Friday, May 18, 2012
Bikeshare is in!
The much-awaited OKC Spokies have finally hit the streets and are available to use. You'll need to swipe your credit card, and depending on the option you chose, you'll need to purchase a membership - but nonetheless they're available for anyone with a credit card to use.
I think Downtown OKC Inc. and Jane Jenkins, and the City of OKC Office of Sustainability, the operating entities, deserve major kudos for implementing an innovative idea and bringing a cool, trendy urban brand to OKC. I'm excited that this is only the start for this system. However, I think others deserve some blame for not supporting Downtown OKC Inc. with funding, because this system is going to out-price a lot of ridership in my opinion. Here is their website where you can view the locations of the 6 racks around downtown, as well as the fee structure. This does not need to be something that is forced to pay for itself. The City needs to pony up the $50,000 per kiosk and maintain these bikes not only as a service to citizens and the downtown community, but also to promote mentality change and a shift toward biking.
Furthermore, I think Downtown OKC Inc. has done some amazing things and they truly understand trends, marketing, and stuff like that. But I am convinced that they do not have an organizational understanding for urban planning and urban design. Almost every single one of these rack locations (except for the Ballpark and Plaza Court racks) are horribly located. Furthermore, they aren't the visually compelling streetscape components that they should be. In many cases, if they had been located on more attractive or more high-profile street corners, the racks would be MUCH more attractive.
Luckily bikeshare stations are modular and can be easily moved. They also record and monitor GPS tracking information so that the operators will be able to pinpoint where there bikes are being used. Hopefully they get more funding in the future and can do a minimal fee just to hedge against vandalism, and can do a better job locating these. This should be taken as criticism of planning in OKC, and NOT as criticism of the operators (who can't be expected to know the ins and outs of urban design) who worked hard to bring an awesome idea home. What this shows is Project 180 and the Planning Department existing in a vacuum that apparently wants to be oblivious to not just the streetcar project, but also this bikeshare project. More shame for P180...
This is more like what comes to mind for me when I think of bikeshare as an urban streetscape component: