Tulsa, OKC City Councilors to Keynote Bike/Pedestrian Workshop

January 28, 2013 in Bicycling, Complete Streets, Featured, Walking by bikewalkadmin

Blake Ewing (left) and Ed Shadid (right) are scheduled keynote speakers at the Feb. 22 workshop at Tulsa’s City Hall.

Blake Ewing (left) and Ed Shadid (right) are scheduled keynote speakers at the Feb. 22 workshop at Tulsa’s City Hall.

TULSA – District 4 Tulsa City Councilor Blake Ewing and Ward 2 Oklahoma City Councilman Ed Shadid are the scheduled keynote speakers at next month’s free bike/pedestrian federal funding workshop at Tulsa’s City Hall.

Designed for elected officials, government agency staff and bicycle/pedestrian advocates, the Navigating MAP-21 workshop will help attendees develop the knowledge, skills and resources to access untapped or under-utilized federal funding sources at the state, regional and local level to build bicycling and walking infrastructure and programs.

Scheduled for Feb. 22, the Navigating MAP-21 workshop is being facilitated by Advocacy Advance — a partnership between the League of American Bicyclists and the Alliance for Biking & Walking. Funding surface transportation programs at more than $105 billion, MAP-21 is the first long-term transportation authorization enacted by the federal government since 2005. The funds provided by this program can help the City of Tulsa and surrounding communities implement bike lanes, bike trails, sidewalks, safe routes to school, and other bike/pedestrian infrastructure and programs.

Attendees to the workshop will learn about under-utilized funding sources that exist for biking and walking projects and programs, which the region has not yet tapped into; learn the key characteristics, requirements, and opportunities of those sources and best practices from around the country; discuss favorable factors for bicycling and walking investments; understand the important role of elected officials, government agency staff, and advocates in securing this funding; and share knowledge and experiences in the local context, working together to develop a list of local priorities and strategies for funding bicycle and pedestrian projects and programs.

As the City of Tulsa works to renew the Fix Our Streets capital improvement program, Ewing and other councilors — in light of last year’s unanimous council approval of a Complete Streets resolution — have expressed their intent to make any new funding package a more comprehensive transportation package that will include bicycles, pedestrians and transit.

Ewing has been a staunch advocate for urban infill and walkability. Nowhere was that more evident than his vote against last year’s QuikTrip Planned Unit Development application for the expansion of the company’s 11th & Utica location. The PUD sought to close 10th street so the new store and gas pumps could be built across the public right-of-way, breaking up the walkable grid of the neighborhood and violating the neighborhood’s pedestrian-friendly small area plan.

In Oklahoma City, Shadid has been at the forefront of a battle that has been brewing over the new OKC Boulevard slated to replace the old I-40, which was moved to the south last year. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation initially planned long highway-like elevated sections of the boulevard in an effort focused on primarily moving as many cars as possible quickly through downtown Oklahoma City.

Shadid has been leading an effort to change ODOT’s plans and instead make the space vacated by I-40 more walkable, bike-friendly and more suitable to placemaking. In an editorial on the OKC Boulevard last year, Shadid expressed the importance of cities thinking beyond the automobile.

In terms of the design of our city, one principal guides me as much as any other: one gets more of the behavior for which we design. If a city builds more bicycle trails, it will get more bicyclists riding longer distances. If one builds complete streets and sidewalks which facilitate pedestrian activity, the city will see an increase in the number of people walking the estimated 10,000 steps a day which we all need. If the City exhibits tunnel vision and focuses almost exclusively on moving the greatest number of vehicles through limited access points, it will not only get more people driving automobiles through the type of congestion it sets out to solve, but we will limit our economic development potential and the ability to create that which we all so innately crave; the development of community.

Sponsored by Tulsa’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee, the free one-day workshop will be held Feb. 22 in the 10th Floor South Conference Room of Tulsa’s City Hall, located at 175 E. 2nd Street. Those interested in attending can register for the Tulsa workshop at the following link: http://www.advocacyadvance.org/trainings

Transportation Progress in Tulsa People

June 1, 2012 in Complete Streets by bikewalkadmin

TULSA – Seven out of 10 Tulsans spend more than 45% of their income on transportation and housing combined, according to a study by the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG). If you’re looking for ways to get that number down (who isn’t?), you might be interested in an article in the June edition of Tulsa People on the progression toward more transportation options in our city.

