"Grandma Beverly" Shelton, co-founder of SoCal Families for Safe Streets, submitted the following letter to LA Weekly in response to a recent article on Vision Zero in Los Angeles.
To the Editor of LA Weekly,
When my grandson Zachary Cruz was five years old, a man driving a welding truck struck Zach as he crossed the street with a school employee and three other children in Berkeley, CA. Zachary died there on the street. As a resident of Ventura, I represent one of the thousands of people traumatically impacted by severe traffic collisions every year in and around Los Angeles, and am a co-founder of the recently formed Southern California Families for Safe Streets. Members of the group are all mourning the abrupt and senseless loss of a family member killed in a traffic collision or are adapting to life with our own serious traffic-related injury.
Hillel Aron’s recent piece, Is L.A.’s Ambitious Plan to End Traffic Fatalities Already Dead? (November 2, 2017), completely omitted our voices. This is common. Despite the fact that we and our loved ones bear the greatest burden, recent media coverage of traffic safety efforts in Los Angeles focus almost entirely on projects’ impacts on car commuters, effects on local businesses, and the pressure elected officials face. Too often, this is how people gauge whether a safety project “works” or “doesn’t work” as Mayor Garcetti implies in Aron’s piece.
SoCal Families for Safe Streets exists to remind people why the City initiates safety projects in the first place: to prevent deaths -- deaths that destroy families, lead people into deep depression, stress marriages, strain resources, and shatter communities.
It is time for Mayor Garcetti, Los Angeles City Council members, and all regional leaders to stand firm, like former NYC Mayor Bloomberg did in the example provided in Aron’s piece. We call on policymakers to unapologetically support evidence-based strategies that reduce severe collisions and save lives.
Vision Zero is not dead. My grandson is dead. Aidan Tam, 7 years old, is dead. Jonathan Hernandez, 14 years old, is dead. Valentina d’Alessandro, 16 years old, is dead. And so are more than 500 people in Los Angeles since the City launched Vision Zero in August 2015. With courage and conviction, our elected officials can take meaningful steps to stop this. We urge them to do so.
Southern California Families for Safe Streets welcomes you join us in the fight for safe streets that prevent death and protect families. For more information, visit: http://www.losangeleswalks.org/socal_families_for_safe_streets.
Beverly “Grandma Beverly” Shelton
Co-founder, A to Z Families for Safe Streets
Co-founder, Southern California Families for Safe Streets