See ART BIKE Tulsa 2012 at Mayfest

May 16, 2012 in Bicycling

Riding for Brighter Days

"Riding for Brighter Days" by Jan McKay on display at ART BIKE Tulsa 2012 during Mayfest. (photo: Lassiter)

TULSA – The National MS Society is presenting ART BIKE Tulsa 2012, an installation of colorful, uniquely-designed bicycles transformed by some of Tulsa’s leading artists and high school students to bring awareness to Multiple Sclerosis.

The art bike installation has been on display in the lobby of the Williams Center Towers at One West Third Street since May 9 and will continue to be on display at that location through Mayfest. The exhibit will then move to Tulsa International Airport where it will be on display through September 14 leading up to the Bike MS: The Mother Road Ride, a two-day ride from Tulsa to Oklahoma City along Route 66.

Neon Okie

"Neon Okie" by Kate Johnson on display at ART BIKE Tulsa 2012. (photo: Lassiter)

Hazel Borys: Confessions of a Former Sprawl Addict

March 7, 2012 in Complete Streets

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.

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 →

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

February 17, 2012 in Complete Streets

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

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

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 →