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Cyclists want more protection across Oklahoma City

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Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard on Tuesday evening to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at NW 16 and Classen Boulevard, where there is a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]
Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard on Tuesday evening to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at NW 16 and Classen Boulevard, where there is a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]

Cyclists took over Classen Boulevard in Oklahoma City on Tuesday afternoon to call for better infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians throughout the city.

“We’re the No. 1 most dangerous place to ride a bike,” said Ryan Fogle, owner of bicycle tour company Ride OKC. “I don’t want Oklahoma City to be the worst anything. We can do better.”

The League of American Bicyclists reports from 2012 to 2016 there were 34.3 deaths per 10,000 people biking to work in Oklahoma City, which leads all large cities in the United States.

Fogle said conditions are often unsafe to where he’s had to resort to taking back alleys to avoid busy thoroughfares and that he’s limited to where he can take people.

“We mainly stay downtown just because it’s slower speed and really, just less traffic. There’s not as many big thoroughfares,” Fogle said. “I want better infrastructure for people walking, biking, even people with scooters. I want it to be separated, dedicated lanes for each mode of transportation.”

During Tuesday's ride, the group of cyclists stopped at NW 16 and Classen Boulevard, where local chef and cyclist Chad Epley, 31, was struck and killed by a motorist as he rode his bike in the early hours of March 21.

The group ended their trek on NW 23 by riding inside the Tower Theatre, where they called for more to be done to protect cyclists and pedestrians.

Inside, Benjamin Nockels, owner of Commonplace Books, addressed the crowd and demanded change.

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“Wishful thinking doesn’t make dreams come true and this conversation is not about some urban utopia ideal, this is an issue of justice,” Nockels said. “It is not too outlandish, as some would suggest, for our streets to be safe for pedestrians of all kinds.”

“In the last three years, at least 79 people, that we’re aware of, have been struck and killed whether they were on a bike or on foot as a pedestrian,” Nockels said after asking the audience to take a seat in honor of those killed.

One by one, Nockels read each of the names of those killed walking or biking in Oklahoma City from 2016 through 2018.

“These names matter, guys. They matter greatly,” he said.

Chelsey Ann Cobbs, Epley’s sister, said most people don’t think of the people who rely on bicycles for their main mode of transportation, like her brother.

“It’s kind of crazy that we’re here to talk about the ability to bike and walk safely. Not to solve world hunger, but to share the road,” Cobbs said. “I am here to tell you that it is time for it to change.”

Tyrell Frazier, 19, Oklahoma City, just happened to by biking along NW 23 before the event, adding that he was unaware of what everyone was gathering for.

Like Epley, Frazier said his main transportation is his bicycle and that he relies on it to travel miles daily to run errands. While he said he hasn’t faced much harassment from motorists, he said many are impatient and don’t seem to consider those outside of vehicles.

“Not a lot of drivers, honestly, will get over for you,” Frazier said. “If you see a bicyclist you should just move over, because it’s hard enough for us bicyclists to move around in a big city like this.”

Among the cyclists was Oklahoma City Councilwoman JoBeth Hamon, an advocate for cyclist’s rights who often relies on her bike.

“It’s not just a torch I’m carrying, that I talked about during my campaign, I talked about it because it affects me but it also affects all of these people,” Hamon said.

She said she was encouraged by the turnout, saying there has been a little movement for cyclist safety in the past few years but people are now starting to get together to enact change.

Hamon said she is encouraged by many city staff who already had plans to improve infrastructure throughout the city, but that it will take time.

“It’s just a matter of, from a city council perspective, how are we going to prioritize some of these projects?” she said.

Related Photos
<strong>Bicyclists gather at the ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]</strong>

Bicyclists gather at the ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-5f6281548e487e352e32f8cc83416720.jpg" alt="Photo - Bicyclists gather at the ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] " title=" Bicyclists gather at the ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Bicyclists gather at the ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-8d264b31961684791ac417ad8904e276.jpg" alt="Photo - Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke." title="Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke."><figcaption>Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ccf3d142e6a4f84d77a21d9cccf81b41.jpg" alt="Photo - Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke." title="Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke."><figcaption>Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-365c065b3329aa6b3a27d18414dc0951.jpg" alt="Photo - Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke." title="Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke."><figcaption>Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-21b160944ec8b75c2297cc881419764e.jpg" alt="Photo - Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke." title="Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke."><figcaption>Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c77d9595c901120eb3cf8418f4069832.jpg" alt="Photo - Dozens of bicyclists riding along Classen Boulevard turn left onto 16th Street, Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke." title="Dozens of bicyclists riding along Classen Boulevard turn left onto 16th Street, Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke."><figcaption>Dozens of bicyclists riding along Classen Boulevard turn left onto 16th Street, Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-1a42b6efca6c925bc9559d7953944b17.jpg" alt="Photo - Bicyclists gather at the Ghost Bike Memorial for Chad Epley. Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke." title="Bicyclists gather at the Ghost Bike Memorial for Chad Epley. Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke."><figcaption>Bicyclists gather at the Ghost Bike Memorial for Chad Epley. Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-980bc2e9c9d6215244a12c5a8199fd9d.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City council members, Jobeth Hamon and James Cooper ride up to 16th and Classen Boulevard to join the riders. Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke." title="Oklahoma City council members, Jobeth Hamon and James Cooper ride up to 16th and Classen Boulevard to join the riders. Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke."><figcaption>Oklahoma City council members, Jobeth Hamon and James Cooper ride up to 16th and Classen Boulevard to join the riders. Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-dbe08e04d1107d19aaead2c3103a71f6.jpg" alt="Photo - Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke." title="Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke."><figcaption>Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. Photo by Doug Hoke.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-b16ef091dfade9754dea58aebfafe496.jpg" alt="Photo - Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work, and then traveling on to the Tower Theater. Photo by Doug Hoke." title="Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work, and then traveling on to the Tower Theater. Photo by Doug Hoke."><figcaption>Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work, and then traveling on to the Tower Theater. Photo by Doug Hoke.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-874efcc41fed4240ff33ab6733c2b2dc.jpg" alt="Photo - Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work, and then traveling on to the Tower Theater. Photo by Doug Hoke." title="Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work, and then traveling on to the Tower Theater. Photo by Doug Hoke."><figcaption>Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at 16th and Classen Blvd. where a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work, and then traveling on to the Tower Theater. Photo by Doug Hoke.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ce21d3d7979895a004dd12ada55424d5.jpg" alt="Photo - Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard on Tuesday evening to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at NW 16 and Classen Boulevard, where there is a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] " title=" Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard on Tuesday evening to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at NW 16 and Classen Boulevard, where there is a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Dozens of bicyclists ride along Classen Boulevard on Tuesday evening to highlight the need for better bike lanes, stopping at NW 16 and Classen Boulevard, where there is a ghost bike memorial for Chad Epley who was killed at the intersection while riding home after work. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Josh Wallace

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