Turning a Problem into a Policy

14 Apr

Seeing a community need, Mode Shift Omaha Walkability Team members documented the unsafe conditions Omahans face when using the city sidewalks. Construction projects often create conditions that endanger pedestrians, such as blocking paths with equipment and debris. The team launched a community education campaign that included a short film, an email campaign, a petition, and community meetings. 

City council member Pete Festersen took the issue to the Public Works Committee, and the MSO Walkability Team presented policy recommendations to the Mayor’s Active Living Advisory Committee (ALAC) in January 2020. At that time, Omaha Public Works agreed to take the policy under consideration. They returned with a policy the very next month to share with ALAC. The policy is now being implemented and can be reviewed on the Omaha Public Works website. 

This photo is of a pedestrian detour at 18th and Douglas.  With a sidewalk policy in place, this type of signage and detour will be seen more often in Omaha.  Photo Credit: Clyde Anderson

Mode Shift Omaha’s Walkability Team would like to thank Mayor Jean Stothert, Pete Festersen, ALAC, Omaha Public Works, and the Omaha City Planning Department for taking the issue of sidewalk closures during construction seriously. Each year in the United States approximately 6,000 pedestrians die in vehicle collisions. Additionally, thousands of pedestrians are hit and survive, but with tremendous economic and emotional costs. It is encouraging to know that when action is required, our community can be counted on to engage with each other to get the job done.

Today, Omaha is just a little bit more pedestrian friendly due to the hard work of a lot of people who came together to share what they could to make our city greater than ever.

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