NORMAN — After 20 years of living in Norman, I have come to a realization: My relationship with biking within the city is analogous to many Normanites’ relationship with God — loving but incredibly fearful. After nearly being run over twice in three days while on my way to class, I concluded that I do not want to meet any sort of maker anytime soon. After discussing this with other cyclists, Normanites and OU students alike, they indicated to me that they would not prefer a premature meeting with their makers as well or any sort of incident that comes close while biking. Thus, we agreed that for the safety of residents and students, the city of Norman needs bike lanes, and at the rate of its 21st century growth, it needs them now.
Given its compact nature, there is no reason why Norman should not be a bike-friendly city. One could have a picnic lunch at Lions Park and feed Duck Pond ducks the leftovers of that lunch in a 10-minute ride (maybe more if the lunch is sitting quite large in your stomach). However, there are no bike lanes on Main. There are no bike lanes on Lindsey. There are no bike lanes on Classen. There are no bike lanes on Robinson. There is one bike lane on Boyd, but it lies in a road-least-traveled no man’s land between East 12th and Classen. Outside of residential areas, there are no north/south streets with bike lanes in the entire city. However, there are streets demarcated with green signs saying “bike route” everywhere in Norman. Unfortunately, they are just that. They do not make anyone safer.
One may ask the question, “Why not just ride on the sidewalk?” The answer is that sidewalks should be a safe place for pedestrians and not zooming bicycles, for which they are the devil incarnate in pavement form. They tend to be poorly maintained, usually at uneven elevations, wind capriciously, end suddenly, and riding upon one will cause a particularly feisty Labrador to chase you and nip at your heels while riding along to the library on Webster, as I have found. Thus, both sidewalks and Labradors on Webster are the devil. Unfortunately, both of these somewhat sour the experience of biking in Norman.