A broken stone bus bench blocking a sidewalk for months.
A crosswalk barely visible across ten lanes of traffic.
Tiny sidewalks next to a state highway.
They’re unfortunate realities for people who need or want to get around Omaha without using a car.
Realities people who do use cars can be blind to— including those people who are responsible for the design and upkeep of the infrastructure around the city.
Opening people’s eyes to these issues is one of the prime goals of Mode Shift’s ‘Walk With Us’ events.
The most recent took a group of people through the Joslyn Castle neighborhood. It should be a cozy little spot. There are plenty of trees, the homes aren’t too foreboding and the blocks are manageable. But a lot of issues are overlooked.
We turned our focus to one of the most obvious: A stone bus bench, smashed in a car crash where a person died months earlier. It’s something we’d argue should have been cleared during the crash clean up— you don’t still see the road blocked from the crash. Sure, it didn’t completely block the sidewalk for those who are able to walk around it easily, but anyone needing a mobility device may not have been able to make it.
Our friend at River City Omaha (On Twitter as: @RiverOmaha) tweeted our event with Mode Shift Member Cyndonna Teft tagging public works. That bench was gone within two days.
Again— we’d argue that was the responsibility of any clean up crews during the initial crash clearing.
But we do want to thank Public Works for their quick response to our most recently posted concerns.
Take a look at the report 3 News Now did for our walk: https://www.3newsnow.com/news/local-news/group-calls-for-omaha-to-make-intersections-safer-for-pedestrians
Before Joslyn, we took a look at Omaha’s busiest intersection: 90th & Dodge.
If you have a car, there’s pretty much no way you haven’t crossed this space of our city at some point.
Now look at it from the point of view of someone trying to get across that space without four metal walls: Ten lanes of traffic, not a ton of time to cross, and zero protection from people who are turning right and not bothering to check for people walking.
We spent an hour in July walking those crossing areas in hopes we could force drivers to pay attention.
During our time, we noted a few consistent issues:
- Cars consistently turned right into the path of people walking across the street.
- Cars regularly stopped well past the stop line, forcing people walking to step into the intersection to weave around them.
Of course we do want to note recent improvements we’ve seen to the area too:
- Added a leading interval for people walking before car traffic gets to go— this means people walking get a bit of a head start before those on wheels do.
- Semi-newly painted crosswalks.
At the end of the day it is just paint, but it can help convince drivers to stop and leave space for those not in cars.
We have some suggestions for Public Works on what could work for that particular intersection:
- Leading pedestrian interval with a No Right Turn signal
- Prohibit right turns on red at this intersection
- A “Stop here for pedestrians” sign on 90th Northbound and Southbound
- Refreshed pavement markings (ideally high visibility)
- Rapid flashing beacons
Fox 42 KPTM covered this particular event too: https://fox42kptm.com/news/local/advocacy-group-wants-improvements-to-busy-intersection
Our next Walk With Us meeting is planned for September.
You should join us!
From there we’re looking to move future ‘Walk With Us’ events further away from Dodge. Do you have a particular intersection or spot that is an issue? Let us know : you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Shoot us a message on Facebook
Or Dm us on Twitter @modeshiftomaha