Posts about bikability

Young, Creative, and Philanthropic – these people deserve some help

October 29th, 2009

Norman Bikeshare

A few months back I was fortunate enough to come across the work of Tate James.  He has studied graphic design at OU and clearly has a gift.  In fact, I liked one of his works so much I bought it, and am just waiting to get settled somewhere with enough wall space to show it off.  All this to say, the kid (as if I am old enough to call anyone a kid) is brilliant and a huge asset to the burgeoning young, creative community forming in the Oklahoma City metro – especially Norman.

Fast forward a few months, and one twitter follow later, and I have another reason to give it up to the guy.  I just found out that he and his friends have been operating a community bike co-op in Norman.   This story at offers up details of their work.  They have given away their time to help fix people’s bikes, donated their own parts, and even refurbished some donated bikes and have made them available to the community for people in need of some wheels.  They also started a wiki map to locate dangerous bike grates in hopes of getting them replaced.  Remember when I blogged about bike-sharing via B-Cycle (by the way, we are currently #2 and our OKC dot is still up near Ponca City – odd).  Anyway, this is kind of like that, but completely grass-roots, which makes it so much better.

Here is the rub.  According to the article the co-op is struggling to stay alive as they no longer have a garage to call home.  In my opinion, this is exactly the type of project people should go out of their way to support.  The biggest sacrifice is already being made by the people donating their time and talent, all they need is a little assistance from the right folks.   I am hoping someone out there can offer the funds, facilities, and expertise they need to sustain what they have started and even grow it into a fully functioning non-profit.  Maybe we could even dangle a carrot to get them thinking about an OKC franchise.

If you would like to help, let me know and I will get you in touch with Tate.

Read Jeff Speck’s OKC Walkability Report

June 29th, 2009

If you haven’t already, check out Jeff Speck’s recommendations for downtown Oklahoma City. This report will be at the center of much discussion over the next few years and I think it is important for everyone interested in downtown to become familiar with the concepts – whether you agree with his recommendations or not. I have uploaded it so that you can view it online (just click below) without having to download it, or if you prefer to download it, that option is available as well.

Click here to download the report in .pdf

B-cycle: Vote to Bring Bike-Sharing to Oklahoma City!

March 6th, 2009

B-cycle is an innovative new bike-sharing startup that has kicked off with a clever little promotion.  At their website, they have a short video explaining all of the benefits of bike-sharing and explaining how their system makes it work.  Then they ask the question, “Who wants it more?”  They allow you to fill in a form to add your community to the list of prospects that presumably will be on the short-list when they are ready to begin rolling out across the country.

Denver is already on the actual short-list, as their mayor announced last month that they would be installing the B-cycle system.  And the rest of current top ten of the “who wants it more” vote contains some nice places known for their progressive planning (rank/city/current votes):

  1. Fort Collins    321
  2. Boulder    62
  3. Denver    49
  4. Austin     47
  5. Louisville    46
  6. Glencoe    44
  7. Miami    33
  8. Lexington    25
  9. Warrensburg    18
  10. Chicago    17

Here is the thing, I want OKC to be on this top ten list.  It makes a statement about the city and what the people care about.  Plus, it is good publicity, on the B-cycle website it cycles (intended) through the top ten, naming each and the current number of votes.  Right now, Oklahoma City has only one vote…that is where you come in.

So go watch the video if you want, but no matter what, go vote to bring B-cycle to Oklahoma City!

Feel free to leave a comment here to let the world know you voted and spread the word on twitter, facebook, etc.  Who knows, maybe it will lead to something.  By the end of the weekend I want to be climbing up the top ten list on our way to #1!

UPDATE 3/6 at 11:27 a.m. est:

We are in the Top Ten!

Thanks to the social networking brilliance of @urbanizedokie on twitter, Oklahoma City has broken into the top ten.  I for one, think we should keep it going and cruise on up into the top 5.  To vote, just go to and then click the button on the lower left that says, “I Want It More.”

As a token of my thanks, I want to encourage you to check out what @urbanizedokie has going on at Oklahoma’s Red Dirt Emporium – Bricktown’s premiere gift store!  And you might also want to take advantage of the great weather with a ride on one of Bricktown’s Water Taxis.

