Guest Post: Merry Christmas, DDOT.

Editor’s Note: This letter is written by Laura Montiel, grieving mother of Malik Habib. Malik was killed on H Street NE in a traffic crash in June 2018. This is hard to read, and a heartbreaking reminder of why WABA’s work matters. Hug your loved ones. Be kind to your neighbors. Drive slowly. Dear DDOT, As many folks are hustling and bustling about this holiday season, my thought as a grieving mother is “All I want for Christmas is YOU.” I will never eat pancakes with Malik on Christmas morning again… Wow, how he loved eating stacks and stacks of pancakes drowned in syrup. I will never receive that big Christmas present he joked about giving “when I make it… because I will.”

Malik and his brother Cyrus, Christmas 2003. Photo courtesy of their mother Laura.

I used to identify myself proudly as a single mother of two, Malik and Cyrus Habib. My son Malik was killed on June 23rd while riding his bike near the streetcar tracks at 3rd and H Street NE. After the tragedy, folks commented on social media and in the news how the tracks of the streetcar have been a concern since 2014. I have stood at that corner and witnessed Transportation Madness: buses are coming down the hill at racing speeds, pedestrians are crossing the roads with construction going on behind them, there’s a lack of signage, and scooters and bikes have no place to ride. The streetcar tracks add more danger to this intersection. My son was a victim of this poorly planned infrastructure. Reports indicate that you, DDOT, knew about the dangers and streetcar tracks and did nothing. Six months after my son’s death the only changes made were the installation of a bike lane that begins mid-route, painted green and flex post to guide bicyclist to nowhere… because there is no continuation of that bike lane on the other side. If I were new to the city like Malik was, I would still be unsafe with the addition of this new colored green bike lane. It insults me. To add onto my grief, I am frustrated. I have spoken out many times and relived my son’s tragic crash again and again in hopes that my story can somehow make a difference. Are you listening? As we are here at the end of 2018, entering a New Year, I try to see how many changes have been made to make Vision Zero a reality in DC. Sadly, I don’t see much. DDOT, my wish for Christmas is that the city reevaluates the safety of that intersection at 3rd and H Streets NE. It needs additional signage, enforced speed limits, a well-lit bike crossing, and parking enforcement. Another idea is to take away street parking on one side of the road to make way for a safe bike route, one that doesn’t start and end and actually provides a safe route. And can DDOT please address the streetcar flange fillers that supposedly were being researched? We were supposed to have an update by now. 

Malik’s ghost bike memorial on H St NE.

So was Malik’s death preventable? You ask yourself that on Christmas morning. If you were part of the administration that has ignored bike safety, I forgive you. I just ask that in 2019, you do a better job of making Vision Zero a reality. Malik loved playing football, writing music, debating politics, reading, eating, and most of all, being with his family. I know he is with me always, so I believe that my strength to write these words come from him. I am his mother and gave him birth, but he gave me life! I miss his humor, his free spirit, and kindness so much. Merry Christmas, Malik. Love, Mom