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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 walk to school

17 Dec

Amanda Long is a member of Mode Shift Omaha.

Walking is a major form of transportation in my household.  As with anything there are frustrations and problems to be solved – but walking is our favorite way to get around.

Entrance to Tunnel Under Dodge Street

One of our regular destinations is school.  I am in my 11th year of having a child walk to the local elementary school.  My youngest child has walked there her entire life – first to drop off and pick up her big brother – and then to transport herself.  It’s a habit – and an absolute preference. When the weather is too bad to walk, both of our moods darken and we begrudgingly hop into the car.  Drop off in the car is much more stressful for both of us. We have to deal with traffic and trying to get out of a car with a backpack, lunch box and sometimes a school project.  When I have to drive to pick up my child from school I actually have to leave earlier as it takes longer to find a place to park the car and walk up to the school building than it does to walk from home.

I’ve read that walking to school has been shown to improve both academic performance and psychological well-being, as well as public health.  Our experience agrees with that. A walk at the beginning of the day makes us both more awake, alert and ready to focus. In addition, the walk to and from school gives us time to talk at the beginning and end of the school day. It’s often where the best talks happen.  On the hardest days the walk has therapeutic benefits – anxieties can be verbalized while we simultaneously get the physical benefits of walking to help us cope the rest of the day.

Bike Rack Haiku

When we walk, we see and experience things you can’t from the car – our favorite is the big hound dog that looks over the second-floor balcony and announces its presence in its unique hound dog voice. We hear the leaves crunch under our feet, see the first crocuses that appear in spring, smell freshly-mowed grass and experience the quiet of a good snowfall.  We get to enjoy the decorations that people put on their houses and get to observe someone’s sense of humor in their ever-changing configurations of pink flamingos. We can browse a Little Free Library, peruse the community garden’s neighbor garden and see if they have that herb we need for dinner. We can window shop in the stores in our neighborhood & check out the restaurant menus.  We read haikus on bike racks and see public art.

Community Garden

With the experiences we have with walking I believe it when I read that people live in more walkable neighborhoods trust their neighbors more and children have more opportunities to be independent.  As we walk the neighborhood, we get to know the people. We say hello, meet the dogs & greet the children playing in front yards.  Because of our walks, we know multiple families on every block that we frequent. This knowledge and familiarity build the bonds of trust that a neighborhood needs to thrive.  I may not walk alone in your neighborhood in the dark of night – but I do walk in mine as I know who’s who and who lives where – and who could help if needed.

In every neighborhood that I’ve regularly walked in, I’ve had a strong feeling of connectedness to the people, schools, and businesses in that neighborhood.  I find myself face to face with many people along the way- which reminds me of what we have in common. There’s rarely a day that goes by that I don’t get a smile or wave from someone across the street or through their car window.  When something out of the ordinary is happening in the neighborhood, I feel comfortable stopping to talk to someone with a familiar face and compare stories. Maybe the first step to increasing social capital and a feeling of connectedness to others is as simple as taking regular walks through our neighborhood.

Omaha does not require transportation management plans, and it should

4 Apr

A friend of Mode Shift Omaha sent us the photograph below, with the accompanying text:

Photo credit: Farrah Grant

 This is the section on Dodge Street I was telling you about. Both sides of the sidewalk are closed so there is no pedestrian access. On the north side, a sign says “Sidewalk closed: Use other side”…

We have discussed in the past that this is not the norm in other cities of similar size. Other cities require that construction projects that alter or inhibit transportation access submit and execute a transportation management plan (TMP) that reroutes or otherwise accommodates the traffic that is being affected by the construction. Omaha has no such requirement. It never has.

This isn’t some recent decision or a cost cutting device of our fiscally conservative administration. Not requiring a TMP is how business has always been done in Omaha. Consequently, we run into situations where two concurrent projects can entirely eliminate pedestrian access to a major transportation corridor. Without sidewalk access, we eliminate people walking and people using public transportation as safe modes of transportation in the area — and this is on a major bus route near critical health and governmental resources.

With Omaha’s stated objective of becoming a Vision Zero city, it is important that city policies account for the safety of all traffic, not merely the convenience of vehicular traffic. Requiring developers to manage the traffic their projects interrupt is a good way to keep everyone accountable and safe, regardless of their mode of transportation. Continue reading