Tag Archives: street design

Why I Support Parking Meters in Benson

28 Apr

– Derek Babb, Board Member and Bike Team Lead

I recently attended the Benson Business Improvement District (BID) meeting where the idea of a parking benefits district was discussed. The general idea is to install parking meters on the street parking spots along Maple St. and to have a central agency that designates the alternative, free parking in off-street parking lots. Many of these parking lots are part of a private business with the exception of the city lot south of 61st and Maple. Parking meters are an important part of managing a huge portion of the way people get around Omaha – by driving. Parking meters discourage long-term use of the best parking spots and reduce the amount of time people spend searching for parking. Parking meters also provide a user-fee for parking rather than asking all of us to subsidize those who choose to drive. 

See more information about the meeting here: https://www.oneomaha.org/benson-pbd/

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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.