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Richmond Democrats Call on Mayor, Council Candidates to Support Creation of Department of Transportation, Taking “bold steps to prevent needless pedestrian deaths and injuries”

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From the Richmond City Democratic Committee:

Richmond Democrats Call on Mayor, Council Candidates to Support Creation of Department of Transportation
Richmond, Va. – In a meeting earlier this month, The Richmond City Democratic Committee (RCDC) passed a resolution calling on Mayor Levar Stoney, Richmond City Council, and all candidates seeking city government office in the upcoming elections to support the establishment of a new city department to address the ongoing crisis of pedestrian fatalities.

The resolution cites the city’s adoption of an Equity Agenda that includes the goal of ensuring equitable transit and mobility for residents and the Richmond 300 Plan that defines equitable transportation as “prioritizing the movement of people over the movement of vehicles through a safe, reliable, equitable, and sustainable transportation network.”

In June 2023, Shawn Soares, a Richmond resident, VCU student, and member of the Virginia Young Democrats, was killed when a speeding driver drove onto a sidewalk and fatally struck him in Monroe Ward. “As a committee, we are overwhelmingly united in our call for the city to take bold steps to prevent needless pedestrian deaths and injuries,” said Andrew “Gumby” Breton, Chair of RCDC. “As we approach our local elections, we urge the Mayor, Council, and all candidates for local office to join us in calling for the creation of a Department of Transportation to address this urgent crisis.”

The resolution calls for a coordinated approach to transportation planning and infrastructure development, emphasizing interventions that prioritize human safety over vehicle speed. Tara FitzPatrick, a committee member and local pedestrian advocate, says the formation of a Department of Transportation cannot come soon enough. “When you take a look at the data, it’s clear we have a serious problem that’s only getting worse,” FitzPatrick said. “The city has made some improvements, but it’s simply not enough to adequately address the scale of this crisis. Having a dedicated department focused on these issues would make a huge difference. Without a more focused approach, we are only going to see more senseless tragedy.”

Tavarris Spinks, committee member, advocate, and former candidate for city council, says disparities across communities must also play a central role in the city’s strategy. “Black and brown communities, particularly in Southside, are seeing disproportionate rates of pedestrian deaths and injuries because of a lack of even the most basic pedestrian infrastructure like sidewalks,” Spinks said. “Our city government has made a commitment to taking an equitable approach to policymaking, and sidewalks are absolutely an equity issue.”

Breton hopes candidates will take note of the committee’s overwhelming support for the creation of a DOT. “Our committee has made our position on this issue crystal clear,” Breton said. “And we hope candidates take this into consideration as they campaign to earn the votes of Richmonders.”

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