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Pedal power


Get on that bike and ride! Around downtown, that is.

Clifton Adcock May 16th, 2012

As Queen’s Freddie Mercury once put it, if Jaws was never your scene and you don’t like Star Wars ... there’s always the option of riding a bicycle in downtown Oklahoma City, which is going to get a little easier after Friday.

Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. and the city’s Office of Sustainability are officially launching a new bikeshare program on that date, which happens to coincide with national Bike to Work Day.

Called Spokies, the program allows participants to rent a bicycle from one of six solar-powered kiosks located in several locations throughout downtown.

The kiosks are slated to be in the Midtown area at N.W. 10th Street and Walker Avenue, at the Cox Convention Center, near the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library, at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark and in the Deep Deuce area at N.W. Second Street and Walnut Avenue.

To rent a bike, one will need a Spokies one-day, one-month or one-year membership using a valid credit card. Membership can be purchased at —one of the kiosks, —online at spokiesokc.com, —by calling 235-3500, —or at Downtown OKC’s office at 211 N. Robinson.

Membership fees run at $5 for one day, $20 for one month and $75 for a year.

Participants can rent a bike from one of the kiosks for an unlimited number of 30-minute periods through out the membership duration. Late fees apply for rides longer than 30 minutes.

The program, paid for through a federal block grant, boasts 95 standard low-entry bikes outfitted with two baskets.

The need for Spokies was recognized in 2008 in the city’s Downtown Strategic Initiative plan, said Jennifer Gooden, director of the city’s Office of Sustainability. She noted that the program has been boosted by other projects, such as the downtown streetscape and greenscape renovation of Project 180.

“We’re in the middle of a big change to the downtown area,” Gooden said. “Project 180 is making it a bikable downtown and we’re providing the bikes through this program.”

There are similar bike-share programs in locations such as Paris, Denver, New York and Washington, D.C., but the one that caught city officials’ attention was a program in Minnesota, known as Nice Ride Minnesota, Gooden said.

In addition, the program also will help supplement the city’s transit system, hopefully contribute to better air quality and resident health, she said.

According to Gooden, Spokies might be just the beginning of a larger bike-sharing operation. Although the current system is designed to get bikers from Point A to Point B downtown, organizers hope to widen the program in the future.

“Interest has been very high in it,” Gooden said, “and we expect it to expand out from here.”

 
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