police.
Rather, through automated enforcement, education, and more transparency in the legal system, we want better tracking of traffic violence cases, and more awareness that if you kill someone with your vehicle, there will be consequences.
While we welcome the justice served in this case, the culture of traffic violence in Philadelphia needs to change. The Bicycle Coalition and Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia plan to change it.
This story was copied from the bicycle coalition organization. Please visit their site by clicking on the button below.
Today, District Attorney Larry Krasner announced homicide and related charges in the 2017 vehicular death of 24 year-old Emily Fredricks.
For Immediate Release: February 21, 2019
Contact: Randy LoBasso, , 215-242-9253 Ext. 311
Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia will gather at 11th and Spruce Streets on Thursday, February 28, with several demands to the City, the state and law enforcement to make Philadelphia’s streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. Led by the Fredricks Family, Latanya Byrd, the Javsicas Family, Channabel Morris, and the Daley Family, and supported by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and members of the Vision Zero Alliance, Families for Safer Streets Greater Philadelphia is a group made up of people who’ve lost family members due to traffic violence in Philadelphia.
In July 2013, Latanya Byrd’s niece, Sarama Banks, and her children, Saa’mir Williams, 7 months; Saa’sean Williams, 23 months; and Saa’deem Griffin, 4; were killed by drag racers on Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philadelphia.
In April 2016, Jamal Morris, Channabel Morris’ son, was killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding his bike along Market Street in West Philadelphia.
In June 2017, Peter Javsicas, Anne Javsicas’ husband, was killed by an out-of-control motorist while walking on the sidewalk at 16th and JFK Streets in Center City.
In November 2017, Emily Fredricks, Laura and Richard Fredricks’ daughter, was killed by a private trash truck at the corner of 11th and Spruce Streets while riding her bicycle to work.
The group will gather at 8am at the spot where Emily was killed, and where a Ghost Bike to remember her, still remains.
All these family members have been working to make Philadelphia a safer place for road users around the city—already, Channabel Morris worked throughout 2017 to pass an extension to Pennsylvania’s red light camera program; Latanya Byrd successfully advocated in 2018 to pass landmark legislation legalizing speed cameras on Roosevelt Boulevard; the Fredricks Family has worked with the Gold Medal hauling company to improve driving standards and fund safer streets initiatives.
On Thursday, they will talk about the changes we all seek going forward.
Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia is the newest chapter of Families for Safe Streets, an organization of victims’ families begun in 2014 in New York City.
Around the country and in Philadelphia, pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities are on the rise. In 2018, nearly half of total traffic fatalities were pedestrians and cyclists. While the City’s Vision Zero initiatives have improved some corridors, they have not happened fast enough or in enough neighborhoods—in part, because they have not received adequate funding.
Additionally, Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia will speak of a brand new report showing only 16 percent of motorists who kill bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists in Philadelphia, ever face charges—and what law enforcement can do to make people safer.
Advocates and supporters of safer streets throughout Philadelphia are invited to attend and show support to the families affected by traffic violence in Philadelphia
WHO: Families for Safe Streets, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
WHAT: Announcement of demands to make traffic safer
WHERE: 11th and Spruce Streets, Philadelphia, Pa
WHEN: 8:00am gathering; 8:30am press conference
Please visit the Family For Safe Streets web page by click on the link below