UPDATE 3/6 at 3:04 p.m. est:

We’re up to #2

That’s right, we’re up to #2. That puts Oklahoma City ahead of places like Boulder, Denver, Austin – a nice statement for our wonderful city. We still have some work to do if we are going to take over the top spot from Fort Collins, CO; but they are holding steady and we are still surging forward. And remember to type in “Oklahoma City”, not “OKC” or a metro suburb – it waters down the vote total! Vote early and often! Thanks!

ULI Competition 2009: We’re in the top 4!

February 20th, 2009

Got some great news yesterday and wanted to share it with you.  We are one of four finalist teams that have made it through to round two of the 2009 ULI Hines Urban Design competition. Which means we will travel to Denver in April to compete for a shot at the $50,000 first prize.  Really excited and look forward to working some more on this project. Also, now that the results of round one have been announced, I can share with you everything we worked on.  And I am sure to say we, as it was definitely a team effort.


Sarah Snider, Master of City Planning / MIT
Eric Komppa, MBA / University of Wisconsin-Madison
Jesse Hunting, Master of City Planning / MIT
Duncan McIlvaine, M.Arch / MIT
Blair Humphreys, Master of City Planning / MIT


This is our complete design board.  The board measures 51″ x 22″ – or six 17″ x 11″ sheets.  In addition to this we were required to turn in two separate 17″ x 11″ sheets, one with financials and one “day in the life of” sheet conveying life in the year 2050 (click here to see it).  I have chopped up the board pictured above into separate images to fit on your screen below.  The proposal is for an approx. 80 acre site surrounding Denver’s Alameda light rail station.  The northern portion of the site is currently a fairly typical big box retail layout, while the southern portion has a range of tenants connected to the Denver Design District. The primary challenge was to redesign the site to take advantage of the light rail station without displacing any of the existing tenants.  The boards are meant to be self-explanatory (i.e. we weren’t present when the judges viewed them), so I haven’t provided any commentary but if you have questions, just let me know.  Thanks!

note: this post is image heavy so it may load a bit slow.

Enrique Peñalosa on Good Cities

February 6th, 2009

I just attended a lecture series featuring Enrique Peñalosa, a former Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia.  He is considered a visionary for his work in Bogotá that included major enhancements to quality of life through investments in bike/pedestrian infrastructure, construction of a groundbreaking bus rapid transit system (BRT) and introduction of unique community events like Ciclovia.

It was an enthusiastic presentation and I was fairly intrigued by a number of his ideas.  Certainly there are contextual differences between Colombia and the United States that make some of what he has accomplished difficult to apply here, but a number of his principles seem universal and I think they are worth sharing.  These notes are not all exact quotes, but are a mix of quotes and paraphrasing.

What is a Good City?

Quoted Jan Gehl, “A Good City is one where people want to be out of their houses!”

A Good City:

  • is not malls, but public space and parks.
  • has places for people to walk and to be with other people.
  • gives people needed spaces to play
  • does not make some people feel inferior

A Good City looks out for the most vulnerable citizens: elderly, children, disabled.  He recommended that public officials should be required to navigate the city one day a year in a wheel chair.

A child on a bicycle can go safely anywhere in the Good City!

Cars = Monsters? No, but…

While cars are great thing and provide a great service, the poor design of our cities has turned them into monsters.  If you say to a child, “Watch out, a car is coming.” They will likely jump out of fright.  And for good reason: over 200,000 children are killed each year by automobiles. The answer is not more separated infrastructure for cars, but integrated infrastructure that values all persons equally independent of their mode of travel.

How to Measure of a Proposed Intervention: Does IT make the city more pleasant to walk in?

Comparison of space usage by cars, buses, and bikes.  Münster, Germany was one city mentioned by the Mayor that provides excellent bike infrastructure.

On Public Spaces: sidewalks, parks, bike lanes, etc

Sidewalks are not relatives of streets – they are not paths simply for moving.  Sidewalks are more closely related to parks and plazas.  They are places to play and congregate.

The allocation of space between streets and sidewalk for any given area should be based on maximizing happiness.

When shopping malls replace public space it is the result of a sick city with poorly performing public spaces.  People are not stupid, they go to the shopping malls because it offers a pedestrian environment they can’t find anywhere else.

