Bicyclists, runners have large showing of solidarity against new OKC trail rules

A dirt "mountain bike trail" at Bluff Creek Park would be reserved only for bike riders under new parks and rec rules. (KOKH/Jordann Lucero)

Monday, dozens of bike riders, runners and joggers came together at Bluff Creek Park near Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City. They wanted to show their solidarity against a new city park rule that would keep pedestrians off of a natural bike trail.

Bluff Creek Park has a four mile, unpaved trail designed as a mountain biking area.

Oklahoma City Parks and Rec decided, on recommendation from an advisory committee, to make this trail for bikes only.

"This is a bunch of runners and a bunch of bikers that came together, and I don't like how it happened, it was in response to something some committee did, but it did bring us together," Matt Wilcoxen, president of the Oklahoma City Running Club, said.

"We want to encourage all the users who use the trails to be out here. Banning a group is not the way to go about this," Tegan Malone with Oklahoma Earthbike Fellowship said.

Malone said the fellowship partnered with the city to help build and maintain these natural paths. She said the group felt blindsided when they heard about the rule, without an opportunity to give input.

Those who gathered at the park Monday said they would start an email and letter writing campaign in an attempt to get the rule reversed.

"Just didn't like the fact that the parks department wanted to use an action by an advisory committee, that doesn't really have any kind of authority, and to close trails to such a large portion of our population and tax payers," trail runner Mike Sullivan said.

He said he understands the rule was made with safety in mind, saying there have been some incidents between pedestrians and bicyclists on the trails, but he said the solution is teaching about trail etiquette not kicking runners out.

Especially as more people look to keep resolutions aimed at health, they say these trails need to be available to everyone.

"We're here building a community centered around an active lifestyle, getting Oklahoma City residents out," Wilcoxen said. "This is a great city, getting more active."

Representatives with the city of Oklahoma City were not available for comment Monday as city offices were closed to observe the New Year's holiday.

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