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Colorful ‘halos’ memorialize victims of LA’s deadly traffic crashes

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The rainbow discs refract overhead sunlight, creating halos on the sidewalk

A disc filled in with multi-colored wedges, mounted to a street sign post
The rainbow-colored discs refract sunlight, creating halos on the sidewalk.
LADOT

A rainbow-colored disc at the intersection of Woodman Avenue and Addison Street stands in memory of 16-year-old cross-country runner Conor Lynch, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2010.

Local officials and street safety advocates unveiled the memorial today. It’s the first installed as part of a project aimed at drawing attention to intersections where fatal crashes took place.

“No one should experience the loss our family suffered,” said Lynch’s mother, Jeri Dye Lynch, in a statement today. “We hope the Rainbow Halo project inspires people to join us in advocating for smarter street design, slower speeds, and safer behavior.”

Designed by artist John Morse, the colorful disc that now marks the spot of the collision is positioned to refract overhead sunlight, creating a halo on the sidewalk that serves as a “momentary altar for the deceased,” according to the city’s transportation department, which is overseeing the project.

At the request of the City Council, transportation officials are also planning a roadside memorial project honoring bicyclists killed in traffic collisions. In 2018, 21 bicyclists were killed on the streets of Los Angeles—tied for the highest yearly total since 2003.

Signs and roadside memorials are among the strategies city officials have proposed to cut down on LA’s high rate of fatal collisions. In 2015, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a Vision Zero initiative to end traffic deaths by 2025. But deadly crashes have only increased in frequency since then.

City staffers have engineered a host of infrastructure projects to prevent collisions on some of the city’s most dangerous corridors. But transportation officials and advocates have long maintained that another part of ensuring streets become safer involves educating the public on how severe a problem collisions have become.

“The tragedies these families have suffered can never be repaired,” Councilmember David Ryu said today. “But our road design and driving behavior can.”

The halo projects are aimed at drawing attention to traffic deaths, but also serve to commemorate victims and to connect bereaved families with one another. Future memorials are being arranged by Southern California Families for Safe Streets, a network of people who have lost loved ones in fatal crashes.

Jeri Dye Lynch says the organization helped channel members’ grief into “collective action to prevent others from enduring the same pain.”

Those interested in memorializing family members killed in collisions with a rainbow halo can contact the organization at socalsafestreets@losangeleswalks.org.