A Tulsa mom writes about the impact of suburban sprawl

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Found on a MySpace blog during a Technorati search for "Tulsa", this is from Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck:

Another word for dependent is burden, and that term better describes these parents' perception of the children who rely upon them for mobility. Mothers often derail their careers so that their children can experience a life beyond the backyard. The role of journalist, banker, or marketing director is exchanged for that of chauffeur, with the vague hope that their career will resume when the last child turns sixteen; thus the term soccer mom -- a distinctly suburban euphemism. The plight of the suburban housewife was powerfully conveyed in a letter we received in 1990 from a woman living outside of Tulsa:

"Dear Architects:

"I am a mother of four children who are not able to leave the yard because of our city's design. Ever since we have moved here I have felt like a caged animal only let out for a ride in the car. It is impossible to walk even to the grocery store two blocks away. If our family wants to go for a ride we need to load two cars with four bikes and a baby cart and drive four miles to the only bike path in this city of over a quarter million people. I cannot exercise unless I drive to a health club that I had to pay $300 to, and that is four and a half miles away. There is no sense of community here on my street either, because we all have to drive around in our own little worlds that take us fifty miles a day to every corner of the surrounding five miles.

"I want to walk somewhere so badly that I could cry. I miss walking! I want the kids to walk to school. I want to walk to the store for a pound of butter. I want to take the kids on a neighborhood stroll or bike. My husband wants to walk to work because it is so close, but none of these things is possible. . . And if you saw my neighborhood, you would think that I had it all according to the great American dream."

TRACKBACKS:

See-Dubya, out on the Left Coast, says we should count our blessings:

You live in one of the greatest little cities in America, lady. Id love to have your problems. Id be up at Grand Lake this weekend, buzzing around in my bass boat with the rich people. Id go all Lileks on one of the most beautiful Art-Deco downtowns in the country. Id take my kid to the JM Davis gun museum or Woolaroc or Gilcrease or Philbrook or out to wander around in some little brick downtown with an Indian name like Warneka or Beufala that still has its feed stores right there on Main Street....

I can walk three blocks to a grocery store here, too, and its a fancy-pants rinky-dink Whole Foods knockoff thats never open when I need it. Safeway is two miles up a commuter-jammed highway. I could walk to church, but to find one that actually believes in the Trinity requires a five-mile trip in the family truckster.

Charles G. Hill, down at the other end of the turnpike, sees a lot of walkers in his neighborhood, but not a lot of kids:

And I don't expect this to change any time soon: if you're buying a house in town and you've got school-age kids, your friendly agent will steer you away from my neighborhood, despite its manifest advantages, because it's in an urban school district and you can't possibly want that.

(My apologies for not having trackbacks turned on, but I got tired of deleting 40-60 spam trackbacks a day, and my old spam-deterrent techniques were no longer working. As soon as I get MT 3.2 installed, I'll turn them back on. In the meantime, I'll manually add trackback links as I find them or if they're e-mailed to me at blog at batesline dot com.

20 Comments

jan thomas said:

I have only lived in one area of Tulsa where you could possibly do the things this mother is mentioning. My daughter went to Carnegie Elementary School off of 56th and Yale. We lived within walking distance to school, but unfortunately with child abduction cases being rampant in our society back then and today, I was not about to let her do that. As a matter of fact, I would not even let her play in the front yard. The grocery store was within walking distance also, but again security was always a deciding factor. So we would hop in the car and drive. She is 25 now, so that has been awhile back, but I would do the same thing over again.

It is very sad, as when I was growing up, we would ride our bikes up to Ranch Acres on a regular basis to go to the TG&Y. I really do hate it for the kids today. Sprawl and crime have really made it hard to be a "real neighborhood."

Michael,
I'm glad you are always finding something about our city not being "walkable."
It really is a shame.

Having a "walkable" city is more than just sidewalks and wheelchair ramps at intersections.

Sometimes I miss the old small German village I used to live in years ago. What a community! It had a small bakery with the best bread you've ever had. It had a small pharmacy. A tiny grocery store. We got our milk from the neighbor's cow. (literally). The other neighbor provided us with our eggs. I even used to take my worn out jacket to be mended at our local seamstress. The local shoesmith was always ready to fix my shoes.

If I ever needed anything "big", then we made a trip out of it and only went like once a month to the "city". And even there, you parked your car and WALKED into the plaza where no cars were allowed.
oh well... What's a Tulsan to do?

Paul Tay said:

Tulsa Police should deploy reserve bike officers to escort kids to school and to patrol the neighborhoods.