Bus, bike and sidewalk

Buses, bicycles and walking can provide Tulsans the ability to reduce their car dependence and save money. (photo: pedbikeimages.org / Dan Burden)

Written by INCOG’s Transportation Projects Coordinator James Wagner, the essay touches on what’s being done to improve bus service, how the city is working toward Complete Streets, and the long-time-in-coming-hopefully-sometime-soon addition of city-installed bike racks around the city.

Back to that statistic on the portion of income Tulsans spend on transportation and housing, Wagner explains the impact transportation costs have on families in the Tulsa area:

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is using this new measure of housing plus transportation cost to determine the relative economic impact of the “drive till you qualify” phenomenon, in which would-be homeowners ventured farther into the suburbs to find houses they could afford, only to pay higher transportation costs.

HUD noticed that transportation costs often outweighed the cost of similar housing closer to work, resulting in a net loss for families trying to keep their housing costs low.

More transportation options in Tulsa can help families save money. A city focused solely on the automobile — a mode of transportation that, per vehicle, can cost as much as $8,000 – $10,000 per year to own and operate — is not serving the needs of families who are looking for ways to reduce that 45% statistic. Better transportation options will provide Tulsa families the opportunity to choose the right mode of transportation to fit their budget.

Gil Penalosa Inspires Dallas City Council with 8 to 80 Cities

April 13, 2012 in Complete Streets by bikewalkadmin

DALLAS – Gil Penalosa of 8 to 80 Cities gave an inspiring presentation to the Dallas City Council earlier this week bringing the message that cities should be prioritized first for pedestrians, second for bicycles, third for transit and automobiles last.

Dallas Morning News reporter Rudolph Bush found Penalosa’s presentation “riveting” while Jim Schutze described it as “awe-inspiring“. You can view Penalosa’s talk with the Dallas City Council above. It’s a long-form version of the presentation he gave in his TEDx talk in Australia last year.

Tulsa could stand to benefit from a presentation like Penalosa’s to inspire local leaders to find the political will to become champions for active transportation and design our cities and streets for people instead of only for cars.

Hazel Borys: Confessions of a Former Sprawl Addict

March 7, 2012 in Complete Streets by bikewalkadmin

MANITOBA – North Americans spend more hours in their cars than anyone else on earth. Laws that separate where we live from where we work, learn and shop contribute to this fact. We insist that we have big, fast roads to get us between all these places.

In the above TEDxManitoba talk, Hazel Borys explains how the form of the built environment can foster autonomy among kids, parents, and the elderly. Bikeable and walkable neighborhoods are incredibly important to ensure active and healthy communities and to maintain our independence as we age.

Rep. John Sullivan’s Town Hall Opportunity to Voice Concerns on House Transportation Bill

February 17, 2012 in Complete Streets by bikewalkadmin

U.S. Rep. John Sullivan

U.S. Rep. John Sullivan Source: U.S. Government / Wikimedia Commons

BIXBY – In a mass email sent Friday, Rep. John Sullivan announced he will hold a town hall meeting in Bixby on Feb. 22.

The meeting will be held at 6pm at the Rivercrest Event Center located at 13329 S. Memorial Dr.

Sullivan’s town hall presents an excellent opportunity for constituents to make their views known on the House transportation bill, HR-7, that would completely eliminate dedicated funding for bicycle/pedestrian projects, dedicated funding for mass transit, and the Safe Routes to School program.

“Town hall meetings like this give me a great opportunity to hear directly from you, my constituents,” said Sullivan in the email. “So many of the best ideas come from you and I want to give you all a chance to have your voices heard.”

Those who attend the meeting will have the opportunity to encourage Sullivan to vote no on HR-7 or support the bipartisan Petri (pronounced pea-TRY) Amendment that would preserve dedicated funding for activities that previously qualified for federal funding under Transportation Enhancements (TE) and Safe Routes to School (SRTS).

The Petri Amendment consolidates TE and SRTS into the Transportation Improvement Program and would ensure that local governments — cities and counties — would have an opportunity to weigh in on transportation decisions. Cities like Bixby and Tulsa could use the money to improve biking and walking in their communities if they choose.

