A man who campaigned for better cycle infrastructure in Washington DC has lost his life after being hit by the driver of a stolen van. The street on which he was hit has been earmarked for protected bike lanes since 2017 and in the wake of his death, fellow campaigners accused the city government of ‘dragging its feet’.
DCist reports that 54-year-old Salovesh was hit at the junction of Florida Avenue and 12th Street NE yesterday morning, a stretch of road that locals and campaigners have flagged as dangerous for years.
The Metropolitan Police Department said an automated licence plate reader had alerted them to a stolen white van, but when officers tried to stop the vehicle, the driver kept going.
The driver sped westbound on Florida Avenue NE and ran a red light at 12th Street, hitting a blue Hyundai before crossing the double yellow lines and hitting Salovesh. The driver then crashed into a tree.
Police have charged 25-year-old Robert Earl Little Jr with second-degree murder and unauthorised use of a motor vehicle.
A member of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), Salovesh wrote about the need for protected bike lanes and called for better enforcement and investment in cycle infrastructure.
“I never knew him as anything but a bicycle advocate,” said Rudi Riet, a friend who first met Salovesh at a weekly cycling coffee club. “He lived and breathed making the streets safe.”
Riet said his friend wanted his teenage daughter “to have the freedom to ride to school safely. He wanted everybody to have their safe way to get from point A to point B in something other than a car. He was really trying to make the street safe for everyone.”
WABA and other advocates have previously asked the District Department of Transportation to redesign the road on which Salovesh was hit to reduce “rampant” speeding.
Another friend of Salovesh’s, Matthew S, tweeted: “Someone died today because our city government is dragging their feet in installing safe bike routes.” He said a Florida Avenue cycle lane project had been in the works for a long time, “but our leaders are not brave enough to step up to protect their constituents.”
Late last year, a cycling campaigner from Queensland, Australia, was killed when he was hit by a dangerous driver.
Cameron Frewer – who had sent road.cc footage of a horrifying high speed close pass earlier in the year – long maintained that it was not a matter of ‘if’ he would be hit while cycling, but ‘when’.
Frewer wrote an open letter complaining that police had ignored his complaints about close passing drivers just days before he was killed.