World Remembrance Day of Road Traffic Victims 2019

AUSTIN, TEXAS– On Sunday, November 17, 2019, families, citizens, elected officials, and advocates gathered across the nation for the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. In Austin, Farm&City, Central Texas Families for Safe Streets (CTFSS), Bike Austin, Walk Austin, ReHUMANize Mobility, and a team of advocates co-hosted a vigil ceremony in Wooldridge Square, a block from the Capitol building. 

Event organizers painted and arranged “ghost” items around the steps of the stage, symbolic  remembrances of those lost to traffic violence. The rest of the program took place amidst this solemn backdrop. 

To commence, Katie Deolloz, founder of ReHUMANize Mobility, led attendees on a memorial walk, passing by the Capitol and the governor’s mansion. Conducted in silence, some remembered on foot, others on wheels. After the walk, speakers from all modes took to the stage.

Shana Merlin, surviving daughter of a road traffic victim and a leader of CTFSS, shared her mother’s story and called for meaningful action at every level of Texas government to prevent these tragedies.

Mia Brown’s 15-year-old son, Billy, was killed in a traffic crash in Austin on September 28, 2019. Her family and neighbors have been calling upon the city to install sidewalks and give a top priority to safety improvements on East Yager Lane where her son died, as reported by CBS Austin. Mia spoke at the vigil shared her story with the vigil, asking all to be more considerate of vulnerable users on the road and for our city leaders to increase attention to installing safe sidewalks in all neighborhoods.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza reaffirmed their commitment to transportation safety in Austin, promising support to other cities and counties on their journey to Vision Zero.

Underlining transit’s role in the shift to a new safety paradigm, Randy Clarke, CEO of Capital Metro, shared CapMetro’s efforts to enhance their safety department with more staff. Clarke also mentioned CapMetro’s ambitious Project Connect, an initiative to implement new mass transit in Central Texas, in anticipation of the population forecasts for the Austin region. 

In his remarks, Clarke echoed Mayor Adler and Mayor Pro Tem Garza, emphasizing the vital role local advocacy has played in spotlighting these issues for government and demanding change where it’s needed most.

Jay Blazek-Crossley, Executive Director of Farm&City, took to the stage and outlined the path forward to ending traffic deaths in Texas, starting with the launch of a new Farm&City project – Every City, Every County, Every Life. The initiative seeks the viral adoption of Vision Zero across all of Texas. At its core, the campaign is predicated on citizen action and calls for three volunteers to target their city, their county, or their MPO, or all three. The campaign has an interim goal of securing Vision Zero for all the cities within the Austin region by 2020.

Speaking for a coalition of local advocates and their demands, Crossley also issued a call for the Texas House and Senate to take legislative action on a comprehensive safety agenda. “We need our state leadership to adopt a consistent, statewide hands free law, to adopt the Stop for Pedestrians bill, to legalize and support Safe Neighborhood Streets, to actually support Safe Routes to School for every kid across this state, and to ensure that we put our money where our mouth is.”  

Referring to the 2019 Senate interim charges and their new emphasis on safety, Crossley pointed out, “The TXDOT budget is over ten billion a year. We want at least a billion of that to be dedicated to safety, if we are to going to say it is our top priority.”

Crossley’s final remarks concluded with a national call for action, reminding the audience that the need and demand for transportation safety is not isolated to Austin, or Central Texas. Rather, traffic violence is of a scale and urgency that leadership at the highest levels must join the effort to end the tide of deaths: “We demand that every U.S. presidential candidate take a pledge to End the Silence on Traffic Violence and put forth a comprehensive national plan to end the epidemic.”

End the Silence on Traffic Violence is the newest campaign set forth by the leading Families for Safe Streets chapter in New York City. The campaign explicitly addresses the current President of the United States and the 2020 presidential candidates, demanding a plan of action to end traffic deaths and serious injuries across the nation.

