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Looking for the Alternate View

by Steve Lackmeyer Published: April 6, 2013

My column on Tuesday will focus on my takeaways from Wednesday’s Placemaking conference hosted by the OU Institute for Quality Communities. I’m seeing a trend – I’m seeing hundreds of people – not just planners, but civic leaders, young professionals, neighborhood activists, retirees, working families and college students, all eager to hear about how to make Oklahoma City less structured for cars, and more structured for pedestrians. They cheer when they’re rallied to challenge the status quo, and they are clearly unhappy with the continued emphasis by the Oklahoma City Public Works Department on designing a street grid that consists of four lane streets that can double as high speed byways from one end of the city to the other.
The attempted “temporary” removal of the dedicated bike lane from Walker Avenue by public works before the new set up was given a chance to perform was seen as further evidence by planning advocates that efforts to date to make the city more walkable are token concessions and not a good faith effort to stop building a city that only caters to cars.
At the conference, people cheered as they heard the same mantra – cities, to be successful in the future, must be designed less for cars and more for people. I’m witnessing this trend at conference after conference, town hall after town hall.
But am I missing something? Are there experts, are there academics or authors with big followers who are saying that designing cities around automobiles is the key to building a successful 21st century city?
Enlighten me, please… is this alternate view out there?

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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