Mode Shift Omaha, Safety, Street Design|

After our initial Advocacy in Action at 52nd and NW Radial, we asked the community to nominate the intersections they felt were dangerous but fixable. We got a bunch of responses. Folks throughout Omaha have identified areas where people walking or riding bikes find themselves at greater vulnerability. Take a look at the nominations below and then vote on which intersection you think Mode Shift Omaha (MSO) should tackle next.

The Intersection: 13th & Spring Lake Dr./Gifford Dr.

Why Is It Dangerous? No sidewalk west of 13th connecting to Spring Lake Park

What Can Be Done? Sidewalk/trail connection, adequate crosswalk striping

Nominated by: Anonymous

Notes from MSO: This intersection is also served by Metro Route 13. The absence of a sidewalk on Spring Lake makes the transit less accessible to nearby residences.


The Intersection: N Saddle Creek Rd and Country Club boulevard. The “peanut.”

Why Is It Dangerous? Heavy traffic coming from 8 directions, there is little to no opportunity to cross [while walking]. Drivers are only looking for oncoming traffic from one direction.

What Can Be Done? [blank]

Nominated by: Jonathan Kimbrell

Notes from MSO: The pedestrian cuts through the directional islands are set well back from the flow of traffic around the peanut. Almost feels like a different system, and does not help make people walking more visible to the people navigating the complex interchange in a vehicle. Managing traffic converging from 8 directions is going to be tricky, no matter the solution.


The Intersection: Happy Hollow Blvd. & Dodge

Why Is It Dangerous? In literally every way.

What Can Be Done? Crosswalks, crossing signs, SIDEWALKS.

Nominated by: Jessica Levy

Notes from MSO: From the perspective of someone walking to get somewhere, it’s difficult to understand why the city made the choice to not make this intersection more friendly to pedestrians. Perhaps an engineer would point out the Memorial Park Pedestrian Bridge is a viable alternative route, but let’s be honest. If you are walking along Happy Hollow south or southeast (toward Farnam), why would you want to make a significant westward detour to a bridge with a steep incline when you  just want to cross to the south side of Dodge?


The Intersection: Happy Hollow and Western/52nd and Western/52nd & Western & Happy Hollow Blvd

Why Is It Dangerous? This six-way intersection has always been hazardous and frustrating.

What Can Be Done? Make it a roundabout.

Nominated by: Christina Repair, Anthony Gardner, Todd Mercural-Chapman

Notes from MSO: Does anyone know whose turn it is at this intersection? This popular submission is certainly difficult to navigate while driving a vehicle and doubly so while walking or riding a bike. While the nomination above points out some of the challenges of a roundabout, the suggestion for remedy at 52nd and Western and Happy Hollow is “a roundabout.” While MSO is roundabout agnostic (some are great and others are less so), a well designed roundabout at this intersection would definitely move vehicle traffic more efficiently. The challenges would be securing a sufficient right-of-way, and designing the roundabout to accommodate all modes of traffic, beginning with pedestrians as this is a well-trod area of town.


The Intersection: 52nd and Radial Highway

Why Is It Dangerous? It is too far across the street. It is near two schools, and there is a lot of foot traffic.

What Can Be Done? A pedestrian bridge.

Nominated by: Kira Gale

Notes from MSO: This was the first intersection we identified as dangerous but fixable. A pedestrian bridge at this intersection would remove pedestrians from any friction zone with vehicles while crossing north/south across the Radial and allow pedestrians to cross at any time, not force them to wait for a signal change. While safe, pedestrian bridges come with their own set of challenges. First, they are expensive; more expensive than street level improvements. Second, they present some barriers to accessibility. The grade ascending or descending the bridge can be a challenge for people with limited mobility or using a mobility device. Many of the pedestrian bridges in Omaha are constructed with a deck material of open metal grating. This is practical for managing water and debris, but terrifying for anyone with a wariness for heights. Finally, pedestrian bridges extend your walk, usually about 3 times the crossing distance.


The Intersection: 50th and NW Radial

Why Is It Dangerous? Blind spot when crossing while headed south, confusing when coming off lake st. Numerous accidents have happened at this intersection.

What Can Be Done? I’m really unsure.

Nominated by: Shawna

Notes from MSO: It’s okay to not know the solution, Shawna. There are a number of head-scratchers around town, and this is one of them. As we can see, the NW Radial Hwy creates a high-speed corridor for people driving motor vehicles, but that means it’s also a barrier to people who want safe places to walk or ride a bike. Slowing down traffic and adding buffers to protect pedestrian infrastructure and bike lanes would help alleviate the dangers presented by that blind spot. Clear intersection markings would also make the intersection safer for people using active modes of transportation.


The Intersection:  W. Dodge Rd and 680 interchange

Why Is It Dangerous? Pedestrians walk on W. Dodge over 680, which is a limited access highway.

What Can Be Done? A pedestrian/bike bridge over 680 at W. Dodge Rd

Nominated by: Paul Miller

Notes from MSO: The area of land necessary for clover leaf interchanges is stunning. They create vast voids within cities and preclude development and human activity other than changing the vector of a high-speed motor vehicle. By design and function, these interchanges are automobile only. To attempt to traverse 680 at Dodge on foot would be very dangerous. But, as we know, just because something  is dangerous doesn’t mean that people won’t do it — especially if they do not have another choice. The lack of pedestrian connectivity doesn’t automatically mean there isn’t a need for pedestrian connectivity.


The Intersection: Country Club and Blondo

Why Is It Dangerous? No one stops at the 4-way stop, especially in the mornings.

