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Sunday at noon, two simultaneous events to bring attention to bike safety and infrastructure possibilities will begin at McKinley Park at 1300 N. McKinley in Oklahoma City.

“Every Street a Safe Street,” organized by Jonathan Dodson and Sam Day will begin at noon at the park to give information “advocating for safer and more enjoyable streets for drivers, walkers, scooters, and bikers alike,” according to their Facebook event post.

Plans then call for the group to make their way from the park over to Classen Boulevard where they will participate in a demonstration project permitted by Oklahoma City.

That part of the day is the second event called “Critical Mass Bike Ride” hosted by Krzysztof Dahlgren, Austin Thompson, Camden Smith, and Ben Nockels.

Four routes will be provided for the ride that will help demonstrate how bike-protected lanes could work on Classen Boulevard.

Cones will be set out along Classen from NW 13th, north to NW 16th where professional chef and bike commuter Chad Epley died in a hit and run accident with a motorist in March.

Organizers want to maintain the lanes from 12:30 to 2:30.

The traffic cones will block off the curb lanes going both directions and the bike routes will take riders through those sections of Classen to demonstrate how dedicated bike lanes could help walkers and cyclists stay safe while not seriously impeding traffic.

Dangerous roadway

Daily commuting cyclists especially have considered that stretch along Classen to be dangerous from well before Epley’s death.

Western Avenue follows a straight north/south route on the city’s grid and merges into the meandering north/south Classen route between 13th and 16th creating complex intersections for drivers, walkers, and cyclists.

Hamon cycling
Councilwoman JoBeth Hamon arrives at the Ride for Chad Epley May 7 and talks with riders. She regularly rides transit and her bike to work and to the Council meetings. Brett Dickerson/ Okla City Free Press

“I have had to come through this intersection before, and I just get off my bike and walk it across. It’s really scary sometimes,” OKC Councilwoman JoBeth Hamon told Free Press at the Chad Epley Ride a few weeks ago.

Hamon regularly commutes to work and to Council meetings using a combination of cycling, walking, and riding city buses.

“Given the amount of space and infrastructure that cars need, they aren’t generally the best tools for making short trips within the urban core,” organizer Sam Day told Free Press. “Yet many urban residents end up using cars for these trips when they can’t safely and conveniently walk, bike, scooter, or take transit.”

Event goals

He said that one of their goals is to demonstrate to individuals that it is possible to walk and bike in the city successfully. As well, they want to provide a test site for City of Oklahoma City planners to explore what types of protected bike lanes might work on a permanent basis in the future.

But, mostly, this event is to encourage people to consider other means of transportation besides automobiles.

“A big part of the Critical Mass is for people who do use bicycles to realize that they have a lot of allies,” said Day. “Because I think people can feel a little bit alone, especially people who are commuters, feeling like it’s kind of them against the world.”