By Ricky Smith Midland
I have had a heavy heart and a thoughtful mind for over week. On April 25, a group of cyclists were doing their weekly ride, the same ride they do every Wednesday, when they were hit from behind.
I’m not writing you about stricter DWI laws! I’m writing you because I’d like to see better infrastructure set up for residents like those who had their lives taken. I moved back to West Texas in 2010, worked in the oilfield until June 8th, 2012, when I almost lost my leg and my life in an oilfield accident because a co-worker was high on meth. During my rehab process I found cycling. I fell in love with riding my bike.
While I’m nowhere at the level of those men that lost their lives, I still share the passion and love for the sport. I’ve ridden thousands of miles on the roads of West Texas and have had so many close encounters with cars. Fortunately I’ve been able to come home each night. I’m an ER nurse and a former hospice nurse, both jobs are mentally draining and riding my bike is an outlet for me to get rid of all the negative and bad things I see on a daily basis.
I don’t care to go to the hundreds of bars that are scattered around our area! I don’t decompress that way. Like many of my fellow cyclists we enjoy the road, the wind blowing at our backs, and the sunshine on our skin, that’s my outlet and that’s what I love. There is so much money flowing through Midland and Odessa because of the oilfield. Why isn’t it reasonable to set up some sort of roads or infrastructure to help cyclists co-exist with cars? I’ve traveled to many cities and I ride my bike to explore them and numerous cities have cycle lanes set up, or roads designated for cyclists and joggers only, some even have trails that connect cities.
Cities like Richmond, Va., to Williamsburg, Va., have a path that connects the two cities that are only for non-motorized vehicles and people. Midland and Odessa is setup perfectly for something like this because of the close proximity of the two cities. While I don’t expect anything to change overnight and cannot do anything personally to remedy this issue, what I can do is speak up for those who are no longer able to speak and do all I can to make sure my voice is heard. I will email you all every Wednesday, in memorial of their weekly ride, until things start to progress and move forward to ensure that individuals like Camron Stotts, and Mike Mestas can come home to their families at night in one piece. So that people like Jason Haslip do not have to lay in a hospital bed with a broken body, and for months if not years of rehabilitation to look forward to. All because they did something they love.