The city is planning for more than 200 miles of bike routes, which includes so-called “sharrow” lanes. The word “sharrow” is a combination of “share” and “arrow.” The lanes are designated by pavement markings showing a picture of a bicycle below two arrows.
The bike routes will be added in phases. The first phase includes Eastern Avenue, South Villa Avenue and Interstate 235 and Interstate 35 service roads north of 63rd Street, in addition to downtown streets. In total, the first phase is expected to create 90 miles of bike routes.
Funded by a 2007 general obligation bond, the improvements are expected to cost around $362,000 to install.
“It’s a way to encourage cyclists and notify drivers that this is a prime bicyclist route; you should expect to see bicyclists here,” said Randy Entz, the city’s transportation planner.
While there are no hard data to show exactly how many bicyclists are in Oklahoma City, anecdotal evidence points to a jump in cycling enthusiasts.
“We’re seeing a large increase in cyclists on city streets,” Entz said. “It’s a little bit of everything: It’s higher gas prices, people wanting to be more healthy, a generational change where people are living a more urban lifestyle. And bicycling is part of that.”
Jill DeLozier, marketing director for Downtown Oklahoma City Inc., said her organization, which manages the bikeshare program called Spokies, is seeing the program membership increase. She praised the city for its work on the bike routes and educating drivers and cyclists about safety.
“We are really excited about what the city is doing to encourage bike riding and making it safer for both riders and drivers,” DeLozier said.
Spokies, which launched earlier this year, recently installed a new kiosk in Automobile Alley at N.W. Ninth and Broadway, bringing the total number of kiosks in the downtown area to seven. That translated into about 75 bikes on the street.
The program offers daily, monthly and annual membership, and is seeking more annual members as well as corporate sponsors to expand the number of kiosks.
Membership costs in the program run $5 for one day, $20 for a month and $75 for a year. A 25-percent discount is offered for businesses or groups that purchase a year-long membership for 10 or more people.
For more information, call 235-3500 or visit spokiesokc.com.
Walk this way
Bike routes aren’t the only transportation method the city is hoping to improve, as the City Council last week approved a master plan for the MAPS 3 sidewalk projects.
An earlier plan presented to the Council had been sent back to the subcommittee level after council members expressed concern that so few miles were slated to be built.
During the MAPS 3 campaign, voters were told that about $9 million of the $777 million program would fund around 70 miles of city sidewalks.
The sidewalks master plan sent to city leaders in September, however, included only around 25 miles of sidewalks.
City officials attributed the discrepancy between what was promised and what is planned to the fact that many of the areas selected for sidewalks have driveways, light poles and other infrastructure items that need to be replaced or worked around.
In addition, officials said the MAPS 3 campaign used calculations based on the belief that sidewalks would be 4 feet wide, rather than the required measurement of at least 5 feet.
The master plan was changed little — although it did put the mile-range of sidewalks to be completed between 25 and 35 miles — by the MAPS 3 Trails and Sidewalks Subcommittee before being returned to the MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board. That panel, in turn, sent the plan on to City Council along with a recommendation that more money be found to fund a full 70 miles of sidewalks.
Some council members suggested that the city could use MAPS 3 contingency funds to eventually build more sidewalks, although others cautioned against dipping into that fund so early in the program’s history.
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