LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -Lawton has unveiled multiple bicycle routes just in time for summer. This is a project ten years in the making.
Nine bicycle routes and paths now span the city, helping to connect people to recreation, civic facilities and commercial areas while also encouraging healthy physical activity.
City officials say the planning process took time, as they worked to develop a master plan by looking at the entire community to find out where corridors were needed in order to link bicycle routes to pedestrian trails.
Lawton city planner Richard Rogalski said the new routes and paths are great for residents and the future of the city.
"Better health, better livability, those are the things, they all just make us feel better and it's economic development because there are things that people expect in a community. If they are looking to move professionals to the community, there are things they want to see, they want to see in the community and trails and routes are one of them," Rogalski said.
He said having the routes will help bring a once disjointed community together.
"Driving around everywhere detaches us from each other. When we're walking around down town. I mean, a down town where people are walking around just feels better. You know, where people just driving doesn't feel the same thing," Rogalski said.
But the new routes aren't without dangers if you're not careful. Lawton police lieutenant Justin Thorne said both cyclists and drivers need to be aware of one another.
"Keep an eye out, just like motorcyclists they are easily missed when you're riding driving down a road in a vehicle, motor vehicle you're not looking for motorcycles or bicycles normally. You're looking for other vehicles so they get overlooked quite often," Thorne said.
"You know, we just have to remember that the road, it is public streets that are built for everybody and sometimes patience is a virtue that we need to espouse," Rogalski said.
Right now the routes make a square throughout central Lawton with paths stemming from it. This is only the first phase of their plan. Rogalski said they hope to start construction soon that would extend the routes as far west as 67th Street in the near future.
He went on to say, Oklahoma is 46th in the nation when it comes to overall health, and says he hopes the new cycling routes will help bring those numbers down.