We are pleased to welcome Madison Haugland as out Coffee Chat guest for September. Join us this Friday, September 15, at 8 a.m. at Spielbound, 3229 Harney St.; you can RSVP at our Facebook page. Madison is a community advocate for safer walking and biking spaces, strategist of the LWO Commuter Challenge, a League Cycling Instructor and experienced program manager of physical activity promotion in her more than five years at Live Well Omaha. She serves as Board Chair of the Community Bike Project Omaha, a board member of Omaha Bikes and is a mentor at The Bike Union Mentoring Project. We asked her five questions:
1. What is your preferred mode of transportation?
I love to ride my bike, but now that we live in the Joslyn Castle neighborhood I’m a big fan of walking to neighborhood businesses. We can easily walk to dinner, coffee, ice cream, groceries, our gym and entertainment. There’s hardly any preparation needed and I get to really connect with my neighborhood.
2. What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge to multi-modal transportation in Omaha?
I think the greatest challenge to multi-modal transportation in Omaha is lack of knowledge or motivation. If you don’t know the awesome things that are happening (South Omaha Trail connector, ORBT, Heartland B-cycle) you won’t try them. Also, sometimes it’s WAY easier to just hop in a car and drive the 0.75 miles to the store than walk or bike there – I know I’m guilty of it.
3. What, in your opinion, the the greatest multi-modal success in Omaha?
I think the greatest multi-modal success in Omaha is the Bike Omaha Network. It’s far from perfect, but it’s a start. If you’re not familiar, it’s a 20-mile network of bike facilities (bike lanes and shared lane markings) in the core of Omaha. It came about from a public/private partnership and has changed the way the city looks at biking. In the future, there will be wayfinding signage throughout the entire 20-mile network helping folks get from point A to point B safely – which I’m SUPER excited about.
4. How did you come to have an interest in transportation?
I was an Exercise Science major in college and volunteered for the Active Omaha Urban Adventure Race in 2011, met Julie Harris, and learned about the awesome active transportation work they were doing. I thought it was so cool that they were promoting healthy lifestyles through walking, biking, and taking transit – not just promoting the gym for physical activity. I did my college internship with Live Well Omaha and the rest is history! I came into it loving the health benefits of active transportation, but have stayed around for all the other amazing benefits.
5. If you could magically change one thing about the transportation systems in Omaha, without limit to budget or feasibility, what would it be?
Can I change two? I think more protected bike facilities would really increase ridership (and type of bike rider) in Omaha. I would also love if more busses ran more frequently. It’s hard to promote riding the bus when folks have to wait 30 minutes to catch it. Also, GPS on all the busses with real time arrival would be fabulous too. Sorry, that was three.