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
As we bring 2016 to a close, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on transportation-related accomplishments and challenges over the past year. Here are our top ten transportation stories:
1. Historic Buildings Saved from Parking Partisans
Mode Shift board member Sarah J. rallying to Save the Specht
Thanks to the mobilization efforts of Restoration Exchange Omaha and Mode Shift Omaha, as well as your letter writing, testimonies, and rallying, Omaha Performing Arts announced last mid-February they would no longer pursue their efforts to acquire and then demolish three century-old buildings to create unnecessary parking to be constructed in their place. Our voices DO matter (at least sometimes)!
2. Victories for Bike Safety
There were some big wins across the state for bicycling this past year. One, thanks to the work of the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance, was the approval of LB 716, which gave people on bikes the same legal right of way in crosswalks as people on foot. The bill also eliminated an outdated mandatory side path provision that was in the statutes. The law went into effect on July 21, 2016. Also, kudos to Lincoln for being the first city in the state to implement a Curb-Protected Bike Lane in a core area of downtown Lincoln. Perhaps someday we’ll see the same in Omaha, such as the protected bike lane on Harney Street featured in the Transportation Master Plan? In the meantime, we’re grateful to the City of Omaha Parks and Recreation for getting the South Omaha Trail finished; this is a much-needed addition to enable a connected, safe riding route from the Keystone to midtown and downtown Omaha. 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.