Weird “WTF Medians” to be removed from N. Western…

Back in May of 2015, a couple of weird, narrow, half-finished miniature medians seemingly popped-up overnight in the hipster bar crawl section of N. Western Ave.

Outside of irritating drivers, keeping tire shops in business, and giving credence to the OKC City Council theory that medians are dangerous hellscapes to stand on, we had no clue what they were there for. As a result, we decided to call them the “WTF Medians” and sent Louis to investigate. This is how he described them:

Within one day of appearing, it’s white, freshly dried concrete finish quickly became tarnished with one black rubber burn after another, with a nice collection of hubcaps gathering on both sides of the street. As I was taking the pictures for this piece, a small sporty car skidded right into it, popping of a hubcap with prestidigitatious timing.

Please tell me, road crew, did you mean to do this? Was it a mistake? A joke? An act of vengeance against a community that somehow wronged you?

Naturally, our article pissed off the carpetbaggers who ran the Western Avenue Association. They told us the miniature medians were called Chicanes, and they were being installed as a fancy, decorative way to improve public safety. It made sense. As we all know, nothing is safer than standing on the side of the road, dodging hubcaps, as cars violently swerve to the side to narrowly avoid hitting the random, tiny median stuck in the middle of the street.

Sadly, after a five year run of making unsuspecting motorists say “What the f*ck is that?!”, it looks like the medians are coming to an end.

Via KFOR:

A popular area along a busy stretch of roadway will soon receive a bit of attention from construction crews.

If you’ve driven along Western Avenue in northwest Oklahoma City, you’ve likely noticed some curb features in the roadway.

The chicanes are designed to slow down traffic, but officials say many drivers are having a hard time navigating them.

Now, city officials say the chicanes will be replaced with crosswalks along much of Western Ave.

That’s sad. The median was annoying, but I was kind of charmed by its character. It was always fun to drive by them and look at all the new rubber scuff marks adorning their sides. Just to piss off Steve Lackmeyer, maybe we can relocate them to the Oklahoma City Boulevard? It could use a few more obstacles now that it has traffic signs.

Anyway, I have no clue when the medians are going to be knocked out and replaced by boring sidewalks. I hope the city gives us a heads-up. I think we’d all like to drive over them one last time before they are gone.

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32 Responses


  1. Ah…chicane. From which, no doubt, we get the word “chicanery”.


  2. Next up: removing on-ramps, as 95% of okies simply cannot properly merge to save their lives.


    1. Either you’re joking , or you didn’t think this through.

      With no on ramps, how will drivers enter the highway? Across the grass?

      And your 95% estimate seems kinda high. A few morons do stop in the on-ramp, but not so many. Is the whole formation out of step, except for you?

      Good thing “Okie” isn’t so much of a slur any more, except maybe in California.


      1. Auntie never jokes, Mr. Graychins.


        1. It’s still an open question whether Auntie is itself a joke though.


          1. Not a nice day to make jokes on auntie’s expense.


            1. Something about Auntie pisses Nice Day off.


      2. Love the folks who fly past the yield sign without looking expecting a gap to magically appear like they’re owed it…


      3. The on ramps are fine where they are, it’s the highways themselves that are the problem, notice, that’s where most of the accidents happen. Remove the highways.


  3. My biggest bitch is trying to cross Classen Blvd going east and west
    on several streets between 23rd and 36th.
    Classen Beautiful has let the trees get overgrown enough to
    where you can’t easily see the oncoming traffic and know when to give
    it the gas and cross that busy street.

    Sort of like on Western, it’s a beauty vs safety thing.


    1. Yep, that was some really poor landscaping decisions by the city. I mean, that’s Traffic Safety 101.


      1. Depends on the context. For a rural highway where speed and clearance is a priority, then yes.

        For a city where livability and getting traffic to actually drive at or below the posted speed limit so as not to obliterate humans, not so much.


        1. Wait, what? Are you saying that blocking the sight of on-coming traffic on the median of a divided blvd is a good thing because it increases our “livability”? I am trying to imagine a situation where blocking the sight of on-coming traffic is ever a good thing.
          Or was this comment mistakenly pegged to my own?


  4. I seem to remember the reason these were added was that it was some sort of city planning assignment that a group of OU students or class did. Not sure if someone’s father in that group was an influential city council member, or in was vocal in a neighborhood organization, but the city liked the idea of them. Not sure who exactly paid for creating them, but guessing the city, as it is their street.

    I found them to be a bad idea, but guess when you give a bad idea a cute name people tend to like the marketing of it. With as many bad drivers as there are, am surprised these lasted as long as they did.

    At least they didn’t cause any fatal traffic accidents, as far as we know.


