Step One: Sign our letter, encourage the Mayor to reconsider his position on the Riverside Sidewalk

Dear Mayor Bartlett:

The undersigned recommend the City of Tulsa build a sidewalk on the east side of Riverside Drive connecting downtown Tulsa via Veterans Park to the entrance of the Gathering Place as proposed by the COT Engineering Services Department.  We cite the following reasons for our recommendation…Click here to download the entire letter.

If you wish to sign the letter, email us here: sidewalk@smartgrowthtulsa.com

Please include your full name and mailing address. Feel free to offer any comments about why you are supporting the sidewalk.  Upon receipt, we will add your name to the letter, and forward your remarks to the Mayor’s office.

These Groups and Organizations have signed the letter :

As of November 19th, the following organizations have signed the letter: TulsaNow, Smart Growth Tulsa, Transit Matters, Pearl District Association, Transportation Advisory Board, Preserve Midtown, Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges, Tulsa Hub, Code for Tulsa, Accessible Transportation (ATC),  Brookside Neighborhood Association, The Tulsa Voice, the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture, Team Soundpony-bicycle racing team,U.S. Green Building Council-Oklahoma Chapter, Tulsa County Wellness Partnership,Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) .

If you are a member or officer of a group, organization or business, authorized to make a commitment and want to sign the letter, please email us indicating your support: administrator@smarthgrowthtulsa.com.  Include the full legal name of your group, your contact information and your position with the organization.

These Public Figures have also signed the letter:

We are also proud to announce the addition of some well-known public figures who have joined us as well, including former Mayor Robert LaFortune, former Mayor Susan Savage, former Mayor Kathy Taylor, Former Mayor Terry Young, State Representative Jeannie McDaniel, former City Councilor Rick Westcott and many other community leaders including Ann Patton, Ashley Farthing, Greg Bledsoe & Marilyn Ihloff, Barbara Bannon, President of Tulsa Hub, Herb Beattie, Jamie Jamieson, Ray Pearcey, Jonathan Belzley, Shawn Schaefer, Director of OU Urban Design Studio, Katie Plohocky, Lori Long, Executive Director of Center For Individuals With Physical Challenges, Pat Treadway, , Stephen Lassiter, Chair of the Transportation Advisory Board, Ted Reeds, member of the TMAPC and Thomas Boxley.

 

Step Two:  Attend the Town Hall Meetings and voice your support

Monday, November 24th at 6:00 PM, Tulsa Garden Center, 2435 S Peoria Ave

Riverside Drive Proposed Sidewalk 1

As reported on the Tulsa World website, Friday morning, November 14th a Town Hall Meeting will be held Nov. 24th to discuss the proposed sidewalk on the east side of Riverside Drive.

It will be hosted by City Councilor Blake Ewing and a representative of the Mayor’s Office. This will be the most important meeting to attend.  Carefully orchestrated by the Mayor’s office to be held at the Garden Center, the meeting is sure to draw many of the neighbors who have been most vocal in their opposition to the sidewalk.

Proponents of the sidewalk will need to show up in numbers to demonstrate that there is community wide support for this much needed public improvement that will serve all of Tulsa.

Monday,  December 1st at 6:00 PM, The Fur Shop, 520 E. 3rd St

Councilor Ewing will host a Dive Bar Town Hall meeting Dec. 1st to discuss the city’s sidewalk policy in general. Dive Bar Town Hall meetings, are held in local restaurants and bars, and are intended to provide an informal environment for Tulsans to discuss topical issues.

Please show up at the Town Hall Meetings:

Nothing makes a bigger impression than a room full of people who take the time to show up and advocate for something they believe in.  This may be our last chance to make a difference and ensure that future generations will benefit from this much needed public improvement  Your mere presence will send a strong message. If you sign up to speak, that will be even better.

This is your formal invitation with some background information:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the risk of sounding redundant, we provide the following information for those who might just be learning about this important public policy decision which will affect all of us for years to come.

Smart Growth Tulsa and TulsaNow invite you join us in supporting the construction of a sidewalk on the east side of Riverside Drive as previously proposed.  You can register your support both individually and as an organization by authorizing us to include your name on the letter attached above, in a show of unity for this important public investment in pedestrian infrastructure.

A Brief History:  Major road improvements have been planned by the City of Tulsa for Riverside Drive in conjunction with the construction of The Gathering Place, Tulsa’s soon to be world-class park, funded by contributions from the private sector.  Consistent with the City’s recently adopted Complete Streets Policy, the COT Engineering Services department included a new sidewalk on the east side of Riverside as part of the improvements, connecting downtown Tulsa to the entrance of the Gathering Place.

During public meetings and discussions during the process, a number of nearby residents opposed the sidewalk for various reasons and took their case to the Mayor, who ultimately decided to delete the sidewalk from the improvement package by executive order.

