Crystal Ng, who lives in Hirabayashi Place, said Li and his wife were the only two people to use their building's rooftop deck, doing exercises and playing pingpong together nearly every day. Ng speaks Chinese and would often help them communicate with other residents in the building.
"He always asked me if I'd had dinner yet and tell me that he hadn't seen me for a long time," she said.
Ng didn't hear the news of Li's death right away, but started to suspect something was wrong. She didn't see his bike in storage. While watching the evening news, she saw an image of a "crunched" bicycle and realized she recognized it.
"I had a gut feeling," she said.
"He and his wife were just enjoying their retirement, growing old together," Vonheim said through tears, "and now that's been taken away from her."
It's not just bikers and pedestrians who want to see safer conditions in Sodo, said Erin Goodman, executive director of the Sodo Business Improvement Area. The people driving trucks through there certainly don't want to kill anyone, she said.
Goodman supports completion of a bike corridor all the way through the neighborhood, to Georgetown, in order to distinguish between routes for bikers and routes for drivers.
"Do I think that people need to be able to bike through Sodo? Yes," she said. "On every street? No. There need to be safe corridors."
"This accident is a little bit of a wake-up call that this area's transportation system needs some attention," she added.
The lack of such infrastructure is, on the one hand, the result of Sodo's role as a freight-heavy neighborhood, said Cantor. But it's also indicative of underinvestment in South Seattle more broadly, hewing closely to redlined areas of the past.
"Sodo and the entirety of southeast Seattle have really suffered a lot due to racism and people writing off that South Seattle needs to be safe to walk and bike and live in," she said.
Morales echoed that point, saying that meeting the goals of zero fatalities will mean a much larger investment in capital projects.
"We have to fundamentally change how we think about transportation in this city if we want to meet our Vision Zero goals," she said.(c)2022 The Seattle Times Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.