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.