If you’re able to make it down to City Hall (1819 Farnam, 2nd floor) tonight, Tuesday, August 3rd at 6:30 to testify in opposition to the proposed budget and CIP, we’d love to see you there. If you’re unable to make it, please take a moment to email your thoughts today to your City Councilor (find their info here) and copy the City Clerk: email@example.com. We are opponents to the way it’s currently written, which allocates $0 to protected bike lanes…this means that the Harney Street pilot lane isn’t being funded/planned for as permanent. Unacceptable! Here’s a news story about the lack of funding.
Here’s what the MSO Board submitted to the City Council:
Dear City Councilors & Mayor Stothert,
I am submitting comments on the City of Omaha Budget and Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for Mode Shift Omaha. Mode Shift Omaha advocates for transportation equity that enhances quality of life and opportunities for everyone to live, work, and play.
The City of Omaha has committed to increasing active living, stopping the brain drain of young people leaving Omaha, and Vision Zero, meaning a goal of zero traffic deaths on Omaha roads. The mayor also has set up a climate change task force expressing an interest in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing investments in pedestrian, scooter, bicycle, transit, and traffic calming infrastructure will help the City meet these stated goals and create a better, safer, cleaner, and more vibrant Omaha for everyone. The Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s Connect Go initiative is also advocating for more of these investments in multi-modal infrastructure. However, both the City budget and the Capital Improvement Program have little-to-no investments in these areas. The City needs to step up and allocate funding to improve multi-modal infrastructure and help us get to Vision Zero.
Additionally, we support starting an unarmed civilian traffic safety division to more equitably and safely enforce traffic laws at a lower cost.
Thank you to Councilman Festersen who has proposed around a $3M allocation to make the Harney Street cycletrack permanent. Mode Shift Omaha supports funding to make this cycle track permanent and would like to see funds budgeted for future cycle track miles in the City’s CIP beyond this one project.
The CIP contains $173M on road and intersection widening, while only $29M on traffic calming and pedestrian improvements with $0 for bicycle/scooter infrastructure. That’s almost 6 times more funding for road widening, which leads to increased demand thus more traffic and more pollution. If the City cares about the goals of Vision Zero, attracting more young people, and reducing carbon emissions, the CIP funding allocations should better reflect those goals.
TheCIP also contains $129M for parking, 150% more than the $86M in last year’s CIP. That is more than $270 per person who lives in Omaha to build more unneeded parking! This compares to less than $20 per person on transit. Most of the parking owned by the City now is empty much of the time. Let’s invest in lower cost infrastructure (eg lane diets, painted crosswalks, and cycletracks) that creates a more vibrant and exciting City for all.
Thank you for your consideration.
Liz Veazey, Board Chair, Mode Shift Omaha