A fatal bicycle accident in Newport last week left locals of the Rhode Island city in mourning, and also upset. Kayla Watson, a 34-year-old Middletown resident, was killed while riding an electric bike to work on Admiral Kalbfus Road. Watson was fatally injured after being struck by a bucket truck at an intersection on a stretch of road notoriously known for being dangerous. The intersection where Admiral Kalbus Road and Hillside Avenue meet has been the subject of a number of safety studies over the years which have shown a “general neglect for traffic safety laws”, including frequent speeding and running red lights. As Rhode Island personal injury lawyers, at Tapalian Law we all too often see first-hand the detrimental injuries and tragic fatalities that result when a bicyclist or pedestrian is hit by a car or truck. Losing a loved one in an accident is always devastating, particularly when the harm was caused by a careless driver and was unavoidable.
Intersection a Long-Time Traffic Hazard
Just this summer, a group of area residents voiced their concerns and requested safety improvements to the Newport City Council, RI Department of Transportation, and state and national officials in an 18-page letter. While the intersection has been a long-time traffic safety concern, residents’ uneasiness escalated when the RIDOT Pell Bridge ramp realignment project resulted in a big influx of commercial and construction vehicles being re-routed through the area. Considered part of Route 138, a larger state highway, Admiral Kalbus Road is also a residential area. Hillside Avenue is also a residential area and a main route to and from Newport’s Pell Elementary School which is of great concern to both parents and neighbors who frequently observe motorists driving with a disregard for speed limits and traffic signals.
Over time the city has made improvements such as installing signage on Hillside Avenue and trying to use speed cameras. In fact, the city was awarded a $230,000 federal grant in 2022 for traffic safety measures on Hillside Drive following a traffic study conducted the prior year which showed continued speeding and pedestrian safety issues. In late 2022, cameras were used to catch 67 vehicles speeding through the intersection. The issue of the speed camera’s contract, however, was removed from the city council’s summer agenda leaving residents frustrated and worried.
City Urged to Make Changes
After the fatal bike accident, locals are putting pressure on Newport officials to redirect the influx of commercial vehicles away from the residential and school area and instead toward a new roundabout in the city and urging the city to install the speed cameras. Making improvements may prove a bit more complex with some portions of the roads in question being managed by the State of Rhode Island DOT while other portions belong to the city. In addition to these changes, local groups such as Bike Newport are advocating for long-term measures such as a designated bike path to improve safety for those biking, walking, and driving,
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Newport, RI
For all Rhode Island drivers, especially in residential and school zones, a reminder that motorists are urged to slow down, heed caution, and adhere to the posted speed limits and traffic signals to avoid another tragic, unavoidable, traffic fatality. If you or a loved one have been hurt in a car accident, bike accident, or pedestrian accident in Newport, Rhode Island, or Massachusetts, it’s critical to get medical attention right away. Then, call Attorney David Tapalian, an experienced personal injury lawyer in RI and MA, to discuss your eligibility to file a personal injury claim to seek damages against the person responsible for your harm. To discuss your accident with a RI attorney, call Tapalian Law at 401-552-5000, or contact us online to book your free consultation.