Cinegrafique will screen NYC TransAlt's Contested Streets on 28 July, 2045, on the front yard of my house. Public is welcomed. Park at Whiteside Park, Highland Park, Patrick Henry Elememtary, or Reasor's at 41st and Yale. Walk or bike to my front yard, 40th and Toledo. Bring a small personal radio for the audio on FM 107.3, Pimp Radio.

Weenie roast at 1915. Santa will debate Tulsa Police Chief Dave Been at 2015 on bicycling in Tulsa traffic. If the Chief is no-show, an actor will stand in.

To avoid charges of impersonating a police officer and no one is confused, the actor will wear a cone-shaped hat with cowhorns painted pink and wear a name tag, Foo Foo Fuzz.

If he shows, Chief and his entourage will get first dibs on the weenies. As for the chips and cokes, every man for himself. BYOW, Bring Yer Own Weenies, highly suggested.

Paul Tay said:

What's a Tulsan to do? GIT OFF YER FAT A-- PEDAL.

[Expletive expurgated by editor.]

susan said:

This mom should have looked for a neighborhood to live in with sidewalks for a start. With all the bike trails now, we could bike to work and with the price of gas continually going up I am for the bike trails!

I picked up my son from Quartz Mountain OAI today and the state of Oklahoma bridge workers failed to coordinate the timing of their work near Lone Wolf. I tried one path and there was no warning the bridge was out so I tried another path and sure enough another bridge was out. I went to the corner grocery and asked why of all weeks they would take out the bridge on the path where we drive to Quartz Mountain Resort when hundreds of people visiting for Quartz Mountain OAI weekend? Bad communication he said. He said he even warned the bridge workers of poor timing and they needed to wait until Monday, June 26th. Hundreds of visitors coming to see such talented youth selected from about 1,000 applicants. I did not see the Tulsa World list the names of the winners for OAI Quartz Mountain -- but my son said he spoke to David Boren, the owner of the the Arby's restaurants said his daughter was there, and other interesting people supporting Quart Mountain Oklahoma Arts.

We traveled to Boston, Mass. last summer and we were in a section that had apartments where someone did not need a car to get to the grocery, library, etc. It was fun to see the open market, stores of all kinds, get on a boat to get to another side of even more places to sightsee and a lot more walking. We were in Boston to see the DCI World Championship my son performed in. Bad thing about Boston, prices of homes are much more expensive and if people do choose to living in apartments I mentioned parking can be a hassle with no garage.

Driving through many small towns on my way to Lone Wolf, Oklahoma -- so many of these kids in these small towns have so little material things. One town the most exciting thing going on today was the local church gathering. One sign posted said "Obey God, be good to others, that's it!" And of course "ya'll come back, ya hear with a friendly smile and a person waving. They have so little yet so friendly and thankful for the simple things in life.

We even drove down an interesting back road where a man had his house for sale that did not have a grocery store or "sidewalk" or neighbor for several miles.

My wife and I used to live in downton Santa Barbara, CA. We walked to go to movies, bookstores, and shopping, to eat, to go to the beach, and to go shopping...it was AWESOME. Having grown up in Tulsa, I never knew what I was missing. Now that I'm back, I wish Tulsa was walkable.

Paul Tay said:

Susan, we already have the world's most advanced bike trails in the world. The problem is the price of gas is still too low.

Sandi Garrett, Oklahoma's education Grand Pooba, is not doing enough to mandate the latest bicycle driving education to 4th graders, statistically the most prevalent bicycle roadkill in all the major roadway crash studies.

susan said:

Tulsa Police should NOT be responsible for escorting kids to school. Parents should be responsible for making sure their own kids get to school safely. One of the biggest problems in low performng schools is non-parent involvement with their child's teachers, making
sure their homework is done, making sure they are properly fed before coming to school, making sure they have enough rest the night before so they can concentrate when class is in session.

If anyone wants to know about bicycle safety and rules of the road for bikers, contact their local bike shops. My husband and child were stopped by a policeman in a small town about 50 miles from Tulsa. Believe it or not, even the POLICEMAN had to be told about the rules of the rights of bikers on the road.

Joseph Wallis said:

You can have a walkable neighborhood in parts of Tulsa. In fact, you could have a walkable neighborhood in all of Tulsa if crime weren't so rampant. Crime is the only thing keeping neighborhoods from being walkable. I could walk to Aldis if i wanted to, but carrying back a load of groceries in the hot summer sun is no fun.

