Memorial Walk for highlights why safe streets are not gentrification.
“Working people of all nationalities need safe bike routes…so [they] don’t have to make dangerous decisions to get to their jobs“~ Councilmember Kshama Sawant
“Safe transit, bike lanes, sidewalks & other safety infrastructure is NOT gentrification, they are our is right”~Phyllis Porter, Rainier Valley Greenways
Ronacin Tjhung, was hit and killed in January 2017 while riding his bicycle between his two jobs in the Rainier Valley.
Ronacin had been providing for his children by working 60 hours a week and sending money back home to the Philippines. His five children, who lost their mother to Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, will remain in the Philippines. What was once a crowd-funded site to raise money to support Ronacin’s family and pay medical bills is now a fund to fly his body back home and pay for his funeral. Here’s a link to Ronacin’s GoFundMe crowd-funding site.
Ronacin’s large family attended a Memorial for him, organized by Beacon Hill Safe Streets, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, and Rainier Valley Greenways.Ronacin’s mother, sister, brother, and step-father, along with his extended family, the Filipino Team MANG cycling club, and impressive numbers of people representing local safe streets groups throughout Seattle walked from the Othello Light Rail Station to South Graham Street on Martin Luther King Avenue South near the spot Ronacin was hit by a car driver.
Robert Getch from Beacon Hill Safe Streets did a stellar job organizing and speaking. He was eloquent about the need for safer streets and about his grief at the loss of a valued family man. Phyllis Porter represented Rainier Valley Greenways and spoke about how “safe transit, bike lanes, sidewalks, and other safety infrastructure is NOT gentrification, but an important right for all. Central Greenways Shirley Savel spray-painted a ghost bike, and Adam Dodge set it up at the place Ronacin was killed.
Councilmember Kshama Sawant spoke about why working people needed to be able to have transportation options late at night, especially in low income, culturally diverse areas where access to cars is prohibitively expensive and transit is not reliable during the late night and early morning shifts of many service jobs. She brought up the need for a safe, direct bike route through Rainier Valley, and the importance of signals that would help people cross MLK more quickly and safely.
Council President Bruce Harrell offered words of comfort to Ronacin’s family encouraged them to keep involved in making Seattle a better city.
Council member Rob Johnson’s staff Amy Gore attended, as well as CM Sawant’s assistant Rebekah Liebermann. Seattle Police accompanied the group and Dongho Chang represented the Seattle Department of Transportation.
Ronacin’s sister Jessica told a little about his life, his boss at McDonald’s spoke about his humor and dedication, and Ronacin’s mother reached out for hugs from the 70 people at the Memorial.
The Seattle Bicycle Master Plan includes recommendations for protected north-south bicycle lanes through Rainier Valley, but a direct bicycle route has never been built.