A Simple Proposal to Reduce Dangerous Driving in Downtown OKC

OKC downtowners, that commute on foot and/or bicycle, often complain about how drivers in autos put us at risk. They drive in bicycle lanes; park in bicycle lanes; block the crosswalks at intersections; blow through non-intersection crosswalks when there are pedestrians; and, they don't pay attention to people on the sidewalk when exiting a parking garage. 


Dangerous downtown drivers are infrequent visitors to downtown

Common sense suggests that many of these drivers don't frequently drive downtown. If they did, then they would know how to drive in an environment where there are pedestrians, bicycles and the features that accommodate them, like bike lanes and crosswalks. Again, logic dictates that these drivers, that we often complain about, are in downtown for a specific, non-recurring reason. 

So, the next logical question to ask is: who are these infrequent downtown visitors and why are they driving downtown? 

It has to be Oklahoma County jurors

Ten months per year, Oklahoma County issues almost 2,000 jury summons per month, for jury service in downtown Oklahoma City. That works out to almost 500 people per week, from all over Oklahoma County, including Edmond, Midwest City, Choctaw, Del City, Bethany and other parts of the suburban metro. They get in their cars and drive downtown. For some, it is their first time driving in an urban environment. Many are already in a foul mood because their lives and jobs are being interrupted. Plus, they have to pay to park their suburban-friendly SUV or truck in a small space, in an old parking garage. More frustration, right? 

Our Oklahoma County juror is an infrequent visitor to downtown, that already has a bad attitude, is often in a hurry and is uptight because he or she is driving in an unfamiliar environment. 

The stereotypical bad downtown driver HAS to be an Oklahoma County juror. 

There is some Twitter evidence. @MarekCornett noticed significantly less traffic than normal on August 8th. 

There are no jury trials (hence, no jurors) in July and August in Oklahoma County. 

A Proposal

While we can't do much to help the disgruntled juror's attitude--short of issuing Xanax with every jury summons, there is at least one thing that we can do:

How about adding some information about how to drive downtown, to the jury summons documents that are sent to those called for service? It could cover subjects such as:

  • Don't block crosswalks.
  • Stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.
  • Bicycles have the same right to the road as cars. 
  • Cars don't belong in bike lanes.
  • Speed limits are slow downtown.
  • Give yourself an extra 15 minutes to arrive so you don't feel rushed arriving into downtown. 

Does this idea have legs?

Pun intended.