Twatch said:

In my day, the sorrow was for the poor unsophisticated soul that lived his whole life within 10 blocks of where he was born. Gee, how could one be fullfilled with such a limited life. Seems like now all that sophistication causes one to long for the simple life, or does it?

sbtulsa said:

the basic design of our cities is one reasn for the high gas consumption. new houses are built in tracts large enough to satisfy the builders and developers, meaning profit margin. we ought to think about how to revise our zoning so businesses and homes can be compatable when close together.

sbtulsa said:

TO MEECITEEWURKUR

some weekend, go to main street in jenks at eat breafast at the jenks restaurant. best waitri (plural of waitress) in town. they have uniqueloy made clocks on the walls (for sale). then you can walk down main street and visit a few shops. starting a block off main street, are houses. you can walk to jenks hs. thats paradise.

susan said:

This topic has been commented before, but there are Tulsa neighborhoods that were "walkable". We did NOT have school buses in elementary and I don't remember any provided for middle school. Some rode their bikes, some walked, some came to school with organized carpools where neighbors actually got along and knew other neighbors kids very well. It was very safe to walk to and from school even if you lived a mile away.

I lived a couple of blocks from Philbrook growing up in Tulsa. There was a grocery store, bank, gas station with service provided, ice cream store with 5 cents a dip cones. McDonald's was further down where they once made homemade french fries and homemade shakes (I got
to take a few tours). Pennington's was always a very popular place to go. The Brook theater had movies that were family friendly. Sometimes you could go for double and triple features -- a break in the summer for our hard working mothers that believed that being a full-time mother was a very worthy job. Families had a stronger sence of staying together and it was NOT common to have kids in your class where their parents were divorced. Families put time into being a family --devoting time, eating together, leisure time together. Most families had one t.v. set so again they were together and no filth on t.v. There was also a lot of comedy on t.v.

In school, the principal had a pretty easy job since the teachers could give a swat if someone was acting up. We could walk to the library, dry cleaners, restaurants, Anthony's had clothes, but my parents bought my clothes and shoes at Utica Square at Clark's and Renbergs for many years(also within walking distance). I guess the definition of "walk" is different now.

My friends could ride bikes or walk to Brookside or Utica Square.
Another walkable neighborhood was Florence Park neighborhood. They had a grocery store, cleaners, school, church all within a few blocks. The grocery store was located between 2lst and 15th on Harvard and the grocery store in Brookside was on Peoria next to Southminster church. Brookside had very affordable stores. Brookside also had a drug store and a very popular soda fountain.

These small little towns on the way to Lone Wolf, Oklahoma had many people living the simple life. A few cars wanted to stop and park close to the local cafe, and they parked right in the middle of the street with no complaints -- no tickets --just small town unity. Lots of smiles and waves to me along the way. It was definitely an enjoyable trip. All the winners of the Quartz Mountain Oklahoma Arts -- for two weeks they received fabulous teachers and a chance to get to know students in the arts from around the state of Oklahoma. Some of the kids are good at what they do simply because there isn't much else to do where they live but to practice in a skill that came about from these kids self-discipline. Some played in the orchestra, some were ballet dancers. My son performed first part (first chair) and roomed with a singer that will be going to Julliard. Many talented seniors in this group which the Tulsa World has not posted the list of the Tulsa County winners.

Paul Tay said:

Susan: I am quite aware that the police are just as ignorant about bike laws as the general public. That's why they keep ordering Santa off Riverside Drive, 169, and BA during rush. On a recent trip to Warner, OK, approximately 130 km from Tulsa, not less than 3 law enforcement agencies tried to charge Santa with "impeding" traffic. Bicycles don't impede traffic. Bicycles ARE traffic.

So, instead of going off the handle and arguing the finer points of law in the middle of traffic with police officers, Santa invited the Chief to a weenie roast and a debate, one-on-one, mano-y-mano. If he don't show, Santa made the effort and we will simply replace the Chief with an actor, wearing a cone-shaped hat with cow horns painted pink and a nametag: FOO FOO FUZZ. Wouldn't want anyone to get arrested for impersonating a police officer. I hope you will come to a fun-filled evening never before attempted in the history of Tulsa.

Perhaps the police should not be responsible for escorting kids to schools, but, they should be responsible for making our neighborhoods safe, or at least create the perception. If the police can make the parents feel safe about their kids walking or biking to school by escorting them and patrolling the neighborhoods on bikes, I'm all for it. The reality is most parents today really don't deserve to have kids, if they won't be involve in their kids lives at school.

