The new program provides citizens with a relatively easy ride around downtown Tulsa.
Notice anything different about Downtown Tulsa recently? Good, you don’t need glasses yet. This past July, about 150 bikes were stationed in the area by the non-profit Tulsa Bike Share in partnership with Tulsa Tough. The bikes were provided by This Machine, a public bikeshare program that is meant to “connect people to more places where they live, work, and play in the region,” according to the Tulsa Bike Share website.
While I’ve certainly seen the bikes around town, I haven’t yet had to chance to go for ride. So I (ironically) drove downtown to test one out.
Before I headed out, I downloaded and signed up with the app BCycle, which allows you to locate and reserve bikes and check them out straight from the app. You can also rent them from payment stations around downtown, but those aren’t everywhere. Once I found my ride, I punched the code from the bike’s display into my app and voila: the bike unlocked and was ready to go.
For two bucks, I could ride around for 30 minutes. The bike itself was pretty cute and hipster-ish, covered in Tulsa-themed stickers. It had a basket, an electronic display that showed the time elapsed and miles ridden, a gear shift, handlebar brakes and a solar panel to power it all. The bike also had a motor to assist with hills, but I forgot about it and never tried it out. That would have felt wrong anyway.
Biking around the Tulsa Arts District was fun, if a little strange. There aren’t any bike lanes, so I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be riding on the sidewalks or in the street. I tried biking in the middle as well as on the side of a street lane for a while but quit when the cars around me seemed annoyed. But biking on the sidewalk was also stressful, as there wasn’t enough space for both pedestrians and bikes.
Despite all my confusion, I had a good time. The bike was light, well-made and could make sharp turns with ease. I also felt like I took in Downtown Tulsa in a different way than I normally do, like taking the scenic route of the highway.
I can definitely see how useful these bikes could be, whether you need to get to another part of downtown but don’t want to lose your parking space, or just want to get some exercise. Nonetheless, the program could really benefit from increased educational information so bikers know how they are supposed to use the bikes.
I look forward to the program’s expansion to Cherry Street, the Gathering Place, and Midtown Tulsa.