In a Landslide, Tulsa Wins the Parking Madness “Golden Crater” Award

Streetsblog readers have spoken — and they have annointed Tulsa, Oklahoma, as the champion of Parking Madness, our hunt for the worst parking crater in an American downtown.

The final match was a total blowout, with Tulsa stomping Milwaukee in our poll, 483 to 124. In the end, no other downtown could compare to the parking devastation on the south side of Tulsa. And so we award Tulsa Streetsblog’s first “Golden Crater” award.

Here’s one more look at the part of downtown that carried Tulsa through it all:

But the point of this contest isn’t just to single out Tulsa — it’s to help provoke change. In that spirit we wanted to share a redevelopment plan for this area submitted by Tulsa native Kevin Adams, who completed the project while working toward a master’s degree in urban planning at Clemson University in 2010. His plan [PDF] involves redeveloping the south side of Tulsa’s downtown as a reimagined “Cathedral Square,” a name sometimes given to the area in recognition of its beautiful historic churches.

“Cathedral Square is one of Tulsa’s most tattered urban environments,” Adams wrote in 2010. “A more fitting moniker for the district might be ‘Cathedral Car Lot.’”

The first step to rebuilding this area would be to renew the city’s current moratorium on downtown surface parking lots, which expires at the end of the month unless the City Council acts. But Adams has some advice that goes beyond preventing the problem from getting worse.

To turn downtown into a welcoming pedestrian environment, he recommends putting streets on road diets to tame vehicle speeds and make walking more comfortable.

Tulsa could establish a few streets as transit thoroughfares. Image: Kevin Adams

Adams named a few streets — Boston Avenue and 10th Street – that he thinks should remain major thoroughfares but could still be improved for walking. ”Boston Avenue if revived under the right design and planning rules could easily one day become Tulsa’s premier outdoor shopping street, like Philadelphia’s Walnut Street, or Chicago’s Magnificent Mile,” he wrote.

He also wants to see the city establish a form-based code to influence the shape, size, and position of buildings. A form-based code could help Tulsa direct new development in a way that produces a healthy pedestrian environment, with sidewalk-facing retail spaces and residential and commercial development tailored for walkability, not driving and parking.