Petri’s previous amendment to HR-7 that aimed to restore dedicated funding to bike/ped programs failed by only two votes. Sullivan could be a key swing vote to put Petri’s new amendment over the top. This go around, Petri’s amendment focuses on ensuring local governments have a voice in decisions on how to use the funds.

The way the bill is currently written, funding for bike-pedestrian programs would no longer be required to be used on bike-ped projects, and the money would be given to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, whose core competency is building highways. It is unlikely ODOT would decide to spend the money on bike-ped projects in such a scenario.

The amendment’s original cosponsors include Representatives Petri, Johnson, Lipinski, LaTourette, Blumenauer, and E. B. Johnson.

Tulsa Could Gain More Control of Bike-Ped Funding in Senate Amendment

February 15, 2012 in Complete Streets by bikewalkadmin

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bipartisan Senate transportation bill amendment introduced by Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin and Mississippi Republican Thad Cochran would shift control of bicycle & pedestrian funding from state DOTs to local governments.

In Oklahoma, the way the bill is currently written, bike-ped funding would be directed toward the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT).  Because the money is not required to be spent on bicycle & pedestrian related projects, ODOT would likely direct the funding to their core competency, which is building highways.

Sen. James Inhofe

Sen. James Inhofe speaks at November hearing on transportation reauthorization bill. (photo: U.S. Senate webcast)

In November, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe declared all bike-ped funding in Oklahoma would be diverted to “unfunded mandates.”

The Cardin-Cochran amendment, however, would take a portion of “Additional Activities” funds – the funds eligible for biking and walking projects – out of ODOT’s hands and give it to local Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) such as the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG). INCOG is a voluntary association of local and tribal governments in the Tulsa metropolitan area that provides a variety of services, including transportation planning.

As Streetsblog points out, the amendment would not restore dedicated funding for bicycling and walking, but it would give local governments the opportunity to prove Inhofe wrong when he said Oklahoma would prefer to not spend any money on biking and walking.

Caron Whitaker of America Bikes says that many places in Inhofe’s home state would invest in safer streets, if given the resources. “Let’s see what Oklahoma City wants to do,” she said. “Let’s see what Tulsa wants to do. Both of them have invested significantly in biking and walking.”

According to America Bikes, if local mayors and governments do not request the funds for biking and walking or other “Additional Activities”, states can then direct those funds to other purposes, like highways or “unfunded mandates.”

Cardin-Cochran Amendment Summary

Source: AmericaBikes.org

Complete Streets Resolution Approved Unanimously by Tulsa City Council

February 3, 2012 in Complete Streets by bikewalkadmin

PDF File: Complete Streets Resolution Approved by City Council

TULSA – The Tulsa City Council unanimously passed a Complete Streets resolution at Thursday night’s meeting.

The resolution directs city staff to design, plan and operate streets to “provide for a balanced, responsible, and equitable way to accommodate all users including pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit riders, freight providers, emergency responders and motorists.”

The resolution also directs city staff to develop a Complete Streets Policy Guide and attend training to stay educated on the latest and best practices.

Councilor Blake Ewing explained his support for Complete Streets by highlighting its context-sensitive nature.

“What might be really appropriate in the TU area might be wildly inappropriate in South Tulsa,” said Ewing.

“We’ve oftentimes, in planning our streets, had kind of a one-size-fits-all kind of approach”, said Ewing. “I think this is fixing something, in fact, that may have been broken.”

Councilor Phil Lakin expressed excitement for the resolution because “when we do have widening projects, we will be able to add sidewalks at the same time as the streets are being widened, which is a much more efficient use of our contractors.”

Lakin added, “then we can get our kids from the neighborhoods to the schools.”

Councilor G.T. Bynum said Complete Streets was about expanding transportation options.

“Right now, everything we do related to transportation is focused on cars,” said Bynum. “And yet, there are other options out there that might be more appropriate in different areas to allow people to get around.”

Complete Streets on Council Agenda Tonight

February 2, 2012 in Complete Streets by bikewalkadmin

TULSA – The City Council is set to discuss Complete Streets at tonight’s 6pm meeting.

The city’s Engineering Services Department and Planning Department presented modifications to a proposed Complete Streets resolution to the City Council in Tuesday’s Public Works Committee meeting.

