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Five Questions for . . . The B-Cycle Gang!

15 May

We will be meeting al fresco at the commuter comfort station on the Omaha side of the Bob Kerry Bridge for our coffee chat this Friday. Joining us will be two representatives from Heartland B-Cycle to discuss the bike sharing in Omaha and future expansions in the system. Jes Slavin and Benny Foltz are passionate about active transportation. We look forward to chatting with them this Friday, May 18th at 8 a.m.

Jes is a long time bike commuter and cycling advocate. She has a BFA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing with a Photography Minor that she now utilizes to create content for Heartland Bike Share as their Marketing & Memberships Manager. She moved to Nebraska from Massachusetts to get a Masters that she isn’t using right now but wouldn’t be living her dream of helping create a more sustainable and healthy culture of transportation without. Jes also loves her dog, Molly, and getting outside for rad adventures. We asked her Five Questions . . .

1. What is your preferred mode of transportation?
Bike!
2. What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge to multi-modal transportation in Omaha?
There needs to be more bike infrastructure to help get people out of cars and on their bikes.
3. What, in your opinion, the the greatest multi-modal success in Omaha?
Bike Share!
4. How did you come to have an interest in transportation?
I grew up in a small town in rural Massachusetts where I had to drive to get anywhere, when I did my undergrad in Boston I didn’t get in a car for months at a time. It was so amazing to feel the freedom to explore a city with just a bike, public transportation, and my own two feet. I think the better infrastructure our cities have for pedestrians and cyclists the more accessible it is! But it also needs to be paired with a robust public transportation system to truly to accessible to all.
5. If you could magically change one thing about the transportation systems in Omaha, without limit to budget or feasibility, what would it be?
Get all the bike lanes and have B-cycle stations at every bus stop for an easy transfer from bike to bus. Okay, that’s two things, but it would do wonders!

Benny Foltz was born & raised in rural Nebraska. He holds a Bachelors & Masters from UNO in Recreation Management. In addition to being the Special Projects/Business Manager for Heartland Bike Share, he’s an officer and co-founding director of the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance. Cycling and cycling infrastructure have played a large role in Benny’s life an career. He is on the board of directors for the Nebraska Trails Foundation and a former keyholder for the Community Bike Shop Omaha. He is a league certified cycling instructor and once earned a Gold Bicycle Friendly Business Award from the League of American Bicyclists for a large technology company. We asked him five questions . . .

1. What is your preferred mode of transportation?  
My bare feet 😁 and/or a bicycle
2. What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge to multi-modal transportation in Omaha?  
Overcoming the general populations mindset that multi-modal transportation should not only be accepted, but that it should be involved and included in all decisions.
3. What, in your opinion, the the greatest multi-modal success in Omaha?  
The fact that multiple groups across the area are working towards a common goal to make the city more multi-modal.  If this effort were to diminish in any way, then the possibility for a lack of multi-modal system becomes more of a reality.  We all have to work together, and then together we can ride (or walk or skate or stroll) safely!  That, and the Bike Share program!
4. How did you come to have an interest in transportation?  
Once I started using my bicycle as a method of transportation, I quickly realized the joys and benefits that accompany the experience.  Almost immediately, it all seemed very logical to ride my bike more and illogical as to why we were driving vehicles so much, especially on short trips.
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 education and the importance of what multi-modal brings to everyone and our planet, especially the youth.  Also more compassion and kindness for everyone…and breathing exercises 🙂

2018 Street Bond Vote, Part 3: Project Selection

2 May

On May 15, 2018, Omaha voters will be asked to approve $151 million of Street And Highway Transportation Bonds (which we will refer to as “Street Bonds”). In return for this approval, the City commits to complete some transportation projects.

Mode Shift believes it is incumbent on the City to perform three steps:

  1. Inform the voters what projects it plans to fund with the Street Bonds
  2. Account for Street Bond spending and progress of the planned projects
  3. Disclose how it selects the projects that receive Street Bond funding

We covered the first topic in Part 1, where we reported that the City gets high marks, and the second topic in Part 2, where we reported that the City veers wildly from its plans without accountability.

In this final blog, we examine the third step and find that the City ignores the transparent and objective governance promised by the City charter and follows an opaque, visionless, subjective process that perpetuates the fiscally unsustainable, disjointed, band-aid projects that the City’s own Transportation Master plan warns against.

Continue reading

2018 Street Bond Vote, Part 2: Spending Accountability

26 Apr

On May 15, 2018, Omaha voters will be asked to approve $151 million of Street And Highway Transportation Bonds (“Street Bonds”). In return for this approval, the City commits to complete some transportation projects.

Mode Shift believes it is incumbent on the City to perform three steps:

  1. Inform the voters what projects it plans to fund with the Street Bonds
  2. Account for Street Bond spending and progress of the planned projects
  3. Disclose how it selects the projects that receive Street Bond funding

In Part 1 of this three part blog series, we showed that the City earns high marks for the first step.

In this blog, Part 2, we look at the second step, and find that the inadequate and obscure financial reporting allows the City to:

  • Go vastly over budget on the projects that are completed
  • Cancel or delay planned projects and divert the funds to unplanned projects or to the projects with budget overruns

So in fact, the City asks for voters to approve Street Bonds to build certain projects, and then does not hold itself accountable to build the projects as planned, use the funds as planned, or adequately report changes to the public. Continue reading