Transportation Progress in Tulsa People

June 1, 2012 in Complete Streets

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.

Mayor, City Councilor Bike to Work

May 14, 2012 in Bicycling, Featured

Mayor Bartlett and Councilor Steele

Mayor Bartlett (middle) and Councilor Steele (right) ride their bikes to City Hall to kick off Bike to Work Week. (photo: Wagner)

TULSA – Mayor Dewey Bartlett and City Councilor Skip Steele kicked off Bike to Work Week this morning with a bike ride from The Coffee House on Cherry Street to City Hall.

After speaking with media and attendees, the Mayor and First Lady, Councilor Steele and other bicyclists rode their bikes to work, complete with a police bike patrol escort.

Bike rack locations on display

Easels displayed aerial imagery showing the location of bike parking to be installed around Tulsa later this year. (photo: Lassiter)

Bike to Work Week runs from May 14 through May 18 and is part of Tulsa’s celebration of National Bike Month. Monday’s event, hosted by the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG), offered free breakfast pastries, juice and snacks for commuting bicyclists while also providing a glimpse into the location of bicycle racks the city plans to install later this year.

Maps showing the locations of the racks were displayed on easels outside the Coffee House. Several on-street bike corrals will be located on Cherry Street. Bike corrals replace a car parking spot with a series of bike racks that can park 10 bicycles in the space of one car.

Bike to Work Week runs all this week and ends with a celebration on Friday at Joe Momma’s at 112 S. Elgin from 4:30p to 6:30pm. There will be prizes and music and you can enter the Bike Commuter Challenge.

Mayor Bartlett and Councilor Steele

Mayor Bartlett and Councilor Steele are interviewed by Fox 23 at Monday's Bike to Work Week kickoff event. (photo: Lassiter)

Mayor and Councilor on Norfolk

Mayor Bartlett (middle left) and Councilor Steele (middle right) ride on Norfolk Ave south of 11th Street. (photo: Wagner)

Bike to Work

Bike to Work Week kickoff at the Coffee House on Cherry Street, Monday, May 14, 2012. (photo: Lassiter)

Steele ready to go

Councilor Steele and Tulsa Police ready to go. (photo: Lassiter)

Training Wheels Workshop Series Begins Saturday

April 20, 2012 in Bicycling

TULSA – Next month is National Bike-to-Work month and to get ready, a workshop series called “Training Wheels” gets underway Saturday.

The free workshops are designed for “bike newbies” – people of all ages who are interested in bicycle commuting but have questions or need some encouragement.

On-Street Bike Corral

On-street bike parking is coming to Tulsa. Learn more at "Bike Racks Around Town," part of the Training Wheels workshop series. Photo: www.pedbikeimages.org / Heather Bowden

The first class, “Bicycle Basics”, kicks off at 10am, April 21 at the Tulsa Hub, a bicycle non-profit located at 601 W. Third Street in downtown Tulsa. The Tulsa Hub will explain everything you need to know to get started. They’ll go over the benefits of bicycling, how to select a bike and how to prepare for different kinds of rides. There will even be a short fun ride.

“Gear Up”, the second class of the workshop series, will teach the basics of bicycle maintenance. When you’re out on a ride, you need to know how to change a flat. And much of the maintenance needed for a bicycle can be done cheaply by yourself at home. The staff of Tom’s Bicycles on Cherry Street will cover basic bike tunes that can save you money and keep your bike running smooth. This class starts at 2pm on April 29 at Tom’s Bicycles, 1506 E. 15th Street.

The third class in the workshop series, “Road Rules”, will give you confidence to ride on the street. You may not know it, but bicycles actually belong on the street and not the sidewalk. In fact, you can ride legally on any city street in Tulsa. League Certified Instructor James Wagner will teach the rules of the road and put your fears to rest with essential riding techniques that will keep you safe and having fun. Wagner will even take you out on the road for a spin. This class starts at 10am, May 5 at the Brookside Library located at 1207 E 45th PL.

