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Walking on Dodge

9 Jan
Our 2 minute video, a collaboration of MSO and the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute.

In 2020, Mode Shift Omaha Walkability Team documented conditions and wrote recommendations to improve the safety of Omahans during sidewalk closures. City council member Pete Festersen took the issue to the Public Works Committee, and the MSO Walkability Team presented policy recommendations to the Mayor’s Active Living Advisory Committee (ALAC) in January 2020. At that time, Omaha Public Works agreed to take the policy under consideration. They returned with a policy the very next month to share with ALAC. The policy is now being implemented and can be reviewed on the Omaha Public Works website. 

Each year in the United States approximately 6,000 pedestrians die in vehicle collisions. Additionally, thousands of pedestrians are hit and survive, but with tremendous economic and emotional costs. It is encouraging to know that when action is required, our community can be counted on to engage with each other to get the job done. 

But we asked ourselves what else must be done to create a walkable community? We began by conducting a study of the Dodge Street Sidewalks with the help of UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute.  Enjoy our  2 minute film illustrating conditions and recommendations Walking On Dodge Street.  This week we share our film in the hopes that you will share it with your friends. Next week, we release the Dodge Street Sidewalk Assessment.  We look forward to sharing it and opening a much needed community dialogue about the condition of sidewalks in Omaha.

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

About the Civic Center Site . . .

27 Mar

On March 20th, Omaha World Herald announced that Tetrad Property Group was pulling out of redeveloping site of the former Civic Auditorium.  The developer was asking for about $90 million in incentives and the Mayor decided that was a price beyond what the city has offered to other developers.

Google Satellite image of the area being redeveloped.

Before cancelling the deal, Tetrad and the city planned to build a parking garage in addition to the garage already on the property. Please note that there are two parking garages adjacent to the site, as well, plus the numerous surface lots beneath the I-480. This type of planning does not demonstrate any vision for the transportation future of Omaha. Continue reading