June 2013 with 1,659 rides. Plans call for
three new stations along Film Row, in the
Boathouse District, and in an area between
the Skirvin Hilton and Sheraton hotels.
The city’s transportation planner,
Randy Entz, acknowledges the area is in
dire need of more trails and dedicated
bike lanes that make riders feel safe.
The first of the MAPS 3 projects, the
West River Trail, will be a seven-mile
pathway beginning at the east shore of
the city’s oldest reservoir, linking to the
Hefner-Overholser Trail and connect-
ing a densely populated area of north-
west Oklahoma City to downtown.
Construction is scheduled to begin in late
ill be an
important link in a 50-mile loop that
connects two lakes, downtown, the
Oklahoma River and much of the urban
core of Oklahoma City,” Entz says. “It
should be a pretty exceptional trail in that
it is heavily wooded and along the river,
and offers a scenic ride in an otherwise
very urbanized area.”
Off-road corridors such as the West
River Trail will continue to make bik-
ing in Oklahoma City a more efficient
way to get around. They also will greatly
increase the utility and popularity of
existing trails. Notable among these is the
a rail-trail that con-
nects to neighborhoods and “Adventure
District” attractions in the city’s
northeast, including Science Museum
Oklahoma, the Oklahoma City Zoo, and
Northeast Lake. The name may sound
familiar—Oklahoma City’s only rail-trail
shares the same Missouri-Kansas-Texas
Railroad system that hosts the longer
and more famous Katy Trail State Park in
Missouri, and rail-trails in Texas and else-
where in Oklahoma.
Fifty percent of the trips you take are
under five miles, and that’s easy [to do by
bike] if the facilities are there,” Entz says.
We don’t have a very friendly bicycle
community yet. It’s going to take time.
Our goal is to start making connections
to our neighborhoods. We want to put in
bike lanes and routes where we can.”
Picking Up Speed
Creating a strong, vibrant, walkable
downtown is critical to any city’s
success, notes Dan Burden, executive
director of the Port Townsend, Wash.-
based Walkable and Livable Communities
Institute. Burden says development of a
city’s “core” includes transforming indus-
trial yards, cultural centers and riverfronts
into attractive properties.
No town makes it big without those
investments,” says Burden. “You get
downtown where it’s picking up that
energy, and then you go to the second
ring of neighborhoods around that core.
Until the heart or the core of the city
comes alive, your home won’t be worth
much. When the core is making money,
you have funds to put elsewhere.”
In Oklahoma City’s case, that core
encompasses such areas as Midtown,
Uptown, the Plaza District, the Asian
District and the Paseo Arts District. “I
think the city is starting to see areas out-
side of downtown as gold mines,” Burden
says, referring in particular to the Plaza
District and the entertainment hub along
Western Avenue.
Oklahoma City is still a few years from
reaping the myriad benefits that walk-
ability and bikeability have been proven to
bring, but thanks to the vision of key lead-
ers and a growing demand from residents,
the city is headed in the right direction.
And there is certainly a lot at stake here,
including the health of local citizens, the
commercial sustainability of downtown,
and the ability to attract and retain new
residents. Far from the bike-booming mec-
cas of Minneapolis, Boulder, Colo., and
Portland, Ore., the story of Oklahoma
City’s return to simpler, and at the same
time more modern, ways of getting around
is a significant moment in changing the
trajectory of American cities everywhere.
and covers a wide range of topics
including local news, politics, transportation and
Beautiful and functional”— Jennifer
Gooden on what biking and walking
means to urban design.
Local taxpayer-supported
works programs are
growing the city’s
mileage of pedestrian-
friendly pathways.