OKLAHOMA CITY – Bicycle culture is changing Oklahoma architecturally from the inside out.

Architectural firms such as ADG in Oklahoma City and KSQ Design in Tulsa are at the forefront of the culture shift, designing buildings attractive to cyclists such as changing rooms and showers. It’s no longer enough to provide a curbside bike rack, ADG architect J.C. Witcher said.

“In our multifamily housing designs in the downtown area, one of the important amenities we’re being asked to include is bicycle storage immediately accessible to the street,” Witcher said. “There are a number of people, particularly professionals relocating from other areas, who have expectations that they can use their bicycles as a primary mode of transportation.”

When ADG moved to the Film Row district this year, the company remodeled the Fred Jones Manufacturing Building to include a shower for employees who ride their bikes to work or around town during the day. He said the owners of the 21C Museum Hotel, who share space in the building, have expressed plans to build bike storage space as well.

Five of ADG’s 70 employees ride bikes to work regularly, Witcher said. One of the firm’s owners displays an antique bicycle in his office.

“The population is probably still a small niche, but it’s definitely growing with people’s expectations,” Witcher said.

Architect Holly Beal at KSQ said she is trying to get her company certified as a Bicycle-Friendly Business through the League of American Bicyclists. Participating companies are promoted by the nonprofit group for their commitment to health and environment.

Like ADG, KSQ redesigned its offices to include showers as well as a laundry room. The facilities are also popular with employees who exercise at the downtown YMCA, she said.

“The development of the downtown Bike Share program and availability of bicycle parking downtown is changing people’s perceptions,” she said. “And I think that’s what Tulsa wants, to attract young business professionals who are looking for cities where bikes are a seamless part of public transportation.”

Engineer Phillip Condley at the Dewberry design firm in Tulsa agreed with Beal’s assessment that young architects represent two aspects of the sea change: the so-called creative class as well as a generation redefining relationships between home and workplace. His building has locker space on the ground floor for cyclist tenants. Condley said he wouldn’t commute as often as he does without somewhere to store a change of clothes after a sweaty ride.

Oklahoma City voters approved $777 million in the MAPS 3 sales tax issue for several projects including $13.8 million for 8 miles of pedestrian and bike trails. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Oct. 20 for the Will Rogers trail extension along Interstate 44 from Lake Hefner to the Oklahoma River downtown. City Hall spokeswoman Kristy Yager said the final route took into consideration safety, points of interest, accessibility, connectivity, right of way constraints and how well it fits into the city’s master plan for trails.

“I’ve been riding bicycles for 30 years or more, and what I see in Oklahoma City – particularly in downtown – is that cycling is gaining in popularity,” said Anthony McDermid, principal at TAP Architecture.

“There are stalwarts of the older generation like myself who tend to be recreational enthusiasts,” he said. “But I see a new generation of cyclists arising now who like to commute and use bicycles as part of their workday. It is an obvious shift.”

His Oklahoma City office has a shower in it, which McDermid found useful when he commuted to work from Norman. Now it’s used regularly by another bicycle-riding employee. McDermid, a former competitive cyclist, also sponsors local rides.

“You’re seeing an attitude change in Oklahoma City’s trail plans, which for years were seen as recreational facilities but now are being viewed as dedicated commuting routes,” McDermid said.

 

Link to Original Article – http://bit.ly/2ct6kz8 
Author – Brian Brus on September 22, 2016 with The Journal Record

 

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