Concerned residents to hold event for pedestrian-friendly city after cyclist killed

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OKLAHOMA CITY – A memorial sits at NW 16th and Classen to remember Chad Epley.

“Hopefully, it’s a reminder to slow down a notch and that things happen in these sacred spaces that we all seem to share and then it’s also a place to go and remember and find him a little bit in the small place we can,” said Epley’s sister, Chelsey Cobbs.

Now, as Cobbs remembers her brother, she and other concerned residents are advocating for a bikeable and pedestrian-friendly city with an event May 7.

“For people to come together and to figure out what options there are for people that are frustrated, for people that are sad or people that are at a loss at what to do,” she said.

Developer and Oklahoma City resident Jonathan Dodson is organizing the event at his venue, Tower Theater – a passionate enthusiast of making the entire city pedestrian-friendly.

“The thing I keep coming back to is it’s not just Classen. It’s all of our main, east and west and north and south streets that don’t even acknowledge that someone may be walking or riding something other than a car,” Dodson said.

In fact, KFOR did a story with Dodson about the intersection at 16th and Classen three years ago. He was concerned crossing the street was dangerous.

Dodson said he even met with city officials.

“I kind of thought the job was done and, so, when Chad was hit a month ago, the immediate response I felt was a sense of collective guilt of why did I stop? I didn’t do enough,” he said.

Assistant City Planner Geoffrey Butler said they are in the design phase now to fix what they also believe is a trouble spot using geo bond money.

“More people are interested now in cycling than ever before, and what we’re trying to do is make it a safe experience,” Butler said.

The city’s plan has several options, including 82 miles of protected bike lanes, although decisions haven’t been made for the area of Classen.

“It’s designed to provide high visibility so cyclists can get safely across, so it may include different signal timing. It may include green paint. Some cases, it includes curb bump outs,” Butler said.

A timeline hasn’t been set, but sidewalks are planned to start at the end of 2022 for the area.

Still, Dodson said the city’s plan isn’t enough.

“The heart of this is to say we want a city that is welcoming to 8-year-olds and 80-year-olds and, until we have that, we’re not done. Inertia is okay, but it’s not enough and we need to be willing to make some really radical decisions as a city,” he said.

To work together to try and prevent another tragedy from happening to a family.

The ‘OKC Streets For 8 and 80 Year Olds’ is at 4 p.m. May 7 at the Tower Theater.

The City did tell us the streetlights were out at 16th and Classen the night Epley was hit.

For more information on the event, click here.

For information on the City’s ‘BikewalkOKC’ plan, click here.

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