Spokies Will Take Us There

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Some of the bicycles available through the Spokies bike-share program are shown here at one of the kiosks in downtown Oklahoma City.

BY LAUREN WRIGHT

Commuting to work, strolling through the arts district, peddling to grab a bite to eat in Deep Deuce, or simply to improve your health, Spokies can get you there.  Spokies is the new bike share program currently stationed in several locations downtown, and is turning into a multi-use, convenient way to move around in the city center.  The bikes are located at various stands where one can  rent a bike for different time durations at different price points.  Launching May 18, 2012, just a little over three months ago, Spokies brings a new, modern cool factor to the downtown area that is hustling and bustling with renovations, reconstructions and loads of progress.

Two-wheeled bicycles have been a mode of transportation dating back to the early 19th century, but in Oklahoma City it is being promoted as a green way to get from point A to point B.  According to the League of American Bicyclist, Oklahoma ranks a very low 35 out of 50 states in the “bicycle friendly” category .  The city is hoping Spokies will help change that.

The concept of Spokies came about abruptly.  According to Jill DeLozier, marketing director for Spokies states, “The city of Oklahoma City received a federal transportation block grant for addressing transportation issues, and the Office of Sustainability recommended a bike share program to city officials.”  The marketing committee then had to decide on a name and came up with “Spokies.”  Within less than a year the program launched.

So far the memberships and riderships are growing slowly, but steadily.  With this summer’s record-breaking heat, it has not been pleasant to be outside for long periods of time.  DeLozier explains that as the weather cools down they expect the bikes will be even more popular.  Spokies can be ridden through a membership or just a daily ride fee.  Annual Spokies memberships are $75, a monthly membership is $20, and a daily membership is $5.  Each membership gives the user unlimited 30-minutes rides.  For being so new, Spokies is getting off to a great start with an estimated 220 riders each month.  The average length of a trip is around 12 minutes; mostly,  riders are using them for a quick ride from office to lunch or home to office, as intended.  There are currently six stations downtown that host the Spokies where they can be picked up or dropped off.  Riders must sign a waiver before cycling, so riders need to be 18 or older for safety precautions.  This system is a new and innovative way to get around town; a mode of transportation that is growing across the country.

It’s a great start to getting more people active in the downtown area and reducing the pollution from gas vehicles.  Seeing people riding bikes around downtown  really adds to the vitality of the area.  Programs like Spokies are popping up all over the country, and according to DeLozier, Oklahoma City was a frontrunner in the establishment of a bike share program.  Spokies has been featured on national blogs and in multiple news articles, drawing attention to the exciting things happening in downtown Oklahoma City.  Spokies is part of creating a better future for this city.

The community and users of the program really love the idea of a bike share, but with anything new, it takes some getting used to.  The public is learning how to work the kiosks and utilize different forms of payment.  DeLozier states, “There is definitely a learning curve, but as a whole, the public response has been phenomenal and people are excited to see more bicycles on the streets.”  Because downtown Oklahoma City has a concentration of large corporations and businesses, more companies are approaching them about memberships for their employees.  It’s a practical way to get the city involved in a new local pursuit and promote healthy and sustainable habits.

This new and innovative way to travel is quickly becoming a staple to downtown Oklahoma City and encouraging many to do a little more pedaling and a little less driving.  Jane Jenkins, President and CEO of Downtown OKC, Inc. states “Spokies is just one more example of the progressive ideas and programs being developed and implemented to improve the quality of life for everyone in Oklahoma City.”

Be sure to follow Spokies on Facebook and Twitter to get the latest scoop via social media.  Since no helmets are available for rent at this time, Spokies wants to encourage riders to wear helmets.  Oklahoma City continues to grow and evolve,  and Spokies is just one sign that our city is innovative and adaptable.

 

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