Today the Omaha City Council approved the addition of a Complete Streets Healthy Living Manager position to be added to the Public Works in the latter half of 2015.
It’s important that we all stop and acknowledge just how far we’ve come in one month’s time.
When the City of Omaha budget was released, it did not include the Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator position. According to Mayor Jean Stothert, the position was no longer necessary because “the purpose of this position, the goals have been reached.”
So, for a moment, that was the outlook. It was bleak.
Today, things are very different. The Mayor acted fairly quickly to create the Active Living Advisory Committee and selected Julie Harris to be its first chair. Win.
Soon thereafter, several months of ongoing discussions between several city departments, Omaha by Design and others culminated in an agreement to create the city’s first Complete Streets policy. Win.
The Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA) then offered to ramp up its multimodal planning efforts if the city agreed to chip in a few bucks to make it happen. The city obliged. Win.
And finally, a position dedicated to multimodal transportation – a balanced transportation coordinator – was restored into the budget. As it stands today, the City Council approved a position in Public Works and the Mayor agreed to a similar position in Planning. There’s still the possibility of a veto, so we’ll see where this shakes out. Nevertheless, we’ll call it a win.
That’s some pretty legit progress in the last 4–5 weeks, and its largely due to the unbelievable grassroots activism of multimodal advocates like you. You stood in the rain at a bike/ped rally. You contacted your city council members. You attended and spoke up at the budget hearing. You blew up social media. You wrote to the Public Pulse. You responded to media requests.
The end result of your hard work is that we are in a far better position now that we were before the Mayor’s office announced the elimination of the Bike/Ped Coordinator. We completely flipped the trajectory and drove the conversation and decisions.
Good work, people. Very good work. Now comes the hard part: holding the city accountable to what it agreed to do. As ModeShift continues its progress to formalize into a legal entity, we commit to continually pushing the conversation forward and holding our elected officials and other decision-makers accountable. But we need your help.
Are you with us?
We’re re-launching on September 22. Come say hi, celebrate today’s victory, and learn what Mode Shift’s plans are for moving forward. House of Loom. 6:00 – 9:00pm.