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Oklahoma Route 66 Bike Trail signed into law May 11, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Bicycling, Highways.
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Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin today signed into a bill that creates a 90-mile Historic Route 66 Bike Trail from Sapulpa to Edmond.

House Bill 2049, introduced by Rep. Lewis Moore (R-Arcadia) and co-sponsored by Sen. Andrew Rice (D-Oklahoma City), passed by wide margins in both the House and Senate.

The law goes into effect on Nov. 1, although when the trail will be actually created remains unclear. Building a new bicycle shoulder along Oklahoma Highway 66 is “contingent on funds available.” However, a committee report noted that in the coming years, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation already is planning on shoulder improvements along that stretch of highway.

Moore also said private donations would defray the initial cost of the signs.

Moore, a cycling aficionado, said in an interview he wanted more bicycle trails in Oklahoma, and thought Oklahoma Route 66 would be an ideal spot for one.

UPDATE 5/13/2011: The Associated Press has a story about the new law. The story claims the bicycle trail will go from the Kansas state line to the Texas state line. However, the bill says the Historic Route 66 Bicycle Trail covers only Oklahoma Highway 66, which starts in Vinita and ends in El Reno — a distance of about 200 miles.

UPDATE 5/18/2011: An e-mail from Rep. Lewis Moore clarified that the Historic Route 66 Bike Trail does indeed go from the Kansas state line to the Texas state line. Earlier versions of the bill weren’t that extensive, but he was encouraged to expand its breadth by other legislators.

Moore added that he’d like “an organized, sponsored group ride take on the entire route.  Could be great publicity. I am very excited about what we can do with the trail in the future.”

Comments»

1. Ken "the landrunner" Turmel - May 12, 2011

A proposal of a peddle bicycle trail which would parallel Route 66 a safe distance away from the sometimes narrow roadbed would be a more safe approach rather than considering to build a peddle bicycle lane along, and/or, near the shoulder of an exisiting 65mph highway. The Mother Road in the eastern half of Oklahoma is many times already congested enough as it is, especially during high traffic hours of the day, let alone to add more safety related peddle bicyclists to the flow of exisiting traffic who will have the need to contend with narrow bridges and roadway curves. In all actuality… why should Oklahoma citizens be spending precious tax dollars on such non-recoup projects??? It appears that Mary Fallin and Oklahoma’s legislature proposes to reduce the state’s deficit by cutting state education/schools tax funding, yet wishes to support projects such as building a peddle bicycle lane/path??? Absurd!!! Rather… how about keeping the tax funding at least the same, if not more, for our children’s schools and teachers, while spending what’s left over on Oklahoma’s “past due” bridges and roadway replacements. (Notice I mentioned “replacement” rather than the usual shoddy “patchwork repair” job)! Better pay for teachers… YES! Better schools for our children… YES! Better roadways for Route 66 travelers… YES! Spend some millions on a peddle bicycle lane/path… NO!!!

Ron - May 12, 2011

Ken, you’re caught in a big contradiction if you want “better roadways for Route 66 travelers.” Wouldn’t cyclists who wish to travel the Mother Road be included as Route 66 travelers? If nothing else, you should remember that cyclists hold the same legal right to be on roads as motorists.

2. Rick Martin - May 12, 2011

Also not a big fan of the bike trail. Concerns include damage to old road bed. Oklahoma has the worst Rt 66 signs on the Mother Road. We could really use some good signs at key locations. Happy for cyclists to have bike trails but why not safe ones like the rails to trails projects in other states that make use of unused rail right of ways? In my office we have had 2 cyclist injuries on these bike lanes next to highways. They just are not safe. We want to promote travel on RT66 but also don’t need anyone getting hurt doing it.

Ron - May 12, 2011

Several things I need to address that you brought up, Rick:

— Oklahoma Highway 66 simply doesn’t much have the original roadbed left, if any. It was updated long ago. Original roadbed is at the Ozark Trail alignment and Tank Farm Loop alignments, which are away from Oklahoma Highway 66. Any updates to the shoulders would make no significant difference in the historical integrity of that road.

— Any railbeds near Route 66 already are being used.

— Bicycle lanes are immensely safer than what’s there now. More and more cyclists are doing Route 66 every year. You might as well make it safer for them, than doing nothing.

Western Okie Cyclist - May 16, 2011

Actually Oklahoma has more of the original roadbed than all other states on 66. There is more original road in western OK…. Is not the alignment and the legacy of 66 what is historic… not the concrete itself… either way Ron is right… the historic significance of 66 is not damaged by adding shoulders… shoulders are beneficial to motorists too BTW.

Ron’s third point is SPOT ON. We can’t just do nothing.

3. Western Okie Cyclist - May 16, 2011

It’s unfortunate that there are those against this project. Long-distance bicycle travel is an increasingly popular TRANSPORTATION option…. we are NOT talking about recreation alone. Oklahoma is one of the few states that does not have a state-wide bicycle route system… hell we don’t even have a plan… if we just had signs alone that would be a MAJOR step forward.

Look no further than the economic impacts that long-distance bicycle options have had on small towns across America along the Adventure Cycling Associations routes. They are currently scouting the same alignment on Rt. 66.

I’m afraid that those against such projects are terribly misinformed of the benefits and health impacts this can have on our state. Look at the success Europe is having with the development of EuroVelo… Before you poo poo the plan… get on a bike.

I live in rural western OK and use my bicycle to travel 50 miles round trip to class. Bicycles need to be elevated to that status of real transport rather than a toy.

I love Oklahoma… but it’s time that it’s citizens take note of the DIRE state of health in this state and improve that by all means necessary.

BICYCLE ARE TRAFFIC.

4. Western Okie Cyclist - May 16, 2011

While I’m ranting here is some interesting information form Minnesota…

Aa 2009 study on the Economic Impact of Recreational Trail Use and a 2008 analysis of Minnesota Road Biking. Putting these two reports side-by-side, the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota reports 5,000 jobs and $1 billion in revenue attributed to bicycling.

Minnesotta has two of Adventure Cycling’s routes… Oklahoma, Arkansas, Delaware and Rhode Island are the ONLY states in the lower 48 that are not connected in this system… how sad for us.


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