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Good News on Friday the 13th

13 Aug

Thank YOU for supporting our goal of amending the proposed CIP (Capital Improvement Program) to include money specifically for keeping the protected bike lane on Harney Street, aka the Market to Midtown Bikeway, permanent! We testified at City Hall, emailed our Councilors and thankfully were heard. We’d like to specifically thank Council President Festersen for making the amendment to include $3M for Harney St. and $1.25M for implementation of a new Bike & Pedestrian Master Plan. The Council will vote on whether to approve the proposed amendments this coming Tuesday, August 17th.

A person on a bike wearing a backpack is pedaling west on Harney Street through an intersection with green paint striping.
A rider pedals west on Harney St.

You can view the entirety of the City Council agenda here and check out all of the proposed amendments. Again, the City Council will VOTE for or against these amendments on Tuesday, August 17th so now would be a great time to find your City Council representative and email them encouraging them to vote yes on items 12 & 13.

A screenshot of items 12 & 13 from the City Council agenda. 12 is a recommended revision to the CIP to include $1.25M for a bike/ped master plan implementation and 13 is for another amendment to the CIP with $3M for the Harney St protected bikeway's permanence.
Screenshot of the proposed amendments

In other good news, there’s finally painted crosswalks at 72nd & Dodge! Thanks to Cindy on our Walkability Team for all of her work on this over the years (and for the photo of the new paint!). Take a look at one of our blog posts from 2017 here if you want to see the timeline of things at this intersection.

Photo of fresh white painted crosswalk stripes and stop bar at the corner of 72nd & Dodge looking north toward the Crossroads corner. There are orange construction cones alerting drivers to the new paint.
Photo by Cindy Tefft of the fresh white painted crosswalks on Dodge!

Just wanted to end the week with some celebration of our advocacy and progress! Keep your eyes out for an upcoming Walk Team event to celebrate this intersection and raise awareness of others with some issues.

Have a good weekend and maybe we’ll see you at our Coffee Chat/Ride which starts at the Blueline Coffee shop in Dundee, rolling at 8:00am for a 25 mile round trip. The ride heads to Papillion and Pint Nine to celebrate another accomplishment: a trail connection from businesses along the West Papio Trail to the trail itself. Here’s the general route plan, subject to change as we ride as a group!

Omaha at Human Scale: A week ago, I sold my car

9 Nov

Sarah Johnson is one of the founders of Mode Shift Omaha and is a past board member and officer of the organization. She is also the owner of Omaha Bicycle Co.

A week ago today I sold my car. It was pretty sweet, as far as cars go: a Honda Element which was perfect for hauling donation bikes to the Community Bike Project or a Costco run for the coffee shop side of my business, Omaha Bicycle Co. I also had musings of #vanlife but never really had the time to turn it into the little camper of my dreams. In fact, I maybe drove it twice a month. When it had a little trouble starting on the first try, I was told by 2 different car mechanics (who couldn’t find anything wrong with it) that I “just need to drive it more” at which point I realized it was time to say goodbye to the ol’ green machine. The fact was that I didn’t drive it  enough to justify all of the money that the glorious automobile sucked from my bank account. So, two-wheeled transportation it is!

Sunny days = smiley days

A faded sharrow, but better than nothing and more than we had a decade ago.

I am fortunate that my commute is short, even walkable. For years I had used a regular bicycle as my main form of transportation, riding to work, meetings, and the like. Then, 2 years ago, I ended up in the ER and I have been dealing with chronic pain ever since. Cycling became painful. To minimize the physical exertion, I tried an electric-assist bicycle; a Blix Prima, to be exact. Oh man. What a wonderful solution!! So much easier on my body! On hills! In the suffocating heat and humidity of Omaha summers! Really, they sell themselves; people come back from test rides giggling. My health nightmare aside (I have another surgery scheduled this month) what I’m truly grateful for is the change in perspective toward electric or pedal-assist bikes. I was a skeptic, bordering on hater. Now I am an evangelist. I can get to meetings and work and errand running without breaking a sweat and in a fraction of the time compared to a normal, human-powered bike. Honestly, don’t judge until you try one and see for yourself the benefits and sheer fun of an e-bike.

While this is not the first time I’ve been car-free in Omaha,  I’d definitely say it’s more pleasant now to be bike-reliant than it was my last go-around in 2005. The city has been expanding bike infrastructure and motorists’ attitudes have improved. Car drivers have had time to get used to seeing more bikes on the road and the 3 foot law passed, which helps everyone share the road more gracefully. This is the first time that I’ve been a business owner without a car of my own. I’m lucky to have a car at my disposal (most of the time) when I need it, thanks to my partner who works from home and rarely drives. Just today, I turned down a ride in from him in the pouring rain and laughed/pedaled my way to the shop in a poncho. The right gear makes it fun, not just doable, I promise.

Gerda’s!

Most of my daily routine is on my bicycle. Aside from leading group rides throughout the week, I rely on it for hauling or delivery as well. Some mornings I’ll pick up donuts from Gerda’s Bakery on about 52st and Leavenworth. I ride the 51st Street bike route from Benson through Dundee, and under Dodge to Leavenworth to fill up my basket with baked goodies! The only somewhat complicated section is right out front of Dundee Elementary during morning drop off where 51st is one-way (and not the way I want to go) so I sneak up onto the sidewalk for about 2 blocks and roll along at walking speed. Then it’s smooth sailing right on down to the bakery! They know how to box them up so nothing gets away on the ride back; it also helps that I have a rather wide tire and sort of padded basket to lessen the jostling around. Depending on the time of year and the pothole situation, sometimes a few pastries crumble due to a bumpy ride back to the shop. No problem though, I’m happy to eat the “damaged goods” or turn them into samples.

For anyone who is thinking about trying to get around car-free, you don’t have to sell your car immediately! Ease into it by picking one day a week to start or even just one trip; you’ll be surprised at how easy and beneficial it really can be. I don’t blame you if it’s not your style, or if you have kids who need to be a bunch of different places throughout the day; it’s not for everyone or every lifestyle. I’d just encourage you to give it a shot or at the very least, be kind to those of us who are out there on two wheels just trying to get to their donuts.

Keystone Trail Closure near NFM Through February 21

20 Dec

Thanks to Dennis Byers at Omaha Parks for letting us know about this trail closure.

Keystone Trail Closure – Dodge Street South to the NFM Pedestrian Bridge

A section of the Keystone Trail from Dodge Street south to the Nebraska Furniture Mart Pedestrian Bridge will close for 2 months starting on Tuesday, December 26, 2017 for the demolition of NFM warehouse buildings that abutt the trail. Trail will reopen on Wednesday, February 21, 2018. A suggested detour is to use Dodge Street and Rose Blumkin Drive.

For a detour, trail users can use Dodge Street and Rose Blumkin Drive. I’ve attached a map that shows the closed section as well as a suggested detour.

Select image for larger map