Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Vision Zero will host its first annual Walk of Silence in memory of loved ones killed in traffic crashes in Hillsborough County from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday (Oct. 20) along the Riverwalk from Poe Plaza, Franklin St. between Jackson & Whiting St.
Vision Zero collected shoes, specifically baby shoes and heels, and invites everyone to come paint a pair of shoes and walk a half mile with them to honor and signify each life lost on the road.
Their goal was to collect at least 200 shoes, which represents the average number of people that die each year Hillsborough County.
This event aims to raise awareness to change Tampa metro region’s national ranking as the 2nd deadliest city for pedestrian per capita. Vision Zero, who also tracks Tampa’s crash history reports 116 traffic deaths so far this year.
“We’ve done a Walk of Silence before, but this is the first time we’ve done something on this scale,” said Gena Torres, Vision Zero executive planner and project manager.
“It’s really to honor everyone who has died in traffic crashes. Traffic violence does not pick, everyone is susceptible. This helps bring attention to the motorists so hopefully they’ll slow down, and realize you may get to your destination three minutes earlier, but you risk the chance of killing someone. These people are someone’s grandmother, someone’s child, your neighbor, they’re real people.”
Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization and Vision Zero are excited to spread awareness and hope to spark change in spite of some opposition from naysayers that question if their efforts will actually be effective.
“We don’t know the outcome but we have to try to bring awareness so we’ll see that [change] overtime,” Torres said.
At the event board members from the organization will speak as well as a few victims such as Vicki Lougheed, the mother of 23-year old Samuel A. Lougheed, a Plant City resident who died after crashing into a pickup truck on Florida Avenue.
Torres hopes to seek other victims to speak but understands how difficult it can be and the burden imposed on surviving family members to speak on behalf of their lost loved ones.
Shoe painting beings at 9:30 a.m., the half-mile walk beings at 10 a.m. and the speakers will take stand at 10:30 a.m. at the USF Park on the Riverwalk.
Contact Monique Welch at [email protected]