Nearly 100 bicycle racks are coming to downtown and other areas of Tulsa. If you’ve been frustrated by the lack of bicycle parking in Tulsa, come to the fourth workshop called “Bike Racks Around Town”. From 6 to 8:30 am on Monday, May 14, City of Tulsa officials will be on hand at the Coffee House on Cherry Street to explain where the bike racks will be installed and to answer questions. It’s a great way to kick off Bike-to-Work week. Free refreshments and breakfast pastries will be provided.

To cap off the series, there will be a Bike-to-Work day celebration at Joe Momma’s Pizza form 4:30pm to 6:30pm, Friday May 18. There will be music, beer specials, prize drawings, and you’ll have the chance to sign up for the 2012 Bike-to-Work Commuter Challenge.

Andy Clarke to Speak at “Sold-Out” Bicycle-Friendly Workshop in Tulsa

February 28, 2012 in Bicycling

Bicycle-Friendly Community

L-to-R: Andy Clarke, NYC Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Source: bikeleague.org

TULSA – Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists (LAB), is coming to Tulsa on Thursday, March 1, to speak to a capacity crowd for a workshop on how to make your community more bicycle-friendly.

The free workshop “sold out” quickly, which seems to indicate a strong desire in Oklahoma for more bicycle-friendly streets.

Bike-friendly enthusiasts from across northeastern Oklahoma have registered for the workshop, including people from communities like Stillwater, Tahlequah, Pawnee, Muskogee, Collinsville, Broken Arrow, Jenks, Bixby, Owasso and more.

Clarke’s presentation will cover what communities need to do to achieve the League’s bicycle-friendly status by assessing the conditions of bicycling in the community, providing an introduction of the issues affecting bicycle safety and use, creating an informed action plan to improve conditions for bicycling, and encouraging physical activity through bicycling in the community. Clarke will also speak at a similar workshop in Oklahoma City on Friday.

Designed for city engineers, public works directors, city planners, mayors, city councilors and bicycling advocates from around the region, the workshop was developed by the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP) for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as part of their program to implement the National Strategies for Advancing Bicycle Safety.

In addition to Andy Clarke’s presentation, James Wagner, Transportation Projects Coordinator at INCOG, will share his experience on completing the LAB’s bicycle-friendly application and will lead a discussion around local bicycling issues.

Wagner’s efforts in submitting the bicycle-friendly application helped Tulsa earn a bronze-level Bicycle-Friendly Community status in 2009. Tulsa and Norman are currently the only cities in Oklahoma recognized by the League as Bicycle-Friendly Communities.

The workshop will be held from 9am to 1pm, March 1, on the 2nd Floor of Williams Tower II located at Two West Second Street in downtown Tulsa. Bike Walk Tulsa will cover the event, so check back later this week for the story.

You can see Andy Clarke in the CNN Video below about gas prices and bicycling.

Tulsa to Host Bicycle-Friendly Community Workshop

February 15, 2012 in Bicycling

Bicycle Friendly Community

Source: bikeleague.org

TULSA – Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists (LAB), is coming to Tulsa on March 1 to conduct a free workshop on how to make your community more bicycle-friendly.

Clarke will explain how to make your community more bicycle-friendly by assessing the conditions of bicycling in the community, providing an introduction of the issues affecting bicycle safety and use, creating an informed action plan to improve conditions for bicycling, and encouraging physical activity through bicycling in the community.

Designed for city engineers, public works directors, city planners, mayors, city councilors and bicycling advocates from around the region, the workshop was developed by the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP) for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as part of their program to implement the National Strategies for Advancing Bicycle Safety.

In addition to Andy Clarke’s presentation, James Wagner, Transportation Projects Coordinator at INCOG, will share his experience on completing the LAB’s bicycle-friendly application and will lead a discussion around local bicycling issues.

Wagner’s efforts in submitting the bicycle-friendly application helped Tulsa earn a bronze-level Bicycle-Friendly Community status in 2009. Tulsa and Norman are currently the only cities in Oklahoma recognized by the League as Bicycle-Friendly Communities.