Here are a few links to media reports which provide some additional insights:

What our letter says is exactly what it means:

The letter is addressed to the Mayor because only he can reverse hisOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA decision.  During the neighborhood meetings the Mayor got an earful from some angry residents who opposed the idea of a new sidewalk.  Unfortunately, he did not hear from many supporters because few outside the area were aware of the proposal or its implications.

We now have a second chance to convince the Mayor that our community overwhelmingly supports the sidewalk. Please note the letter contains no criticism of any individuals or organizations, and offers no political observations or negative overtures of any kind.  Those who agree to sign the letter are merely indicating their support for this well-conceived public improvement based upon logical, sound and compelling reasons.

This is how you can proceed:

We are seeking support from both organizations and individuals.  We respectfully suggest that you share this information with everyone you know who might be interested.  You can indicate your support and sign the letter by emailing us here: sidewalk@smartgrowthtulsa.com

 

Public Safety, Accessibility, Social Justice

Many questions have arisen since our campaign began.  Below, we have tried to answer some of those questions and to provide some personal observations and editorial opinions.  The views expressed below are of the author only and do not necessarily represent those of SGT, our advisory board or any person who signed our letter to the mayor.

Public Safety

Safety issues are now the focus of those opposing the Riverside Drive sidewalk.  No disrespect intended to any individuals or organizations but frankly the safety issue appears to be a smokescreen to divert attention away from their main complaint; “undesirables” will be drawn to the neighborhood and crime will therefore increase.

No evidence or data has been provided to support these claims.  No public safety experts or transportation engineers or designers have been consulted and rendered an opinion affirming opponents’ fears.  It has all been personal speculation and conjecture.  Most of the real data suggests that sidewalks reduce crime and improve public safety.  Google it and satisfy yourself.

We would respectfully suggest to the sidewalk opponents including the mayor and neighborhood residents that they are not really qualified to speak on public safety matters.  That realm is reserved for trained professionals and the City of Tulsa has some of the best in its Engineering Services Department.  Those dedicated public servants designed a spectacular and safe sidewalk with beautiful pedestrian amenities that will provide excellent Gathering Place access to individuals, families with children in strollers, and those who are physically challenged.

One of the complaints has been that the proposed sidewalk is too close to the street and that it is “an accident going to happen.”  Even if the city agreed to erect an unsightly but solid concrete barrier to protect the sidewalk, it’s doubtful the critics would go away.

While not impossible the risk of being hurt or killed while walking on a sidewalk is actually very low. Tulsa has experienced a rise in pedestrian fatalities in recent years, but not on sidewalks.  During the 5 year period ending December 2013, 42 people died due to auto-pedestrian accidents in Tulsa, according to Officer Craig Murray, the Tulsa Police Department’s traffic safety coordinator, now retired.

As far as we know, none of those deaths happened on a sidewalk.  The last Tulsa auto-pedestrian death on a sidewalk or path in memory, happened about 20 years ago.  It was on the trail system on the west side of Riverside Drive that sidewalk opponents want park visitors to use.

The alarming number of pedestrian deaths has more to do with poorly lit and poorly designed streets that provide little in the way of pedestrian safety measures. You are more likely to be a victim by crossing a street than walking on a sidewalk.  You are more likely to be a victim if you are walking in the street because there is no sidewalk.  You are more likely to be a victim if you are walking on an unstable or uneven surface or bar ditch because there is no sidewalk.  You are more likely to be a victim if you are crossing in a poorly marked crosswalk or through a poorly designed intersection.

Sidewalk opponents’ claims that the proposed sidewalk will be a public safety hazard do not square with the facts.  If people want to advocate for pedestrian safety in Tulsa there are literally hundreds of pedestrian infrastructure vacuums, shortcomings and flaws that deserve a high priority; let’s focus on those, like building sidewalks where there are none, and by installing better lighting and improved crosswalk markings.

A year or two ago, when Tulsa adopted its ADA Compliance Transition Plan, the total funding required was estimated at around $100 million and roughly 70% of that was for sidewalks.  The city responded with a plan to catch up over the next 30 years, hardly what you would call a robust commitment.  The thought was apparently to stretch out improvements as long as the justice department would allow without them suing us for non-compliance.  And remember, that is just for arterial streets not collector or residential streets.  We must improve the delivery of well designed pedestrian infrastructure or we will fall further and further behind and be at risk for major penalties and fines.

And finally, when it comes to safety, we must be clear, recreational trails and paths are NOT sidewalks and never will be.  They are designed for completely different purposes.  Recreational trails are for exercise and fitness.  They draw healthy and active joggers and cyclists who often travel in teams at speeds up to 25 or 30 miles per hour.  Trails are not held to ADA standards and they are probably not safe for the seeing and hearing impaired or for those in wheelchairs.  Able bodied seniors and children are much safer on a sidewalk than a recreational trail.

