Bellevue Bike Lane Closure for Air Show

6 Aug

We have received notice from Offutt Air Force Base that bike lanes along Ft. Crook Road (and the road, itself) will be closed in compliance with an FAA sanitized area for this weekend’s Air & Space Show.  The stretch of Ft. Crook affected is from the Kenney gate on the north side of the base, to the south just past the run way.

Approximate area of bike lane closure. (click for larger image)

The closure times  are as follows:

Friday 8/10 – 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. for rehearsal
Saturday 8/11 – 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Air & Space Show
Sunday 8/12 – 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Air & Space Show

Keep in mind, while these lanes are closed, bikes are absolutely welcome. See the information page for the Air & Space Show for an alternate bike route and a map of where they will have a bike valet.

Five Questions for . . . Candidates for Nebraska Legislative District 6

18 Jul

Legislative District 6 straddles the east and west of I-680 and north and south of Dodge Street. If there was a nexus of the East/West divide in Omaha, it would be LD-6. With regard to transportation policy, LD-6 finds itself as a focal point of Omaha’s future, with the planned ORBT route running straight down the middle.

Map of Legislative District 6
click image for larger file

The top two vote collectors in this Spring’s primary election were incumbent, Sen. Theresa Thibodeau and challenger Machaela Cavanaugh. We will be talking to both of them, this Friday at our monthly Coffee Chat. We’ll be meeting at 8 a.m. at the Crane Coffee at 78th and Cass to discuss transportation issues, the state legislature and District 6. To get to know the candidates a little better, we asked them five questions . . .

Theresa Thibodeau

1. What is your preferred mode of transportation?
Currently my preferred mode of transportation is my car, as that is what makes sense for my family and my job. I own a business in La Vista and there is no other means of transportation to get to La Vista.

2. What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge to multi-modal transportation in Omaha?
The greatest challenge to multi modal transportation is cost and how it will be funded.

3. What, in your opinion, the the greatest multi-modal success in Omaha?
I believe Omaha made great strides with the bike sharing system in the Aksarben and downtown areas, as well as the new Omaha Rapid bus Transit system. This system will make traveling in the metro easier and safer and will allow people to get to their destination more quickly.

4. How did you come to have an interest in transportation?
As a business owner and participant in Leadership Omaha, I became interested in transportation as it is important for a metropolitan area to have reliable and safe means for people to get around the city whether it be for work, school or recreation.

5. If you could magically change one thing about the transportation systems in Omaha, without limit to budget or feasibility, what would it be?
The one thing I would change about the transportation system in Omaha is I would broaden the areas of service. Currently there is not a means of transportation from Omaha to its surrounding cities. Having a means of transportation is important for families and businesses as it allows people to get to where there are available jobs.

Machaela Cavanaugh

1. What is your preferred mode of transportation?
Walking.

Walking allows me the best opportunity to interact with my surroundings and see my community. However, it can be frightening, particularly when I am walking with my children on high-speed streets where the sidewalk is not significantly separated from the flow of traffic.

2. What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge to multi-modal transportation in Omaha?
Omaha has some serious structural challenges to multi-modal transit such as our large geographic footprint and lack of population density, but our greatest challenge, as it is in most American communities, is mindset. Too often for members of our community the automobile is the only mode of transit considered. Some of this can be changed by improving multi-modal infrastructure, but unless we see other people actually walking on our sidewalks to the neighborhood grocery store, riding in the bike lane to work, or taking the bus for a night out, we won’t consider it as an option for ourselves.

3. What, in your opinion, the the greatest multi-modal success in Omaha?
I am very excited about the bus rapid transit proposal for Dodge street. BRT is a great option for Omaha and the ORBT will run through the heart of the 6th district offering residents of the district a great tool for traveling east to west quickly and reliably.

4. How did you come to have an interest in transportation?
Through my work on early childhood education I have come to see the essential role that transportation plays in proving opportunity to young children. If we want our children to grow up healthy and thrive, their parents need to be able to reach quality jobs, quality childcare, affordable and nutritious food, and cultural and recreational areas. A robust transit system can make all of these community assets more accessible to all families, regardless of their wealth or income.

