City, state leaders unveil first U.S. Bike Route 66 sign
On Tuesday, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell and Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz held a press conference to unveil the first road sign dedicating a stretch of the historic Route 66 in Oklahoma as welcome to cyclists. The ceremony was held next to Buck Atom's Cosmic Curios along the Route.
Gatz praised the work of the local advocates who pushed for the route to become bike-friendly, as well as the city itself.
“I want to take the opportunity first to brag on the city of Tulsa for what has happened right out here on Route 66 and the way they have taken a multi-modal approach to accommodate all forms of transportation,” Gatz said.
Bynum spoke to the progress made for small businesses along the route, like Buck Atom’s.
"This is one spot that's a great example of how small business owners in Tulsa all along this stretch of the Mother Road are investing in the community and creating an attraction for people from all around the world," Bynum said.
Rhys Martin, president of the Oklahoma Route 66 Association, said after the press conference that it’s not just about tourism: the new designation will go a long way to improving biker safety.
"Having Route 66 designated as a U.S. Bike Route not only helps encourage that kind of travel on Route 66, but also encourages safety for those travelers that are already using bicycles to explore the Mother Road throughout Oklahoma and the rest of the United States," Martin said.
The Mother Road crosses through a significant portion of sovereign Native country. Pinnell said the cooperation of Native nations like the Cherokee have been essential to improving the state of the road.
"We have more miles of Route 66 than any other state in the country and a lot of those miles are in sovereign land," Pinnell said. "The Cherokee Nation possibly may have the most miles of Route 66 of any Indian nation in Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation is actively involved working with our Oklahoma Department of Tourism when it comes to Route 66 projects. So, a rising tide lifts all boats."
The dedication ceremony is part of an effort to uplift the historic Route in advance of the road's centennial in 2026.