Cathy Tuttle, Executive Director Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
November 15, 2015
They wear big 3″ buttons with a young face and a date. They are parents still, even if their beloved child has died. Their eyes are haunted.
I have lived through the grief of losing my husband and best friend to cancer. I have gone through the gut-wrenching agony of nursing my teen daughter through lymphoma. I try to have an open heart and my heart breaks every time I face the pain of grieving parents who have lost a child to traffic violence.
I have had the honor of meeting many parents whose children have died by traffic violence or have been injured for life. In Seattle I have sat with the parents of Zeytuna Edo, Trevon Crease Holden, Sandhya Khadka, Caleb Shoop, Elias Schulte, and more families of people who were killed or gravely injured by traffic violence.
Last Friday, I gave a keynote speech in San Antonio, Texas on Vision Zero at a conference on the Built Environment and Public Health. I met with San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor and Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales who toured me by bike through her district where dozens of people died last year. (San Antonio had 168 traffic fatalities in 2013, including 55 people who died while walking. In contract, in Seattle “just” 23 people were killed and 155 seriously injured in 2013.)
Earlier in November, I was on a panel at America Walks Walking Summit in Washington DC, put together by Leah Shahum, Director of the Vision Zero Network. I presented SNGreenways’ Memorial Walks program at the “Putting Grief Into Action” panel and met two powerful mothers from New York Families for Safe Streets. Judy Kottick, mother of Ella, a beautiful 23-year-old dancer was killed in a Queens crosswalk. Amy Cohen, mother of Sammy, shared photos of her bright-eyed 12-year-old, struck and killed in 2013.
Our streets have the potential to link us and to make our communities whole. Every decision and every investment we make going forward must start first with the Principles of Vision Zero.
No one should die or suffer serious injury in traffic.
- Life is Most Important. The protection of human life and health must be the overriding goal of traffic planning and engineering, taking priority over vehicle speeds and other objectives.
- Every Person Matters. Everyone has the right to be safe on our streets, regardless of the way they choose to travel.
- People Make Mistakes. In order to prevent and reduce death and serious injury, traffic systems can and must be designed to account for the inevitability of human error.
- The Government is Responsible for Safe Streets. ALL elected officials and government staff need to collaborate and act now to achieve Vision Zero.
#VisionZero for all of our children