The Snohomish County Transportation Coalition (Snotrac) and Washington Bikes gathered with Everett Councilmembers Liz Vogeli and Paula Rhyne, Lynnwood Councilmember George Hurst, and Snohomish County Councilmember Megan Dunn at the intersection of Airport Rd. and SR99/Evergreen Way on Monday to commemorate the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.
During the press conference, Washington Bikes Policy Director Vicky Clarke outlined the advocacy asks to address traffic violence, Clarke stated, “We want to work with the legislature in 2023 to lower the legal limit for intoxication, increase access to drivers education, build consumer awareness that heavier vehicles have bigger consequences in a crash, and limit turning right on red in urban areas.”
Councilmember Rhyne stated that she had lost a dear friend to traffic violence and that, “As a public official, I remain committed to advocating for changes to our built environment that improve pedestrian, bike, and car safety for all. We need mobility routes that are safe for everyone to participate in, no matter their mode of transportation.” Both Councilmember Vogeli and Dunn, through past work and statements during the press conference, advocated for increased mobility options for everyone.
Snohomish County saw an average of 11,989 crashes per year within the last decade. Just this year, 43 people have died from traffic violence, which follows an upward trend of 40 deaths per year in the last decade.
Within Snohomish County, one of the deadliest corridors is SR99/Evergreen Way, we have seen a similar trend of increasing traffic violence that is prevalent within the county. This year the corridor has seen a record high of seven fatal crashes, which is a substantial increase from the last past ten years. Of those seven, five of those fatal crashes have involved pedestrians.
The intersection with the most fatal traffic crashes in the SR99 Corridor and all of Snohomish County is SR99 & Airport Road, the location where the press conference was held. There have been at least eight fatal collisions at or adjacent to the intersection.
One pedestrian killed this year at SR99 & Airport Road was Donaldo Perez Perez, age 35, on April 10. According to an article published by the Everett Herald, “[He] was crossing west to east on the thoroughfare when a vehicle struck him at the intersection with Airport Road, Everett.”
The intersection, and surrounding area around it, has consistently seen fatalities and serious injury occur – this year, within half a mile up the highway, there has been one other fatality and three crashes resulting in serious injury.
Snotrac’s Mobility Justice Advocate and longtime resident of Everett, Ed Engel stated that, “These numbers are not just statistics. These people are our neighbors, family members, and friends. Those that are close to us. And yet, we describe traffic violence as inevitable, costs for living in a society oriented around getting places via car. However, the truth is, these deaths are preventable.”
Washington Bikes Policy Director Vicky Clarke echoed a similar sentiment of the preventability of traffic violence, stating, “We acknowledge that every traffic death is preventable. Safer streets are possible -- just look across the world; the US is an outlier.” According to a recent report from the Center for Disease Control, the U.S. has the highest population-based (per capita) death rate among high-income nations analyzed. And while other high-income countries, between 2015 to 2019, saw the population-based death rate decrease by 10.4%, in the U.S. it increased by 0.1%.
In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 9,560 people died in roadway crashes in the first quarter of 2022, a 7% increase compared to the same quarter in 2021 – the highest number of first-quarter fatalities since 2002.
With the recent passage of the federal Infrastructure bill, we have an historic opportunity to direct billions of dollars towards fixing deadly roads and improving walking and biking conditions – particularly for communities that have been traditionally underserved. As Clarke states, “Accepting people dying on our streets is a policy choice. Let’s change policy.”
The World Day of Remembrance is an international event, started in 2005, honoring the 1.35 million people killed and millions more injured on the world’s roads each year and organizing for change to prevent such tragedies.
Photos taken by Wendy Clark of Washington Bikes and Cascade Bicycle Club.