TULSA – Two tweets from Bike Walk Tulsa spawned two news stories about biking and walking on Tulsa radio station KRMG Wednesday and Thursday. The stories, unfortunately, were filled with misspellings (their specialty is talking into a microphone) and factual inaccuracies that generated tweets, status updates and comments, oh my!
It all started on Tuesday when KRMG’s news director and morning show host, Joe Kelley (@talkradiojoe), tweeted
“I’m FIRST today in the school pickup line for the kids!
This must have been how Neil Armstrong felt.
In a nudging effort to get Kelley to explain the obstacles that prevent his and other Tulsa-area children from biking and walking to school, Bike Walk Tulsa (@bikewalktulsa) responded by tweeting,
“Y not let em bike or walk?”
Bike Walk Tulsa expected standard responses like “too dangerous to have my kids cross a busy street”, “no sidewalks” or “cul de sacs and dead ends mean the kids would have to walk/bike along busy streets to get there” – you know, common suburban problems. Instead, @talkradiojoe responded with,
“It’s 9 miles away. And they’re 5.”
Apparently, Kelley has his kids in private school or some kind of magnet school because most public elementary school kids don’t have a nine mile commute. Although it wasn’t quite the expected answer, @bikewalktulsa responded anyhow by telling Kelley about the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program,
“If school is ever closer, check out Safe Routes to School bit.lysqy9En good day!”
The link in the tweet takes you to a Bike Walk Tulsa story on SRTS that contains an embedded video about the program’s work in Tulsa.
Trails Alone Don’t Make A City ‘Walkable’
In the Tuesday edition of ‘Word on the Street’, Bike Walk Tulsa included a link to a story about Tulsa earning the ranking of seventh most artery-clogging city in the U.S. The story attributes Tulsa’s ranking to its “low walkability.”
“According to Walk Score, an organization which promotes pedestrian-friendly communities, only 6% of Tulsa residents live in a neighborhood with a walk score of 70 or above (100 being best) and 57% live in entirely car-dependent locales.”
A quick and easy search of the Walk Score website finds that a walkable neighborhood is one where schools and workplaces are close enough that most residents can walk from their homes, affordable housing is located near businesses, buildings are close to the street with parking lots in the rear, streets are designed with pedestrians in mind, there are plenty of public places to gather and play, and there are enough people for businesses to flourish and for public transit to run frequently.
Fast forward to Wednesday night – after checking out Bike Walk Tulsa’s site and seeing the artery-clogging article, KRMG gets a little creative (i.e. makes stuff up) by posting a story on its website with the headline:
Lack of trails? Nevermind the article that prompted KRMG’s story did not even contain the word ‘trail’. Evidently, Joe Kelley and his
news staff didn’t do enough fact-checking to gain an understanding of what makes up a walkable city. According to KRMG, if you can get into your car and drive a few miles to River Parks or LaFortune Park, Tulsa must be very walkable. Then, in an admirable effort to help combat Oklahoma’s obesity epidemic, KRMG reveals the mind-blowing secret that if you just park your car a little further away from Walmart, your obesity problems will disappear.
“…we can all do more to keep ourselves healthy by making small adjustments to our lifestyle.
For example, park on the far side of the parking lot rather than as close to the door as you can get.”
KRMG Re-Writes Bike Walk Tulsa Story on Safe Routes to School
After Joe Kelley read Bike Walk Tulsa’s article on Safe Routes to School via Tuesday’s tweet session, KRMG re-wrote the article for its website and airwaves. The headline was somewhat different:
The story was framed as a questionable use of tax dollars in an attempt to rile up KRMG listeners. In true Edward R. Murrow award-winning fashion, KRMG misspelled easy words like “instructor” as “instructure” and the name of James Wagner from INCOG as “Waggoner” even though Wagner’s name is clearly visible below the story in big bold letters in the opening frame of the embedded video.
KRMG did a good job of riling up its listeners alright. Lots of comments appeared on both the artery-clogging story and the Safe Routes to School story on KRMG’s Facebook page. Here are some of the more notable comments:
- Peg Brush It would be great if there were sidewalks so we could walk to the store or work. Both are barely a mile away from my house, but no way to walk there.
- Trip English I have to agree. We are a very pedestrian unfriendly town. I would like to see more bike trails/bike lanes.
- Tammy Dake Actually I would rather see them spend the money on crossing guards, the school I work at the kids have to cross a major street at 7:30 a.m., it’s very dangerous. Thank God no students have been killed!
- Charlene Stroup Hammonds It all sounds good, but just more tax money spent when the government is not my parent. Its the family who should be minding their kids, and if they don’t it’s not our job to fix every thing!!!! Or the government, why do you think the government should get involved in this…. stop the waste it never ends….guess you think you don’t pay enough in tax dollars already…..who thinks of this crap?????????
- Michael Oliver Why am I being forced to buy someone else’s kid a bike? I already pay for their school and lunch. How much must I pay under a so called conservative governor? Ps why not just hand our kids to the pedophiles that will be lying in wait? Pps my daughters school is 8 miles away. It’s dark when we leave by car. You really want me to send her by bike?
- Alicia Montgomery Donathan Lets not have more kids out there getting kidnapped. No thanks
- Eric Hamblin I’d love a trail from owasso into the city. Mingo is so darn dangerous. It would be nice to have trails planned to get you somewhere other then just a ride in the park.
- Lori Gaspar Walderich If there was a sidewalk from my neighborhood to my office, I would walk there every day!
Even James Wagner from INCOG, who appears in the embedded Safe Routes to School video and whose name was butchered horribly by the reputable news organization, commented on KRMG’s Facebook page:
Tulsa has almost 100 miles of trails and many more bikeways. I think the intent of the article was to point out the lack of ‘walkability’ in the city. This primarily has to do with places to walk TO nearby and sidewalks to get there. That’s what we lack.