Five Questions for Abbie Kretz

19 Jun

This month, June, 2019, our Coffee Chat guest will be Abbie Kretz from Heartland Workers Center. Abbie is the lead organizer for the organization, and we’ll be discussing how transportation and employment are inseparable. Join us Friday, June 21st at the Scooters on 30th and Ames at 8 a.m. From the Heartland Workers Center website:

Abbie grew up in Schuyler, Nebraska. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in philosophy and religion, and Spanish, and a Master of Arts in sociology. Previously, Abbie was a volunteer with the Good Shepherd Volunteers in Peru. While in Peru, she coached soccer and started a reading group at a home for teen girls, worked at a women’s center, and coached boys soccer in one of Lima’s shantytowns. In her free time, Abbie enjoys running, teaching and doing yoga, reading about world history, and traveling.

https://www.heartlandworkerscenter.org/staff

We asked her five questions:

1. What is your preferred mode of transportation?

 I guess my mode of transportation is my car; however, I wish I used more public transportation. When I travel to see friends, I always use trains, subways, or buses to get around because that’s the culture. I feel like it provides increased opportunities to engage with people that sitting is a car does not.

2. What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge to multi-modal transportation in Omaha?

Like I said above, it’s the culture of public transportation.  Until we can get people out of their cars and feel like they know, understand, and can rely on other modes to get around.  Personally, I think the use of public transportation is perceived to be used by people who don’t have or cannot afford cars.  So we really need to change the mindset of people (including myself) that the public transportation system is safe, reliable, and functional for all.  

Secondly, we also need to ensure that the infrastructure is set up this way and can actually get people to where they need to go – to jobs, entertainment, etc. – whenever they need it – whether it be through public transportation or alternative modes (i.e. bike trails  and lanes).

3. What, in your opinion, the the greatest multi-modal success in Omaha?

I would say the fact that there is now a multi-sector approach looking at the transportation issues – that goes beyond just fixing potholes – and is working to create a vision for a better transportation system.

4. How does transportation influence the mission and capabilities of the Heartland Workers’ Center?

In 2015, we conducted a community assessment in South Omaha.  A question we asked stated, “do you use public transportation?”, and the majority of respondents said no – because they use their cars.  Even more recently, this is an issue we continue to confront with leaders, who state that they cannot get around in Bellevue easily or that youth cannot be engaged with programs after school because they won’t have a way home if they stay.  We’ve also seen how it impacts leaders ability to be involved with our efforts – their cars need to be repaired, they cannot find a ride, or it can be too costly to drive to South Omaha (if this is where meetings are).  It definitely impacts one’s ability to be more engaged in the community.

5. If you could magically change one thing about the transportation systems in Omaha, without limit to budget or feasibility, what would it be?

I love magic wand questions.  We would create a system (buses, trams, bikes, walking trails, etc.) to where people no longer feel dependent upon their cars in the metro area because the culture is changing and making these other systems more accessible and easy to use.

When the Sidewalk Ends in Omaha

8 Jun
New Video from our Walkability Team

Omaha has a problem with maintaining accessible pedestrian options, especially around construction projects. This situation is neither inevitable nor without remedy. Many cities require transportation management plans when construction will block pedestrian infrastructure.

Sign our petition encouraging the city to adopt policies consistent with other comparable cities that recognize the need for accessible pedestrian infrastructure.

Five Questions for Geoff DeOld

15 May

When it comes to transportation, it’s not only about how you get there, but what the place looks like when you start and finish a trip. Architects exist at the genesis of the built environment. Their vision and design play a crucial role in shaping our world and defining our options within it. This month, we’ve invited the firm of DeOld/Andersen to share some of their design ideas around infill development as our coffee chat guest speakers. Our coffee chat is Friday, May 17th at 8 a.m. at the Scooters on 30th and Ames. Geoff DeOld, principle architect at DeOld/Andersen, will be joining us — and we asked him five questions:

1. What is your preferred mode of transportation?

Walking when at all possible.

2. What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge to multi-modal transportation in Omaha?

A lack of good urban form that allows for successful multi-model transportation, or at least makes it interesting.

3. What the the greatest multi-modal success in Omaha?

Heartland B-Cycle introducing electric assist bikes to their bike share fleet. if eventually paired with real bike infrastructure that forms some sort of network, biking could become a viable form of transportation in some areas of Omaha.

4. How did you come to have an interest in transportation?

I like cities, and great cities offer a range of transportation options.

5. What role can architects play in influencing our transportation network?

By promoting the design of buildings that help to define a strong public realm.