Tag Archives: transportation

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.]

Transportation Groups Participating in Omaha Gives! 2018

23 May

There are several multi-modal transportation-related organizations participating in this year’s Omaha Gives, taking place today, Wednesday, May 23. Please spread the love. Thanks for supporting better, safer transportation in the Omaha area!

Mode Shift Omaha

Advocates for transportation options that enhance quality of life and opportunities for everyone to live, work, and play.

Community Bicycle Shop of Omaha

Strengthens Omaha neighborhoods by promoting the bicycle as viable, reliable, and fun transportation.

Heartland Bike Share

Develops, promotes, and operates bike sharing programs throughout the Heartland region.

Keep Kids Alive Drive 25

Makes streets safer for all who walk, cycle, play, drive, and ride.

Live Well Omaha

Improves the overall health of area residents and position Omaha as a thriving community now and into the future.

Nebraska Bicycling Alliance

Cultivates a safer, more bicycle friendly Nebraska through partnerships, education, and advocacy. Continue reading

2018 Street Bond Vote, Part 3: Project Selection

2 May

On May 15, 2018, Omaha voters will be asked to approve $151 million of Street And Highway Transportation Bonds (which we will refer to as “Street Bonds”). In return for this approval, the City commits to complete some transportation projects.

Mode Shift believes it is incumbent on the City to perform three steps:

  1. Inform the voters what projects it plans to fund with the Street Bonds
  2. Account for Street Bond spending and progress of the planned projects
  3. Disclose how it selects the projects that receive Street Bond funding

We covered the first topic in Part 1, where we reported that the City gets high marks, and the second topic in Part 2, where we reported that the City veers wildly from its plans without accountability.

In this final blog, we examine the third step and find that the City ignores the transparent and objective governance promised by the City charter and follows an opaque, visionless, subjective process that perpetuates the fiscally unsustainable, disjointed, band-aid projects that the City’s own Transportation Master plan warns against.

Continue reading