Other cities in Texas, like San Antonio, chose to make their own statements on World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. As part of the city’s ongoing Vision Zero efforts, San Antonio commissioned a mural to be located on one of the deadliest intersections in the city. Painted by Crystal Tamez, the new mural features San Antonians engaged in all modes of travel, inhabiting a vibrant, safe, and walkable city. Tamez voiced her hope that this mural will raise awareness on traffic violence and victims.

Adam Greenfield, Chair of the Pedestrian Advisory Council (PAC), read out the names and age of each road traffic victim killed in Austin this year. As he recited the litany of names, the crowd of observers stood in silence.

Kathy Sokolic, Chair of Central Texas Families for Safe Streets, closed the event with a passionate call for more action at all levels of government. Kathy shared her family’s story of traffic violence. Her nephew, Ben, was hit by a pickup truck driver on the little neighborhood street where he lives, and three years later Ben is “still confined to a bed and requires around-the-clock care for a body and brain that are broken.”

Kathy told attendees that she is the chair of a terrible club, explaining that she reaches out to families in their darkest hour. Kathy implored everyone to play their role in ending traffic deaths across Texas, from all of us not driving drunk or distracted, to our elected officials leading change at their governments, to nonprofits and community groups getting more engaged in the Vision Zero movement.

World Day of Remembrance Vigil is Sunday, November 17th , 2019


Our annual World Day of Remembrance Vigil is Sunday, November 17th, 2019, 5-7 pm at Woolridge Square in downtown Austin, Texas.

The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (WDR) is commemorated on the third Sunday of November each year – to remember the many millions killed and injured on the world’s roads, together with their families, friends and many others who are also affected. It is also a Day on which we thank the emergency services and reflect on the tremendous burden and cost of this daily continuing disaster to families, communities and countries, and on ways to halt it.

Join our group to get updates about the vigil and to get involved. Attendance is open to anyone in the community who has been affected by traffic violence. Come back here for more updates about speakers, activities, and more.

Do you have a group that would like to partner with the Vigil? Sign up here.

Join CTFSS

Central Texas Families for Safe Streets (CTFSS) serves as a resource for individuals and families who have been affected through loss and suffering from traffic violence involving a motor vehicle. CTFSS’s mission is to promote alternative and safe transportation options through policy and legislation, advocacy, community outreach and empowerment.

Would you like to join us? We need supporters like you to take back our streets.

Stay up to date on our activities and events by signing up for our contact list, HERE. You can also share your story.

You can like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

You can join us at the Vision Zero Cities conference!

Want to help in other ways? Email us at info@ctfss.org.

Join us at the Vision Zero Cities Conference in New York! October 10-11, 2019

Image of panel from 2017 Vision Zero Cities conference

On October 10 and 11, Transportation Alternatives will bring together hundreds of city officials, advocates, policymakers, planners and engineers who come together to learn, exchange ideas, and strategize about the problems facing modern city streets for the fifth annual Vision Zero Cities Conference, taking place at Columbia University’s Alfred Lerner Hall.

Day one of the conference will include keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and a networking reception. Day two will include various “in the field” opportunities, such as walking/biking tours, and deep-dive workshops. 

Join us and participate in the bold and forward-thinking conversations that will help make Vision Zero a reality. For more information on the conference, including pricing and schedules, check out the website.

Vision Zero Texas and Central Texas Families for Safe Streets are currently planning on sending two people to the conference, but we are seeking funding to send activists from all over Texas to this conference each year. On Saturday, October 12, there will be a special all day training specifically for people who have been personally impacted by a traffic crash. Please get in touch with us if you are interested in attending this training or sponsoring Vision Zero Texas in the effort to train and empower Vision Zero activists across the state.

Austin video campaign seeks to turn the tide on traffic deaths this year

The City of Austin Vision Zero program launched a social media video campaign to bring the entire community together on the goal to end traffic deaths. Elected officials, public servants, and nonprofit and community leaders are asking everyone to slow down, drive sober and not distracted, and work together to make our streets safe for all. Year to date, traffic deaths have increased this year compared to last in the City of Austin. Can the people of Austin and the elected officials work together to stay on the path to zero this year?

Check out the hashtag #VisionZeroATX on Twitter and Facebook to find more videos.