Human like hard surfaces.  We have to understand that there are places for parks and places for plazas.  Ultimately cities are a human habitat and sometimes hard surfaces are appropriate.

Synthetic soccer fields are better at reducing crime in poor neighborhoods than extra police stations.  If you don’t provide space for teens to play, then they will find other things to do with their time.

With limited resources, there are always questions as to what comes first.  For instance, when we have to decide between paving a street or installing a skate park, we will choose to build the skate park.  Cars will be okay on the mud roads, but the skate park enhances the quality of life to a greater degree per dollar spent.

Adding nice bike lanes not only makes biking easier, but changes the social status of bicyclist by sending a signal to everyone that they are important.

Parking is not a constitutional right!

Twenty percent of Bogotá car-owners ride public transportation to work.

Transport and Bus Rapid Transit

You CANNOT design transport without first knowing the type of city you want!  Transport is a political decision: How much space do we want to give to cars and how much to people?  Engineers will tell you how many cars can travel on a given road, but you have to decide as a community how many cars you want to have.  If they made more space for cars in New York City or London, there would be more cars.  So ultimately it boils down to politics and the will of the community.

To have a good BRT system you should plan on spending between $8 – 16 million per mile.

Built Form

Suburbs provide something urban areas need: good schools, open space, etc.

The best density that is most often seen throughout the world is buildings between four and six stories tall.

Coming Up Next Week

Okay, I know the notes are a little disorganized, but I thought they were worth posting.  I will have the next section on Re-visioning the Chamber Proposal up by Monday.  We will take a look at the current and historical context of the site and surrounding areas.  We are going to work through this “re-visioning” process one step at a time. It may go a bit slow at first, but I think it will provide a better solution in the end.

Monday Morning Quarterback

January 27th, 2009

From The Oklahoman’s Monday Morning Quarterbacks discussing my post on Oklahoma City’s #2 fattest city ranking:

Talking, not walking
We beat Miami! Um, no. Not in basketball. Miami was the only city Oklahoma City beat in recent fattest cities list from the magazine Men’s Fitness. Blogger Blair Humphreys, an Oklahoma City native studying in Boston, wrote at that despite the citywide diet, our fair city bumped up the list and is “just a few burgers away” from taking the cake. Humphreys wrote that Mayor Mick Cornett’s diet plan didn’t seem to help the ranking and that better-performing cities seemed to have planning and policies that encouraged more activity. “As for OKC,” he wrote, “we are talking the talk, but we are simply not walking anywhere.”

Well, not sure if this is the post I would have preferred to get press for and I take offense to being called a “Monday Morning Quarterback” as I have been pushing for better planning and improvements in walkability since before the citywide diet was created and certainly before the Men’s Fitness rankings were released. But oh well, I guess it will have to do.

I think one of my earlier comments sums up my take on the whole thing:

I will join you in tipping my hat to the Mayor for creating more awareness of the problem, but also encourage anyone and everyone to take serious the impact that our built form and public infrastructure has on the health of OKC residents!

Hopefully, this will be the start of a bigger conversation about the limitations of our wholly auto-focused infrastructure and how it hinders people’s ability to live a healthier lifestyle.  I am really not worried about what Men’s Fitness thinks of us, but I am worried about improving the quality of life in OKC!  And we need to take seriously the health consequences associated with the way we are currently planning and developing our city.

If this is your first time to visit – welcome – and please check out my best posts of 2008 to get a better feel for the regular content.  Thanks!

OKC #2 Fattest City in America (without the P-H)

January 15th, 2009

This just in…Oklahoma City has been ranked the #2 Fattest city in America by Men’s Fitness.  That means amidst all of the dieting we have been doing, we have still managed to slide six spots in the rankings and are just a few burgers away from becoming #1.  A couple of the magazine’s comments that hit closest to home:

Basketball courts are practically nonexistent here, among the fewest per capita in our survey. There’s just one court here for every 12,162 residents; the national average is one court per 6,909 people.

Even recreational walking – about the easiest fitness activity anywhere – can’t attract participants in Oklahoma City, where people are 14 percent less likely than average to go for a walk, the 4th lowest rate of any city in our survey.

