Tag Archives: crosswalks

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.

Incentivising People to Block the Crosswalk

18 Aug

52nd and NW Radial

We’ve all experienced it. You’re trying to cross the street, and a car stops right in your way. You thought you’d be able to cross in the relative comfort of a marked crosswalk, but instead, you’re forced further out into the intersection to make it around the vehicle. It’s a frustrating situation. It’s also illegal.

According to state law, people are not allowed to “stop, stand, or park a vehicle … on a crosswalk.”

Crosswalk Law - Nebraska

Omaha’s municipal code says the same thing, almost word-for-word.

Crosswalk Law - Omaha

So, why are people blocking crosswalks? There are undoubtedly a number of reasons, but one stands out as surprising and easily preventable: the design of the intersection incentivizes people to stop their vehicles directly on the crosswalk by placing the sensor for the traffic signal there. If drivers want the light to change, they actually need to park on the crosswalk for the sensor to register that their vehicles are there.

If you want to know more about how the induction loop sensors work, you can find information here, but for our purposes it’s just helpful to know what they look like. If you see a cut in the pavement that looks like the diagram below, it’s most likely a sensor for a traffic signal.

induction loop diagram

Once you recognize them, you’ll see them everywhere. Unfortunately, in Omaha they are often in the middle of crosswalks.

Here’s an example of one at Happy Hollow and Leavenworth…

crosswalk 2

…and another at 40th and Cuming…

40th and Cuming

…and one more at 52nd and NW Radial.

crosswalk 3

This is a ridiculous and unsafe practice that defeats the purpose of marking a crosswalk. Let’s phase it out. We can do better.