I am a true political cynic, but living in Tulsa is changing that a little bit. I am realizing that on a local level there is true opportunity for normal people like me to have a voice, and the local nature seems to make less room for partisanship and dogma. I recently sent an email copied below to the mayor and council about Fix Our Streets. If you live in Tulsa and want to influence the future of transpiration in Tulsa this is one of your chances by letting council and mayor know your vision for transportation in Tulsa. – Ben
The recent debate over Vison2, and the upcoming debate over Fix Our Streets has caused me to think a lot about what type of city I would like to see Tulsa become.
Any individuals vision for a city could take up pages and be very complicated, so I have been trying to think of a concise way to state my vision. In a broad sense PLANiTulsa fits a lot of what I hope happens in Tulsa in the coming years. While I did not live in Tulsa when that document was create, I appreciate and agree with much of what is in it, and I truly hope that it is implemented. It seems that it would be very easy for PLANiTulsa to become a nice thing Tulsa talked about once and never be truly implemented without strong and continued dedication from city leaders.
Here is the summery of my vision: I want Tulsa to be a place that invests in all people.
If this is true then the decisions we make will be driven by a desire to equip people to reach their full potential. This sounds sort of fluffy and abstract, but it has real consequences, even as we look at something like Fix Our Streets and the transportation planning that goes into it.
If in our transportation planning we do not consider the needs of those who do not have cars (or, to a lesser extent would like to use cars less), we basically make the decision that we are only investing in those that have cars. If you don’t have a car then we will not do what we can to help you reach your full potential. When I read “Council Chairman G.T. Bynum spearheaded the request for the study, saying that it’s unlikely the city will ever have enough funding to make the bus system what it should be.” (http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=334&articleid=20121109_11_A1_CUTLIN980670) it is easy to read “we are unwilling to invest in people who ride the bus.” (In fairness to Counselor Bynum that TW article did not even give a true quote of what he said, much less give the context, so I don’t just take it at face value. Further, the article did not say if he was stating his opinion of reality, or his desires for transportation funding. It is not my intention to imply that he is somehow unsupportive of transportation options in Tulsa).
If we look at our transportation system (streets, sidewalks, trails, bus, taxi, etc) and find that it is hindering, or at the very least not helping, people reach their potential (http://www.tulsaworld.com/opinion/article.aspx?subjectid=61&articleid=20121026_61_A18_Tulsas783853) then we have an opportunity to invest in people.
Lets invest. PLANiTulsa calls for this investment: “Tulsans will have a wide variety of transportation choices. The system will be designed to provide everyone a variety of modes to choose from, including driving, biking, or riding frequent and reliable bus or rail transit”
I don’t understand the specific procedures, politics, etc around Fix Our Streets and other funding issues. But, I do know that now will always be the best time to start investing in the bus system, sidewalks, bike lanes (http://www.benandbethwest.com/2012/05/biking-in-tulsa/), trail systems, trains, trolleys, bus stops (http://www.benandbethwest.com/2012/04/tulsa-transit-a-marketing-problem/), crosswalks, streets, highways, and planning that will be an investment in all people. There are lots of people working to understand these issues (BPAC, Tulsa Hub, Fast Forward Plan, etc), please involve and listen to them as you plan for Fix Our Streets and other transportation needs in Tulsa.
When it comes specifically to Fix Our Streets I would like to see the BPAC SMART Goals implemented, and a true plan and effort made to sufficiently fund our bus system.