Friday, January 18, 2008

INCOG Bicycling Advisory Group Meeting

"We're gettin' the band back together, man."

Yesterday, we had the first meeting of the new Indian Nations Council of Governments bicycle advisory group. Since this was the preliminary meeting, it included introductions and a brief discussion of goals and brought us up to date about on-going projects. This group may be meeting once a month, so there should be more to report shortly.


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Ed Wagner

Monica Barczak

Josh Gifford

David Darcey

Chris Zenthoefer (not present)

Tom Brown

Lisa Frankenberger

Patrick Fox

Mark Brown (not present)

Glen Sams (not present)

The Big Picture

The subcommittee is composed of people with diverse backgrounds in cycling. There are current and former racers, tourists, and commuters representing a variety of occupations.

We share a common goal – to get more people on their bikes in the Tulsa region – and we realize that the vast majority of existing cyclists are recreational riders rather than transportation cyclists. However, it's critical to recognize the impact of infrastructure, particularly traffic lights and bridges, when it comes to transportation riders. For a recreational cyclist, a road or bridge closure is a nuisance, but easily avoided. For a transportation cyclist, it can represent a major problem if it prevents riding to a destination like work. As the plan evolves, it must encompass the needs of all cyclists.

Naturally, we embrace the traditional five E's of bicycling advocacy: Education, Engineering, Enforcement, Encouragement, and Evaluation. We support the development of a comprehensive master bicycling plan, that includes elements from Complete Streets and Safe Routes to School.

The Nagging Little Details

It's easy to get bogged down in discussions about plan details. A perfect illustration: Patrick showed the group one of Portland's blue bike boxes, and we were sidetracked for a few minutes talking about it. Anyone familiar with the email advocacy groups will be aware of what I've called how-many-bicycling-advocates-can-dance-on-the-head-of-a-pin arguments. The people involved care passionately about their positions, but to the vast majority of readers, the discussion is a waste of time. Unfortunately, I'm one of those people who bite hard on such arguments.

(As an aside, be aware that I use the word 'argument' in its primary definition, a reasoned discussion. If I want the other kind of argument, the knock-down-drag-out kind, I need only say the wrong thing to my spouse.)

Monica yanked us back from that fruitless pursuit and I thanked her for it. For the present, we need to focus on that big picture up above and use it to set our goals, then develop a plan to reach those goals. The plan is a series of steps, some interlinked and some independent, almost like a road map. And the nagging little details are the individual steps necessary to achieve those goals.

Some of those steps may include:

Public service announcements modeling safe and proper bicycle use, both from a cyclist's viewpoint and that of a motorist.

Funding for BikeEd in an effort to reach school children, adult cyclists, and motorists.

Include knowledgeable cyclists in street planning as a normal part of the process.

Efforts to change building codes to incorporate bicycle parking.

Encouraging employers to promote bicycle commuting.

Promoting Bike To Work events.

Comprehensive Bicycling Master Plan, a larger document that includes the Trails Master Plan and much more.

Most of that list is nothing new, but they are popular efforts that have met with some success. As always, the devil is in the details. Another way to phrase that is the large print giveth and the small print taketh away. A plan can have glowing, laudable goals, yet if it lacks supporting details, it will never come to fruition.

Trail Projects and Updates

The locally infamous 'FEMA' bridge project over Little Haikey Creek should start moving dirt this month. The bridge was backordered. It's a pre-fabricated construction.

The Mingo Valley Trail is in negotiations with ODOT over bridge placement at 71st Street.

The Osage Prairie Trail Extension is looking for funding to continue trail construction north of Skiatook. Ultimately, the plan is to extend it to Barnsdahl, or if possible, Pawhuska.

The River Park Trail will be re-located west of the Creek Nation Casino, possibly funded by the Creek Nation. An astounding information tidbit – the new dual trail costs $290 per linear foot!

2007 Enhancement Grant Awards

South River Parks Extension

Fry Ditch Creek Trail (Bixby)

Mingo Valley (Admiral to I-244)

Osage Trail Trailhead (Skiatook)

Sand Springs, Visual Detection

A word about Sand Springs – the city is looking to attain LAB Bicycle Friendly City status.

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