Bicycle riders want a share in next Fix Our Streets campaign
BY BRIAN BARBER World Staff Writer
Monday, December 10, 2012
2/15/13 at 2:50 PM
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The city's next Fix Our Streets effort should include funding to improve infrastructure for other modes of travel as well, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee has recommended to the City Council.
Among the group's many goals for the city is to have at least 50 miles of on-street bikeways within five years, create more secure bike parking sites, fund the backlog of sidewalks and launch a campaign to better inform people about bicyclist and pedestrian rights.
The Indian Nations Council of Governments is spearheading a $300,000 regional bicycle and pedestrian master plan that will, in part, help identify the best locations for such infrastructure. That process will begin early next year.
It's hard to say how much of the population is made up of bicyclists, said James Wagner, INCOG transportation projects coordinator, during a presentation to councilors Thursday.
A survey showed those who commute to work each day on their bikes amount to just a fraction of 1 percent, he said, but that doesn't factor in how many pedal for other purposes.
"It also doesn't take into account how many Tulsans would use their bicycles as a primary mode of transportation, if we had the proper infrastructure in place to make that easier," Wagner said.
Committee Chairman Stephen Lassiter told councilors there's wide interest in bicycling but many potential riders are concerned about their safety in sharing the road with motorists.
Where they can go, he said, "depends on their level of bravery."
Lassiter asked the council for help in aligning Tulsa ordinances with state law in dealing with safety issues.
For example, he said, city ordinances should require a motor vehicle to allow at least three feet when passing a bicyclist. Also, the local ordinance related to impeding traffic needs to be altered so it does not apply to bicycles.
"If motorists feel like they have free rein to run over us, that's a problem," Lassiter said.
The benefits of traveling by bicycle and foot are numerous, including improving community health and air quality, he said. Bike lanes also are a recruitment tool for young jobs seekers who see the activity as a great lifestyle option.
Councilor G.T. Bynum said that as councilors and the mayor's administration put together the next Fix Our Streets initiative, they need specific costs to work with. The package is expected to go to city voters next fall.
Bynum said he would ask for city public works officials to put estimates together on bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
"It all sounds great, but until we know how much it all costs we don't know if we can balance it with our other competing needs," he said.
If funding was provided, Bynum said, it would be important not to allocate it in specific areas until the master plan is done to show where it would best be spent.
On-street bikeways can vary in costs, Wagner said, depending on whether it's just a matter of appropriately striping the road or actually widening the road to incorporate bike lanes.
The city has a small section of on-street bike lanes in the University of Tulsa area, but it only amounts to a fraction of a mile.
Councilor Blake Ewing said the advisory committee may have to help councilors make the case to a skeptical public that investing in such infrastructure would not be a waste of taxpayer dollars.
Councilor Jack Henderson agreed, saying that in putting together the next Fix Our Streets package, he will be looking to satisfy the citizens.
"That will be the bottom line," he said. "If they say to us, 'We are more worried about getting the streets fixed than adding bike lanes,' then these goals may not be able to be achieved."
"Your focus should be on trying to convince the masses. That will be a big deal right there."
Original Print Headline: Bicyclists want share of streets
Brian Barber 918-581-8322
Riders Tiffany Ladd and Charlie Hendricks ride through a dangerous intersection at 81st Street and Riverside Parkway near River Spirit Casino in July. In the past weeks, several cyclists have been injured at the intersection. KT KING / Tulsa World