Today, CNN/Money published an online article, “Oklahoma’s Painful Car Culture.” In a survey of fifty cities best able to deal with the high gasoline prices, Tulsa and Oklahoma ranked 49th and 50th respectively. (San Francisco, New York, and Chicago were the top three, due to the public transportation infrastructures these cities enjoy.)
In Oklahoma, people often drive long distances to work (Lynnie spent several months commuting from Ardmore to Oklahoma City–100 miles, and I drove from Oklahoma City to Norman when I worked at the University of Oklahoma Press). Few alternatives to driving exist. In Oklahoma, folks LOVE their vehicles, and, usually, it’s the bigger the better. Oklahoma City, due to its large area, makes creating a public transit system difficult. And, in Oklahoma, we don’t really bike or walk, even for a couple of blocks–and watch out if you do. (One time, Anna visited me when I was living in Norman. I had to work one day she was there, and she went out walking. I remember her reporting that she saw no other pedestrians and that people looked at her askance.)
Several years ago, Grandma said that Oklahoma’s economy was inversely related to that of the rest of the country. When oil prices are high, it’s good for Oklahoma, but the rest of the country often suffers. Now, it seems that the gas prices are affecting Oklahomans as well.
Perhaps the car culture in Oklahoma is changing. One commuter from McLoud started organizing carpools to and from Oklahoma City. Tulsa and OKC are investigating ways they can increase public transportation options. These alternatives are promising.
Today on Fresh Air, Michael Greenberger discussed the economy. His intereview was interesting but made me nervous. The comment that stands out most is this–he said that lots of experts are saying that the economy is the worst it’s been since World War II, but by that, they mean it’s the worst it’s been since the Great Depression. I’ve heard that comment–in fact I heard it tonight on the radio driving home–several times. Now, I wonder: how bad can it get?