20 April 2016

My Other T-Town: Tulsa

I learned to ride a bike as a kid in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We lived in a quiet, secluded neighborhood with a very low speed limit and plenty of other kids. We rode our bikes in the street, helmetless and carefree.

Clowning on my little sister's bike
Once while sleeping over at a friend's house down the street, we snuck out and biked to the video store, leaving the neighborhood and riding on the narrow shoulder of a few 40mph arterials in the dark. I realize now that the two mile roundtrip was extremely dangerous, but those kinds of bike experiences stuck with me over the years.

I reconnected with some of those biking memories on a recent visit to Tulsa with my family. The arterials are still wide and fast, many without sidewalks or shoulders. We did not see a single bike lane. My wife and I talked with Jason at T-Town Bicycles in South Tulsa, a shop very close to my childhood neighborhood. He said that he often rides to work using the marked Bike Routes that zig zag through the neighborhoods and subdivisions, connecting the large grid of arterials. There's a strong bicycle culture growing in Tulsa, but it's hard to see it through the sea of cars.

T-Town Bicycles is located very close to the Riverparks Trail, a haven for all types of bike riders. Mrs. TBR and I had a chance to ride part of the trail on cruiser bikes that we checked out for free from the Tulsa Townies bike share system.

It's FREE!
Only 2 of the 4 bikes worked.
The 40mph arterial adjacent to the trail has been punched through the field where I played as a kid. Riding through there on the trail as a grown-up was a surreal experience to say the least.

Iconic Landmarks of South Tulsa!
When a bigger bridge across the Arkansas River was built, they converted the old one to bike/ped only.
We ended our trip with a walking tour of downtown Tulsa, where I was surprised to see bike racks used to distinguish shops and business districts. And we found one sharrow painted street! I'm sure there's another one somewhere.


And with the passage of Vision Tulsa, a local ballot initiative to help pay for livability improvements, USA BMX will be relocating to Tulsa and the old baseball stadium will be turned into a world-class bmx arena. This was announced just days after we returned home, so I'm excited to see how this plays into the bike culture movement in T-Town. My other one.

1 comment:

tacomee said...

Thanks for posting again! I've missed your blog.