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Signs of Progress…(literally)

28 Oct

An astute follower of Mode Shift Omaha sent us a note stating that both sides of the sidewalk on Farnam Street in Blackstone are closed due to construction.  This citizen reported their concerns to the Mayor’s Hotline and to the construction company. We appreciate their work letting all parties know what they found and their concerns.

Shortly thereafter, a walkability team member was walking on the south side of Farnam and heading east.  About a block before the construction site, at 38th Street, we discovered that either Public Works or the Construction company put in a pedestrian detour. 

Pedestrian detour sign at 38th and Farnam

The detour routes sidewalk users south toward Harney Street.  At 38th and Harney the detour directs you across the street to the sidewalk on the south.  (The north side of Harney is also closed due to construction). Users of all modes of transportation should be cautious as there is no light or stop sign here.

Pedestrian Detour sign at 38th and Harney

You then head east on Harney Street and the detour is marked all the way to 36th Street.  

At 36th and Harney there are crosswalks and lights that allow a pedestrian to head back north to Farnam and get back on the path to their final destination.

We want to give a shout out to the Mayor, Public Works and the construction company as we consider this progress.  Construction will always be with us, and while inconvenient during the process, is often a sign of progress in our city.  This level of thoughtfulness that considers the needs of our most Vulnerable Road Users during construction is a step forward and puts us in a better position to achieve the goals of Vision Zero.  We hope this is a new normal that will be replicated and improved upon in all parts of the city.

Definitions: A Glossary of Transportation Terminology

21 Oct

Do you ever wonder what the CIP is?  Of what a TIF is? Or what TIP means in Omaha?  Do you ever want to know the definitions of Paratransit, Transportation Freedom or Articulated Buses?  Well, thanks to Mode Shift Board Member, Lee Myers – you can know the definitions of all these terms – and many more.  The attached glossary can help all of us better understand many of the terms that pertain to transportation advocacy.   Bookmark it, use it – advocate with it. There is a lot of great information within.

Definitions: Cycling Infrastructure

11 Oct

There are several different types of infrastructure that cities install to benefit cyclists. Each of these have different advantages and disadvantages and will encourage a different type of rider. One of the most important things for getting people to travel by bicycle is to provide a connected network of cycling infrastructure that allow people to get where they want to go and feel safe during the journey.


This is a painted marking on the roadway. There may be accompanying signage that cyclists may use the full lane. Legally, a cyclist can always use the full lane… no permission needed but this indicates to cars to be aware of cyclists. Sharrows work well in residential streets with relatively little vehicle traffic. 

Studies have shown that Sharrows may actually be worse than simply doing nothing because it gives cyclists a false sense of security while doing nothing to protect them from vehicles.


  • Almost zero cost (paint and perhaps a sign)
  • Connect other parts of cycling network
  • No additional equipment to remove snow


  • Cyclists still mix with traffic
  • Rarely used by novice cyclists

Painted Bike Lane:

A bike lane is painted on the road, dedicating space to the cyclists. This is usually done with excess space in a travel lane, giving 4 feet of the existing roadway to cyclists. Cyclists no longer mix with cars but care must still be taken when cars pass cyclists in the bike lane. Further, if there is street parking, these lanes are often found in the “door zone” where a driver’s door would open into the lane.


  • Inexpensive (cost of paint)
  • Easy to maintain as natural extension of street
  • Effective tool to narrow an overly wide driving lane, makes the street safer
  • Cyclists have dedicated space


  • No barrier between cars and cyclists
  • Frequently used as parking for cars and delivery trucks
  • Tend to gather road debris
  • Often in the “door zone” of parked cars

Separated Cycle Lane:

This is a lane for biking that is separated from car lanes by some form of barrier. This can be a cement curb, planters, bollards, or even a lane of parked cars. By moving parked cars off of the curb to accommodate the bike lane, it creates a barrier of steel between the cyclists and the cars.


  • Cyclists fully protected from cars
  • Induces all ages of riders because of increased safety


  • Requires more road space for both the lane and the buffer
  • May require special equipment to plow snow in the winter
  • Parking meters are further away from parked cars, sometimes leading to confusion

Cycle Track:

(Lincoln, NE – N Street Cycle Track)

In a cycle track, enough room is taken on one side of the street to accommodate bikes going in both directions. This functions like a mini street just for bikes that is parallel to the car travel lanes.


  • Fully protected from drivers
  • Can provide two way cycling even if the road is one way


  • Most expensive option
  • Creates issues at intersections, especially if implemented on a one-way grid
  • Requires special tools for snow removal

Bike Trail

(Memorial Park)

(Elmwood Park)

(Keystone Trail)

There are many recreational trails throughout the city. These are not used for transportation as often as for pleasure or exercise. These are wider than a standard sidewalk and completely separate from any roads.


  • Totally separated from auto traffic
  • Most inclusive of all riding abilities


  • Not built with transit in mind, not always connected to where you want to go
  • Very expensive
  • Bikes share the space with joggers and walkers