Sidewalks are transportation corridors, just like streets. They link places; they intersect with other sidewalks and they hopefully create a system or a network of pedestrian connectivity.  They are not meant for aggressive recreational exercise or for cyclists.  They can be a healthy alternative to the automobile for short trips, but for many they are often the only option.  A more sustainable future for any community can be achieved by creating a climate favorable to a more balanced mode share between, autos, pedestrians’ cyclists and transit users.

Accessibility

The Riverside Drive sidewalk opponents maintain the Riverparks Trails and the Midland Valley Trail provide acceptable access to The Gathering Place. They point out that the alternative route is “right across the street,” so why build the sidewalk?  The more relevant question is why NOT build the sidewalk. We submit the following observations on why the trail system is not an acceptable option for many if not most.

First, Riverside Drive is not a street; it is a main arterial thoroughfare.  While technically across the street there are few options for getting across without taking your life in your own hands or doubling or even tripling the distance people need to travel before reaching the park entrance.

Using their theory, we could eliminate a lot of sidewalks.  We could eliminate the sidewalks on Boston Avenue because there are sidewalks on Cincinnati Ave.  Would it be any different than suggesting we don’t need a Turner Turnpike, because we have old Route 66.

When it comes to transportation, accessibility typically refers to the ease of reaching destinations. From places that are highly accessible, people can reach many destinations or activities quickly, while people in inaccessible places can access fewer places given the same amount of time.  Accessibility is determined by the degree to which a destination is available to as many people as possible, which would seem to be a goal of the Gathering Place.

When sidewalk opponents talk about accessibility they conveniently forget the concept typically focuses on those with disabilities or special needs and their right of access without being confronted with obstacles and barriers or without being needlessly required to take the long way around.

It is incumbent upon our community to help change the mindset and culture of those who see cyclists, pedestrians, transit users, the vision and hearing impaired and those in wheel chairs as 2nd class citizens.  They are not 2nd class citizens and they deserve infrastructure investments that provide a dignified transportation experience equal to those who travel by automobile.  For the Billions annually spent on roads, streets and highways, the cost of pedestrian amenities is nothing more than chump change, yet we still find ourselves unnecessarily pleading for every dime.

Sidewalks are about connecting people and places and we need to elevate the commitment we make to plan for them and build them.  For far too long, many have considered the needs of pedestrians only as an afterthought.  We need a new paradigm, one that incentivizes and encourages a more active and healthy lifestyle in our community, and one that respects those who face physical challenges.

Let us be brutally honest, the auto-centric mindset and model from previous decades has burdened us with deferred infrastructure maintenance that we will never be able to pay for, nor will our children or grandchildren.  The auto-centric model is failing us, fouling our environment and simply not sustainable.  If you doubt that we suggest you read more about the subject.

This is not just about the ADA and providing for those with physical challenges.  The able bodied park visitor is just as important.  Look around, all over the world people are clamoring for more walkable communities and environments.  Those that travel abroad and visit more densely populated cities in the U.S. “get it.”

We also note that many successful young professionals are electing not to own a car, choosing instead to spend the $10K per year cost on other things like housing, education, travel and entertainment.  Let’s sum it up this way:  mobility, connectivity and accessibility are the keys to a bright economic future and job creation in Tulsa.  If we stick to our adopted plans and invest in a balanced transportation system and appropriately matching land use policies our city can become a juggernaut destined for growth, prosperity and a bright future.  If we allow those with a death grip on the past to hold us back we will be left in a trail of dust.

Social Justice

We typically think of social justice in terms of the distribution of resources and privileges within a society. When society fails to treat all equally well, it undermines unity and the inherent dignity of every human person.

Some neighborhood opponents of the sidewalk have expressed fears that the proposed sidewalk will attract “undesirables” into their neighborhood which will lead to an increase in crime.  The not so subtle implication here is that if you do not own an automobile you are more inclined to commit petty crimes.

They also complain that people from outside the area will park in the neighborhood and use the sidewalk.  One opponent interviewed for a news broadcast questioned where are “these people” going to come from who will be parking in our neighborhood.  Again, the implication suggests an elitist class driven view that certain segments of the community do not belong in their neighborhood and are not entitled to park on a public street in front of their homes. How can we characterize that as anything but a form of discrimination?

Freedom of movement is a constitutional essential and we can promote a just society by challenging injustice and valuing diversity.  No person deserves to be discriminated against, nor their welfare and well-being constrained or prejudiced on the basis of their race, disability, social class or socioeconomic circumstances.

Bringing the community together has been at the core of planning for The Gathering Place.  All Tulsans should be able to share the same advantages and have a right to equitable treatment and the fair allocation of community resources, especially those devoted to providing access to the park.  It really has to do with a basic concept of fairness that treats others as equals in a manner that is not egocentric or selfish.

By building the sidewalk, the community states unequivocally that we promote equality of access, not just to civil liberties, human rights, and opportunities for healthy and fulfilling lives, but a dignified and welcoming invitation to gather in Tulsa’s world-class park and share with others.

 

Thank you for your consideration.  Please direct your questions or inquiries to the contact information listed below.

