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We've been carless for more than a year now, and we'll be making a post reflecting on our findings soon. But we've never done a post with real information about others in the city who live without a car. Here's the bigger picture:
More than 15,000 households in the Oklahoma City area do not own a motor vehicle, the vast majority of whom have no say in the matter due to financial constraints. We've talked about the high cost of car ownership, and though we can afford to buy a car, we're part of a small minority in Oklahoma City who choose not to own a car. And we live in downtown, ZIP 73102. We live next door to the transit center, and until very recently had two car-sharing locations within a short walking distance (RIP Timecar). Without these locations we came to realize that despite not owning a car, we were still quite dependent on the car-sharing service to get around the city. Car-sharing is probably too expensive for the average carless person in the city, especially compared to the bus, so now we're back to a place where we don't have access to any motor vehicles other than the bus, taxis, and ride-sharing (Uber/Lyft).
|How did he even get here? How would it make you feel to know that your safety is such a low priority?|
For the carless people that live in areas away from downtown or don't work close to home, the situation is worse than for someone in downtown. Sidewalk infrastructure is missing, there's probably no bike infrastructure, and most of the buses stop running at 7:00pm. Oklahoma City, despite the enthusiasm behind our 'Renaissance', is no closer to enabling the quality of life afforded to people with cars for those without than it ever really has been. We missed the bus back to downtown while grocery shopping the other night, and had no way of getting home other than calling Uber. Someone who doesn't have a smartphone or money wouldn't have had the same option -- what would they have done? Walked nearly 10 miles in the freezing cold after dark on roads without sidewalks in order to get home? This is not fair. It's not good enough.
If you look at the map at the top of the post you can see the ZIP codes with the highest percentage of carlessness. Unsurprisingly, 73102 (downtown) has the highest percentage at 25.1% of households. The next two ZIP codes, while technically inner-city, do not have nearly the level of convenience afforded to those living in the downtown area. ZIP codes 73117 and 73111 have 24% and 21.1% of households without access to a motor vehicle, respectively. Poverty levels in these two ZIP codes hover around 40%, so purchasing a vehicle is not an option, and therefore they are dependent on alternative forms of transportation to get around. What this leads to is a negative feedback loop with regard to both social and geographic mobility.
Think about that number, 15,000 households without access to a vehicle. With an average household size of 2.5 people, that's nearly 40,000 people. Imagine if 2/3 of the people living in Moore didn't have access to a car, and that's what you have. We have a small city of people within Oklahoma City that are incapable of reaching the standard of living afforded to people with cars. That's more people than live in Yukon, twice as many than the population of Mustang, or half of Edmond. But, because the population of Oklahoma City is so large, it's easy to dismiss a measly 7% of the population.
|A classic example of underperforming pedestrian infrastructure. This is at 16th, Classen, and Western.|