Tulsa Neighborhoods Take Leap, Approve Bike Lanes for 4th Place

February 29, 2012 in Bicycling, Featured

4th Place Bike Lanes

Cross section depiction of the redesign of 4th Place between Sheridan & Yale with bike lanes. Source: City of Tulsa

TULSA – Bike lanes were approved for 4th Place between Yale and Sheridan by the White City and Glenhaven neighborhoods at a public meeting Tuesday evening. The bike lanes would be the first neighborhood bike lanes in the city and could be in place within a year and a half.

The City of Tulsa conducted the public meeting at Yale Avenue Presbyterian Church in an effort to reach out to the neighborhood and ask the citizens what they wanted their street to look like since the street is being entirely reconstructed as part of the Fix Our Streets program.

City Planner, Theron Warlick, conducted the meeting in an effort to build consensus among the neighborhood residents on the new design for the 40-foot-wide curb-to-curb reconstruction project. Several engineers from the City of Tulsa and District 5 Councilor, Karen Gilbert, were also in attendance.

Theron Warlick

Theron Warlick leads a neighborhood meeting about the 4th Place street redesign. photo: Lassiter

Warlick presented attendees with four street design options. The first option was to simply rebuild the street the same way it is now, a four-lane street. Option A would change the street to a two-lane street with marked parallel parking. Option B, the one the neighborhood ended up selecting, converts the street to a two-lane street with two six-foot bike lanes and parallel parking on one side of the street. Option C involved converting the street to two 14-foot travel lanes and one 12-foot center turn lane, a design usually reserved for business districts.

All street design options include the addition of a sidewalk on one side of the street.

“At one time this was supposed to be an arterial street, just like Yale or Sheridan or 11th Street,” Warlick said, “but it never really panned out that way.”

When I-244 was built in the area, Admiral became the more important street, yet 4th place is still striped like a four-lane arterial even though it carries only 2,900 vehicles a day. Yale Avenue, by comparison, carries 20,000 vehicles a day. The traffic-control-device-free mile-long stretch of 4th Place encourages traffic to cut through the neighborhood, oftentimes much faster than the posted 35 mph speed limit.

“Cars zip up and down there at 60 mph,” said one concerned resident.

The task for residents at Tuesday night’s meeting was to determine how 4th Place could be turned back into a neighborhood street. Warlick began the meeting by asking residents what they liked and didn’t like about 4th Place, sometimes referred to by locals as “Big 4th.”

Many residents believed cars traveled too fast down the street, making the street unsafe for kids crossing on the way to school, edging the front yard, or even parked cars. Read the rest of this entry →

Forty Years Ago, A Warning For Pedestrians

November 16, 2011 in Walking

TULSA – More than 40 years ago, Alan Wakeman warned of the effects of the automobile on pedestrians. Wakeman proposed car-free streets in areas of London that serve primarily as destinations, places where people want to be. Rather than disrupt this space to make way for cars that were just passing through, Wakeman advocated for closing the streets of these destinations to motor vehicle traffic entirely.

Alan Wakeman’s short film “Motor Car Madness”, produced in 1970, comes to Bike Walk Tulsa’s attention via David Hembrow, a U.K.-born Dutch cyclist, whose blog “A view from the cycle path” claims Dutch people cycle more than those in other countries due to the Dutch cycling infrastructure that completely separates bikes and cars.

Circle Saves The Square?

Would pedestrian-only streets work in Tulsa? What would it be like if certain areas of downtown were off-limits to cars? The pedestrian street idea was already tried once in Tulsa with Bartlett Square at the location of 5th and Main, where the Bartlett Fountain now sits boarded up in the middle of a traffic circle as a result of being hit and destroyed multiple times by drunk drivers.

Why was Bartlett Square unsuccessful? Or was it successful? Why was it removed, replaced with a traffic circle and opened back up to motor vehicles? Did the circle save the square? Have sales for merchants in Bartlett “Circle” increased now that motor vehicles can drive through? It would be interesting to know what portion of sales for business owners in that area today come from people on foot or people who drove and parked within the boundaries of the old pedestrian-only square.

Bartlett Square Today The return of motor vehicles has obviously breathed new life into Bartlett Square.

Would pedestrian streets work in an entertainment district like the Blue Dome or the Brady District? How about Cherry Street or Brookside? What about the Pearl District?

What if Tulsa had a true bike share system with stations strategically located next to both parking areas and pedestrian-only streets so people could park on the perimeter of an entertainment district and then walk or ride a bike the last few blocks to their final destination?

Can pedestrian streets be successful in a state like Oklahoma that ranks #1 in the U.S. for adult obesity growth rate? Will Tulsans walk or bike a few blocks if they cannot park at the front door of their destination? Or are Tulsans too far gone in their sedentary lifestyles?

Downtown Banners Spotlight Bicycling

October 21, 2011 in Bicycling

TULSA – Banners are popping up all over lamp posts downtown inviting the public to meet, play, work, live or eat downtown. The banners labeled “Play Downtown” are accompanied by a vector image of a bicyclist zooming along. Posted at the bottom of all the banners is a website link to downtowntulsaok.com.

Banners hanging from lamp posts downtown invite the public to "play downtown" on bicycles.

It is unclear who is behind the banners, but since the banners are placed on the city’s lamp posts, one can surmise that the City of Tulsa is behind the campaign. Although a visit to the  website does not contain any bicycling info per se. At least one picture depicts bicycles “parked” in the Brady District, but there is no mention of anything specifically pertaining how we can play on our bicycles downtown. Perhaps the Find Parking section of the site could highlight the locations of the downtown bike racks that are few and far between and so elusive.

Although not much is mentioned about bicycles on the site, it is encouraging to see this kind of support for bicycling sponsored by the city.