Sunday, October 19, 2008


Brian Potter accompanied me on part of the Midland Valley Extension yesterday, a multi-use path that more or less parallels the east side of Tulsa's inner dispersal loop. It's difficult to describe this MUP adequately. Superlatives are out of the question. Other words like 'craptastic', 'boondoggle', or 'wasted money' come to mind. This trail runs along the edge of a quiet neighborhood and could have utilized the neighborhood streets as part of the city's on-street bike route program. Instead, cyclists are expected to use this misbegotten glorified sidewalk instead of the street.

There are multiple problems. The biggest are the crossings at arterial streets like 11th. The arterial runs east and west. The trail approaches from the south, parallel to a residential street, yet before reaching the intersection, it veers further left, taking cyclists alongside an overpass. Now, 11th Street is very busy at rush hour. How is a cyclist supposed to cross? Besides all the traffic on the arterial, there's that neighborhood street to his right and slightly behind his shoulder. It would be complicated.

A savvy bicyclist would simply ignore the trail at that point and use the neighborhood street, particularly if there were some cars to run interference for him.

There's also a spot where north-bound cyclists are expected to cross a south bound street at mid block in order to get back on the trail. Granted, the neighborhood streets are normally quiet, but if that's the case, why have a trail at all?

But there was more fun in store. We went east on the 3rd Street bikeway until we reached South Delaware. We turned along Delaware and rode outside the overly narrow bike lane all the way to 11th Street. Surprisingly, the motorists behind us didn't have a problem with this. Maybe they're somehow aware of the debris accumulating in the bike lane or maybe they're saints-in-waiting. The only one who had a problem with our lane position was a university security guard, who in the manner of all such security guards, summoned all his super powers and awesome authority, and ordered us to ride in the bike lane. We said no. He repeated his order, using the Big Boy voice this time. Again, we said no and continued on our way. Nothing in the law requires cyclists to use a bike lane or MUP, yet time and again, we'll meet ill-informed motorists and even law enforcement professionals (though calling a security guard such a professional is a bit of a stretch) who believe that we cannot use the road when there's a bikelane or a trail nearby. And 'nearby' in some instances seems to mean that it's in the same time zone.

Like many of my recent activities, this one was another exercise in multi-tasking - a modern equivalent for 'killing two birds with one stone.' In addition to getting some much-needed exercise, I accompanied my daughter to a seminar. Actually, Dad was there as primary navigator. Brian and I had an opportunity to talk over some advocacy issues, and we even managed to stop by the HUB, a recent addition to Tulsa's bicycling culture run by none other than Ren Barger. Unfortunately, the doors were closed and locked or it would have been a 3-way advocacy discussion.

Eventually, Brian and I were in east Tulsa. He turned south into his neighborhood. I turned north toward Owasso. I had a light cross wind, brilliant sunshine, and an easy spin on the way home. It was the longest ride I've done all year, only about 25 or 30 miles. Yes, I'm such a wimp! My commute is no more than 10 miles one way, so while I'm strong, I just don't have the time for longer rides. Still, it sharpened my appetite for dinner, flank steak that was slow-cooked with spaghetti sauce and onions, and served over egg noodles. Jordan says I'll eat anything with pasta in it. He's probably right.

I was fast asleep by 10PM. Welcome to middle age.

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Blogger jasonk said...

Ed, I can picture you and Potter, riding along with a fat security guard yelling at you. "Get off the road!"


"Get off the ROAD!!"


Wish I had been there. I have ridden that trail, and I like it. Other than the many busy road crossings, and the unusual routes (crossing a bridge, riding a sidewalk, etc). It is a pleasant diversion through some places we don't usually get to go. My brother uses it as a regular part of his commute, and I hear him complain about the traffic. Riding it, I got the feeling that it was designed not so much for cyclists, but walkers and runners.

7:05 AM  
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