Bill Leighty, Executive Director
Smart Growth Tulsa
Bill@SmartGrowthTulsa.com
918 605-5529

 

A Sampling of Comments from Those Signing Our Letter

“I would like to sign the letter and I do plan to attend the November 24 meeting. I live in Amarillo and plan to relocate to Tulsa soon for business purposes plus make it my retirement home. I am a native of Oklahoma, a graduate of OSU, lived in Tulsa in the 1980’s and have visited Tulsa consistently since moving away in 1986. I am a founding board member and past president of Share the ROAD! – Panhandle in Amarillo. Thank you for all of your work.” Ken Graham

“Tulsa has such poor public transportation, thank you for campaigning for a walkable Tulsa!” Patty Mandrell

“Yes I positively support the sidewalk from Veterans Park to the Gathering Place. We must provide adequate and appropriate pathways to access this multi-million dollar project that is there for the usage of ALL Tulsans.”  Susan Hammond

“I am strongly in favor of continued efforts toward walkability, bike-ability, and other forms of transit in Tulsa.” Katherine Silvey

“I’d like to sign the letter to support a sidewalk along the east side of Riverside Drive.  Tulsa needs to act with the future in mind.  The younger generation doesn’t want to live in a car centric, closed off community.  This is about young professional attraction and retention.  A community that prioritizes walkability and accessibility will win in the long run. Aaron Miller

“I live in the Maple Ridge neighborhood and believe the sidewalk plan is appropriate. More importantly, the design drawings present a more clear delineation of the start of the neighborhood, which I think discourages through traffic.” Brian Geoffrey Hall

“My husband and I live in the affected neighborhood. We continually lament at the lack of oversight Tulsa has shown through the years by not putting in sidewalks to make this a truly livable and walkable city. We were so excited that The Gathering Place was happening just a few blocks from our condominium which included sidewalks to get us there. Currently, if we want to walk/jog or bike on Riverside we have 3 options, (1) dart across the street at 23rd and Riverside (dangerous), (2) walk over to 21st Street and take the dangerously narrow/close to the cars sidewalk and then nervously try to cross at the light at Boulder with cars not heeding pedestrians and cross over Riverside or (3) walk in the street down Cincinnati to 31st and walk through yards to cross at the light at 31st Street.” Annette and Bob Ellis

“I would like to sign the letter in support of the Riverside Drive Sidewalk. As a disabled person who cannot walk very far, I would be barred from taking the long way around to the Gathering Place.  The sidewalk would make the Gathering Place much more accessible to the disabled.” Jennifer Stowe

“The sidewalk connecting downtown Tulsa to the gathering Place should definitely be constructed regardless of the mayor’s opposition.” John Rosso

“I moved here 8 yrs ago from CA and was shocked at how few sidewalks the city had. The walking/bike trail one has to drive to, or walk in the street, through neighborhoods, to access it.  The city is not “walker” friendly.  It was great to hear that that was changing.  Now, for the Mayor to make an executive decision, when the plans where already drawn and put forth to the residents, is just wrong. “ Lynne Spivak

“A walkable city is critical, and a sidewalk to our best new park is a no-brainier.” Linda Massey

“We live a few blocks away from Veteran’s park and were so excited when the original plans for the Gathering Place, including a safe sidewalk on the east side of Riverside Drive, were initially released. The demands of a few “good ol’ boys” should not outweigh the needs of an entire community.  Thank you.”  Tabatha O’Bar

“I’m a runner and a family guy, the sidewalk is a no brain-er. If you are going to have something this awesome, do it right.”  Mike Armstrong

“Please add my name to the letter for all the reasons noted in the letter, and because there is no good reason to not build this sidewalk. The political motivations for not building the sidewalk and steps taken to remove the sidewalk from the plan are shameful.” Jane Beckwith

“While I have read and concur with the points raised in the petition/letter to Mayor Bartlett by Smart Growth Tulsa, I wish to sign and support it for more personal reasons.  I would expect at least a pedestrian sidewalk along the east side.  Makes sense.  Especially if “old folk,” disabled folk, residents who think more in terms of a stroll than a hike, are included as target users….like me.” Fred Turner

“I wish to sign the petition to leave the sidewalk in place, as designed and approved. I am appalled that the Mayor feels free to wipe it off the plans at his whim.”  Yugonda Clinton

“I absolutely am in favor of sidewalks on both sides of Riverside.  Mayor Bartlett’s citation of “concern for public safety” is absurd, as a well-planned sidewalk, with proper setbacks, will be infinitely safer for pedestrians, than walking along an uneven, unpaved surface.  And, make no mistake; people WILL walk along the east side to get to the Gathering Place.  The mayor’s claim smacks of good old-fashioned cronyism, at its worst.”  Kitty Frame

“Please add me to your letter in support of sidewalks on BOTH sides of Riverside drive. As a resident of Maple Ridge I appreciate the few sidewalks we do have and support any effort to include sidewalks in all new construction.

