25 March 2009

Pedestrian planning for Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City has really grown in recent years and (to the consternation of many) has even nabbed its own NBA team. And while it may surprise some of our friends here in the Northeast, OK City has gotten big enough (metro area of 1.2 million) to need some serious planning help. The Oklahoman reports that they have brought in Jeff Speck to help develop a new pedestrian plan for the city:
Jeff Speck, who first introduced himself to Oklahoma City by announcing "your codes are bad,” is back with a new message: the sidewalks and streets aren’t great, either.
Speck, who is a notable new urbanist, could be seen as pushing that agenda, but he makes a clear case for why pedestrian friendly landscape are valuable to a city:
Speck cites three reasons the city should be more concerned about being pedestrian friendly: less traffic translates into cleaner air, and more walking promotes health and reduces health care costs, and a pedestrian-friendly community is high on the list of amenities sought by 20- and 30-year-olds as they look at where they want to live and work.

"To be walkable, a street needs to be safe, comfortable and interesting,” Speck said. "You guys lose it at safe.”

The new troubled economy may also make a free walk seem like a nice alternative to paying to park so you can pay to drive.

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