Hmm…are planning and public health related?  It appears so.  This does remind me that I need to get back to finishing the series on parks and public-space.  But until then, here is more info on the rankings…


  • Fitness Centers & Sport Stores: C+
  • Nutrition: F
  • Sports Participation: C+
  • TV Viewing: F+
  • Overweight/Sedentary: F
  • Junk Food: C-
  • Air Quality: B-
  • Geography: F+
  • Commute: A
  • Parks & Open Space: F+
  • City Rec Facilities: D-
  • Access to Healthcare: A-
  • Motivation: F+
  • Mayor & City Initiatives: C-
  • State Obesity Initiatives: D+

They add:

Oklahoma City lost points in our Motivation category for poor participation rates in running, biking and walking despite high air quality.

Ouch Charlie! That hurts! And a F+ in parks and open space!  That really hurts and its still hurting.


So who was number one?  Miami, yeh, who would have thought.  We are fitter than Miami!  Hooray, this is great news! I mean Miami has the sun, the ocean, and salsa music…and we still dominated them.  But other than that, all of the news for OKC is pretty dismal.  Here is the complete list of fattest cities:

1. Miami, FL
2. Oklahoma City, OK
3. San Antonio, TX
4. Las Vegas, NV
5. New York, NY
6. Houston, TX
7. El Paso, TX
8. Jacksonville, FL
9. Charlotte, NC
10. Louisville-Jefferson, KY
11. Memphis, TN
12. Detroit, MI
13. Chicago, IL
14. Dallas-Fort Worth, TX
15. San Jose, CA
16. Tulsa, OK
17. Baltimore, MD
18. Columbus, OH
19. Raleigh, NC
20. Philadelphia, PA
21. L.A.-Long Beach, CA
22. Phoenix-Mesa, AZ
23. Indianapolis, IN
24. San Diego, CA
25. Kansas City, MO

Obviously, Dallas and Houston are expected.  Also interesting to see Charlotte and Indianapolis, two cities we seem to want to emulate.  But maybe it has something to do with being in this part of the country…?

Perhaps.  It does seem to have some correlation, but that doesn’t mean we can’t overcome it.


1. Salt Lake City, UT
2. Colorado Springs, CO
3. Minneapolis, MN
4. Denver, CO
5. Albuquerque, NM
6. Portland, OR
7. Honolulu, HI
8. Seattle, WA
9. Omaha, NE
10. Virginia Beach, VA
11. Milwaukee, WI
12. San Francisco, CA
13. Tucson, AZ
14. Boston, MA
15. Cleveland, OH
16. St. Louis, MO
17. Austin, TX
18. Washington, DC
19. Sacramento, CA
20. Oakland, CA
21. Atlanta, GA
22. Fresno, CA
23. Tampa, FL
24. Nashville-Davidson, TN
25. Pittsburgh, PA

Wait, why is Omaha in the top ten?  Surely we can be as fit as the people in Omaha.  I mean, we beat them in football.  Seriously though, there seems overall to be a very strong correlation between the type of urban form a city has and the fitness of its people.  Obviously there are a few anomalies that give us pause – like why is NYC on the fattest and Atlanta on the fittest – but there are a host of other factors that likely account for these discrepancies.  Variables such as climate, geography, age of population, ethnicity, and policy might all impact the fitness of a city.

Some cities are regulating eateries to help citizens make more informed, healthier eating decisions (click to enlarge).

Unfortunately, I don’t see anywhere that we got bonus points for our city-wide diet campaign, apparently the people conducting the test don’t know the inherent health benefits of Taco Bell’s fresco crunchy tacos!  There seems to be a higher priority placed on policies that affect measurable change.  So give credit to NYC for helping consumers make more informed eating decisions and for using its street infrastructure to encourage health and activity.  And to Boston for its city-wide ban on trans fat. And to Portland for their focus on providing first-class bike lane infrastructure.

As for OKC, we are talking the talk, but we are simply not walking anywhere.

For more details on the rankings, click here.

Living a Walkable Lifestyle in OKC

January 12th, 2009

Greg Cerveny at emailed today and had this to say:

I’m looking for the pedestrian friendly neighborhoods of OKC.  Something with grocery stores, entertainment, and dining within walking distance.  Any suggestions for places to start?

