Crowd walks in memory of victim killed in hit-and-run at Broadway and Winona Street.
Crowd walks in memory of victim killed in hit-and-run at Broadway and Winona Street. Credit: Isaiah Reynolds/Block Club Chicago

UPTOWN — Neighbors and advocates met Thursday evening to demand better street safety at Winona Street and North Broadway, days after an Uptown woman was killed in a hit-and-run while walking in a crosswalk.

Police are still searching for the driver of the vehicle that struck 69-year-old Soyfa Athamanah late Tuesday in the 5100 block of North Broadway.

Memorial flowers were placed within the pedestrian crosswalk as neighbors gathered in her remembrance and called for more safety precautions on busy streets like Broadway that would prevent further tragedies.

“Paint is not protection,” the crowd chanted, referring to the painted white lines that indicate a crosswalk. The group walked back and forth at the crosswalk, periodically blocking vehicle traffic on Broadway.

“A woman was killed in a hit and run because this street is designed to allow a car to go incredibly fast,” said David Powe, planning director of the Active Transportation Alliance. “We are calling for our city and our state to work together to build safer infrastructure to prevent unnecessary deaths like this.”

The group is calling for raised sidewalks to deter speeding at the intersection, a pedestrian island on the north crosswalk with metal bollards and curb bumpouts to prevent drivers from passing other vehicles stopped for pedestrians, according to the group’s Action Network page.

Residents across the city have called for safer crosswalks as pedestrian deaths have increased since 2020. According to IDOT’s Illinois Fatal Crash Historic Data, pedestrian fatalities reached a record high in 2021, with 214 deaths. Pedestrian fatalities decreased 8.8 percent in 2022, but were still far from pre-pandemic lows.

In 2017, the city launched Vision Zero Chicago, a cross-departmental effort to completely eliminate fatalities and serious injuries from traffic crashes by 2026. The project involves increasing safety along Milwaukee Avenue and within high crash corridors in the Loop and on the city’s West Side. 

“When you look at what causes crashes, it’s most often two things: high speed and drivers quickly going around other stationary or slower cars,” said Sam Wight, a rally attendee. “One of our best solutions to this problem is implementing better infrastructure.”

According to organizers, street fixes can be implemented with aldermanic menu funding from the 46th and 47th Ward along with CDOT cooperation. In a statement, Ald. Matt Martin (47th) said his office would “work with CDOT and neighboring Ward offices to finalize and build pedestrian-and bike-safety improvements as quickly as possible.”

Alan Yu, an avid bicyclist for nearly five years, rode his bike 10 miles from Bridgeport to attend Thursday’s rally as a show of support.

“I was devastated to hear that the victim was an elderly woman who was just walking home and she tragically died,” Yu said. “People being here is great to see. It really shows how others value the lives of the everyday people who walk these streets.”

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