OK City Gives Car-Free Mobility a Chance

After decades of false starts, Downtown Oklahoma City is making room for alternative transportation with streetcars, electric vehicle charging stations, and a new bike sharing program, reports Steve Lackmeyer.
April 21, 2012, 1pm PDT | Ryan Lue
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Downtown Oklahoma City was not always made for cars. But in the six and a half decades since its once-prominent streetcar system was shut down, it has come to depend on the automobile as much as any other red-blooded American city – in fact, a local produce market opening later this year "will remain the closest thing to a full-scale grocery," Lackmeyer writes.

And so the near-simultaneous introduction of three alternative transportation programs, for Lackmeyer, constitutes a "small revolution... [that] might just change the rules for decades to follow."

First, Oklahoma City is set to see the revival of the streetcar. Part of a 10-year public works program called MAPS 3, the system is backed by $129 million in funding and will connect at least five separate neighborhoods.

"Downtown also is set to get its start at 'green parking,'" Lackmeyer explains - "a system that will allow owners of electric vehicles to plug in along a curb. Two recharging stations are set to be built later this year as part of [downtown revitalization project] Project 180."

In addition, the city has approved the installation of new bicycle racks throughout the downtown. "Those racks just might get more use as 'Spokies,' a new bike-share program...is set to be inaugurated next month."

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Published on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 in The Oklahoman
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