The Indian Nations Council of Governments launched a program this week that aims to take Tulsa-area bicycle trails to a next level — from neighborhood loops to a regional network.
Announced this week and to be fully implemented by partnering communities over the next two years, the 918 Trails Network program rolls in 12 trail systems totaling more than 100 paved miles. In all, 11 cities in the Tulsa metropolitan area are involved, from Skiatook to Sand Springs, and Tulsa to Broken Arrow and Bixby.
“It’s an underutilized local asset,” said Jane Ziegler, bicycle/pedestrian coordinator for INCOG. “I think a lot of people think about bike trails and they think of River Parks and that’s it ... The problem is a lot of people see our trails as disconnected.”
Branding and signage with the logo, “918: This Trail is Your Trail” — a play on Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” — will help residents and visitors understand what trail they are on and where it lies and not just as a single trail, but as part of a regional network, she said.
“You can go from Skiatook to (Northeastern State University) in Broken Arrow,” she said. “There will be maybe a mile downtown where you are on bicycle infrastructure on the streets but the rest is on trails. A lot of people don’t know that.”
Planning for the initiative began a year ago with about 50 people representing 31 municipal and private interest groups. Two public meetings and multiple stakeholder meetings gave rise to the resulting brand, which in part promotes a trail network that makes traveling across the Tulsa region safer by providing connections away from motorized vehicles for commuters and recreationalists, she said.
Ziegler said the logo and signage leaves space for co-branding with the city or an entity like River Parks so people who are on trails and see the signs can know they have, for example, passed from Sand Springs into Tulsa, but they still are on the 918 network of trails.
“The point of this is to have one regional umbrella brand, but it doesn’t take away from River Parks or city of Tulsa that have their own branding,” she said. “It’s something that lets them know River Parks is also a portion of the 918 trails system.”
Beyond basic navigation, the drive is to provide people with easier and safer bicycle access and an alternative mode of transportation that is safe and healthy, she said.
“Ironically, the process of naming this massive trail system pre-dated the COVID-19 outbreak, but it has become even more timely as Tulsans look for ways to stay healthy while practicing social distancing,” she said.
“The beautiful part about the 918 Trails System is that it connects our region and encourages people to explore, whether it be for recreation or for transportation uses. Trails can connect people from their homes to their place of work or school... There’s a true feeling of pride in having a place where people can reflect on the day or recharge for what lies ahead.”
To view a comprehensive map of 918 Trails go to incog.org/Transportation/transportation_trailguide.html.