‘We are just vulnerable’: Cyclists demand DC prioritize road safety after 2 deaths

WASHINGTON — Cyclists in D.C. are fed up after two people died while riding in the last month. They claim the District is not doing enough to protect its most vulnerable commuters.

Chanting “no more deaths,” more than 50 cyclists met outside city hall Thursday to rally for change. They want D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to prioritize her “Vision Zero” initiative aiming for no pedestrian deaths by 2024.

“My son’s death could have been prevented,” said Laura Montiel. She stood next to her other son, Cyrus Habib, who had moved to D.C. with his brother, 19-year-old Malik Habib, in April.

The brothers were working two jobs to make ends meet. In June, Malik was on his way home from delivering food on his bike when his tire got stuck in the DC Streetcar tracks on H Street, Cyrus recounted. A bus hit Malik, and Cyrus saw it happen right in front of him. 

The attitude around cyclists needs to change in D.C., Cyrus Habib said.

“As bicyclists, we are just vulnerable. So it’s our lives on the line. For them, it’s their time. What’s more important? You getting home to dinner, or me getting home at all?” Habib asked the crowd.

Earlier this month, 36-year-old Jeffrey Hammond Long was hit while riding in the bike lane in downtown D.C. To date, the city has seen 21 traffic deaths in 2018, according to the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, which organized the event.

The association is holding a memorial ride for Malik Habib on Tuesday, July 31 at 5:30 p.m., starting at 1st and K streets in Northeast D.C.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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