Safe streets advocates are gathering to celebrate the life of Allison “Allie” Hart, the 5-year-old girl who was tragically struck and killed by a driver on Sept. 13 as she rode her bike in a Northeast crosswalk.
A “chalk-in” will take place this Sunday, Dec. 12 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the intersection of 14th and Irving Streets NE. “Participants will fill the intersection with color, joy, and crystal clear messages about the need for safer streets in DC,” accrording to a release. The event is intended to be a family-friendly day of action and celebration.
“We want to celebrate the life of our amazing daughter with our community and fellow safe street advocates,” said Allie’s mom Jessica Hart. “We hope this event draws attention to the fact that our streets are not safe for our most vulnerable residents.”
Allison was the 28th person killed by a driver on DC’s streets this year and the second child under 10. Advocates say that since her death, 23 pedestrians under the age of 12 have been struck by drivers.
The Vision Zero program was introduced in 2015. Since that time there has been a steady increase in deaths on District roads, with the exception of a low in 2019. 39 people have died in 2021 so far, a 9 percent increase over this time last year. 37 people died in 2020, the highest number of traffic deaths in 14 years.
According to Metropolitan Police Department, as of Dec. 10, while at least 39 people have died in traffic on District streets in 2021, four more cases are not included in the official count.
The Traffic Safety and Specialized Enforcement Branch is investigating those cases in which they say motorists may have suffered from a medical emergency prior to their deaths. “The actual crash may not have caused the death,” reads the MPD website. “These cases are not included in the traffic fatality count.”
“This isn’t random violence, it’s the predictable price of inaction to fix our deadly streets – particularly in DC’s residential neighborhoods where kids live, learn, and play,” wrote organizers in a press release.
In 2021 alone, 4-year-old Zy’aire Joshua was killed on Georgia Avenue NW. 4-year-old Nathan Ballard-Means was struck on New Hampshire Ave. NW and 8-year-old Faith and 6-year-old Heavyn White along with their father were struck while on their way to school on Wheeler Rd. SE.
Artist and activist organization Chalk Riot is helping iwth the event. “As pavement artists working directly in the roads and sidewalks across DC, we regularly bear witness to dangerous conditions and irresponsible drivers,” said Chelsea Ritter-Soronen, owner and principal artist of Chalk Riot in a release. “Chalk art is a brilliant way to unite with the Hart family and our neighbors and create something beautiful together in the wake of something tragic. Every child deserves safe streets in DC and beyond.”
“Across the city, roads are designed to put drivers first,” says Hart. “The residents of our city deserve a visible and tangible commitment to safer infrastructure, enforcement, and accountability. Our kids’ lives are at stake.”
“Allie was very aware of right and wrong, fair and unfair. The 39 deaths of pedestrians and cyclists this year is deeply unfair,” said Allison’s mother, Jessica Hart. “Our hope is that our immense pain and grief will compel leaders and residents alike to call for infrastructure like 4-way stops, raised crosswalks, better signage, speed humps, and stop sign cameras that are in the interest of safer streets for all, especially kids.”
All ages are welcome and masks are encouraged. In the case of inclement weather, a rain date will be announced.