  1. The Gathering Place is for EVERYONE and should not be subject to the whims of a few.
  2. Sidewalks walkers and cyclists need a place to move without impeding traffic.
  3. Sidewalk pedestrian traffic actually reduces petty crime in neighborhoods due to the increase in visibility of the properties.
  4. Sidewalks are needed in order to tie in the downtown, bike paths and existing trails together. Eliminating the need to cross Riverside multiple times increases the safety factor for users.

I understand that the Mayor’s office acted in response to requests of those immediately impacted however by looking at the overall plan and issues I believe that the sidewalks should receive full support from the city.” James D. (Dan) Simpson

“I grew up in this area, and then moved to New York for nearly a decade before recently moving back.  I feel sidewalks promotes better health, make neighborhoods more attractive to young families in particular and will actually increase land values of the area in the mid to long term. I think it’s a shame our city doesn’t have the walkability of some other cities; there is a lot to be appreciated that isn’t readily seen behind the steering wheel.  Matthew Amberg

“The more pedestrian friendly the better. I don’t know why OK is continually known for being backwards…..maybe because we have to LOBBY for pedestrian routes, where it is common place in other cities.”  Chad Bailey

“As a long time Tulsa area resident, and a lifetime bicyclist, I wholeheartedly support the sidewalk for the East side of Riverside Drive, and would only hope that the Mayor of Tulsa would consider the needs and wishes of the majority of his constituents, not just a vocal minority.  Eliminating the sidewalk seems to me like running backwards, away from further improvement.”  Kirk Brown

“There have been numerous times that I will bring guests into town and show them around, every time they comment about how few sidewalks, buses, and bike lanes Tulsa has. Every time they do, I dream listlessly for my old life in St. Louis. Walking along the river after eating at a local restaurant… And here, that’s just not as viable. The twenty- thirty something’s will reinvest in a community that will invest in them and their lifestyle. This is a major factor. Please consider the life styles of all the area residents before we throw this baby out with the bath water.”  Elizabeth Mayfield

“Mayor Bartlett rationale for eliminating the sidewalk along riverside for “safety” reasons is not consistent with existing walks.  If there is a question of safety, I recommend he look at the sidewalk on the east side of S. Yale from E.97th St. (Sun Meadow) to the East bound Creek Turnpike entrance.  The walk sits right on Yale with a 6″ ledge.”  Al Smith

“Looking at the big picture and the impact of this project, these sidewalks are a small but crucial piece to the completion of this project.” Julie G. Roberts

“As a bicyclist, a pedestrian and a friend to people in wheelchairs, I strongly oppose letting private interests take a priority over the needs of the people of Tulsa. The sidewalk connecting recreational areas is in the best interest of the city and has been recommended by engineers and other planning professionals. I think it’s very short-sighted to let the wishes of a few people who don’t want change stand in the way of improving our town and increasing access to all. I appreciate that there are trees there and that it’s private property, but it will be a very awkward redesign that’s not in the best interest of the majority of citizens.”  Dee Duren

“Please build the sidewalk on the east side of Riverside Drive as initially proposed.  The Gathering Place is for all of Tulsa, for the benefit ALL Tulsans.  We need this place to gather, to bury the prejudices of the past and be inclusive to ALL people, regardless of the color of their skin or economic “class”.  Sidewalks are for the greater good for ALL people.  We have an initiative to provide them for our WHOLE population for the City of Tulsa. Oklahoma City is outpacing us in many areas.  If we want to compete with OKC, we need a livable, walkable city.  Let’s make it happen!”  Tommi Cox-Phipps

“I would like to sign the letter promoting a sidewalk on Riverside drive.  Not only is it a lovely idea, but it would allow greater access to a Gathering Place without having to drive or park a car.  I would enjoy the chance to get to the park on foot rather than driving.  Not only is it greener, but its good exercise.” Emily Richmond

“Forcing pedestrians to run across Riverside Drive to walk a couple of blocks from 21st to the Gathering Place is much, much more dangerous than any sidewalk could ever be. I see pedestrians running across Riverside every day from the neighborhoods to the river path because there are so few safe places to cross the street. What about individuals with physical challenges that are in a wheelchair or cannot dart around the cars to get to the river path and then back again a mere few blocks away? Build the sidewalk!”  Katy Livingston

“I’m a walker and driver in this city. Part of what I love about living in midtown is the many opportunities to experience the city on foot with easy access. I walk to lunch as many days of the week as I can, and want to continue to promote a walkable city for me and my children. It’s really frustrating when as a pedestrian whenever there isn’t adequate infrastructure in place, and priority is only given to cars.”  Greg Tatum

“Has it really come down to needing to beg for space to accommodate alternate modes of transportation?”  “I support this sidewalk because I hate driving in Tulsa. Driving in cities in general is an unpleasant experience. Cities need more cars like a fish needs a bicycle.”  Harrison Parks

