As 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
We kicked off our Omaha Safe Crossings campaign this past June and have been piloting an intersection assessment tool that volunteers can use to record data over one hour at intersections in the Omaha area.
We’re grateful for the several people* who have used the tool to gather data, including at key intersections shown to be dangerous for people bicycling or walking in the past. Intersections where data has been gathered so far include: 18 & Vinton, 72 & Maple, 72 & Cass, 72 & Dodge, 76 & Western, Saddle Creek & Farnam, Raynor Parkway & Papio Trail, and Leavenworth & Happy Hollow.
Some key data points from the assessments include:
- People crossing the street often have to wait quite a while before they get a walk signal after pushing the button—more than two minutes at 72 & Maple; at other intersections where there were signals, about 30-60 seconds. Only one of the signals (at 72 & Dodge) was audible, posing a significant challenge for people crossing who are blind or visually-impaired. If an intersection did have a walk signal, it was working and all intersections had ADA ramps.
Tom Everson, Executive Director of Keep Kids Alive Drive 25, intentionally uses the phrase “traffic incident” rather than “traffic accident.” He chooses “incident” over “accident” because 94% of traffic-related deaths are attributed to behavior.
At the June Coffee Chat, Tom shared that the main objective of Keep Kids Alive Drive 25 (KKAD25) is to make streets safer for everyone, starting in neighborhoods. KKAD25 implements their mission by educating and engaging the public on road safety. Perhaps their most well-known approach to this objective is their catchy and important safety signs distributed around the world. Continue reading