Initially, I though, “Dang, what am I supposed to tell this guy?.”  I mean, surely we have something to offer, but it is not immediately clear which neighborhood can really provide all of this within close walking distance.  But after thinking through it for a little while, I sent him back this list as my recommendations for the best pedestrian friendly neighborhoods in Oklahoma City.  It definitely not meant to be a comprehensive list (though sadly it might be), but the good news is that nearly every neighborhood I considered is trending towards a more pedestrian friendly future.


  1. Mesta Park / Heritage Hills / Winans (between NW 13th on south and 23rd on north; Classen Blvd east to Robinson) – These are probably the most walkable neighborhoods.  Midtown is directly south across 13th street providing a growing selection of restaurants and bars.  There is a Homeland at Western and 18th that while not as yuppie-ready as a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, does handle most of your grocery needs.  Also, there is a solid group of restaurant and retail establishments along 23rd street to the north, including: a just opened market named Market C (owned by the Cheever’s restaurant group) with great take-home dinner options and Cuppie’s and Joe, a new cupcake and coffee shop with outstanding cupcakes.  Plus, I would say that the long-term prospects for both Midtown and 23rd Street are very good.
  2. Jefferson Park / The Paseo / Sparrow Park (directly north of 23rd Street) – The restaurants and galleries of the Paseo along with the aforementioned energy of 23rd make a walkable lifestyle a real possibility here.  You will find smaller houses, better values, great parks, and still tons of untapped potential.  Most grocery runs will require a trip in the car, or at least a short bike ride; but the previously mentioned Market C and a few corner convenience stores may make the necessary trips few and far between.
  3. Midtown – There lots of new energy and new restaurants, including: McNellie’s Irish Pub, Irma’s Burgers, 1492, Café de Brazil, and Prairie Thunder Bakery (which has wonderful breads).  Great potential and within walkable distance to the 18th street Homeland, but there are still so many gaps in the fabric and there are not enough residents for it to even be considered a neighborhood.  Still, if you want to be a pioneer give it a shot.  The Sieber Hotel redevelopment looks to be a nice place to call home.
  4. Crown Heights – This is a wonderful neighborhood within close walking distance to the Western restaurant corridor with lots of great dining and bar options.  Not too many other neighborhood amenities are currently available along Western and the neighborhood DOES NOT have sidewalks of any kind.  I love this neighborhood and was happy to call it home for a couple of years.  You probably can’t practice a fully walkable lifestyle here, but it still has its moments and is a great place to live.  (I would probably put Edgemere Park in the same category.)
  5. Downtown / Bricktown / The Triangle – Similar to Midtown, all of the “urban” neighborhoods have yet to really take hold.  Bricktown probably has the best breadth of services, but has only limited living options.  The Triangle is within walking distance to Bricktown, but not much else.  Downtown has some terrific amenities like: the OKC Museum of Art, Civic Center Performance Center, Downtown Library, Ford Center Arena, restaurants, etc; but virtually every housing unit – if not 100% – is sold with a parking spot, which should give you some idea.  In my opinion, these neighborhoods are wonderful options if you have the money, but better values can be found in all of the previously mentioned locations.  Still, I have heard that prices are dropping in at least one new downtown housing development – Maywood Park – so maybe it is worth investigating further.


What do you think?  After reading it again I am thinking that I definitely should have put Crown Heights at the bottom of the list, but am still pretty confident with the idea that Downtown / Bricktown / The Triangle are not currently the best options – probably #4 – though hopefully they will be at the top of the list sometime soon.  Also, I would be interested to get your thoughts on the neighborhoods I missed.  Perhaps I should have mentioned the campus area of Norman – which is probably the most walkable neighborhood in all of central Oklahoma – but I was thinking only in OKC proper.

One note, I realize that almost all of these neighborhoods (with the exception of Bricktown and the Triangle) are in the northwest quadrant of the city.  This points to a limitation on my own perspective and experience, but also to the historic growth pattern of the city.  So if you have ideas about completely different parts of the city that you think offer something special, please let me know as I would love to check them out.