“We believe building the infrastructure necessary to support the safety of pedestrians and cyclists is not only a policy worth pursuing but one that is self-evident. Building more sidewalks is a key component to a healthier and happier city – something we support 100%.” – Team Soundpony

“We need to make Tulsa friendlier to pedestrians like other cities.” Laura Mantooth

“I’m signing because accessibility is a huge concern for our city. It’s not walkable Having sidewalks only on one side of the street is NOT an answer for accessibility, especially when there are so few places to cross safely from the west side to the east side of Riverside Drive. I see people every day struggling to get to their bus stops located in grassy areas, their shoes sodden. Or worse, I’ve watched a mother hurry down 31st street on the road, fighting traffic, because there was no sidewalk for her to push her baby’s stroller on. That’s dangerous for our drivers as well as the woman and her child, but she had no other choice, because there was no sidewalk for her to use“ Jennifer Tatum

“I wish to sign the letter asking the mayor to please reconsider and put the sidewalk back on the east side of Riverside.  The Gathering Place will be a tremendous asset for Tulsa and we need to make it easily accessible to all.  It is disingenuous to call it a safety issue.  There are sidewalks next to arterial streets all over Tulsa.  We need more, not less, pedestrian and bicycle pathways.”  Linda Keely

“I am a long time Tulsa resident. I raised my family here. My grandchildren are here. We need those sidewalks so we can be safe. I live in a wheelchair now and I want to go where my grandchildren go but I want us all to go in safety. So the river and its attractions belong to all Tulsans, not just the ones fortunate to have frontage property.” Deborah Cochran

“I support having a walkable city and believe adding this sidewalk adds to the safety of those using the area around Riverside Drive and the Gathering Place. If not added now, I think we will find we have to add it later for safety reasons.” Kelly Jennings

“Sidewalks and walkable neighborhoods add to home values and are the type of neighborhoods that attract and retain young professionals.  We live on the edge of Maple Ridge and the Peoria sidewalk has transformed our neighbored from a closed auto only enclave to a walkable vibrant area.  We actually get to see and know our neighbors and often walk to Church, Brookside and Cherry Street.  This would not be possible without the sidewalk.

Something similar will happen for the Riverside sidewalk.  Use of the bike/jogging trial is an inadequate and unsafe substitute.  It is totally unsuitable for a disabled person who wants to walk to the park.  Someone will also be hurt or killed jay-walking across Riverside.  A person who lives near 26th and Riverside should not have to take a car to safely get to the Gathering Place and the neighborhoods adjacent to the area should be able to use the sidewalk too.  Residents in Maple Ridge must understand that this is an urban park and the suburban concepts of yesteryear will not work for the future.”  Greg Bledsoe & Marilyn Ihloff

“As a longtime resident of downtown and north Tulsa, an upstanding citizen, and an active member of the community, I stand in support of the east side Riverside Drive sidewalk to connect downtown, via the Veteran’s Park corner, to The Gathering Place. This would be the safest and most efficient way for many law abiding residents, including myself, who enjoy physical activity and travel via foot, rollerblade, and bicycle. I disagree wholeheartedly with Mayor Dewey’s “crime hypothesis” regarding the sidewalk. Real criminals don’t need sidewalks. Physically active folks do though, and they shouldn’t have to run across busy roads, or go a mile out of their way, to protect the vanity and fears of Tulsa’s elite.” Erin O’Dowd

“I would like to sign the letter. After a trip to NYC, I was so inspired by the ease of walking everywhere. I walked so many more blocks than I thought I could. When I returned home, I tried to keep it up but with little to no sidewalks; it quickly became apparent that our infrastructure is not there. Sidewalks could lower our health care costs and so much more. BIG fan of sidewalks and neighborhood camaraderie!” Mary Beth Turner

“The mayor will have a difficult time getting the support of Tulsans on larger projects if he doesn’t reverse his decision to eliminate the sidewalk leading to The Gathering Place.  The taxpaying public tends to lose faith in a leader who engages in elitism, to the detriment of the majority.  There are projects in my neighborhood that I don’t like, but change is inevitable.  If safety is truly the issue, then Riverside needs to be re-engineered with safety in mind.” Linda Doering

“Please include my name in your letter to Mayor Bartlett in regards to the proposed sidewalk on Riverside Drive. I grew up in Tulsa, but have lived in other cities as an adult. I am absolutely appalled by Mayor Bartlett’s decision to remove the proposed Riverside Drive sidewalk from the plans, and I am even more appalled that the Mayor even has that kind of power. Sidewalks are an obvious necessity and benefit to any city. Tulsans should not have to convince their city leaders that the city needs sidewalks (for all, everywhere, always), but here we are anyway. Crossing my fingers that Bartlett reverses his decision. To Smart Growth Tulsa: Thank you for organizing this campaign in support of the sidewalk. It is people like you who make me excited about moving back to Tulsa, even if there are still some wacky, backwards-thinking politicians.” Naomi Wagoner

