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The heartbreak, stories, and urgency at World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

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There are moments and words I will never forget from this year’s World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, which Walk SF hosts each year with Families for Safe Streets.

There was the song Mimi Ng wrote in memory of her husband.

“I am grateful for the time we had,” Mimi sang. Her voice floated over the steps of City Hall and nearly 300 flowers for each of the nearly 300 people killed in traffic crashes since 2014, including Mimi’s husband.

There was the powerful call that Alicia Bustos Sandoval made in memory of Richard May. Richard was a tenant rights advocate, a mentor, and an actor about to perform for the first time with the African American Shakespeare Theater before his death on October 28. He was walking to a final dress rehearsal when he was fatally hit on the sidewalk.

“Richard May, presenté! Richard May, presenté! Richard May, presenté!” Alicia cried out into the darkening sky.

And there was Liz Chavez, who lost her five-year-old daughter Aileen to a speeding driver.

“For too long, people being killed in crashes has been normalized,” Liz said through her tears.

“Let me tell you, there is nothing normal about a child being hit and killed in the crosswalk on their way to school,” continued Liz. “There is nothing normal about the fact that every day in America, 20 people will walk out the door and be hit and killed as pedestrians. And this number is rising.”

Sharing in the heartbreak, hearing the stories, feeling the urgency: this is what World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims is for.

I’m so grateful to everyone who was part of this year’s powerful event, which centers and motivates all of our work for safe streets. I hope you’ll take a minute to look through the photos below and reflect.

I also hope you’ll already mark your calendar to be at the 10th World Day of Remembrance in San Francisco on Sunday, November 17, 2024.

And if you are someone who has been personally affected by a traffic crash, our Families for Safe Streets group is here and you are invited to be part of this community. The next meeting is on Tuesday, January 16.

Photos by William McLeod