Tag Archives: advocacy

Weekend Events

17 Dec

TONIGHT Walk With Us – Blackstone: The MSO Walkability Team invites you to join us for continuous crossing event Friday, December 17th from 4-7pm (originally 5-7pm but we have an earlier group interested!) at the 38th & Farnam intersection. If you haven’t read our statement calling on the City to get serious about Vision Zero, do so HERE and then join us this evening to draw attention to the area. We’ll have safety vests and signs. Bring a friend and walk with us, even if it’s just one lap around the intersection!


TOMORROW Ride With Us – Council Bluffs FIRST AVE Trail! The Bike Team invites you to join us for a chilly Saturday afternoon ride in Council Bluffs for phase one of the amazing new FIRST AVE Trail. Meet us on the CB side of the Bob Bridge at 1pm. You’ll find a Heartland BCycle station there if you want to ride but don’t have your own bike. It will be short and sweet since the temps are low but we’ll pedal and talk about our first impressions with a MSO Member & Planner in Council Bluffs.  

Commute & Compare

1 Dec

First and foremost, THANK YOU OMAHA!!! Because of your generosity on Giving Tuesday we surpassed our $6,000 goal and ended up at $7,638 in total donations!! Wow. We’re truly amazed and grateful for your support of our mobility equity work in the metro. With this year-end boost, we’ll head into 2022 strong, ready to continue the growth of our organization and to speak out about important transportation issues.

We celebrated last night with the premiere of a video project we call “Commute & Compare,” followed by a discussion about getting around Omaha with and without a car. If you missed it, you can find the film with Q&A on our YouTube channel here.

Photo of Sarah in a purple jacket and bike helmet standing next to Stephanie who is wearing a black hoodie and gray beanie. To their right is Ky, wearing a jacket over a green hoodie with bright yellow beanie over locked hair. They're all standing in front of a brown brick wall at City Hall.
Sarah, Stephanie, Ky

The concept for our experiment was simple: compare three trips from the Benson Library to City Hall using three different modes of transportation. The trips happened at the same time on the same day to ensure it was a fair experiment. Sarah rode her class 2 (pedal assist, not throttle) electric bike, Ky took the #4 Metro bus, and Stephanie drove her car.

A map with a green, blue, and red lines along the route for each trip. The green line is for the car trip, the blue line is for the bike, and the red line is for the bus trip. The top, in a black banner, says"Commute & Compare" and at the bottom there's a time clock showing each mode. The lines on the map show the routes from the Benson Library to City Hall. At the bottom it says "Car 21:31" in green, "Bike 23:08" in blue, and "Bus 31:50" in red.
Trip map and times

Each person turned on a GPS tracking app so we could follow their trips and time spent. We were pleased to discover that the bus trip was only about 10 minutes behind the car. We also know that time shouldn’t be the only factor to consider when deciding the best mode for a trip. This is where the scorecard comes in!

A grid on a green background has columns for qualities of the trip first, then car, bike, bus at the top. The first column has time, cost, environment, health, leisure, adaptability and total.
Our scorecard

We had each traveler tell us their favorite and least favorite parts of the trip and then filled in the scorecard accordingly. We ranked each mode 1-3 (1 being the best and 3 the worst) and then added up the results. After completing the scorecard, the bike received the least amount of points and is therefore the winner of this particular Commute & Compare.

This is a replicable experiment so if you’d like to try it, fill out the blank scorecard and let us know how it goes! You can also change the modes in case maybe a bike share option or scooter is plausible for your trip.

A grid on a green background has columns for qualities of the trip first, then car, bike, bus at the top. The first column has time, cost, environment, health, leisure, adaptability and total. The total on the bottom shows 14 for the car, 10 for the bike, and 12 for the
Final scorecard

If you’d like to watch the film without the discussion, it’s available here! Click below and let us know what you think.

We hope that this is the first of multiple experiments and would love to hear your thoughts. We also hope it inspires you to shift your thinking and maybe event switch a trip from a car to another mode. As always, get in touch with us at info@modeshiftomaha.org.

New MSO Member Perspective

21 Jul

We asked a new Mode Shift member, William Carmichael, to share a bit about his transportation story. Enjoy!

In front of a wooden bookshelf, William is smiling at the camera with rimless glasses and a graying beard.
William Carmichael

I didn’t expect to take up cycling at 53. Still less did I expect that I’d ever be emailing city officials semi-regularly, asking for them to step up in support of transportation equity. It took parenthood and a pandemic to change my thinking.

 Like apparently a lot of people, I found myself contemplating getting a bike during the early days of COVID-related lockdowns and closures. I managed to make it through 2020 without pulling the trigger, but earlier this year our seventeen-year-old child got their driver’s license and a job, both in the span of a couple weeks. Although there was no practical way for us to adapt to the change in their schedule without needing some additional transportation options, I balked at the idea of getting another car; three vehicles for a family of three seemed like overkill to me, and still does. So I went ahead and bought myself a bike. It was an easy decision to make, mainly because I’m lucky enough to live fairly close to my job, and also close to a mixed-use trail that covers most of the distance *to* that job.

 A lot of people in Omaha don’t share my good fortune, however, and for many of them going without a car isn’t a choice, as it was in my case, but a necessity instead. Picking up cycling late in life, after decades not even owning a bike, made the obstacles that the city imposes on people without cars stand out starkly to me. As I said, there’s a great trail that I can take to work. But getting to that trail involves either traveling along a major thoroughfare with lousy sidewalks and inattentive drivers, or rolling the bike across places that aren’t supposed to be access points (although bafflingly enough there is signage to warn drivers of pedestrians and cyclists crossing the road at this specific non-access-point). And if one travels in the opposite direction, there is a gap of about a three quarters of mile in the trail, and the only option for crossing that gap is to travel through streets that are, if I’m being diplomatic, “unsuited to non-motorized traffic”.

 All of this in a part of town that I know gets better service and more attention from the city government than most. I started wondering about how I would feel about it if the bike were all I had. Observation and thought made in pretty clear that pedestrians weren’t being treated much better, and trying to use mass transit to get from my neighborhood to virtually anywhere else in the city would be so time consuming as to be entirely impractical. And again, other neighborhoods have it worse.

 I started looking around to find out if anybody was making an effort to have the city start factoring multi-modal transportation into its plans, and that is how I found Mode Shift.

“In the short time I’ve been involved, I have already seen them effect practical policy changes and directly serve the community via volunteering.”

I am happy to have found a community that’s working to transform Omaha, from a place where not owning a car is hugely detrimental into a city where public spaces are designed around the needs of people rather than cars.

[If you’d like to share your story about transportation or mobility in the Omaha metro, let us know! We’re always looking for blog submissions.]