I have never been to Oklahoma, as I am not down with tornadoes. But I did talk to my good friend Pat, who was born and raised in OKC, about his hometown. “The problem is that once you get away from Bricktown and [home of the Thunder] Chesapeake Energy Arena, it’s incredibly unwalkable,” he told me. “OKC is almost the same size as Los Angeles but our public transit system is even worse if you can believe it.” That’s damning criticism and the data backs it up: OKC scored a dismal 32.1 on Redfin’s Walk Score, the worst of any city on this list by a wide margin.
Back in 2015, Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett issued a blunt public health challenge to his constituents: Lose some weight. (OKC has a high rate of obesity for a lot of reasons, the city’s dependence on cars and its lack infrastructure for pedestrians or cyclists among them.) It was a refreshingly frank policy initiative and Oklahomans took it seriously, losing more than a million collective pounds in the process. Mayor Cornett also backed several wide-ranging programs to help design a more active city, including spending more than $3 billion on reimagining the city’s car-oriented downtown. As Jeff Speck, author of Walkable City told Mosaic magazine back in 2015, “The American healthcare crisis is an urban design problem.”