Oklahoma Rails to Trails initiative has been “de-railed” by legislative shenanigans.
Have you ever ridden your bike on a trail that used to be a railroad? There is one such trail in OKC named the Katy Trail. It is fairly short, just 2.5 miles, running from NE 4th and MLK to the Railroad Museum on NE 36th and Grand Blvd. Tulsa has one that is 7 miles long. There is also a Katy trail in Missouri – but it is 237 miles long, and brings in millions of dollars in tourism spending for Missouri. When a state converts unused railroad tracks into bike trails, it is called “Rails to Trails”.
So why does Oklahoma not have more rails to trails facilities? One of the issues that the state law does not promote converting unused rails to become public recreational trails. There is a rule that states when a railroad line is abandoned, the adjacent landowners get to inherit that land. What is needed is a way for a railroad line to be “temporarily” set aside for recreational use, even if that duration is for many years.
This year the state bike club; Oklahoma Bicycling Coalition ( OBC ) decided to do something about changing the state law to make it easier for railroad companies and cities to convert unused rail lines to bike trails. Research was done on the current laws in Oklahoma, and comparing them with other states that have a favorable set of laws for Rails-to-Trails conversions.
The hope would be the creation of a network of rail/trails that would span the state with beautiful, safe and fun trails for citizens and tourists to enjoy.
Cycling advocates worked with Rep. Lewis Moore ( Arcadia, OK ) to draft a bill to implement those changes. Here is a summary:
HB1725 permits railroads to cease operations on a line without abandonment, and allows temporary recreational trail use of the rights-of-way. The bill specifies how the trails will be established and maintained, permitted and prohibited uses, and liability protections for railroads, trail managers, adjacent landowners. A feature of the bill will permit “rails with trails” use if a railroad wishes to allow it.
The bill was introduced to the legislature and began its typical convoluted trip to being approved or denied by the house and senate. During that trip the legislators may tweak the wording to improve its appeal and effectiveness.
However, along the way, that tweaking action resulted in the entire text of the bill to be replaced with an entirely different bill, one that moves the financial responsibility of a train crossing at an intersection from the railroad company to the county or city. So, we have a bill that went from helping cyclists get more bike trails, to a bill that self serves the railroad company at the expense of the citizens of the state.
Does that concern you? Does it concern you enough to send an email to your congressperson with your opinion? If so, here are the links to find the name and email of your representative and senator:
find your representative: http://www.okhouse.gov/index.aspx
find your Senator:http://oksenate.gov/index.aspx
If you want to see the “Before” and “After” text of House Bill 2017-1725, check these links:
Original bill introduced: http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/cf_pdf/2017-18%20INT/hB/HB1725%20INT.PDF
Amended version: http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/cf_pdf/2017-18%20FLR/HFLR/HB1725%20HFLR.PDF
You may feel that your influence is too small to get anything changed, but if everyone that reads this were to contact their representative and senator, there is a good chance that this replacement could be reversed and we would get a solution that serves the citizens of the state.
Welcome Braden Cale - the new Bike/Ped coordinator for ODOT
||The ODOT, Strategic Asset & Performance Management Division is pleased to announce that Braden Cale has been named the Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Coordinator. Please help us welcome Braden to his new role.
Braden Cale was named the Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Coordinator for the Strategic Asset and Performance Management Division in February 2016.
Braden began his career at ODOT in 2013 as a highway and bridge inspector at the Buffalo residency in western Oklahoma, later relocating to central Oklahoma to work for ODOT in the Strategic Asset & Performance Management Division.
Braden grew up in Claremore, OK. After graduating from Oklahoma State University with a Landscape Architecture degree, he and his wife relocated to Denver, Colorado. There he developed his passion for the outdoors and love of the mountain life. In his spare time, he loves to travel, hike and spend time with his family.
He and his wife, Lacey, have one child (Jackson) and live in Edmond, OK.
Bicycle & Pedestrian Program Coordinator
2017 Legislative Bills
Two bicycle related bills (attached) have been introduced by Representative Lewis Moore (Arcadia) in the 2017 Oklahoma Legislative Session.
| HB1724 permits a bicyclist to treat a stop sign as yield, red light as stop. Fundamentally this is similar to the “Idaho Stop” law. It was introduced in the last session, received a “do pass” recommendation from the House Public Safety Committee but never made it to the floor.
Click HERE to see the text in HB1724
|| HB1725 permits railroads to cease operations on a line without abandonment, and allows temporary recreational trail use of the rights-of-way. The bill specifies how the trails will be established and maintained, permitted and prohibited uses, and liability protections for railroads, trail managers, adjacent landowners. A feature of the bill will permit “rails with trails” use if a railroad wishes to allow it.
Click HERE to see the text in HB1725
|HB2191 amends existing state law regarding motorists passing a bicyclist. The minimum safe passing distance is increased to five feet. On multi-lane roads (two or more lanes in each direction) motorists are required to completely change lanes to pass a bicyclist. Fine for colliding with or causing a bicyclist to crash is increased to $1000. Fine for collisions resulting in the death of a bicyclist is increased to $10,000.
