RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Members of Richmond’s City Council held a discussion Monday on traffic and pedestrian safety in response to the death of 26-year-old Shawn Soares, with one floating a proposal to make Main and Cary streets two-way roads.
Soares, a Virginia Commonwealth University student, was killed on May 4 while walking on the sidewalk along the 300 block of West Main Street.
Police said two vehicles collided and one of them left the road, striking a pole and Soares, who died at the scene not far from where another VCU student was killed crossing the street.
Both drivers in the crash that led to Soares’ death remained at the scene and an investigation is ongoing, according to police. His death has fueled more calls for changes to be made in the city and near VCU.
The university and leaders from the city will hold a brainstorming session to discuss potential reforms, Richmond’s Chief Administrative Officer Lincoln Saunders said during the council’s informal meeting on Monday.
City Council President Michael Jones, the city’s 9th District representative, said VCU has informed him that they will conduct a traffic study for its two main campuses, Monroe Park and MCV, by July. While council members praised the upcoming report, many pushed for more immediate changes.
Richmond City Council member Andreas Addison, who represents the city’s 1st District, floated an idea to convert Main and Cary streets, which are one-way, to two-way roads “because right now they’re highways.”
Addison and other council members also suggested pushing for lower speed limits near VCU and in the city. Saunders said the city has and will continue to make “strategic investments,” including more speed tables and signs on Main Street in the coming weeks, to help with pedestrian safety concerns.
“Shawn was just standing on the sidewalk,” City Councilwoman Katherine Jordan said during Monday’s discussion, “that should be a safe place to be. People are speeding everywhere.”
In late January, VCU student Mahrokh Khan died after being hit by a car while trying to W. Main Street at the intersection of Laurel Street near the Altria Theater. She was 22.
VCU increased its enforcement of traffic and parking violations in response to Khan’s death to bolster pedestrian safety education and “encourage safer behaviors by drivers, cyclists and pedestrians and to decrease accidents.”