The City Council voted Monday in support of a Bicycle Safety Action Plan that will help put Bartlesville on the map as a Bicycle Friendly Community.
According to Community Development Director Lisa Beeman, the plan will assist in the eventual expansion of safe bicycle routes, facilities and education programs to improve safety conditions for bicycling and to realize the significant potential benefits of bicycling in our community.
The plan was initially approved by the Bartlesville Park Board and the Street and Traffic Committee in 2012 and recommended for approval to the City Council by the Bartlesville Transportation Committee based on the results of a meeting held in October 2019.
“While the bicycle has traditionally been thought of as a recreational conveyance, today it has become an acceptable mode of transportation, offering a viable alternative to the auto, particularly for local trips,” Beeman said.
She said that early meetings with the Bartlesville Pedalars, a local bike club, indicated a primary concern is that while the Oklahoma State Law provides a bicyclist all the rights and responsibilities of a motor vehicle operator, including rights to the road, “there is very little awareness of this in our community, especially when it comes to the requirement that a motorist must maintain a minimum of three feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist.”
“Because of the increased interest and use in bicycle transportation, full consideration of their safety and mobility on the roadway system is an integral part of Bartlesville’s community and economic development,” Beeman said. “Bicycling promotes an enhanced quality of life, and as such, it is important to incorporate bicycling into daily life by providing transportation opportunities that are safe and efficient.”
Beeman said that many residents, commuters and visitors are hesitant to participate in bicycling due to existing obstacles, including the lack of bicycle infrastructure, connectivity between existing facilities, clear and consistent signage, and awareness of the safest bicycling routes.
“Additionally, Bartlesville has a dominant car culture and general lack of awareness of laws regarding bicycling for both the bicyclists and motorists,” said said. One of the most effective ways to increase respect for cyclists and encourage cycling is to implement ‘Share the Road’ programs and materials which provide bicycle traffic safety information and enforcement directed at both motorists and cyclists.”
Beeman said that under the Oklahoma law, bicyclists has a basic right to the road — but are also required to follow the same traffic laws as motorists.
“Bicyclists may ride on all Oklahoma roads; however, use of interstate highways by bicycles is discouraged,” she said. “Bicycles are subject to the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles.”
The goals and objectives of the “Share the Road” program are to:
- Improve drivers’ and cyclists’ knowledge and observance of traffic rules as they apply to cycling
- Reduce conflicts and collisions between motorists and cyclists
- Increase respect and courtesy between motorists and cyclists
- Increase understanding of cyclists’ right to use public roads.
The Bicycle Safety Action Plan includes short- and long-term recommendations, some of which require little if any funding to implement, Beeman said. Short-term recommendations include improved signage and directional arrows for existing bike routes. Longer-term recommendations are to consider bicycle traffic in conjunction with future street repair projects.
“The plan is about creating a safer route system for bicyclists through education and these other measures,” Beeman told the council. “It’s not a commitment of any additional funds at this time.”
Beeman said the Community Development Department will continue to seek grants for the signage and other items needed to improve existing bike routes.