The workshop will be held from 9am to 1pm, March 1, on the 2nd Floor of Williams Tower II located at Two West Second Street in downtown Tulsa. Click here for more information and to register for this free workshop.

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

February 15, 2012 in Complete Streets

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

Pilot Program to Provide Tulsa’s First-Ever On-Street Bike Parking

January 10, 2012 in Bicycling, Featured

TULSA – Nearly 100 bicycle racks, including bicycle corrals that will provide the city’s first-ever on-street bike parking, are coming to Tulsa as part of a bike rack pilot program, according to city officials.

The bike racks will be installed in various locations in Tulsa’s downtown, Brady District, Blue Dome District, Pearl District, Kendall-Whittier, Brookside and Cherry Street.

“The plans for the racks are about 95% complete,” says Doug Duke, Senior Traffic Engineer for the City of Tulsa. Duke expects a contract to be awarded sometime in March with installation beginning as early as April. All the racks could be in place as early as June.

Bike Racks in Pilot Program

These bike racks will be installed as part of Tulsa's pilot bike rack program. Image: City of Tulsa

Most of the racks being installed will be “Type A’s”, according to Duke. “They are basically inverted U’s with a logo plate attached.”

Each district or neighborhood will have its own logo displayed on the logo plate of the bike rack.

Yet, one of the most exciting aspects to the pilot program is the addition of on-street bicycle corrals to locations downtown and on Cherry Street. The corrals will create the first on-street bike parking in Tulsa in modern history.

Each bicycle corral will replace an on-street car parking space or other vacant street space with five racks that can fit 10 bikes within the space of one car. Placing the racks in the street ensures pedestrians have room to move on the sidewalk.

The on-street corrals are planned to be installed in front of Caz’s Chowhouse in the Brady District, Joe Momma’s in the Blue Dome District, and TCC’s downtown campus. Five on-street corrals are planned for Cherry Street.

“Installing angled parking [on Cherry Street] created opportunities for on-street rack corrals in hatched-out areas where we didn’t want vehicles parking as they would block visibility of traffic,” said Duke. “Not wanting these areas to go to waste, we thought they would be ideal areas for the corrals, as the bikes and racks would not block views of traffic and would put the racks “front and center” to vehicular traffic.”

In bicycle-friendly cities like Portland, businesses are on waiting lists as long as two years to receive bicycle corrals because they know it means they can have more customers park directly in front of their establishment.

In locations where bike racks cannot be placed in the street, the single Type A racks will be installed on the sidewalk in an orientation parallel to the curb to ensure bicycles don’t encroach upon the expected or normal pedestrian path.

In addition to the regular Type A racks, several locations are set to receive upgraded custom “art” racks in the shape of oil derricks, bison and the city skyline.

The custom art rack upgrades are being funded by the Tulsa Beautification Foundation and the Zarrow Families Foundation. The city has been working with these foundations and the Tulsa Hub to develop the designs and the desired locations.

The pilot bike rack project is a joint effort between the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG) and the City of Tulsa, who recognized the need for bike parking as a result of the Trails Master Plan, according to James Wagner, INCOG’s Transportation Projects Coordinator.

“We conducted webinars and provided “best practice” material from the Association of Pedestrian & Bicycle Professionals to the engineers at the City of Tulsa to identify the best designs used around the country and placement of the racks within the sidewalk space,” said Wagner. “Plans are to provide this same opportunity to other communities in the metro area in future years.”

INCOG allocated $50,000 in federal grant funds for the bike rack program. The funds came from the Federal Highway Administration’s Congestion Mitigation & Air Quality (CMAQ) program designed to encourage alternative transportation.

To learn more about bicycle corrals, check out the Streetfilms video below.

Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee Meeting Tuesday

January 9, 2012 in BPAC

TULSA – The Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) is scheduled to meet at 6pm on Tuesday, January 10 in the Lecture Room at the Central Public Library in downtown Tulsa. The public is welcome to attend.

Tuesday’s meeting will build upon earlier meetings which sought to identify obstacles to biking and walking in the Tulsa metro area. Meeting attendees will begin the process of identifying solutions to the problems identified.