More on the I-40 Pedestrian Bridge

September 8th, 2008

Follow up on my previous post on the new I-40 pedestrian bridge, which I now know is called the “SkyDance Bridge”. Doug Loudenback has put up a nice post that includes the Core to Shore masterplan and shows the location of the bridge on the Harvey alignment and photos of a model of the bridge that currently is sitting at city hall. This north-south pedestrian alignment will extend all of the way from the river, across I-40 (via this bridge) and up into downtown where it will intersect the new Devon Tower rotunda. The model of the bridge is especially helpful in understanding the whole design, including a small pivot that takes play halfway across the bridge, which I assume is both for aesthetic value and to help align the paths on either side of the highway. Also, I have included all of the members of the team with links to the websites that I have found. While many of these guys have yet to do a project of this scale and significance, all of them have have been doing terrific architecture around Oklahoma City for years. Finally, there is the video from that includes commentary from lead designers Hans Butzer and Stan Carroll on the design, including information on the two lighting schemes that will either glow from withing the translucent ETF skinned north face or provide dramatic sculptural lighting that shines from below.




Hans Butzer

Stan Carroll
Beyond Metal

Kenneth Fitzsimmons
TASK Design

Jeremy Gardner

Brett Johnson
J3 Architecture

Doug Klassen
MKEC Engineering

Laurent Massenat
Obelisk Engineering

Chris Ramseyer
OU School of Civil Engineering

Karl Svaty
MKEC Engineering

David Wanzer
J3 Architecture


Previous post: The NEW I-40 Pedestrian Bridge

More model Pictures:

The NEW I-40 Pedestrian Bridge

September 6th, 2008

Congratulations to Hans Butzer and his team at the Butzer Design Partnership on their competition winning design for the new I-40 pedestrian bridge! I spoke to Hans about a month ago and he said that he was very excited about the design they were submitting for the competition – and now I know why. The bridge is beautiful, with a dramatic stretch towards the sky and a silhouette that evokes imagery unique to Oklahoma. I didn’t have to see the design concept to know that it was inspired by the Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher, the state bird of Oklahoma. While the inspiration can be easily deduced, the design maintains an elegance of form that is wholly unique.

Some Guy (that is his name “Some Guy”) commented on a forum at

Having seen all of the final presentations and models, I believe the winning team simply out-designed everybody else — including one worldwide architectural firm who does nothing but bridges and another worldwide firm who has designed many of the new structures you’ve seen as part of the Beijing Olympics. The local guys went toe-to-toe in an international competition and won…Who knew we had this kind of talent right here in Oklahoma City?

Actually, a lot of people have already recognized the talent of Hans (and his wife Torrey) after their design for the OKC Memorial beat out 623 entries from around the world. When they submitted their memorial designs they were living and working in Berlin, then Hans completed much of the work during his graduate program at the Harvard GSD. After graduating from school, they settled down right here in OKC. Hans is someone I really admire and has taught (and I hope will continue to teach) me so much about planning, architecture, and urban design. I really feel like we are lucky to have him in Oklahoma City, and it is nice to see him again involved in a dynamic design project that will greatly contribute to the architectural richness of Oklahoma City.

Still, Some Guy does make a good point, we do have more talent in Oklahoma City than we often realize. One thing that makes this project so wonderful is that Hans was only one member of a much larger team that all contributed to the design; a team that includes some of the best young architects our city has to offer. Hopefully local developers, organizations, institutions, and philanthropists will take note of the design, and of the fact that we have a wealth of architectural talent that goes largely untapped on major projects.

The future is bright for Oklahoma City! When this bridge is complete, the city will have a new landmark. A landmark that will be seen by thousands of people everyday. Even those persons that pass through on I-40 without stopping will be forced to see and no doubt enjoy the beauty of the design. The good times are rolling in OKC – I can’t wait to see what is next. Congratulations to the design team, to the city for running a successful competition, and to the people of Oklahoma City who who will get to enjoy this bridge for decades to come!


More on the I-40 Pedestrian Bridge
Includes a video interview with lead designers Hans Butzer and Stan Carroll, as well as more information on the design team and pictures of a scale model.

Top Ten Must Haves for our new Downtown Park
A month ago I posted this list of my “top ten must haves” for downtown’s new park. Must have #6 was beautiful bridges, and while the new I-40 bridge is not exactly in the park, it does help connect the park to the river – so it will do. Click the link to check out the other nine!