Urban Planner Outlines Plan To Make Downtown Tulsa More Walkable, Bikeable

Wednesday, May 4th 2016, 6:04 pm
By: Joseph Holloway

An expert is in town this week to discuss making Tulsa’s downtown more walkable and bikeable.

The city brought in urban planner Jeff Speck, who travels the country helping cities find ways to improve.

On Wednesday night, he’ll present his ideas to downtown business owners and residents at the Cox Business Center.  Speck is helping Tulsa city leaders find ways to make downtown more pedestrian-friendly.

He suggests changing one-way streets to two-way streets because it'll encourage drivers to slow down.

"What is a highway?” he said. “It's multiple lanes heading in the same direction. When you're a driver on a street that feels that way, your impulse is to act like you're on a highway."

Speck made the same suggestion four years ago and while the city has been converting some of those streets, he says they need to speed it up.  

"The city can change its network much more efficiently if it does it all at once and every street intersects another street,” Speck said.

The planner also says there's a bicycling boom nationwide and while many cities are building more bike-friendly facilities, he says Tulsa has some work to do.

"New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, where I live, a lot of American cities now have vastly increased the number of cyclists,” Speck said.

But since his last visit, Speck says the city has come a long way.

"It does seem to be some real growth happening today, which is nice,” Speck said.

The city says it will look into Speck's recommendations and see if any of them can be put into place.

City of Tulsa officials say they are planning to convert Fifth Street to two-way from Boulder to Denver then they will work on Boulder making it a two-way street from Third to Tenth and Cheyenne Avenue will get the same treatment.