Sunday, November 19, 2006

About the OBC...

Oklahoma Bicycling Coalition Annual Meeting

OBC currently has about 160 members, comprised of individuals, clubs, and corporate sponsors, but the core group is composed of only a handful. This is fairly common in any small group activity, but there’s always a danger of having that core group burn out. Right now, it appears OBC is at a low ebb.

Appearances can be deceiving. While attendance at meetings is low, the group still has ambitious goals. And as our current president Tina Birch puts it, we still have momentum. There are several initiatives in the works. One involves getting bicycling education into the public school system statewide. Another revolves around legislation that impacts bicyclists. These efforts are important to Oklahoma cyclists though to be honest, they seem to ‘fly under the radar’ most of the time. The unsung heroes in the legislative effort are Pete Cramer and Brian Potter.

Ultimately, education and advocacy efforts have to be local rather than regional, or at least that’s how it appears to be at this stage of development. We need to grow our grassroots, and we’ll do that by supporting local bicycling education with Road1 classes, curricula aimed toward elementary and secondary schools, and simply our presence on the roads as safe, responsible cyclists.

But there’s no mistaking that we need to recruit more members, not simply because of dues and finances, but to expand that local advocacy effort. For instance, we need to develop a summary of local bicycle laws. Now, at first you’d think this would be a simple effort, but in Oklahoma local governments are free to make more restrictive laws than the state version. So it’s entirely possible to have local regulations that restrict or even ban bicycle travel. My town, for instance, has a mandatory sidepath law that requires cyclists to use a bike lane or bike path adjacent to the roadway – despite the fact that no such facilities exist here. Some towns require bicycle licensing. Some require bells. You’d think the bell requirement was silly, unless you were stopped by the local equivalent of Barney Fife and you were slapped with a ticket and court costs for not having one.

Incidents like that are unlikely, to be honest. But it’s all too common to encounter anti-cycling prejudice in some law enforcement officers, and it’s even more prevalent in the general public. Before the meeting yesterday, I talked with a part-time security guard who is a full-time Tulsa police officer. He said that the law required cyclists to ride “as far to the right as possible” and thought that cyclists impeded motor vehicle traffic by their mere presence. But the very first thing he said was a question. “Is Paul Tay part of the group meeting here?”

As it turned out, Paul did show up in full Santa regalia. But the officer said that while Paul rode legally, he tied up traffic by taking up a full lane when pulling his trailer. Somehow, in the officer’s mind, a cyclist who used the full width of a lane just had to be breaking a law. He said that he was concerned for Paul’s safety, but I had the impression that tying up traffic and pissing off motorists was a greater concern.

I don’t agree with Paul’s in-your-face kind of advocacy, but as I’ve said before, I can’t condone police efforts to get him off the road simply because they don’t like what he’s doing. If he hasn’t broken the law, they don’t have a beef. That’s the same standard that should be applied to all of us on the road. If you break the law, expect a ticket.

It’s another matter when the law is ‘selectively enforced’. Another term for that is harassment. If I rode though West Podunk, Oklahoma, and Barney Fife stopped me for not having a bell, I’d be pissed off especially if the enforcement effort was intended to get those pesky cyclists off the streets. So developing a database of local regulations is an important part of the OBC focus. Ultimately, we want uniform state and local laws, and in pursuing that goal, we need to know the present local laws. Anyone can help with this simply be going to the local library and photocopying the local regulations. In Owasso’s case, that amounted to three pages. If you can do that, contact me and I’ll give you a mailing address.

There were other subjects too. Webmaster Jim Beach asked that we all go to the new OBC website ( , hit every link, and get back to him with our likes and dislikes. He really wants the feedback. I looked around on the site briefly yesterday. In my not-at-all-experienced-with-HTML opinion, it looks fine. When it comes to web design and eye-pleasing layout, Jim has attained uber-geek status as far as I’m concerned. (That’s a good thing, Jim!) In case you’re wondering, I changed the link in the sidebar to reflect the new address.

One of the other tools we have is the Oklahoma Bicycle Education Fund. It’s designed to provide some financial underpinnings for our education effort, but in fact, it’s gone largely unused except for some support to the Tulsa Community Cycling Program. I’d like to see this money used for a good cause, and the recommendations for its use should come from the membership. Ideas are always welcome.

In that vein, I’ll repeat something that’s been said before. We have more good ideas than we have hands. We need people who can help with some of the programs and initiatives. It would be nice to have a big budget to play with too, but I won’t hold my breath. OBC really does need some people to help with local efforts.


Blogger Paul Tay said...

Oklahoma Highway Safety Code, 47 O.S. 2001 §1-101 et seq.:
"The municipal governing body may establish ordinances regulations governing the operation of motor vehicles and traffic upon the roads and streets within the municipality in the manner provided by, and not inconsistent with, state law." 11 O.S. 2001 §22-117(A).

I don't appreciate your characterization of my style of bicycle driving as in-your-face. I have done NOTHING more than follow ALL the generally accepted rules of vehicular cycling as espoused by John Forrester, the LCI curriculum, and every other MAJOR bicycle driving. You are blamming the MESSENGER. In the best of possible worlds, Santa doing his vehicular driving thing would be totally IRRELEVANT.

It's LAW ENFORCEMENT that is IGNORANT, selectively enforcing the rules, AND trying to ban bicycles from using the roadways as VEHICLES.

Actually, Santa is doing a MAJOR service for mass education of motorists, Tulsa Police Department, and the media.

Every time Santa rolls is SPECIAL. Motorists will light up the switchboard like Christmas lights. From then on, EVERYONE gets a quickie bike driving lesson.

But, boy howdy, ALL hell must break loose when Santa decides to play the guitar, tunnin' into Steppenwolf's Born To Be Wild on the mp3, no hands on handlebars, rolling with a stiff SOUTH wind, on Memorial between 71st and 41st! All manner of motor vehicles, trucks, cars, semis, harleys, are flying around ALL over the road, going around Santa. And, just at the perfect moment, goin' through a green, hands up, guitar UP, BTBW ends and Danger Zone is on FULL blast. Man, those GOLDEN moments are way too few and far in between.

Even the Fox23 truck got into the act last Friday. But, Santa's under contract to give NO interviews to MSM. They may send written questions to me, and, I'll forward them to Santa. Just keep yer v-cams handy, people. Santa AIN'T done, til the FAT lady sings. And, he hasn't seen any FAT ladies yet. Only silly high skool teeny boopers yelling at the top o' their lungs outta car windows.

9:48 PM  
Blogger Paul Tay said...

Another thing about that database of local ordinances and selective enforcement while rolling through Bugtussle, Oklahoma, cops can bust you, EVEN if you THINK you are obeying the law. It's called punishment by PROCESS.

U.S. Supreme Court allows it. And, it's up to you, the law-abiding, but, pesky and recalcitrant bicycle driver/LCI instructor, to prove the cops WRONG, while sitting in some county clink.

11:55 PM  

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