Fed up with more studies, cyclists urge St. Louis leaders to stop traffic violence
Drivers hit and killed four pedestrians in a recent 48 hour period in St. Louis. Three of the four incidents were hit and runs. It’s a concerning trend. In 2021, 42 people on foot were killed by motorists in St. Louis and St. Louis County, and another 395 were injured.
“These tragic events are a great opportunity to galvanize support around making streets safer for everyone … not just the cars, but pedestrians, cyclists, walkers, everybody,” said St. Louis lawyer and cyclist Sean Milford on Friday’s St. Louis on the Air. “We don't need to put up with this. We can really, as a community, ask for change, and we can demand change from our leaders.”
Milford, along with other cyclists who are fed up with the status quo, recently placed satirical signs and complimentary bike helmets along South Grand that encouraged people to wear them while crossing the street. The signs declared a “Public Notice” from the government of the City of St. Louis.
It read, “As of October 2022, we hereby suggest that all pedestrians crossing any St. Louis street should wear helmets until further notice.” This public notice went on to say that the city would undertake a study on traffic violence, but,“In the meantime,” it continued, “please enjoy this complimentary helmet to wear while crossing the street.”
Milford said he hoped the installation captured both the attention of residents and the office of St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones.
“Every day, I see people run lights. I see people roll through stop signs, not follow traffic laws — and I've had close encounters with cars,” Milford said. “Lucky enough, I've never been hit by a car, but I think we just all sort of got together, and we're sick of it. We're sick of the lack of reaction from the city.”
A few days after the installation garnered attention, both on South Grand and online, Jones published an op-ed in the Riverfront Times: “St. Louis Should Invest $40M for Safer Streets.”
Milford said he was heartened to read the piece, especially Jones’ mention of a citywide plan, rather than a piecemeal, ward by ward approach. However, he was disheartened by Jones’ mention of needing to create a “mobility and transportation master plan” and to hold community meetings to gather input for neighborhoods.
“It just seems like St. Louis is a city that loves to study things; we have endless studies about everything. And we're tired of the studies. We want a plan, and we want action,” he said, adding that he’d like to see the mayor’s office work with organizations already doing traffic safety work in town.
“Trailnet and Great Rivers Greenway have a lot of data about which intersections are dangerous, which streets are dangerous, and so we don't need to replicate work that's already been done,” he said. “I think we can go straight to the planning phase and try to implement some of the best practices.”
Do you feel safe as a pedestrian or cyclist on St. Louis-area roads? Tweet us (@STLonAir), send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or share your thoughts via our St. Louis on the AirFacebook group, and help inform our coverage.
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.