Why Every Bicyclist, and my friend, Counts

By Brighid O'Keane on July 15, 2012

imageThere are few people in this world who live truly storied lives. Jevon Newman was one of them.

Despite the time and distance passed since our graduation from the University of Colorado, I followed the line of Jevon’s life through the stories of people he loved: the time he saved a man drowning in the Amazon River; how he flew 19 hours from abroad to attend a friend’s wedding; how he became the proud owner of several hectares of rainforest in Ecuador to protect them from deforestation; how he cycled 160 miles from Dublin to Cork instead of getting on the train.

A passionate cyclist and environmentalist, Jevon was tragically killed on July 7 while riding his bike in Little Rock. He had just graduated from Medical School at University College Dublin in Ireland and moved to Arkansas to start his residency in Emergency Medicine. He was looking at apartments on his new roadbike when he was struck by a pickup truck. Jevon passed away a few hours later.

imageOver 700 cyclists are killed in traffic crashes each year. With a combined modeshare of 11.5%, bicylists and pedestrians account for a disproportionate 13.5% of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. Earlier this year, the League of American Bicyclists launched a new website called Every Bicylist Counts. This site tracks bicyclist fatalities and is a place to honor those cyclists and to ensure that their death is not in vain. It is a memorial, a gathering place, and home for everyone that has lost a friend of family member. The League will also be using the data to highlight trends and advocate for safer policies and conditions for bicyclists.

Too many of us have a tragedy to tell and these are constant reminders of why our advocacy is essential and that is it unacceptable to continue designing and building roads that are not safe for all users.

Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas has been joined by the family of Jevon Newman in establishing a memorial fund in his honor. The fund will be used to work to improve conditions for cyclists in Arkansas, recently ranked as the 50th state for cycling in the League’s 2012 Bicycle Friendly State program.

Everyone who has been fortunate to know Jevon is mourning the loss of a true adventurer. The stories of his life will keep us laughing, awed and inspired well beyond the years.

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