A beacon for change across L.A., Streets Are For Everyone was born out of horrific tragedy. On Sunday, February 17th, 2013, avid bicyclist and native of Los Angeles, Damian Kevitt and his wife were riding their bicycles along the LA River Bike Path, heading to the LA Zoo to enjoy a lunch.
Only a few hundred feet from their destination, with his wife riding behind him, Damian was struck by a light colored mini-van. It would have been a minor crash but, instead of stopping, the driver sped up to flee the scene. Damian fell forward from the hood of his car and ended up pinned underneath the mini-van as the driver accelerated onto the 5 Freeway to get away.
Despite being dragged on the road and having his right leg crushed by the car, Damian hung onto consciousness, determined to get out alive. He banged on the underside of the car, yelling for the driver to stop… but to no avail. With the knowledge that he had seconds to live or die, Damian managed to free himself and ended up laying in traffic lanes on the freeway. He was badly injured but alive.
Along with scores of broken bones, extensive tissue damage and road burns, the doctors had to amputate his right leg and were doubtful they could salvage his left leg. Damian’s friends and family rallied to his side but, as anyone there will tell you, it was Damian’s courage, spiritual strength and determination to help others that carried him through the darkest days just following the crime.
As word of the hit and run crime spread to millions in Los Angeles and tens of millions around the world, support from friends, associates and total strangers near and far poured in. While the worst of the trauma was behind him, Damian still had to get through months of surgeries and physical therapy before he could walk again, much less possibly ride a bike.
It was at this time, laying in his hospital bed and unable to move, Damian vowed to not only “finish the ride” but to use this crime for the benefit of others and the city of Los Angeles.
“The only way I could ever bring closure to what happened to me is by taking the bad that occurred and turning it into something good — not just for one or two others but for my city of L.A.” — Damian
And STREETS ARE FOR EVERYONE was born.
Streets Are For Everyone (SAFE) aims to improve the quality of life for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers alike by reducing traffic caused fatalities to Zero.
SAFE addresses the problem in a holistic fashion through direct education, broad awareness campaigns, partnerships, community outreach, policy and legislation, support for those impacted and other proven strategies.
Did you know?
Approximately 6,500 pedestrians and 900 bicyclists are killed each year as a result of collisions with motor vehicles (Federal Highway Administration)
Pedestrians and bicyclists account for as much as 40-50 percent of traffic fatalities in some large urban areas (Federal Highway Administration)
It is estimated that 90,000 pedestrians and 60,000 bicyclists are injured in collisions with motor vehicles each year with many more never reported (Federal Highway Administration)
In the six largest cities in the United States, 9-20% of all collisions are hit and runs. In Los Angeles, the incidence is 48% (LAPD and USA Today)
Tthe dedicated team at Streets Are For Everyone (SAFE) addresses the problem with a multifaceted attack.
Our strategy includes:
Policy and planning -- supporting sensible legislation and evidence based policy implementation
Broad Public Street Safety Campaigns -- this includes bus ads, billboards, media and social media campaigns.
Vision Zero -- working with city officials on re-engineering dangerous corridors and intersections to reduce traffic fatalities as part of the Vision Zero program, including the re-engineering of La Tuna Canyon Road.
Streets, Art, SAFE -- a film competition where Hollywood filmmakers mentor high school students to produce street safety PSAs.
SAFE Support -- the nation's first and only support service for those victims and families affected by traffic collisions and traumatic injury
"Finish The Ride" and "Finish The Run" events as flanking actions to all of the above.
In recognition of their work, SAFE has been honored with the Alex Baum Award by LA County Bicycle Coalition, the Deborah Murphy Award for Excellence in Advocacy by Streetsblog LA as well as commendations and recognitions from US congressmen, CA State Assemblyman and LA City Councilmen.