5 Questions for Mike Helgerson

18 Jan
Mike Helgerson is the Transportation and Data Manager at Metropolitan Area Planning Agency. It is his job to lead the transportation planning process for the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area and Regional Planning Affiliation 18 (RPA-18); lead the administration of the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and the development of the Long Range Transportation Plan; provide staff support in the development of the Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP); oversee development and management of regional datasets and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). He is also our guest for our first Coffee Chat of 2018 — Friday, January 19th at 8 a.m. in our usual haunt, Spielbound, located at 3229 Harney St.
We asked Mike Five Questions.

1 What is your preferred mode of transportation?
I end up driving my car most of the time, but love taking advantage of walking or biking to the bus during the week. Our family loves walking around our neighborhood in Benson to visit the library or grab a bite to eat when it’s not winter.

2 What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge to multi-modal transportation in Omaha?
Our development patterns are the biggest challenge. We need to take advantage of our opportunities to bring new people and jobs into the already developed areas of our community. This has the effect of making areas easier to serve with transit, and makes walking and biking more of a choice.

3 What, in your opinion, is the greatest multi-modal success in Omaha?
I think the ORBT project is a tremendous opportunity to change perceptions and make the active, non-auto choice the easy choice. As a regional organization, its hard not to point to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge as a fantastic piece of bike infrastructure that brings Omaha and Council Bluffs together.

4 How did you come to have an interest in transportation?
I was trained as a planner in college and over time I saw the interplay between transportation and land use decisions and realized how important it was to try and get things right.

5 If you could magically change one thing about the transportation systems in Omaha, without limit to budget or feasibility, what would it be?
It’s hard to name one thing, but adding two or three Bus Rapid Transit routes to compliment the ORBT route on Dodge would be a huge benefit to the community (especially a North-South route).  So much relies on the places we build, and whether we can reduce auto-dependency without creating the places that support that choice.

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