Also on the agenda, James Wagner of INCOG will seek input on the pedestrian and bicycling chapters of INCOG’s Regional Transportation Plan update.

The BPAC was formed in 2011 as part of a joint effort between the Tulsa City Council and the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG) to provide input to the City of Tulsa and surrounding communities on bicycle and pedestrian transportation issues.

Full disclosure: the editor/publisher of Bike Walk Tulsa serves as the Chair of the Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

KRMG Confuses ‘Walkability’ With Trails, Riles Up Listeners

December 9, 2011 in Bicycling, Walking

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!

Joe Kelley

Joe Kelley, News Director and host of The KRMG Morning News (photo: KRMG)

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.

#booyah

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.”

The difference between a walkable neighborhood and a sprawling neighborhood.

Source: WalkScore.com

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:

Claim: Tulsa is 7th Most Artery-Clogging City Due to Lack of Trails

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.”

Read the rest of this entry →

Tulsa’s ‘Fix Our Streets’ Program Does Not Complete Our Streets

December 2, 2011 in Complete Streets

TULSA – City officials have said the Fix Our Streets program is the most substantial investment Tulsa has made in its streets in decades.

And although it is generally more cost-effective to design a street right the first time as opposed to retrofitting it later, the Fix Our Streets program is still almost entirely car-focused with little attempt made to accommodate other road users.

As a result, Tulsa is missing an incredible opportunity to incorporate Complete Streets enhancements, like narrow lanes, bike lanes and sidewalks, to the transportation network in the most cost-effective way and at the appropriate time – which is now, as the streets are being refurbished. Once the streets are ‘fixed’, it is unlikely the city will reinvest in those streets for quite some time, perhaps decades.

Tulsa’s Transportation Advisory Board presented a report to the Tulsa City Council in October that recommends the council adopt a Complete Streets policy ensuring all new street and rehabilitation projects accommodate all road users: mass transit, bicyclists, pedestrians and motor vehicles.

With the massive turnover on the City Council – only two councilors are returning in 2012 – the Transportation Advisory Board plans to present Complete Streets again to the new council. The board hopes action will be taken on a Complete Streets policy when the new council takes office.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is already on board with Complete Streets, recommending the adoption of policy statements that vow to incorporate bicycle and pedestrian facilities in all transportation projects unless exceptional circumstances exist.

From FHWA’s policy statement:

Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be established in new construction and reconstruction projects in all urbanized areas unless one or more of three conditions are met:

  • bicyclists and pedestrians are prohibited by law from using the roadway. In this instance, a greater effort may be necessary to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians elsewhere within the right of way or within the same transportation corridor.
  • the cost of establishing bikeways or walkways would be excessively disproportionate to the need or probable use. Excessively disproportionate is defined as exceeding twenty percent of the cost of the larger transportation project.
  • where sparsity of population or other factors indicate an absence of need. For example, the Portland Pedestrian Guide requires “all construction of new public streets” to include sidewalk improvements on both sides, unless the street is a cul-de-sac with four or fewer dwellings or the street has severe topographic or natural resource constraints.

 

What this means is, in urban areas like Tulsa, unless the city prohibits biking and walking on the road, the city needs to design the street so it is safe and appealing to pursue those activities on the right-of-way.

Currently, Tulsa’s policy is to add a sidewalk on at least one side of the road during street rehabilitation projects. That’s a good start, but asking pedestrians to cross the street twice to reach a destination on the same side of the block falls far short of the goals of a Complete Streets policy.

The best time to add bike lanes is when the paint meets the pavement. And bike lanes, while included in the PlaniTulsa comprehensive plan, are no where to be found on Fix Our Streets projects.

That could change if and when the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG) receives funding for a regional Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan. INCOG is hoping to receive a grant from the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) to fund the creation of the master plan, but there are no guarantees.

Even if funding comes through, the development of a Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan has taken other cities as many as two years to complete. In the meantime, the Fix Our Streets program is set to kick off a fourth phase of projects that continue repaving roads while leaving bicyclists, pedestrians and Complete Streets behind. Read the rest of this entry →