This Friday, February 17, we welcome one of our own board members as our Coffee Chat guest speaker. Pell Duvall is the executive director of Omaha Bikes, a non-profit that “advocates for improved transportation, utility, and recreational bicycling infrastructure, opportunities, and experiences for the people of Omaha, Nebraska and the surrounding area.” We asked him five questions.
1. What is your preferred mode of transportation?
Although, I’d prefer to ride a dragon, my orange steel cross bike is next favorite.
2. What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge to multi-modal transportation in Omaha?
Perception of safety. We have a great and growing bike network and many encouraged active transportation users, but we don’t yet have protected bike lanes streets, real-time bus notifications, or safe, complete pedestrian infrastructure. We have connected routes, great encouragement programs, and great supporting organizations, but we lack the ‘next step’ in active transportation development which is encouraging the 60% ‘Interested, but concerned’ population. A 2015 ULI study shows that 52% of Americans would like to live in a place where they do not need to use a car that often, and I don’t think it’s coincidence that those percentages are very similar.
3. What, in your opinion, the the greatest multi-modal success in Omaha?
I’m going to say it’s a tie between the Live Well Omaha Commuter Challenge and Heartland B-cycle.
4. How did you come to have an interest in transportation?
I began commuting by bicycle in 2007 when I was encouraged by my employer (a 60 year old eye doctor) who commuted over 30 miles per day most work days. I moved to Omaha in 2008 and participated in group rides, the commuter challenge, and attended MSO meetings. From there, I headed a steering committee in 2013 to revitalize Omaha Bikes. Somehow the stars aligned, and I was given an opportunity to become Omaha Bikes’ first employee!
5. If you could magically change one thing about the transportation systems in Omaha, without limit to budget or feasibility, what would it be? Presuming that switching all transportation dragon flying is not a viable option, I would design roadways that connect key attraction, resource, and employment centers that follow the most efficient course. As co-chair of the Bike Omaha Network Committee, we are challenging area planners to think in desire lines i.e. where you would put a road that doesn’t exist yet!
Pell Duvall received a Bachelors of Arts in Communication from Truman State University and is a League Certified Instructor with the League of American Bicyclists. He has worked in healthcare and business project management prior to joining Omaha Bikes as Executive Director.