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Editor’s Letter – 6/5/19

Two months ago, 31-year-old Chad Ryan Epley was struck by a driver and killed while riding his bike at the intersection of NW 16th Street and Classen Avenue in Oklahoma City. In a chilling surveillance video, sparks fly from the bicycle frame caught beneath the car as its driver flees the scene.

I didn’t know Chad, but I’ve ridden my bike through that intersection a lot. I never felt safe there. I imagine he didn’t either. But that’s the grim reality of riding a bike on city streets in Oklahoma: the environment is not built for human bodies—and a driver could take your life at any moment.

But we stay on our bikes. Why? For some, it’s the physical and mental health benefits. For others, it’s about taking a car off the road and moving us toward the horizon of Utopian Millennial Green Deal Fully-Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism. Some of us can’t afford cars. Some of us don’t have homes. Some of us don’t have the documentation required to get a driver’s license. Some of us just like the feeling.

We need bikes, and we need infrastructure to protect the people who ride them.

You’ll meet Ren Barger in this issue of The Tulsa Voice. She has a permanent titanium matrix in her spine from being hit by a driver in Chicago. She’s also the founder of Tulsa Hub, a nonprofit providing bikes, education, gear and support to vulnerable communities in our city. The story by Matt Carney comes to us from The Curbside Chronicle, a publication created for and sold by people experiencing homelessness in OKC.

You’ll also meet 25-year-old cycling advocate Kolby Webster, who was hit on his bike while commuting to work as a teenager—an experience that propelled him to become one of the city’s most vocal and visible champions of people who get around the city on bikes and on their feet.

And for the cry babies, we’ve got your 2019 Saint Francis Tulsa Tough guide. This will be my first year attending the annual cycling bacchanal, which I have been assured is—like so many of the weird and wonderful things I love about my new city—deeply bonkers.

Yes, we love bikes, but we’ve got other stuff in this issue too. First, every Okie’s favorite topic: the weather. Fraser Kastner takes a look at how climate change could mean more extreme weather events like the flooding and storms that have ravaged our communities in recent weeks. We’ve also got a Q&A with KOTV News on 6 Chief Meteorologist Travis Meyer who talked to us, on the first sunny day after the storms, about saving lives and becoming a meme.

That’s it until next time. Stay dry, stay safe, and be nice to people on bikes.