“I’d like to sign the letter.  No-brainer.”  KariAnn Molloy

“I have lived in Tulsa for years but am currently in Norman. I will be moving back to Tulsa in a year and a half. I want to see this improvement when I move back. I lived on 17th and Boston by Veterans Park and having access to riverside using the trail near Cincinnati was extremely helpful and for transportation and exercise. I think the sidewalk would allow further access and walk-ability and not stress another bike/walking access. The more avenues to access the Gathering Place the better!”  Ashley R. Aur

“As a downtown denizen (and avid walker) the proposed sidewalk to the Gathering Place would be integral for obvious personal reasons, not to mention the many practical and forward thinking ones for the city, as a whole.”  Joe O’Shansky

“I moved into the Brookside addition neighborhood for one single reason: walkability. I wanted to take walks with my family, walking in the neighborhood, walking to coffee shops, restaurants, walking to the river, and walking to the new park. Please build that sidewalk!”  Virginie Cochard

“I fully support you in your effort to restore the sidewalk to the plans for the new park. I feel that this is the right decision for all.”

“Tulsa is lagging behind many other cities in the number of sidewalks already. An avid biker & jogger, I already find it difficult to get from my house to the Creek Turnpike trail. To do this, you must walk or bike down Sheridan as there are no sidewalks in most of that stretch. I also use the Riverparks trail & was dumbfounded to learn of the removal of the sidewalk. I emailed the mayor’s action line when it was first announced. I received a letter back from an assistant explaining their reasons why it was removed. I wrote a reply to disagree. I reminded them this park was supposed to be for all citizens and not just a private playground for those in the neighborhood around it. I said if excessive speeding is an issue then the limit should be enforced. I feel those who live nearby are being selfish. They want the new park, they just don’t want others to use it, or so it seems. It seems that the mayor is only considering their feelings about their privacy and property values. The thought that someone would bike or walk from downtown & possibly need to cross Riverside then cross back seems ridiculous! It seems fishy to me, that the mayor would make this change without open discussion from all. Thank you so much for your concern for Tulsa and ALL of its citizens.”  Judy Garmaker

“I am a downtown homeowner in the Riverview neighborhood with 2 school age children.  We utilize the outdoors as much as possible, this sidewalk is a necessity to continue encouraging a healthy lifestyle and an accessible path for the Urban dwellers to reach areas without utilizing a vehicle to go 1 mile.  What a novel concept, our own personal energy.  Please add my name to the letter!”  Nancy Rink

“Please add us as signatories to the letter.  We are longtime residents of Riverview and this sidewalk is not an amenity but a vital link between downtown to our north and River Parks and the Gathering Place to our south.”  Mike and Maurine Thornton

“As a resident of North Maple Ridge I would like to sign the letter. Thank you!” Emily Bolusky

“I would like to sign the letter in support of the Riverside sidewalk.  I live in the Riverview Neighborhood very close to the North end of the proposed sidewalk.  We need this sidewalk.  There are NO safe, accessible places to cross Riverside from my neighborhood.  It is so scary and dangerous to cross Riverside with my 3 children, that we often avoid using Riverparks even though it is only a block from our house.  It doesn’t make sense to have to get in our car and drive one block in order to cross safely and then take up space in a parking lot.  The same applies to a Gathering Place.  If our choices are either risk life & limb, or load into the car and drive a ridiculously short distance just to be safe, then we will likely just avoid the hassle.

Additionally, I would like to address the fears from the neighborhood residents that “outsiders” will park and/or walk through their neighborhood and near their homes.  I would like to remind them that the residents of MY neighborhood are smack between Veterans Park, Riverparks, Council Oak Park, Blue Rose, and Dresser Mansion.  The “Outsiders” (also known as Visitors) who daily make use of our neighborhood streets and sidewalks are nothing to fear.  They are simply members of the community making use of the public amenities offered here and are no threat to us.  The reality is that a Gathering Place IS happening, that neighborhhood IS changing, and denying safe, convenient accessibility to it won’t keep that change from happening and is definitely NOT the best choice.” Renée Y. Faulkenberry

“Thanks for taking time to read my email. I am very excited for the new Gathering Place.  I have great concerns for sidewalk accessibility. I often I travel 5-10 miles in my motorized wheel chair. Many sidewalks are un-even and cracked making them unusable and dangerous, others have utility poles, fire hydrants, street signs, construction signs, bus benches, restaurant tables, chairs and signs, trash cans and other obstructions. Excessive sidewalk detours drain limited battery supply to motorized wheel chairs which limits accessibility to public parks. It, also, makes it extremely dangerous riding in the streets. Another big concern is crossing at crosswalks. The green light and walk signal come on at the same time and traffic immediately turns right while hard to see pedestrians are crossing the street. I hope all the above important concerns will be incorporated into the new plans for the sidewalks and park. Thanks again for taking the time to read my email. Have a great day!”  Betty Fulk, deaf and wheelchair bound sidewalk advocate.

