Route 66 News

Panel advances Oklahoma Route 66 bike trail bill

The Oklahoma Legislature’s House Transportation Committee advanced a measure Wednesday that would create an approximate 90-mile “Historic Bike Trail” along Route 66 from Sapulpa to Edmond.

The committee passed House Bill 2049 by a 14-5 margin. It is now on the House floor.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Lewis Moore (R-Arcadia) and co-authored by Sen. Andrew Rice (D-Oklahoma City), would:

The portion of State Highway 66 between the Sapulpa city limits and the Edmond city limits shall be designated as the “Historic Bike Trail”.  The Department of Transportation shall cause suitable permanent markers to be placed upon the highway bearing that name.  Contingent upon the availability of funds, the Department shall provide a shoulder lane designated for use by bicycle traffic on the Historic Bike Trail.

A committee report says the markers would cost from $200 to $2,000 apiece, although the report noted that “most markers include a cost near the lower end of the estimated range.”

The measure, if it becomes law, would go into effect Nov. 1.

With Oklahoma’s deficit estimated at about $400 million because of the recession, lawmakers ordinarily might be reluctant to pass the bill. However, HB2049 includes the crucial passage “contingent upon the availability of funds.” So lawmakers simply could pass the bill into law, with the understanding that the bicycle shoulders be built only when finances improve. So Moore’s sensible language in the bill probably improves the odds of its passage.

UPDATE: In an interview in the print edition of the Tulsa County News today, Moore explained why he wanted a bicycle trail on part of Route 66 in Oklahoma:

“I’ve been into road bikes and mountain bikes since at least 1997 and we don’t have a lot of rails to trails for long distance in this state. […] I live less than a half a mile from Route 66 in Arcadia and I see people from all over, not just from the U.S., who bike or drive the Mother Road. I thought about how great it would be to have a historic trail for people to ride on. As it is now, it is too dangerous unless during a sponsored event with protection for riders. It would be great to improve the whole riding experience so it is safe and not a nerve-wracking time.”

As for why plan a bicycling trail for the area between Sapulpa and Edmond, Moore said if passed, his HB2049 is “just a start. I’d like to see it go all the way to Missouri and New Mexico.”

Moore added that even if the state didn’t immediately have money for the project, he was confident that donations and other funding sources could at least partly cover it.

(Hat tip: Schlegel Bicycles)


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