— Accommodate bikes
Alternative transportation is important to a growing community with happy citizens.
Metropolis cities like Portland, Ore., and Minneapolis, Minn., have dedicated many funds and resources to alternative transportation such as implementation of bicycling routes.
Minneapolis and Portland were ranked the most bicycling friendly cities in the U.S. this year by Travel and Leisure magazine. The two cities also consistently rank in the top of cities with the highest quality of life.
A coincidence, I think not. Closer to home, a study in Omaha on recreational trails examined the perceived effects on property values and 64 percent said that trails positively influenced their decision to buy.
Stillwater is a good candidate for bicycle commuting because it covers a small geographic area, has relatively flat terrain, and bicycling commuting can occur almost year round.
My family has called Stillwater home for more than 10 years. I am an alumnus of the Stillwater public school system from my first public educational experience at Will Rogers to my last as a Pioneer at Stillwater high school graduating in 2005.
Some of my favorite memories were born within the boundaries of this town, including walking around Boomer Lake with my dog Fargo to eating at restaurants downtown.
I am proud to call Stillwater my hometown. When it was time for me to think about college, I decided to attend Willamette University in Salem, Ore., to experience something new.
I had a great college experience and graduated this year with a degree in environmental science. I am back in Stillwater for the summer before I start my first career opportunity with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
One hobby that I have found while living in Oregon is, you guessed it, bicycling.
The benefits of bicycling are numerous. The number one reason to bike is that it enhances good health.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 64 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. Obesity has been shown to increase many health risks.
Physical activity through biking can provide health benefits such as controlling high blood pressure, reducing risk for type 2 diabetes, reducing arthritis pain and disability, and preventing osteoporosis and falls.
There are also environmental reasons for bicycling. Cars pollute the air by releasing dangerous chemicals such as nitrous and sulfurous oxide from the exhaust. Bicycling emits no pollution whatsoever.
I have visited friends and family in Stillwater every summer since I have lived Oregon. I cherish these visits to my hometown. However, I am very discouraged by the town’s lack of support for bicycling.
I have tried to bicycle several times already this summer to destinations across the city and it is impossible to do so without feeling in danger because there are virtually no on-street bicycle routes.
The Kameoka, Boomer, Couch Park, Sanborn Lake, Lake Mcmurtry, Teal Ride, Tech Park trails are good bicycling and walking trails but there needs to be more bicycle lanes on downtown streets such as Main and on other busy streets such as Perkins, Sixth, and the Washington strip.
The city should also supply bicycle racks in front of businesses for those people who do bike. It was made abundantly clear to me how unimportant bicycling is to the city of Stillwater when I began to conduct research.
Their last draft on the on-street bicycling plan was conducted in 2007 and as far as I can tell, there has been no follow up on progress since this time.
By committing funds and other resources to bicycling routes in Stillwater the community will greatly benefit. Community members will have better health, less traffic, and cleaner air and streets.
Bicycling routes will also enhance Stillwater’s image as a great place to live.
You can learn more about Stillwater’s transportation enhancement plan at http://stillwater.org/content/2007/per/TIF-draft-Oct2007.pdf. You can contact the transportation administrative office at city hall to show your support for alternative transportation such as biking at (405) 533-8491 or go online at Stillwater.org.