Laura Keenan is still getting used to describing herself as a widow. Last year, her husband Matt was killed when he was hit by the wrong driver while cycling.
SAN DIEGO – Nearly 300 people were killed in traffic accidents in San Diego County last year. That figure includes pedestrians and cyclists hit by cars.
The families of Safe Streets San Diego and the San Diego Bicycle Coalition are partnering to give their voices and visibly demonstrate the impact of the loss they have experienced by placing 294 empty pairs of shoes in the courtyard of the Plaza in downtown San Diego.
The 294 pairs of shoes represent the number of people killed in traffic accidents in San Diego County in 2021.
Laura Keenan is still getting used to describing herself as a widow. In September 2021, her husband Matt was hit and killed by a driver driving in the wrong direction while riding his bicycle, leaving Laura and their young son Evan behind.
“Twenty minutes after he left our house, the driver crossed the bike lane the wrong way and hit Matt on the head at a speed of at least 35 miles per hour. Despite his blinding lights, she never saw him and he Died instantly,” Laura said.
After they put their younger son to sleep, Matt rode his bike to the cinema, she said. She then fell asleep, only to wake up the next morning to realize her husband hadn’t been home. “I panicked,” Laura said. “Then I saw that I had a missed call and a voicemail from a number in San Diego. It was the coroner. They told me on the phone that he had been run over. I didn’t understand how to deal with that. Take the baby out of his crib and go through the day.”
using pain for propaganda
Laura now uses her pain to advocate for bike lanes in San Diego with the San Diego Safe Streets family.
“These (bike lanes) would save lives. If Matt was on a road with a protected bike lane, he’d be alive today,” Laura said.
Laura was just one of several family members at the gathering who mourned the loss of a loved one to a San Diego traffic accident at last year’s memorial.
San Diego City Council President Sean Elo Rivera and councilors Raul Campillo and Stephen Whitburn attended a rally in support of the bike lane legislation. In a video address to the audience, Mayor Todd Gloria expressed his support and mentioned his face-to-face obligations with Governor Newsom.
Laura told CBS 8, “We need a network of connected, protected bike lanes. We can’t have disposables everywhere because we’re trying to facilitate traffic, and if one lane has one and the other doesn’t. We can use Inexpensive equipment builds protected bike lanes, which can be done in a matter of days, providing 90 percent concrete protection.”
Bike lanes have long been a contentious issue for some San Diegoans.
Several communities across the county organized against the installation of bike lanes in their neighborhoods, citing concerns about chaos, safety and the impact on parking.
Laura said she understands the resistance about bike lanes, but now is the time to come together to ensure no one else dies a preventable death.
Families for a Safe San Diego and the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition have 3 demands from city and county leaders:
- Renewal of cycling master plan by 2023
- Double funding for protected bike lanes
- Lower speed limits across the region
“We’re not trying to inconvenience anyone,” Laura said. “We’re not trying to make life harder for them (people who are critical of bike lanes). We’re trying to save lives and protect people from our A lifetime of suffering.” These will save lives. If the road Matt was on had a protected bike lane, he might be alive today. “
Related Watch: How Many Cyclists Are Using the 30th Street Bike Lane? (November 2022).