Accessibility, Bicycling, Safety, Take Action, Trails|

Mode Shift hosted Julie Harris who is the Executive Director of Bike Walk Nebraska last week in our monthly member meeting. You can find the recording of the meeting here and a summary of the bills we discussed below. There are some good transportation-related bills coming out of the 5G pole in the middle of the sidewalk debacle–so that won’t happen again–and awful ones, including a bill that changes provisions around roads and removes language around enhancement of quality of life for all. Note that the positions below are Mode Shift Omaha’s positions. See Bike Walk’s positions here

Good bills

  • LB 39: Require disability impact statements for certain legislation. This bill was introduced by Sen. Blood and is signed on by a number of others. If this is passed it would prevent bills like the one which prevented Omaha from stopping utilities from placing poles in the middle of sidewalk from happening again. Former Mode Shift board member Melanie Davis is working on this legislation and calls it “landmark legislation” that, if passed, would make Nebraska the first state to require disability impact statements.
  • LB 134: Sen. John Cavanaugh (former Mode Shift board member) introduced LB 134 to provide new requirements under the small wireless facilities deployment act for projects to comply with ADA & not obstruct or hinder usual travel or public safety. A similar bill last session didn’t make it out of committee. Sen. Freeson introduced the original small wireless bill that led to the pole in the sidewalk problem, and he is chair of the committee where this bill could be heard. It sounds like he does not support this.
  • LB 625 Introduced by Sen. McDonnell, this bill will provide requirements for operation of autonomous vehicles. This bill requires a person to be in a car on the highway if autonomous vehicle, which seems like a good idea.
  • LB 738: This bill was introduced by Sen. Raybould and it would change provisions in the Nebraska rules of the road relating to electric bicycles. Basically it would update the rules to include definitions of types of e-bikes by striking the old language and adding in class 1, class 2, and class 3 as the three types of e-bikes. This would align Nebraska law with national definitions and should be helpful. 
a white electric bicycle in a grass lawns with green plants in the background

Bad bills

  • LB 645 Another bill introduced by Sen. McDonnell. This bill changes provisions relating to state highways and roads in a bad way.  The bill will add language around road capacity deficiencies and use average daily volume to determine if upgrades are needed; these new provisions will likely lock in more expensive road widening projects. We know that road widening does not work: it is extremely expensive and just leads to more traffic. The bill also removes language around a variety of factors including the need that state highways and roads lead to “enhancement of the quality of life for all” and the need to keep up current infrastructure before building new projects. Bike Walk says: “This is concerning for any communities who have state roads running through their towns.” There are some small good pieces of this bill, so partners we usually align with like MAPA are supporting it. 
picture of Dodge street with 5 lanes of traffic. grass and sidewalks on both sides of the street with trees in the background.
  • LB 212: Introduced by Sen. Slama. This bill asks NDOT to purchase right of way for future Highway expansion, which appears to be against the state constitution (the state cannot purchase right of way for projects that do not exist). So not a good idea, but it is also unlikely to pass.
  • LB 121: introduced by Sen. Bosselman. It sounds like this is a shell bill that the Natural Resources Committee (chaired by Bosselman) might use later to insert another bill into. However, the current text removes the use of Trail Development Funds for trails, which is not good. This seems bad, but could change; it is definitely worth watching.
  • LB 725: $25M of general funds for east beltway in Lincoln. This is in Lincoln where MSO does not really work, but we are skeptical of using general funds for really expensive new/expanded highway projects. 

Take Action

You could go to the linked page for each bill and submit comments that will be added to the record; click the button in the middle of the page that says “Submit Comments Online For LB XXX”.

image of Nebraska Legislature page for LB 39 showing the button to submit comments online for LB 39 in the middle of the page.

Going to each page is a bit tedious, so you could also just reach out to your Senator about the bills via email. Personalized emails are something that Senators pay attention to, and I have often received a personal reply message.

Let us know what you hear about the bills!  Sign up for MSO email and text loop to stay posted on these bills. 

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