Oklahoma City's young urban professionals ditch cars, ask for bicycles

A decade ago, Oklahoma City civic leaders gathered together and contemplated what major changes needed to take place to retain and attract the younger creative class. Little did they know the list included something as simple as a bicycle.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: July 2, 2013 at 9:30 am •  Published: July 2, 2013

So what do the young professionals want when it comes to bike sharing?

They want a Spokies station along the river. They want more stations in Bricktown, MidTown and Film Row. They want stations outside of downtown — places like the 16th Street Plaza District, UpTown 23rd, the Oklahoma Health Center and Western Avenue.

Those ambitions will and won't be met. Though Spokies is operated by Downtown Oklahoma City Inc., it is not part of the downtown business improvement district. That means the program can expand outside the boundaries of the business district.

And that's just what is set to happen.

Jill DeLozier, spokeswoman for Downtown Oklahoma City Inc., reports that Spokies is breaking ridership records with 1,659 checking out the bicycles in June, and 1,149 bikes checked out in May.

The operation launched in May 2012. Rides for 2012 totaled 4,369. Rides for the first six months of 2013, meanwhile, totaled 5,343.

So you can see where this is all going.

The first Spokies expansion is just a matter of weeks away — the station is in storage, and bikes are being ordered for an addition along boathouse row. A sponsorship is set to be announced soon, and DeLozier reports that additional money will support an expansion of two stations per year. Film Row folks, you might be next. Ditto for the Oklahoma Health Center.

Expansions into the Plaza District, UpTown and Western Avenue, however, are far less likely. The operation requires stations be located no more than a half-mile apart. Could those outposts occur someday? Sure, DeLozier says, but it will take a while — likely years.

A decade ago, civic leaders gathered together and contemplated what major changes needed to take place to retain and attract the younger creative class. Little did they know the list included something as simple as a bicycle.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Reporter Sr.
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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How Spokies work:

Find a kiosk. There are six Spokies bike kiosks downtown. Spokies bikes can be checked out between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m. seven days a week.

Choose among three types of memberships; one year, one month or one day. Each membership comes with free, unlimited 30-minute rides for the duration of your membership.

Swipe membership or credit card. A daily membership can be purchased for $5 at the kiosk with a credit card, but online sign-ups are required for monthly or annual memberships. Monthly and annual memberships also can be obtained by visiting the Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. office at 211 N Robinson, Suite 225, or by calling 235-3500. Select a bike and go for a ride. Choose a bike in the rack and enter the number on the kiosk's keypad. The bike's magnetic lock will release for removal. Return the bike when done. Spokies bikes can be returned to any kiosk 24 hours a day. Additional charges apply after the 30-minute rental period at all times at the rate of $2 per half-hour.

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