Hope you can come to my house on the 28th July, last Friday, to meet Santa. Bring weenies!

susan said:

Hopefully neighbors will start getting to know your own neighbors well enough you can look after each other. We know of an elderly woman and her husband is living in a nursing home. We take her treats. Last one -- Cheesecake ice cream -- several slices from our newest ice cream store in our area. If your know your neighbors you will start getting to know who belongs in your neighborhood and who does not. My parents have a fantastic group of neighbors too. They also know my telephone # in case they need to call me if an emergency should happen.

susan said:

The Cheesecake Divine ice cream cake was a special treat for our elderly neighbor and she was overwhelmed and said how kind we were to think of her.
Thinking of others but offering to help if a husband /wife just can't figure out what they are doing to annoy each other like crazy -- one too many angry words and trouble can happen.
We have neighbors that have had marital problems and one really got out of hand, so I offered to act as a mediator and what could have ended up in a bad police report for our married neighbors got solved fairly.
Other neighbors have gotten divorced and the kids end up as victims of a broken heart torn between two people they love -- their mom and dad. Some at work openly talk about being married and having a relationship on the side. Does anybody have a conscience?
We had a neighbor that worked as an ER Doctor. His kids were always wanting to play near our house because they said it made them feel safe when their dad was home. The mother of these kids told another mother that lived next door that her husband that worked at the City of Faith as an ER Doctor did not treat his kids well at all. They ended up moving.
I helped another neighbor and took food for her family when her little girl died. She needed help with the meals but she also needed a neighbor she could call for comfort.
My daughter offers to take care of another neighbors mail and her pet when the neighbor is gone. We watch her house for her too. Lots of examples, but if you want safe neighborhoods, watch out for each other and have the city put up neighborhood watch program signs.

Paul Tay said:

Susan: Another thought about using the bike shop as the bike safety infomongers. Only the MOST overly gleeful Boy Scout bike shop salesperson/owner actually enjoy expounding on any other subject besides selling you a bike. You know the type. Someone you just want to strangle for ALWAYS smiling, even if the stock market has crashed, Brad Henry is elected Governor AGAIN, and the your kid just swallowed the goldfish.

Bike shops are small-time affairs. The margins are thin. Working at Venable's and Lee's in high school, I would only give enough info to make the sale and I wasn't even on commisssion. Imagine asking the Wal-Mart schlub bike safety info. Ain't gonna happen.

It's NOT their job. It's the public school's job. Why don't we prepare the 4th graders with bike driving ed so they'll be around for car drivers' ed?

susan said:

I meant a place that specializes in bikes -- such as T-Town Bicycles "Cycling Experts ..Service Specialists" They sell TREK bikes located on 7lst east of Riverside. The people there are very friendly, actually love to ride, and they have good service.

I have not had good service on Lee's at 8lst and Memorial -- employees are slow with service. We tried it several times and switched to T-Town on 7lst.

No Paul, I did not mean a place like Walmart. Prices are more expensive for bikes at a bike shop -- especially if you buy a lightweight TREK, but it's like do you want cheap hamburger or a filet. The TREK or better bikes at T-Town bikes are no comparison to something you would ever find at a discount store like Walmart.

Times have deinitely changed too since the old days of Venables :) with our Schwinn bikes which were considered good bikes back then.

susan said:

And the T-Town Bike Shop has plenty in their store to make a nice profit. They have good service,friendly help, bike gear.

Anybody interested in the tour de france? It's on television till the 23rd of July. Can you imagine riding that tour at that speed with that difficulty level for that long?

Going back to the "good old days" I saw the Ed Sullivan Show with the early days when the Beatles played on his show......my daughter did not realize the same song on Ferris Bueller's Day Off movie was sung by the Beatles with John Lennon doing a lot of the singing. Remember the famous New York parade scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off? One of my favorite parts of that movie.

If you want to see the bike path of the tour de france go to Google Earth! When I was lost near Lone Wolf, my husband had to get on the satellite to help me find a new path because the bridge was out with no street warning signs. Talk about bad communication. YOu have hundreds of people going to the resort and the bridge workers won't wait an extra week to start their work. Don't think the Governor's office had any clue they were pulling that one. Also the road I was on had no street signs.

I am all for the bike paths -- with the price of gas we are going to need more bike paths in Tulsa County and throughout Oklahoma -- people in other small towns that work in Tulsa County may just need to peddle to work if gas gets any higher.

susan said:

My husband took a friend of his bike shopping yesterday, and if anyone thinks the higher end Tulsa, Oklahoma bike shops are
small time businesses, wake up! Just in the
time they were shopping for a special bike, T-Town Bike Shop sold close to $10,000.00 worth
of merchandise! Their business is booming!

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on June 25, 2006 3:15 PM.

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