The modified resolution is scheduled to be read at Thursday’s City Council meeting. At that point, councilors can suggest changes to the language of the resolution, vote on the resolution, or kick it back to a committee meeting.

The original Complete Streets resolution, submitted by the Transportation Advisory Board in December, directs the city to plan and design future street projects to accommodate “pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit riders of all ages and abilities, amongst vehicular traffic.”

House Transportation Bill Would Eliminate Dedicated Bike/Ped Funding

January 31, 2012 in Complete Streets by bikewalkadmin

Congressman John Mica (R-FL) photo: U.S. Government

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman John Mica (R-FL) announced the introduction of the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act that will eliminate dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects. The League of American Bicyclists has sent out an email asking supporters of bike/ped projects to contact their representatives:

The proposed bill eliminates dedicated funding for bicycling and walking as we feared, and it goes much further and systematically removes bicycling from the Federal transportation program. It basically eliminates our status and standing in the planning and design of our transportation system — a massive step backwards for individuals, communities and our nation. It’s a step back to a 1950s highway- and auto-only program that makes no sense in the 21st century.

The bill reverses 20 years of progress by:

  • destroying Transportation Enhancements by making it optional;
  • repealing the Safe Routes to School program, reversing years of progress in creating safe ways for kids to walk and ride bicycles to school;
  • allowing states to build bridges without safe access for pedestrians and bicycles;
  • eliminating bicycle and pedestrian coordinators in state DOTs; and
  • eliminating language that insures that rumble strips “do not adversely affect the safety or mobility of bicyclists, pedestrians or the disabled.”

On Thursday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee will mark-up the bill and Representatives Petri (R-WI) and Johnson (R-IL) will sponsor an amendment that restores dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School. Representatives Petri and Johnson can only be successful if everyone with a stake in safe sidewalks, crosswalks, and bikeways contacts their representative today.


Complete Streets Resolution Modifications Presented to City Council

January 31, 2012 in Complete Streets by bikewalkadmin

UPDATE: Bike Walk Tulsa has obtained the revised draft of the Complete Streets resolution discussed in today’s meeting:
Staff Revised RESOLUTION for Complete Streets
Transportation Advisory Board’s Original Complete Streets Resolution

TULSA – The City of Tulsa’s Engineering Department and Planning Department presented modifications to a proposed Complete Streets resolution to the City Council in Tuesday’s Public Works Committee meeting.

The modified resolution is scheduled to be read at Thursday’s City Council meeting. At that point, councilors can suggest changes to the language of the resolution.

The original Complete Streets resolution, submitted by the Transportation Advisory Board in December, directs the city to plan and design future street projects to accommodate “pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit riders of all ages and abilities, amongst vehicular traffic.”

Councilor G.T. Bynum questioned Planning Director, Dawn Warrick, and Engineering Services Director, Paul Zachary, about a number of paragraphs that were deleted from the original document.

“We went through and cut out what we believe is somewhat repetition. Some of the comments referenced what other people are doing, which didn’t really have anything to do with the subject of Complete Streets,” said Zachary.

“What we read when we saw the [Transportation Advisory Board's] version of it, it was a combination of a resolution and, I want to say, almost a white paper. It almost defined what Complete Streets were at some length.”

Zachary later went on to say, “we thought we were streamlining it without taking apart or diminishing the intent of the resolution.”

Warrick said implementation of Complete Streets would be a joint effort between engineering staff and planning staff. Short of explicitly naming specific departments, the names of which change under reorganizations, the resolution charges “city staff” with the responsibility for implementation.

Councilor Bynum, desiring clarification, requested an updated draft to indicate specifically who would be responsible for implementing the resolution.

Warrick proposed language such as “those staff responsible for implementation of [the comprehensive plan] and for design and implementation of street projects.”

Councilor Blake Ewing raised concerns over the language of the resolution that stated Complete Streets would be implemented “when possible.”

“What I don’t want to have happen is that we do this great plan, and then that one line becomes a vehicle at some point in the future for someone to say, ‘well, the resolution said only when possible,’” said Ewing.

Councilor Bynum suggested the planning department report back to the council quarterly with progress on implementation of the comprehensive plan.

“We don’t want this to be something that gets passed and then you never hear about again,” said Bynum.