5. If you could magically change one thing about the transportation systems in Omaha, without limit to budget or feasibility, what would it be?
Just one thing?! It would be wonderful to provide all public transit free of cost to riders. This would increase accessibility for those who most need transit, but it could also encourage others to take experimental trips and explore the feasibility of using transit in their everyday life. Every trip that we can migrate from a car to a bus is one less car on the street that day. Fewer cars on the street benefits us all, regardless of our chosen mode of travel.

The Noise About Riverfront

17 Jul

All around town, there is a buzz around the plan for the riverfront. As something intended to physically unite the city around its downtown through a first-class urban riverfront, it has provided something for everyone… something to love, like, dislike, and generally question.

At ModeShift, the dialogue has been similar but first, let’s recap the proposal:

  • Stated intent: “Create a catalyst on the riverfront”
  • Physically and psychologically connect Downtown Omaha with the “riverfront” including Heartland of America Park, the Gene Leahy Mall, and Lewis and Clark Landing.
  • Completion by 2021

Lewis and Clark Landing

riverfront image A 

    • Connection to North Downtown by the “Baby Bob.” Proposed in CIP
    • Connection through proposed Capital Avenue Extension

Heartland of America Park: 

riverfront image B

    • Extends Douglas Street  for a better connection with Lewis and Clark Landing (vehicular way)
    • Extends Farnam Street as a pedestrian promenade that will terminate in a pier over the Missouri to provide a physical and visual connection to the river
    • Lawn bridge over the railroad between Farnam Street extension to Interstate 480 to provide a better connection to the river
    • Riverfront Trail (“Riverfront Promenade”)
    • Ice/Rollerblade Ribbon

Gene Leahy Mall

OM-RIV-HeartlandofAmericaPark-109

    • Sunken level, maintaining some water, from 11th Street Promenade to 8th Street
    • An 11th Street Pedestrian Promenade to provide a connection across the mall
    • Street level park from 11th Street Promenade to 13th Street
    • The surplus land from 13th to 14th Street is proposed for “future development, civic plaza, and future civic opportunity”
    • Theoretically, raising the mall to street level will make it easier for pedestrians to cross the space between Douglas and Farnam Streets

As there is more information contained in the plan than appropriate for a single blog post, there is much more information available on the project website: Riverfrontrevitalization.com/. Below are our thoughts on the proposal…

Pros:

  • $290M investment in the core of the city
  • Will likely result in major private market investment in the core of the city
  • Great cities have great downtowns and great urban parks and this seems like a step in the right direction
  • A complement to the ORBT and the potential streetcar (alignments and interactions should be incorporated into the design)
  • A strategic investment to physically and psychologically connect three disparate public spaces
  • The proposal includes several pedestrian and bicycle connections in the study area including missing links:
    • 11th Street Promenade on the Mall
    • Riverfront Promenade through Heartland of America Park and Lewis and Clark Landing to connect trail segments
    • An improved connection between the Gene Leahy Mall and Heartland of America Park
    • Better access to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

Cons:

  • The Gene Leahy Mall is an iconic public space and meddling with it should not be done lightly.
  • The Gene Leahy Mall – today and in the future – is isolated by the adjacent street environments on Farnam and Douglas Streets and are not sufficiently addressed in the proposal. Both Farnam and Douglas Streets should be calmed to reduce vehicle speed, increase pedestrian and bicycle safety, and activate the streetscapes along the mall.
  • The proposal is likely over programmed which will likely threaten the user experience
  • The number of elements in the proposal will result in high maintenance costs and will likely lead to competition between event lawns within the project and with existing facilities such as Turner Park.
  • The lack of public involvement further reinforces a ‘pay to play’ form of community engagement.
  • People will continue coming downtown with their cars unless the city continues to invest to encourage transit ridership and to make the city safe for bicyclists and pedestrians.

We wish for transparency moving forward and we will demand quality because the stakes are too high for Omaha.