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'Vision Zero failed my friend' | Renewed push for safer DC streets after cyclist killed

Advocates plan a memorial ride and installation of a ghost bike at the deadly intersection.

WASHINGTON — There is a renewed push to make D.C. streets safer after a cyclist was killed in Northwest last Friday around 8 p.m. 

Jim Pagels, 29, loved to bike around his adopted city. But what he enjoyed most took him away from the people who loved him. His friends and safe street advocates think the city needs to do more, and that pledges from the District, like its Vision Zero task force, have not worked to its fullest potential.

Vision Zero is the city's pledge to slow down traffic to make the roads safer for everyone with a goal of zero deaths and serious injuries by 2024.

"Inaction and dangerous road design are the cause of his death," said the victim’s friend Finn Vigeland, “Vision Zero means so much more than what is happening right now. It failed my friend Jim."

Pagels' parents told WUSA9 Sunday that their son died in a multicar crash at 2nd and Massachusetts Avenue, Northwest near Union Station. The ride-share bicycle he was on was left mangled in the crosswalk.

According to the D.C. Department of Transportation, there have been an average of 334 crashes involving cyclists every year for the past five years. 

WUSA9 requested an on-camera interview with DDOT, but because Friday's crash is still under investigation the Interim Director Everett Lott sent a statement instead:

We are heartbroken to learn that a cyclist and member of the Capital Bikeshare family was killed by a crash on Friday evening while cycling in the District. We extend our sincerest condolences to the victim’s family and loved ones following this terrible tragedy. This loss underscores the importance of Vision Zero and of our ongoing and critically important work to rebuild streets that are safe for our most vulnerable street users and support the growing number of residents and visitors who choose bicycling to travel."

The city has made some progress in adding barriers to bike lanes, changing some traffic patterns and lowering speed limits. 

In her weekly news conference Monday, Mayor Muriel Bowser would not comment on the success or failures of vision zero, but she admits there is more work to be done. 

“We always want to look if something could have been done, something from the city's perspective to change the outcome," said Mayor Bowser.

RELATED: Cyclist killed in Friday’s deadly crash had texted father earlier that week about a new, safer bike helmet

RELATED: Cyclist dead and multiple people injured in Northwest DC crash, officials say

Mayor Bowser said the next steps for all dangerous streets include reviewing and possibly changing:
1. Road designs
2. Traffic signals
3. Enforcement (including speed or red light cameras)

DDOT said its biggest challenges: getting drivers to pay attention and slow down.

“I certainly hope that this, combined with just the epidemic of traffic deaths we've seen in particular in these last two weeks, will change some hearts and minds and prompt people to take bold action," said. Vigeland. 

Friends and advocates will install a ghost bike at the intersection where Jim Pagels lost his life followed by a memorial bike ride Thursday at 6 p.m.

The cause of the multi-vehicle crash that killed Pagels is still under investigation by D.C. Police.

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