Today, the city of Los Angeles dedicated the first of its "Rainbow Halo" memorial markers for victims of traffic violence. The rainbow halo on Sherman Oaks' Woodman Avenue at Addison Street commemorates the life of Conor Lynch, killed there by a hit-and-run driver in 2010.
The art installation is the product of two city departments and their artist in residence, working with nonprofit organizations. L.A. City Departments of Transportation (LADOT) and Cultural Affairs (DCA) host a creative catalyst program that hires artists to produce art related to Vision Zero, the international effort to end traffic violence. The halos were created by artist John Morse. The city and the artist collaborated with nonprofits Southern California Families for Safe Streets and Los Angeles Walks.
At today's dedication ceremony, L.A. City Councilmember David Ryu joined other city leaders and safe streets advocates to commemorate the new installation and the story behind it. Ryu criticized distracted drivers, and called the memorial "a solemn reminder of the lives lost to traffic collisions and the ongoing work to make Los Angeles streets safe for all.”
A tearful Jeri Lynch related the horror of how a driver killed her son. On October 19, 2010, while training with his high school cross country team, Conor Lynch was killed by a distracted, unlicensed, hit-and-run driver. Jeri Lynch founded the Conor Lynch Foundation to work for the safety of runners, pedestrians, cyclists, and young drivers. Lynch spoke of the need for families impacted by car crashes to "share your stories."
City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs General Manager Danielle Brazell's poignant remarks touched on the AIDS activism saying, "art saves lives." She added that "advocacy absolutely works" and praised the rainbow halo project for "creating meaningful interactions" and "moments of reflection."
Project artist Morse spoke of the biblical symbolism of the rainbow shown to Noah as "deliverance after destruction." He created the Rainbow Halo installations to highlight the fragility of life - as the sun interacts with the artwork to create a moment unique to now.
LADOT has already installed four halo rainbows - out of a planned one hundred. Each one is done in collaboration with victims' families, community, and nonprofits. If readers have lost a loved one to traffic violence, and are interested in the city installing a halo and plaque to commemorate, contact So. Cal. Families for Safe Streets at socalsafestreets (at) losangeleswalks.org to begin the process.