Why can’t you put down the phone?

What will it take for you drivers to put your phones down?

We often spotlight on this page the many cross-country trips — biking, walking, swimming, sometimes kayaking — that people make to draw attention to a greater good.

This morning, the leader of one of them is dead because a woman couldn’t wait to see what was on her phone.

7778It happened in Oklahoma when the leader of a Maine-to-Santa Barbara bike group that stopped in towns along the way to pitch in and help those who need it, was struck and killed on a road in Oklahoma, according to Bike & Build Inc.

His name was Patrick Wanninkhof and just a few days earlier, he and his group had stopped in Tulsa to paint a senior citizens’ home.

The driver  who hit him was no kid. She’s 34.

The world is not such a good place that we can afford to lose the lives of the young, and Wanninkhof’s bio on the Bike & Build page reveals why. He was a teacher in the Bronx.

I was thrust into the education with little background on the systemic inequities which limit my students. The middle-class ideal of meritocracy instilled me with the misguided belief that all my students needed to do was work harder and success would follow.

This mindset was soon challenged when a student told me that she and her mom had been moving between relatives houses every week after they couldn’t pay rent. How on earth could I expect her to give her all to Newton’s Laws when she wasn’t sure where she’d be sleeping that evening?

To fix systemic inequities which burden our nation, we need a systemic approach to fighting poverty. Education reform will be fruitless if we cannot guarantee that every child can return to a safe home in the evening.

The quest for Affordable Housing for each American runs parallel to my dedication for bringing each student an excellent education. Only by simultaneously addressing both these issues can we guarantee the prosperity of each person in our nation.

My name is Patrick and I’m a Florida native and current New Yorker. I graduated suma cum laude from the University of Florida in 2012 with a degree in Materials Engineering.

After undergrad, I was accepted into Teach for America and have been teaching Physics and Computer Science at a public performing arts school in the Bronx for the past three years. I recently earned my Masters in Teaching Adolescent Physics from Fordham University in 2014.

I am currently a board member of STEMteachersNYC, an organization dedicated to providing high quality, teacher-driven professional development for educators in the tri-State area.

Outside of my passion for science education, I am an avid bicyclist and musician. I completed the New York Century ride with my dad and sister (2014 B&B Alum, SC2SC) in early September, and spend my weekends riding to escape the New York bustle. I’ve played the bass guitar and beat boxed for over six years and have actively played in bands since the beginning.

As someone with a Dutch father, bicycling is in my blood. Combining my passion for social justice and pedal powered-vehicles will make for the adventure of a life-time.

Earlier this year, Oklahoma became the 46th state to make texting and driving illegal as a primary offense. But the law doesn’t take effect until November.