In November 2017, 24-year-old Emily Fredricks began her daily bicycle trip to work as a pastry chef at the now-defunct Le Chéri restaurant in Center City, not knowing it would be the last day of her life.
Fredricks, remembered by family as a cautious, helmet-wearing biker, did have a helmet on – but that didn’t save her life. Fredricks was killed after a garbage truck turned right, colliding with her near 11th and Spruce streets, in an area many bicycle advocates said lacked clearly demarcated bike lanes.
On Thursday, the family of Emily Fredricks announced a civil settlement with the trucking company, Gold Medal Environmental – part of which will go toward local organizations fighting for safer streets, so accidents like the one that killed Fredricks become less common.
“We live every day heartbroken over the loss of our precious daughter, searching for some way to see some good result from her passing,” said Richard and Laura Fredricks, Emily’s parents, in a statement. “With this agreement, we feel lives can and will be saved by making Philadelphia’s streets safer for bicyclists, as well as drivers – truck and car – and also pedestrians.”
Honoring Emily Fredricks
Attorneys for the family of Emily Fredricks and Gold Medal Environmental reached the settlement agreement without ever entering litigation, attorneys announced on Thursday.
The settlement allots $6 million for Fredricks’ estate, and $125,000 in contributions, to be disbursed in five installments to Philly organizations committed to improving road safety. Representatives of the company and the family will jointly choose target organizations.
Additionally, Gold Medal, which is now under new management, has made numerous reforms to increase driver safety: Drivers can now earn salary bonuses in reward for accident-free driving, and the company has an enhanced safety training curriculum. That includes a “rigorous obstacle course instruction at its new, advanced training facility, and intensive behind-the-wheel interactions with bicyclists,” according to Fredricks family attorneys. Additionally, Fredricks’ parents will speak to the company’s drivers and managers about the importance and consequences of safe driving.
“Philadelphia’s citizens will directly benefit from this settlement that could only be achieved through the cooperation of all parties and determination to do the right thing by Emily,” said Larry Bendesky, an attorney at Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky, P.C. who represented the Fredricks family, in a statement. His co-counsel, attorney Robert Zimmerman, added, “The Fredricks family made clear from the outset that justice for Emily had to translate into safer streets for everyone, whether they traveled by bike, by car, or on foot.”
Bicycle and transit-alternatives advocates have continued to advocate for solutions like additional bike lanes with more clearly demarcated lanes, barrier-protected bike lanes, and in some cases changing bike lanes from one side to the other, to prevent more tragedies like the death of Fredricks.