Community calls on city leaders to improve safety for pedestrians after VCU student killed

In the study, it was found that 7 out of 10 drivers exceed the posted 25 mph speed limit on the stretch of road.
Published: May. 5, 2023 at 11:16 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -Friends of a VCU student stuck by a car and killed on Thursday are urging city leaders to wake call and improve traffic and pedestrian safety around VCU before another person’s life is taken.

Candles and flowers are outside VCU’s School of Business to remember the life of 26-year-old Shawn Soares, a student getting his master’s in business administration and well-known by many in the Richmond community.

“To see that his life taken away and shortened because of a traffic accident, it’s just horrific,” Richmond City Councilwoman, Stephanie Lynch, said.

Lynch said, like many of her colleagues, she knew Soares personally.

She said neighbors around the city are outraged by another death involving a pedestrian and vehicle as traffic fatalities continue to rise.

”Pedestrian fatalities are only going in the wrong direction, and numbers are only increasing,” Brantley Tyndall said with Bike Walk RVA. “In 2022, we saw a 150% increase in pedestrian fatalities in the city of Richmond, and we’re on track to double that this year.”

This is the same stretch of the road another VCU student was struck and killed by a driver back in January.

Since then, a study was done on what could make West Main Street safer for pedestrians around campus.

In the study, it was found that 7 out of 10 drivers exceed the posted 25 mph speed limit on the stretch of road.

”One of the big takeaways from that crash back in January is that we’re on a high-speed corridor where are going fast here and they continue to go fast across Belvidere into VCU campus,” Tyndall said.

One of the recommendations from the study is to reduce the speed limit to 20 mph starting at the intersection after the spot where Soares was hit.

City leaders say they are looking over all of those recommendations.

”There’s no price tag that you can put on pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers to have the safety measures in place so that they can drive down the street and no one has to fear for their lives,” Lynch said.

A vigil will be held for Soares at Monroe Park on Saturday at 8 p.m.

On Monday, city leaders will vote on next year’s budget, including plans on allocating money to the city’s Vision Zero Program, which aims to eliminate traffic fatalities.