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Five Questions for . . . the MCC Board District 2 Candidates

17 Oct

Metro Community College’s board is divided into specific geographies (as well as an at-large seat). District 2 covers much of Northeast Omaha, including the Fort Omaha Campus. MCC has been a leader in post-secondary institutions promoting Active Transportation. This Friday, October 19, at 8 a.m. we’ve invited the candidates for the District 2 board seat to be our guests at our monthly coffee chat. We’ll be meeting up at the Scooters in the corner of 30th and Ames Ave.

To get to know the candidates ahead of time, we asked them five questions . . .

Erin Feichtinger

1. What is your preferred mode of transportation?
Walking and my bike (thanks Bike Union!)

2. What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge to multi-modal transportation in Omaha?
We are a car-centered city – a fact reflected in the continued sprawl westward without the appropriate infrastructure to support it, introducing bonds expanding roads to hold more cars, prioritizing streets at the expense of sidewalks, and a lack of interest in the kind of urban density that would put employment centers close to where people live and to accessible transportation. All of this leads to a lack of awareness of multi-modal transportation and so, a lack of prioritization in the public will. It’s pretty frustrating.

3. What, in your opinion, the the greatest multi-modal success in Omaha?
Promoting active transportation in Omaha is a multi-layered issue that’s going to have to be addressed at several levels, so it’s hard to say what is the greatest success. The trail system is a massive and successful public infrastructure that I love to utilize. There are neighborhoods in the city that promote walkability and so, attracting people who like the idea of living close to where they work and where they play, and this is changing the conversation about transportation from “Let’s drive there” to, “Let’s walk up to…” (Dundee, Gifford Park, the Old Market, Benson, North 24th St., for example). Metro Area Transit has been receptive to community input about improving their services which has been a huge benefit to the people who need it most – like the #24 increasing its frequency to 15 minute intervals to serve communities who most need it to get to work and to social services. Really, though, the greatest success is the fact that this conversation about how to promote active transit is taking place at all, and that it’s having an impact across the spectrum – we have a bike lane on Leavenworth! Community bike shops! Rapid Bus Transit coming! Now we just need to fix the sidewalks to protect pedestrians all across the city.

4. How did you come to have an interest in transportation?
Growing up in West Omaha, not exactly a paragon of multi-modal transportation, I didn’t have a lot of exposure to questions of transportation. Then I moved to Chicago for school. Though everyone there has their frustrations with transit, the necessity and convenience of an effective multi-modal transportation infrastructure was thrown in sharp relief. I rode the train or the bus every day and it took me everywhere I could want to go. I rode my bike to and from school and work along the lake shore path, the north river trail, and the bike lanes all over the city. I walked everywhere I could. And what you start to realize is that when you’re not in a car, you experience the world and your community so much more intimately, and in Technicolor. Moving back home to Omaha, the lack of an effective and sprawling public transportation system was inconvenient, to say the least. The work I do every day, designing programs to help increase access to necessary social services for people who need them, cements even further how crucial it is to promote accessible and multi-modal transportation. It’s hard to tell someone to go to this particular place at this particular time if they don’t have access to a vehicle. The lack of access to transportation that is close to where people live and where they work and the services they need is a huge and unnecessary barrier.

5. If you could magically change one thing about the transportation systems in Omaha, without limit to budget or feasibility, what would it be
Increase the frequency of every bus route. Put in more visible bus signs that explain what bus is coming, the route, and its frequency. Provide training for every Omahan on how to ride and navigate public transportation free of charge, especially focusing on collaborating with social service agencies and the public schools. Increase the number of routes and make them go further west and to employment centers. Protected bike lanes. Education for drivers on how to share the road with cyclists and pedestrians. Protected sidewalks along busy roads like Dodge. ADA sidewalks EVERYWHERE.

My answers are a bit long – I just get really jazzed about this topic.

Brad Ashby

Declined to respond.

Bemis Park Historic Neighborhood Tour – Bus Routes

9 Oct

Join us October 13 & 14

Mode Shift Omaha is happy to be working with Restoration Exchange Omaha on their upcoming tour of the historic Bemis Park neighborhood. October 13 – 14, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., MSO will be providing bike valet services at Augustana Lutheran Church, 3647 Lafayette Avenue.

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In addition to bike valet, we are recommending that people consider arriving by bus as there is very limited parking in these historic neighborhoods. Please note: Saturday and Sunday service will have different schedules. All times are approximate. We recommend using Google Maps for plotting a more precise plan from your specific location.

From North Omaha Transit Center

From North Omaha Transit Center (NOTC)on 30th Street, one block south of Ames, we recommend using Route 3. Saturday the route is every 30 minutes, leaving NOTC on the 15s and 45s. Disembark at 40th and Hamilton, walk east, on Hamilton to 38th and turn right. Lafayette and the Church will be on the left. Sunday frequency is 60 minutes, leaving NOTC on the 15s.

From South Omaha Transit Center

The South Omaha Transit Center (SOTC) located on the south side of Metro Community College’s South Campus, is also on Route 3, and that will be the most direct route. Saturday frequency is every 30 minutes on the top and bottom of the hour. Sunday frequency is 60 minutes leaving SOTC on the hour. Ride the 3 bus to 40th and Hamilton, then walk east to 38th Street, turn right, Lafayette will be on your left.

From Westroads Transit Center

From Westroads Transit Center (WRTC), located at the northwest corner of the Westroads Mall parking lot, take the Route 4 toward downtown. Saturday the route is every 30 minutes leaving WRTC on :03s and :33s. Sunday frequency is 60 minutes, leaving WRTC on the :03s. Disembark at 38th and Cuming Street, cross Cuming and walk north approximately 3 blocks. Augustana Lutheran will be on your right.

From Downtown

From downtown, catch the Route 44 bus heading west at 13th and Farnam. Deboard the bus at 38th and Cuming, walk north on 38th Street approximately 3 blocks to Augustana Lutheran. Saturday frequency is 30 minutes leaving downtown on the :11s and :41s; Sunday is hourly on the :11s.

Pedestrian Bridge Over US-75 Gets Cleaned Up

18 Sep

Crews for the city were out working in the area approaching the pedestrian bridge over US-75 between Pratt and Manderson. The nearest crossing is four blocks in either direction, which would significantly add to the distance walked by the 75-100 people who use the bridge on an average weekday.

The work is being done on the east side of the bridge along 28th Street to make the entrance to the bridge more accessible. Thanks to the city for putting time and effort into maintaining and improving important pedestrian connections.