What Can Be Done? Enforcement

Nominated by: Emily Irvin

Notes from MSO: Emily’s observation flies in the face of the critics of people on bikes who say cyclists “don’t follow the rules of the road.” Does anyone? There are degrees of deviation, but, let’s be honest, no group engaged in any mode of transportation is out there obeying all the traffic laws all the time. And Emily identifies on of the Three Es advocated by Vision Zero — Enforcement. What form and frequency that enforcement would take should be part of the conversation, but seems like a reasonable remedy for that intersection.


The Intersection: Farnam & Saddle Creek

Why Is It Dangerous? There is a large volume of pedestrian traffic between parking lots on the west side of Saddle Creek and the Med Center on the east side. There is heavy traffic on both streets with a lot of turning movements, especially when Farnam west of Saddle Creek is one-way during the morning and evening rush hours.

What Can Be Done? Eliminate reversible one-way operation on Farnam west of Saddle Creek. This would help reduce the number of vehicles turning at the intersection conflicting with pedestrian traffic, especially in the morning. Better enforcement of traffic laws to reduce running red lights, illegal turns, and failure to yield to pedestrians.

Nominated by: Clyde Anderson

Notes from MSO: Clyde is one of the original Mode Shift founders, and we’ve taken for granted, over the years, that whatever Clyde says is probably a good idea. The neighborhood through which Farnam flows has been asking the city to end the lane reversal for years, but the city refuses. There is one observation to add to the Clyde’s analysis of the people walking through the intersection. If you look at the intersection, there is a walking path that leads from the Med Center down to Saddle Creek. The path intersects the sidewalk on Saddle Creek some 50 feet from the intersection, but drops the person using the path perpendicular to the parking lot on the west side of Saddle Creek. Oh, our lizard brains cannot pass up a path of shortest distance — even if it involves weaving through traffic stopped at a red light.


The Intersection: 40th & Hamilton

Why Is It Dangerous? The angle of the various lanes and field of view of oncoming traffic- i.e. heading west and turning south (I don’t believe there is a “no right turn when red” sign there); going north and turning west on green it’s difficult to see oncoming traffic due to the angle; people often go fast when driving south and don’t always seem to be aware there might be cars or bikes trying to turn left (I was nearly killed by a pickup truck while I was on my bike in that situation- the driver ended up swerving around me and passing by in the northbound through lane, while I waited in the southbound turn lane to go west)

What Can Be Done? Possibly a left turn signal for northbound traffic turning west; better on-street lines to guide north/south traffic thru the odd angle; signage to clarify rights of way on odd angles; pedestrian walk signals if not already in place

Nominated by: Sarah Doty

Notes from MSO: This area is being looked at the Planning department for redevelopment. Hoping to see plans in the near future that include alterations  to the intersection that improve safety. The 40th Street corridor from Cuming to Hamilton is in dire need of attention to improve active modes of transportation. 


The Intersection: 67th & Pacific

Why Is It Dangerous? Right turning cars from park do not look for peds; car left turn signal before peds; cars going really fast along 67th.

What Can Be Done? Changing signage and signals; implement ways to lower speeds; no right turn

Nominated by: Angie Eikenberry

Notes from MSO: The transition from campus-to-park-to-campus at UNO should be seamless and simple and encourage active forms of transportation.  The generous curb radii encourage fast right turns through the intersection which can be a danger to people walking in front of a person driving who is looking in the opposite direction for on-coming traffic. The UNO campuses should be walkable and bikeable and encourage a park-once mentality. We are asking a group of students to study this particular intersection.


The Intersection: 72nd and Pacific

Why Is It Dangerous? The light sequence isn’t long enough for some sections, particularly for people turning left onto east pacific from 72nd. Every single time I’ve been in the area, at least 3 cars run the red light.

Since pedestrians do not get any extra time, this cuts into how long they’re free to cross. I typically have 20 seconds or less to get across 6 lanes of traffic.

What Can Be Done? Give pedestrians more time to cross than cars get the light. Ticket drivers running the red.

Nominated by: Nicole

Notes from MSO: Another vote for Enforcement. Nicole also identifies the issue of signal timing for pedestrians. Other cities will have the pedestrian signal precede the vehicle traffic signal by a few seconds to allow people walking to establish themselves in the crosswalk before right-turning traffic has a chance to cut them off. Another big issue at this intersection is the lack of street markings for stop bars and cross walks.


The Intersection: 39th and Farnam

Why Is It Dangerous? Growing area of development and fast speeds allowed on farnam, safe crossing at 40th and 38th, but crossings should better cover length of development east down the street.

What Can Be Done? Pedestrian striping + stop light potentially/Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons

Nominated by: Kayla Meyer/Cyndonna Tefft

Notes from MSO: The Blackstone District will not be pleasantly walkable until close attention is paid to the experience of people walking throughout the area.


The Intersection: 29th and Farnam

Why Is It Dangerous? It is in the top 10 of at least 3 of the 2013 crash analysis data reports

What Can Be Done? More visible signals

Nominated by: Cyndonna Tefft

Notes from MSO: 


The Intersection:  Saddle Creek & Cuming St

Why Is It Dangerous? Lack of stop lines/painted crosswalks, speed & volume of traffic, and probably more!

What Can Be Done? Painted stop lines & crosswalks and better enforcing the speed limit, possibly better signage.

Nominated by: Liz Veazey

Notes from MSO: This is a land-intensive intersection that has forsaken people walking and riding bikes for maximum throughput of automotive traffic. The unfortunate truth is that this area is densely populated and includes nodes of low income housing and recent immigrant communities that generally mean a lower rate of automobile ownership — a lot of people are walking around and through this intersection. When we don’t give people safe, comfortable intersections for people walking, they will cross the road at the point of shortest distance. around this intersection this means crossing five lanes of traffic moving at high speeds around curves.

Go to our poll to vote for the intersection you would like us to study next.


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