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The Oklahoman documents dystopian parking situation in 39th Street Gayborhood…

Crazy right-wing politicians aren’t the only people unfairly targeting the LGBTQ+ community in Oklahoma. 

It looks like our city planners have it out for them, too!

Earlier this week, The Oklahoman's Jesse Christopher Smith documented the dystopian parking situation taking place in the proverbial Gayboorhood near NWth 39th and Penn. 

If you remember correctly, the city recently completed a massive streetscaping project in the area, adding much-needed lighting and angled parking in an effort to foster more growth and usher in new development. 

If that sounds like a good thing, it is, but one massive problem has emerged. 

The Einsteins who run the city completely misjudged the competence of metro area motorists – an inept group of numbskulls who lose their minds when presented with things like roundabouts, bike lanes, and flashing yellow arrows – and designed the area for reverse angle parking.

Here are the details:

Traffic commissioners voted recently to retain reverse-angle parking spaces in Oklahoma City’s historic LGBTQ+ district after months of friction with area businesses about the change.

The decision culminated negotiations spanning most of last year between the community's business owners in the 39th Street District and the city’s planners and traffic officials. Advocates say reverse-angle parking makes streets safer and easier to access for retail and bar traffic, but critics have argued the concept is too unfamiliar and challenging to most drivers…

“I’m a big believer that municipalities have to start working more towards other forms of accommodating people getting around and not accommodating the car all the time,” Ward 2 Traffic Commissioner Rob Littlefield

Uhm, does anyone think it’s a bit odd and judgemental for the city to designate the beloved Gayborhood as the one spot in town where people have to back-in to park? 

I know Angles is a popular, legendary spot, but parking in the area should probably be straight.

With that being said, I guess I'll ask the question we all want to know the answer to – what in the seven hells were the people in the city planning department thinking?! 

Seriously, drivers in this town couldn’t even navigate the innocuous WTF Medians on N. Western without turning the street into a dystopian demolition derby.

How are we going to expect them to adjust to some cutesy form of liberal elitist granola-munching parking?

The answer is not very well:

Kyle Merriweather, owner of the Whips N Furs Costumes shop formerly on 2131 NW 39 St., submitted a request last summer for traffic management to convert the spaces on the street back into “normal” head-in parking. Merriweather said that confusion stemming from the parking change was affecting safety in the area, citing what he described as multiple near-collisions, traffic jams and pedestrian concerns. 

“The majority of drivers do not follow the back-end parking policy,” Merriweather wrote. “Most members of the public still front-end park. In order to do so, they cross over the oncoming traffic lane to front-end park on the opposite side of the street. When these drivers exit the parking space, they back up in reverse across the oncoming traffic lane and enter the opposite lane to continue forward. This is extremely unsafe and a driving violation.”...

I did a quick search through the Oklahoman archives, and I believe this is the first time someone from Whips N Furs has been quoted in the paper. How’s that for history?!

The Oklahoman also talked to the guy who owns and runs the Rainbow Bistro. He estimated that only 25% of the customers he shamed into supporting his restaurant know what they're doing, with most taking wide turns across traffic to pull into parking spots, as opposed to just backing in.

Burl Beasley, owner of Rainbow Bistro, who said some of his café customers park correctly while others don’t. By his own count, Beasley said, only about 1 in every 4 people were parking correctly in late 2023. 

“The issue with that is, if people aren’t parking correctly, now you can’t see because you’ve been blocked by that truck. You’re parked correctly, but now you can’t see to get out, and now you’re going to accidentally hit somebody or hit a bicyclist, too,” Beasley said.

I’m not going to lie, 25% is higher than I expected! I thought it would be in the 5% - 10% range. Maybe drivers in this town are smarter than we thought!

Although business owners, residents, and everyone else seems to think that implementing experimental parking procedures in a town that’s famous for its terrible drivers who can’t even execute simple zipper merges is a bad idea that needs to be scrapped, some people I call friends actually think it’s a good idea:

Marek Cornett, the city's at-large traffic commissioner, said she'd like to see reverse-angle parking implemented throughout the city, but that the key issue lies in familiarizing the concept to more and more people.

"Other cities do this and do it well. Tulsa has it all over, Norman has it all over, so we’re starting to see this in neighboring cities," Cornett said. "And as we start talking about rolling it back and not having an opportunity to gain exposure here either, I think that that’s sending us in the wrong direction."

Nooooo! What is Marek doing!? I know she’s an idealist and everything, but she needs to fold on back-in parking like she has pocket aces in a poker tournament!

Trust me on this – there’s no way motorists in this town will adopt and adapt to this situation. Casey Cornett will make giant scarfs cool again before motorists figure out how to reverse park!

For what it’s worth, Marek’s rival JoBeth Hamon has been silent on the parking situation. That’s okay, because if she had her way, the city would replace all parking spots with bike racks, granola dispensers and safe spaces. 

Anyway, I guess we’ll continue to follow this saga in the Gayborhood.

It will be interesting to see what other parts of town fall victim to common sense parking solutions that our dumb motorists and citizens can’t comprehend. 

Stay with The Lost Ogle. We’ll keep you advised. 

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