Hotter’N Hell weekend is always a special time for us at BikeTexas. I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. This year, one face is missing even more than usual, the one friend who I saw for the last time at Hotter’N Hell five years ago.
Iris Stagner poured her passion and zest for life into all that she did. Whether as a wife, a mother, a civil servant, an advocate, a friend, a cyclist, or a runner, Iris brought her whole heart to the table. Her work to bring “Share the Road” signs to Palo Pinto county is but one of many legacies she left behind.
I first came to know Iris as an advocate and in those early days provided some coaching on bicycle advocacy at the city, county, and state levels. Iris took to bicycle advocacy as she did everything else: with gusto and enthusiasm, so much so that she joined the board of BikeTexas to help provide leadership for bicycle advocacy across the state. Just as she worked at her running and bicycling, she also worked to make Texas the best and safest that it could be for road users of all ages and abilities.
Although it seems like such a short time since Iris was taken from us, it’s been every bit of five years since I saw her at her final Hotter’N Hell. She was excited and ready for another century, but at the same time always looking for ways she could help other people. As she prepared and trained, whether for the Boston Marathon (which her daughter Felicia would ultimately run in her place) or the HHH century, she always did it with safety in mind and with consideration for other road users. I don’t know that any of us who were blessed enough to know her will ever recover from losing Iris so tragically just as she was poised to retire and enter in to her next great adventure.
Bicycle advocacy is just as challenging in Texas today as it was that day Iris walked through the Capitol doors. During this year’s legislative session, I thought about Iris every day as we worked to pass the Iris Stagner Safe Passing Act. The three-foot passing law was particularly important to Iris, who travelled to Austin to meet with her senator and representative and convince them to support the bill. In fact, her state representative became a co-author of the Safe Passing Bill after Iris’ visit. This bill is named for Iris not only because she was so committed to its passage, but also because had the motorist who took Iris’ life given her three feet of clearance when passing, she’d still be riding with us this weekend at Hotter’N Hell, running marathons, and doing her best to make the world a better place for all of us.
Although we still haven’t passed Safe Passing at the state level, it is law in 25 Texas cities. I believe Iris would be proud to see how far we’ve come, as well as determined to continue the fight for the work left to do. We continue this fight for Iris and the countless others who have been needlessly killed while riding. In the meantime, friends of Iris also continue her work though the Iris Stagner Memorial Fund, which supports bicycle education across the state.
This weekend at Hotter’N Hell, it’s been wonderful to see so many of Iris’ friends and family, including her daughter and granddaughter. Many of us will ride this year, as we have every year since 2012, with Iris in our hearts. BikeTexas looks forward to continuing Iris’ hard work at the city and state levels to make three-foot passing ordinances, and the Iris Stagner Safe Passing Act, a law that works for all Texans who walk or ride bikes.
Robin Stallings, Executive Director
Photos, top to bottom: Signs being installed in Palo Pinto County; at Hotter’N Hell 2012 with (l to r) Robin, Fernando Martinez, Iris, and Butch Stagner; Iris at the Capitol with BikeTexas’ Mark Stine and Robin Stallings; Butch Stagner talking to riders who gathered for Iris’ funeral ride