Dangerous by Design stories: Philadelphia, PA

We want to see how safety takes a backseat to speed where you live.

Latanya Byrd tells a personal story of loss and grief on Roosevelt Boulevard, the most deadly street in Philadelphia, PA. With 12 lanes through most of its length, 700+ crashes per year, and several deaths of people walking each year, it’s a prime example of a street designed for speed over safety, and Latanya tells the personal story of how this dangerous street affected her family.

A transcript of the video can be found below.

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Transcript of Latanya Byrd video:

My niece, Samara Banks, and my three nephews were killed on Roosevelt Boulevard on July 16 2013. So that one night she was walking home. And two guys were racing down the Roosevelt Boulevard, they were going so fast that the other drivers who were behind them came to a point where they just saw, they thought it was trash, they thought it was debris, just, you know, like, they just went through, I don’t know, maybe a bunch of leaves, and it just all went up in the air. And come to find out it was my niece, and the babies.

By the time our family got to the scene, the police officers and people were looking around for the kids. And we were just so devastated. Like, how fast were these people going? We seen their clothes, we seen their shoes, we just seen everything in the street. My niece and my nephews, they weren’t the only people that died on the Roosevelt Boulevard and not even the only people that died in that location. People just take it as a norm. You know, you’re risking your life if you cross that boulevard.

What has happened in the recent years, is that a lot of mini little strip malls have been being built along the Roosevelt Boulevard. And they’re just building. You know, when they decided, we were thinking like, Okay, well, you decided to build a Walmart here and you decided to build, you know, Chick-Fil-A, or you decided to build all these different types of department stores, did anyone think about the people who live in that neighborhood? However everyone’s trying to cross, because there’s older people that try to cross the boulevard because, let’s say they’re not driving any longer, because they’re older, they don’t have their license any longer.

But they want to get across the street to the pharmacy to get their medication, or get across the street to the supermarket, which is on the opposite side of the road. And they’re making it halfway. So it may take two, maybe three lights, for them to get all the way across. But sometimes the drivers are not paying attention. You know, like everyone says it’s a flat, open road. And some parts of the road. The speed limit goes from 40…Right, you’re driving flat, that’s 40 miles an hour, and you’re going a little downhill, at the bottom of the hill, it’s 45. Why?

We suffer every day when we don’t see my niece and my nephews. You know, Samara is my first niece. She was amazing. 27 years old, you think that’s young, but honestly, it seemed like she lived a full life. She learned how to be a mom early because she lost her mom. For her siblings, it was like they lost a second mom. And she was the life of the party in the family. She just you have holidays and you have family gatherings. Just imagine, she was the one who would put on the family entertainment. She had all the boys practicing dances and songs. And she had all the girls practicing and dance, you know, unfortunately, we haven’t had anybody to take over or take her place. You know, they say nobody can do it like she did it.

You miss them every day.

You know, we knew it was so devastating that we wanted people to know that she did not die in vain. My nephews did not die in vain. And all the people who lost their lives on the Roosevelt Boulevard did not die in vain. No one thinks about anyone else until it happens to them. And we don’t want that to happen to your family. Believe me, you wouldn’t want it to happen.

Dangerous by Design 2021 was made possible by the support of Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under cooperative agreement OT18-1802 supporting the Active People, Healthy NationSM Initiative. 

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