TULSA – At the end of my extended ride home today, I will have bicycled 3,000 miles in 2011. I never would have guessed I would ride that far when I began riding back in mid-February. I never would have guessed that I would ride 76 miles from my house in Tulsa to Grand Lake or ride in a Gran Fondo at Tulsa Tough. I never would have guessed that I would become a League Cycling Instructor (LCI), certified by the League of American Bicyclists to teach others how to ride their bicycles in traffic on Tulsa streets. Or drive to Fort Worth to buy a massive cargo bike. Or become Chair of INCOG’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Or start a blog on biking and walking.
Yet, all that happened in 2011. I sort of stumbled into bicycling just after the blizzard in February. I had been riding the bus since the start of the new year because my employer paid for me to take Tulsa Transit if they didn’t have to subsidize my parking spot any longer.
I started riding the bus on the last work-day of 2010. I rode my mountain bike one mile from my house to the bus stop. When the bus arrived, I would throw my bike onto the racks in the front of the bus, and I would retrieve it once we reached my office building downtown. I did the same on the way home. The system worked well all through January.
Then, the blizzard came. Many of Tulsa Transit’s buses were stranded along with hundreds, maybe thousands, of other Tulsa motorists. For days. Even when bus service started back up, the buses were not running on any kind of schedule because many buses were still in the shop being repaired.
I found myself at the bus stop with my mountain bike waiting. And waiting. Not sure if I had missed the bus or if one would ever come, I thought to myself, “I can bike there faster than this.” So I gave it a shot.
And that’s how it began. Since I started riding to work and other places, I lost 30 pounds (not a goal of mine as I have been blessed with high metabolism most of my life) and am in the best shape I’ve ever been. I actually bought a scale for the first time in my life because I was worried I might lose too much weight.
I’ve developed a huge passion for bicycling for transportation and want to see Tulsa become a better place to ride a bike on city streets. After visiting Boulder, CO, a platinum-level bicycle friendly city, where riding a bike or walking to get places is a very normal thing to do, I became even more excited about the possibilities for Tulsa.
We have a long way to go to get there, but the climate in Tulsa feels ripe for change. I have been pleasantly surprised by some of the city officials I have met this year who seem to be on board with many ideas and concepts that will improve bicycling and walking in the area. There are good people working for the city that want to see things improve who sometimes get tied down by their bosses, by outdated policy, or by a lack of funding.
Change can take time, but 2012 looks to be a big year for bicycling and walking in Tulsa. In the words of my twin brother, 3,000 miles means it’s time for an oil change.
Happy New Year,
Publisher/Editor of Bike Walk Tulsa