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Pedestrian Infrastructure in Jeopardy

29 Jul

IMG_5619The City of Omaha scheduled the pedestrian activated crossing signals at six intersections to be removed within 90 days of notification. The residents of Dundee fought the removal of two of those signals that serve walking routes to Dundee elementary, and yesterday, the Mayor indicated that the signals at 51st and Farnam and at 52nd and Chicago warranted further study because of their proximity to a school.

There are four other signals scheduled for removal as a part of the city’s multi-year, $35 million traffic signal upgrade being majority funded by the Federal Department of Transportation. According to statements made by Public Works, these signals do not meet federal standards as laid out in the Manual for Universal Traffic Control Devices, and so their replacement would be ineligible for federal funding. Public works has not yet responded to requests for copies of the full traffic study or a description of the study methodology.

The traffic signals still scheduled for removal are the following:

120th and Arbor
108th and Oak
84th and Spring (see our video analysis of this intersection here)
73rd and Mercy

If you use these signals, or know someone for whom these signals are important for pedestrian access to work, commerce, services and community amenities, please contact Public Works at 402-444-5160 and/or email Mr. Murthy Koti at murthy.koti@cityofomaha.org and Mayor Stothert at mayorstothert@cityofomaha.org.

Safe Crossings at 72 & Dodge

5 Mar

72-dodge-2As part of the Omaha Safe Crossings project, one of the intersections Mode Shift Omaha has been focused on monitoring is 72 and Dodge Streets. This intersection is a major East/West and North/South thoroughfare so one of the busiest intersections in Omaha. At one time, this intersection had nice wide crosswalk markings and stop lines (indicating where cars should stop when the light is red), but these have long disappeared. Without these markings, motor vehicles typically stop for a red light far into the area meant for people walking across the street, making it unsafe, especially for those who are visually impaired.

About a year ago, advocates started making calls to the Mayor’s hotline and posting on the City Mobile App, asking for the crosswalks and stop lines at the intersection to be maintained—all to no avail. At a Mayor’s Town Hall last fall 2016, Cindy Tefft, a ModeShift member, asked the Mayor: if her main objective was Public Safety, why not maintain this intersection for pedestrian safety? Bob Stubbe, Public Works Director, answered the question and said the City only paints crosswalks east of 42 Street and around schools elsewhere (!). He also said the last pedestrian count for this intersection, done in April 2014, did not warrant maintaining the crosswalk. At that time, they counted 246 pedestrians using the intersection (this was before major changes made to bus routes last year and new businesses like Do Space opening). Continue reading

The Top 10 Omaha-Area Transportation Stories of 2016

31 Dec

As we bring 2016 to a close, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on transportation-related accomplishments and challenges over the past year. Here are our top ten transportation stories:

1. Historic Buildings Saved from Parking Partisans

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Mode Shift board member Sarah J. rallying to Save the Specht

Thanks to the mobilization efforts of Restoration Exchange Omaha and Mode Shift Omaha, as well as your letter writing, testimonies, and rallying, Omaha Performing Arts announced last mid-February they would no longer pursue their efforts to acquire and then demolish three century-old buildings to create unnecessary parking to be constructed in their place. Our voices DO matter (at least sometimes)!

2. Victories for Bike Safety

There were some big wins across the state for bicycling this past year. One, thanks to the work of the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance, was the approval of LB 716, which gave people on bikes the same legal right of way in crosswalks as people on foot. The bill also eliminated an outdated mandatory side path provision that was in the statutes. The law went into effect on July 21, 2016. Also, kudos to Lincoln for being the first city in the state to implement a Curb-Protected Bike Lane in a core area of downtown Lincoln. Perhaps someday we’ll see the same in Omaha, such as the protected bike lane on Harney Street featured in the Transportation Master Plan? In the meantime, we’re grateful to the City of Omaha Parks and Recreation for getting the South Omaha Trail finished; this is a much-needed addition to enable a connected, safe riding route from the Keystone to midtown and downtown Omaha. Continue reading