Click HERE to see the text in HB2191
You can create your own bill track at http://www.oklegislature.gov/EBillTrack/Logon2.aspx to follow the progress of these bills and be notified of committee meetings and votes.
The first day of the session begins on Monday, February 6th, 2017. Its never too early to make contact with your legislators and let them know what you want!
Try this link to find your representative: http://www.okhouse.gov/FindMyLegislature.aspx?State=OK
And here is the link to find your Senator: http://www.oksenate.gov/FindMyLegislature.aspx
Thanks to Pete Kramer for this great info!
OBS Annual Meeting
Jan. 8th at Pops
ODOT Grant Funds Available
The Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant available through the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. It is open to any community, school district, tribal government, regional transportation authority, transit agency, natural resource or public land agency, or other local or regional entity with responsibility for oversight of transportation or recreational trails program outside of the ACOG and INCOG urbanized boundary. A match of 20% local to 80% federal is required for the project. This year, the funding cap has been increased to $700,000. This grant is available for bicycle and pedestrian facilities, safe routes for non-drivers, conversion of abandoned railway to trail corridors, scenic turnouts and overlooks, outdoor advertising management, historic preservation and rehab of historic transportation facilities, vegetation management, archaeological activities, storm water mitigation, and/or wildlife management.
The application process is all online and NOW OPEN. Please share this information with any community or entity you know of that might be interested in pursuing this opportunity. I am available for any questions you, or the community/entity, might have.
for more details
Welcome new OBC Board Members
The following three persons have been added to the OBC Board.
|Darla Bennett - Muskogee
||Ken Graham - Tulsa
||Trevor Steward -Freewheel
Oklahoma's first Bicycle Friendly Business announced
Congratulations to Allegiance Credit Union for being recognized as the state's first Bicycle Friendly Business. Cyclist Amy Downs is an officer of the credit union and submitted the application for B.F.B. The L.A.B. announced on Dec 10 that Allegiance was awarded the Bronze designation - quite a feat for a first time applier.
OBC Annual All Member Board Meeting – Sunday, December 6th, 2015
Location: 800 W. Sheridan, Suite 400 Oklahoma City, Ok.
Times: 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Agenda items will include: Legislative action update; Bike Tourism Economic Study; ODOT Bike/Ped Advisory Council Update; and other items.
Oklahoma Bike Summit – 2015
What a great summit this year! Most of the presenters were home-grown, speaking on topics that are relevant to bicyclists across Oklahoma. ODOT Deputy Director, Tim Gatz, was the opening speaker. ODOT’s presence alone made attending the summit worthwhile. Tim stuck around all day to respond to audience members’ questions and concerns. State Representative Lewis Moore received OBC’s first Bicycle Advocacy Award. Representative Moore was responsible for establishing two historic bike routes, Route 66 and the Chisholm Trail. He has also been instrumental in bringing the bicycling community and ODOT together, leading to a bike/pedestrian advisory council and full time bike/ped coordinator. And for the finale - a perfect fall day for a bike tour around Stillwater.
Oklahoma Bike Summit
The Oklahoma Bike Summit is rapidly approaching. Have you registered for this premier event being held in Stillwater, November 13th and 14th ? The Summit is bringing together Oklahoma transportation specialists, planners, engineers, advocates and bicyclists to share and discuss best practices for bike safety and planning, health and economic benefits of bike programs, and becoming a bicycle friendly community, university, or business. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is co-hosting the Summit with the Deputy Director Tim Gatz speaking Friday morning. Summit information may be found at: www.okbikesummit.org Don’t forget that OBC members receive a discount on registration fees.
OK Bike Summit scholarships
A generous sponsor has provided 10 scholarships for the Bike Summit
Deadline to submit is Oct 30, the OK Bike Summit board will decide and notify recipients by Nov 5.
Download the PDF file HERE
Update on Bike Service on Heartland Flyer
ODOT Long Range Transportation Plan.
to see the strategies for cycling and pedestrians.
Oklahoma Bicycling Coalition and the 2015 Bike Summit
Perhaps the most exciting news is OBC’s involvement with the 2015 Bicycle Summit. This year we’re a full partner providing substantial funding and personal involvement with the Summit's planning and execution. Focusing on smaller Oklahoma communities, this two day event will highlight success stories and how to achieve success through a more robust bicycling program.
The Summit is being held at the Stillwater Community Center, November 13th and 14th. For the first time, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is helping host. We invite our members, community planners and officials, and all cyclists to attend.
A discount is available for OBC members and early registration. Bike clubs and organizations can get a group admission. You can support the Summit as corporate sponsor or individual donor by visiting Registration at http://www.okbikesummit.org. Any bike related items you might wish to donate toward the silent auction would also be appreciated. All donations are tax deductible!
OBC is a state-wide advocacy and educational organization. As issues emerge in the legislature or local communities, we’re here to educate, promote and at times defend bicyclists’ rights and welfare. Stay tune as we determine and implement our 2015-2016 legislative and governmental goals.
House Bill 1761 - requiring reflecting clothing
It was announced that on Feb. 24th, 2015 that Rep. Enns has withdrawn the bill to require reflective clothing on cyclists. Thanks to all of those that contacted your legislator, your actions made a big impact to preserving cycling in Oklahoma.