    1. I live in the neighborhood and I don’t know who paid for them but the intent was to make drivers slow down which clearly didn’t work. Drivers continue to come in way too hot and then can’t change course in time or they just aren’t paying attention. I can’t argue with the fact they look stupid, because they do. But the goal was to slow down drivers and it worked. I just hope the cross walks don’t give pedestrians a false sense of security and lead to someone getting run over.


      1. Honestly the driver should get charged if it does happen. Pedestrians have the right of way in a crosswalk.


      2. “Can’t change course in time” ha ha ha ha


  5. I agree Mark. I nearly die every time I try to leave Lee’s Sandwhiches with 17 crab rangoons and half a bahn mi stuffed in my mouth as I’m leaning out my window trying to see around trees and bushes.


  6. Dang it. I was going to sell the Curbside Chronical from that chicane.

    Chica-chicane, bom – bom.


  7. Don’t be surprised if maybe they’ll replace those with an extension of the “Kickapoo Turnpike.”


  8. If “drivers are having trouble navigating them” is the reason for their removal, will traffic circles be next?


    1. These pedestrian islands probably could have been fixed with moving the curb extensions back or making the median shorter. I can tell just by looking at it my pickup isn’t making it through there without going over a curb, offtracking is a thing that exists.

      Don’t know of any traffic circles in Oklahoma (a circular road with traffic signals or stop signs). Quite a few roundabouts (same idea but with yields), even three mini roundabouts (same idea as a roundabout but the island in the middle is painted on, you still have to go around the island), but no traffic circles. Count on those increasing in numbers because they’re cheaper, safer, more reliable and less prone to delay than a traffic signal for the same intersection footprint. Make the intersection larger and a roundabout can move more than a traffic signal.


      1. I drive a large pickup and it fits just fine. You just have to slow down and not go through them at 45 mph


  9. Funny to see how many times the signs are replaced after being run over again and again on NW 36th & N McKinley just west of Classen. These place are dangerous.


    1. Though if you’re turning trying to go left of the right side of the median in the first place, I think this speaks more to the driver than the fixed object in the road…


  10. That’s not even a chicane, it’s a badly executed pedestrian island. Either way, a choke point (where only one direction can fit through at a time) would be a more effective traffic calming method than this.


  11. OKC has several WTF traffic issues.
    The one I deal with everyday is the prohibited left turn from the OKC Blvd. onto Reno avenue as you drive SE. it is an easy and logical left turn but it isn’t allowed. There’s even a traffic light there.
    Instead, you are forced to go through the intersection and make a sharp left at a 45-degree angle to jog back up Shartel to reach Reno near where you just came from. That little piece of Shartel is probably only 100-feet long so all the cars headed to downtown get stacked up there in the morning causing all kind of congestion on the boulevard and creating havoc trying to cross or access Reno. It forms a little triangle of chaos.
    All of which could be solved if the left-hand turn was allowed a mere 200 feet to the west.

    I was pulled over for taking that turn when the boulevard first opened. It was such an obvious left-turn to reach downtown that I took it without thinking. Cost me $185.
    I asked the officer if she had an idea of why it would be configured in such a way and her response was: “I don’t know – it’s really stupid. My commander just told us to sit down here in shifts and hand out tickets because there’ll be a LOT of them at this intersection”.

    If you don’t take the sharp left to get back to Reno, you are swung wide and toward the south – away from downtown OKC. It makes the name Oklahoma City Boulevard a bit of a misnomer when it takes you in the opposite direction. Of course it is all designed to feed into the new development near Scissor Tail park. Logical traffic patterns be damned.


    1. OKC Blvd is still basically a freeway at that point. Try turning at Western instead.


      1. I think the speed limit on the boulevard changes to 45mph about a mile or so west of that intersection and with the stoplight they added at Klein to slow things down even more, it’s not a high-speed stretch of road. Since the intersection is controlled by a traffic light, there isn’t any reason a left turn can’t be made there. It’s just a really poor design and by the line of cars trying to get back up to Reno, others seem to agree. it creates a real bottle neck and seems to cause more accidents than a simple left turn.

        I’ve done the Western route a couple of times and it’s horrible. Too congested and the timing of the lights is screwed up. takes forever – which the boulevard was supposed alleviate.


        1. It’s still built as an expressway, and 45 MPH is still expressway speeds. Not that this was OKC’s choice, OKC’s design was to have it be a 20 MPH, people first promenade style boulevard, not the urban expressway ODOT overruled them on.

          Mind you I’d be less upset with ODOT moving I 40 and calling it I 40 Business but then they moved I 40, built a surface expressway where the old freeway was, and then called it a downtown street…completely incongruent with the rest of the grid and then dumped it out of the state inventory onto the city.

          OKC should have said “it’s our way or no way” and just rezoned the freshly vacated lots ODOT left when they tore the old I 40 causeway down.


          1. good info on the history of that thing. I didn’t know how that came about.
            thanks


  12. There for the all too many dip shits that don’t know how to make right and left turns.

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