Bicycling, Community Outreach, Safety, Street Design, Take Action, Walking|

Following Mode Shift’s recent videos and action about the issues with the intersection at 52nd Street and Northwest Radial Highway, the City has:

  • Started to paint the crosswalk. The next scheduled painting was Spring 2018, so it’s good to see some action now.
  • Initiated a change to the pedestrian signal system. Thanks to Bryan Guy, at Omaha Public Works for taking the time to look at the signal and reply to one of the signal issues.

Crosswalk Painting on November 21

This is good news. Once we know the extent of the City’s action, we will recap which issues are still open, and engage the City to discuss them.

In the meantime, here is a email sent to Carrie Murphy, Omaha’s Deputy Chief of Staff by Faith. Faith and her family attended the evening advocacy on November 14, and summarizes the events so well, that her email is worth sharing:

Hello Carrie, Thank you for your reply.

I know the mayor is busy, and I appreciate the staff’s attention. I would like to respond to several points made in this press release:

Perhaps the crosswalks are painted twice a year; perhaps they are painted 4, 5, or 6 times a year. In the end, however, the crosswalks are barely visible year-round. I am at that intersection at least twice a week year round and daily in the summer and you can barely ever see the paint. I will be happy to send pictures, but you can go there yourself or you can look at the photo published today in the World-Herald, which shows minimal paint. If they are being painted, they clearly need to be painted more often or more effectively.

As the Mode Shift video pointed out, crossing 52nd on the north is terrifying because there’s no clear line for the cars to stop. When I have my daughter in her stroller, we usually have to cross behind cars because they are pulled so far into the intersection. The same is true for the west side of the intersection, where cars regularly stop so far into the intersection that we end up crossing behind them. When we are able to cross in front of stopped cars, it is on me as the pedestrian to make glaring eye contact with each motorist in the hopes that they see me, because they’re certainly not looking for me.

Could the mayor contact the Nebraska Department of Transportation and explain the situation of the intersection to see if they would agree to a reduced speed zone?

I was alarmed at the defensive tone of the press release. ModeShift is a small group of peaceful citizens who made a well-informed argument to try to make the city a better place in conjunction with Vision Zero, the mayor’s own initiative. They were not angry, spiteful, or violent, and did not personally attack the mayor. The proper response to this would have been at least a thoughtful consideration of Mode Shift’s arguments, not a press release, defensive in tone, which frankly amounted to a list of bureaucratic concerns rather than cooperating with the group to look for solutions or acknowledging the lived realities of the citizens who live, work, and learn in the neighborhood.

The mayor never says whether or not the intersection is unsafe. She just lists the reasons that she can’t/won’t do anything about it. The reality is that hordes of high school and middle school students sprint through that intersection around 3:30pm every day.

I invite the mayor to visit the intersection at this time and see how it feels. ModeShift was not attempting to slander the mayor, but rather took up her Vision Zero initiative and creatively showed how it might be applied to their own situation.

We thank Faith for her succinct summary and hope that she considers being active with Mode Shift in our future efforts. We could use someone with her skills!


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