Anti-texting bills before Legislature
Perhaps this year will be the year that the State Legislature will pass an anti-texting law. There’s quite a selection to consider as eight laws have been introduced. Governor Mary Fallin supports some form of an anti-texting law as mentioned in her State of the State address. For a short summary of each proposed bill visit Legislative Watch. OBC encourages you to contact your representative on any of the proposals.
Update on Texting While Driving Interim Study
The Oklahoma House Public Safety Committee conducted an Interim Study on Texting While Driving on October 7th, 2014. About a dozen people presented why there should be an anti-texting ban. No one presented that texting should be allowed. The committee seemed acceptable to the facts and evidence. Their questions directly related to texting, internet surfing, and emailing while driving. The committee members did not pursue questions such being distracted by listening to the radio or having conversations with passengers. The Wichita, Kansas Chief of Police testified that crash rates had gone down in his city after an anti-texting law was passed. In the past legislators have brought up studies indicating that the anti-texting ban seemed to have no affect on crash rates.
As the study was a fact finding exercise, the committee did not propose any legislative action. However, just conducting a study is a positive step. Perhaps the 2015 legislature will finally allow Oklahoma to join the ranks of 44 states banning texting while driving.
ODOT Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Council
The ODOT BPAC held it's first meeting Feb. 4, 2015. Click Here for details.
Update: ODOT's Long Range Transportation Plan
ODOT has posted comments received from the June public meetings at http://www.oklongrangeplan.org/
Very thoughtful remarks advocating multi-modal transportation, addressing access and safety. How the input will effect the plan and the budget needed to implement remains unknown. OBC will post additional meeting dates as they become available. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) has initiated the process of developing the 2015-2040 Oklahoma Long Range Transportation Plan. This plan will guide ODOT’s transportation policies for improvements to highways, airport access, rural transit, waterways, rail, and pedestrian and bicyclist travel for the next 25 years. The plan will also address.the state’s goals for safety, accessibility, mobility, freight movement and other economic and quality-of-life concerns. The policy-oriented plan was last updated in 2009-2010 and is required to be reevaluated every five years. Please visit the website at http://www.oklongrangeplan.org/ for more information or to submit comments.
ACOG awards new Transportation Alternatives Funding
||June 11, 2014 - The Association of Central Oklahoma Governments awarded $2.8 million in federal Transportation Alternative fundingfor 6 bike/pedestrian projects today. Project dollars were awarded to Oklahoma City, Midwest City, Norman, and Yukon. Projects range from building newtrails to improving pedestrian crossings.Congratulations to the communities receiving funds!ODOT has approximately $19 million in Transportation Alternative funding for communities outside the Tulsa - OKC Metro.Those dollars have yet to be distributed.
ODOT beginning Long Range Transportation Plan
ODOT has begun meeting with stakeholders and the public to develop a 25 year transportation plan. Stakeholders include members from user groups including bicyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and passenger rail advocates. OBC is representing state-wide cyclists. The plan is scheduled to be completed by April, 2015. Initial public meetings are being held this week in Muskogee, Moore, and Clinton. For additional info visit: http://oklongrangeplan.org/
The League of American Bicyclists publish the Cycling Commuter Report.
to read the report
Percent of travelers commuting by bicycle:
- OKC: 0.2%
- Tulsa: 0.4%
- Portland OR: 6.1%
Stillwater Program makes roads friendlier for pedestrians, cyclists and buses
Stillwater Transportation Director Jason Peek, Bill Scott, Dan Burden and Stillwater City Planner Tom Kootnz listen to Samantha Thomas of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute explain how street design can help traffic flow and encourage walking by making pedestrians feel safer. Burden and Thomas were in Stillwater last week to perform a walking audit of city streets.
April 21, 2014
LAB issues suggestions
for Bicycle Friendly State
April 16, 2014 Statistics on Biking and Walking Released
The Alliance for Biking and Walking has released its 2014 Benchmarking Report on Bicycling and Walking in the United States. Useful information for bike and health advocates, facility and program planning, and educators. Be the first on your block to download: http://bikewalkalliance.org/resources/benchmarking
April 9, 2014 US Bike Route 66 Legislation
A Legislative committee hearing was scheduled for last Wednesday to consider sending SJR13 to the house for a vote. It had already been approved by the Senate last year. At the last minute the bill author ( Rep. Russ ) pulled the bill from consideration, effectively killing it. It is the opinion of ODOT that approving the bill, and thus designating Route 66 as a U.S. Bike Route would have the effect of making it appear to the public that Route 66 is safe for all levels of bike riders. It is agreed that there are sections of Rt. 66 that may be suitable only for highly experienced riders, like those that are making the LA to Chicago tour. Legislative Watch
OKC and Tulsa Recognized inNational Cycling Magazine
National Distracted Driving Month
April is National Distracted Driving Month with several events planned in Oklahoma this week. A recent analysis of accident statistics by the University of Nebraska found cyclists deaths increased 30% from 2005 – 2010 due to distracted drivers.Tulsa event Friday, April 11th.
|Please Don't Pedal and Text