Nashville is now in its deadliest year for pedestrians. Recent fatal strikes have pushed past what had been a record-setting death toll in 2019.
Safety advocates, led by the nonprofit Walk Bike Nashville, have decided they need to do more to bring attention to the worsening trend. Starting Sunday, they began a concerted effort to place memorials at every site where cars have killed walkers this year.
The markers are understated: a pair of shoes mounted to a board, with a small placard about the victim.
Family members of Kenneth Urbach placed the first one Sunday morning. The 56-year-old died Jan. 3 while trying to cross Gallatin Pike near his home in East Nashville. Police say he was hit by two vehicles, one of which sped off.
Urbach’s death led his relatives to ask for safety changes, like reduced speeds, longer crossing times for crosswalks and more sidewalks. They also became part of a new support group called Families for Safe Streets, which is helping prepare the new memorials.
The small ceremony was timed with the World Day of Remembrance for all traffic crash victims.
Metro police statistics show 34 pedestrians have been killed this year. Advocates worry that toll will rise, as it often does, during the final weeks of the year. That’s when more driving is done during dark conditions, and when public service announcements will urge drivers to choose to drive slower.