“Though I have supported Dewey Bartlett for mayor the only explanation for his decision to not build the sidewalk on Riverside is that he is doing a favor for a small group of people, some of whom are his friends. He offers no facts to support his claim that the decision is based on safety concerns. The sidewalk should be included in the Gathering Place project.”  John Roberds

“Add my name…That Mayor Bartlett’s cronyism would cause him to override 1.) Tulsa’s Comprehensive Plan developed by thousands of citizens and unanimously approved by the City Council, 2.) the approved Complete Streets program and 3.) the City’s own policy requiring sidewalks on arterial streets when rehabilitated, is OUTRAGEOUS.  This is part of the Gathering Place plan.  We Tulsa citizens want more walkability and more sidewalks.  We are tired of “Good Ole Boys” making decisions to take care of each other instead of making sound strategic decisions benefiting Tulsa’s future.  We must change our ways, and eliminate the rampant Tulsa cronyism, in order to keep our educated and creative young people and help us grow our population more than a tiny fraction! (Read “bigger city budgets” in that last sentence.)  Too many of our citizens are leaving Tulsa because of backwards thinking like this as represented by the Mayor.” Kathy Henry

“When I was District 4 City Councilor, I believe it was due to the leadership of Charles Hardt that the City consistently implemented the policy of providing sidewalks on both sides of arterial streets whether through reconstruction or new construction.   I have frequently traveled about our city by foot and can attest to the inconvenience and danger of trying to walk or run along a street where there is no sidewalk.  A publicly financed right of way should not be limited to convenient use by only those who can afford and are physically able to drive a car.  Thousands of Tulsans cannot easily access private automobile transportation yet are required to pay for our City’s streets.  They and the rest of us deserve to have the ability to walk on both sides of all major streets in our City.” Gary Watts, former City Councilor, District 4

“I wish to be included in the list of those who want the sidewalk built.  I am 67 years old, recently retired and live downtown in Central Park Condos.  I have begun walking to improve my health and to ensure that I will be able to enjoy The Gathering Place for Tulsa with my granddaughters.  I walk safely on sidewalks from my condo to the PAC and to Guthrie Green and the Brady Arts District, and look forward to walking on the new Riverside Drive sidewalk to The Gathering Place for Tulsa.  I believe that the sidewalk design presented from Veterans’ Park to the entrance of The Gathering Place for Tulsa blends in well with the Maple Ridge residences and will be safe for pedestrians and will pose no threats to those who live adjacent to the sidewalk.  If, however, the sidewalk is not built, you will see pedestrians making their own path along that route which would be hazardous so close to the road, especially those with baby strollers.  Those in wheelchairs would not have a chance. In October I attended The Walk to the Future Summit and learned the many advantages to the City to create and maintain safe sidewalks for all pedestrians.”  Diane Jarvi

“I would like to be added to the petition, because I want equal opportunity for all Tulsans to use this beautiful project. I also want the needs of the whole community to take precedence over the wants of a few.” Daniel Thurman

“As a family with a 3- and a 5-year old, who live in midtown Tulsa, we plan to spend considerable amounts of time at the Gathering Place once it opens. Having a sidewalk on the east side of Riverside Drive joining Veteran’s Park and the Gathering Place both makes sense and continues building on the positive momentum of other sidewalks added throughout midtown as roads are rehabilitated. We hope that a small number of families cannot overrule existing city policy and the safety and wellbeing of thousands of midtown Tulsa families. Sidewalks help ensure that families with children feel safe when walking through midtown to take advantage of the growing list of amenities in our beautiful city. My children love walking and riding their bikes around Brookside and the entire family takes advantage of Brookside’s sidewalks and the safety afforded by them. Sidewalks are not dangerous.” The John M. Bury family.

“I am a Maple Ridge resident, live on Woodward Blvd and fully support the sidewalk.  I was born and raised in Tulsa, but have spent the last 18 years in both Washington, DC and Chicago.  One of the things I loved about those cities is the ability to walk around town.  The proposed sidewalks would improve accessibility to the park and would IMPROVE safety.  People are going to park on the side streets no matter what – forcing them to walk through the grass down Riverside drive is irresponsible.  It is also dangerous to ask families with small children or senior citizens to walk down the bike trail.  People are often running or biking down the trail and it would not be safe for families with small children to have to navigate around bikes to get to the park.  Also, people who love to bike down the trail should be able to continue biking without worrying about masses of people!  The fact that a street is busy is exactly why there is a greater need for the sidewalk!” Stephanie Horten

 

 

Join Here and Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Search
Categories
Archives

Related posts

2019 Year in Review
June 23, 2024
2018 Year in Review
June 23, 2024
2017 YEAR IN REVIEW
January 20, 2018
How Hopeful is Tulsa?
November 11, 2017
Downtown Zoning Tools Needed
October 6, 2017
Parking Garage Design Has Pluses and Minuses
September 8, 2017