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Dust Off Your Bike and Bicycle Valet Parking at Earth Day Omaha

April 17th, 2016 | Author: Pell Duvall
Category: Advocacy, Community, Get Involved, Valet Bike Parking, Volunteer Opportunities

What a beautiful day it was at Earth Day Omaha 2016! Though it was a bit windy in the morning, we had fantastic temperatures, some sunshine, and great music!

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Due to a storage transfer issue at the end of last season, our banners and valet cards were misplaced, so I pedaled to Walgreen’s on my way to grab a couple decks of playing cards. We set up early with Dale, Tim, and Matt’s help.  We had the racks and tent up by 10am, and we chatted with Earth Day volunteers as several were glad that we were set up in time for them to park.

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Matt pedaled home to get us an extra paperweight to hold down our cards: an Egyptian brick from Murphysboro, IL!

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From there, we began to valet park bikes similarly to previous years but with one change; we now ask our participants to log their mileage for their trip by bike to and from Earth Day. We then report the emissions saved as part of the air quality standards funding generously provided by the Nebraska Environmental Trust! With this funding, we will be upgrading our parking racks, promotional materials, and promotional efforts to provide even more bicycle valet events throughout 2016 and beyond! A huge thanks to NET for jump starting this program!

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Several more volunteers came to help: Emilie, Jackie, Jayme, and Scott. They all worked tirelessly. As the wind died down and more people came, we became overwhelmed with Dust Off Your Bike safety checks and tune-ups, and our racks were almost full! We had bikes of all sizes, trailers for kiddos (and Coby the dog), and a small scooter or two.

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The bands were in full swing, we munched on Scott’s homemade hummus with pita, and many folks stopped to chat. I overhead Dale chatting with a wonderful retired woman who had ridden over 7 miles one way from midtown to have one of her bikes checked out. She went on to say that she’d sold her car many years ago and enjoys riding, walking, and taking the bus. She would later come back with her second bike (which she rode all the way home to get). Dale was wrenching bike after bike, and he finally got to take a break midday to walk around! This day just wouldn’t be possible without him!

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Dale ‘The Bike Whisperer’ made impressions on social media.

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Bikes continued to flow in until the racks were full and only a few cards remained.

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As the crowds began to migrate from the event booths, some headed toward the beer tent for a local brew and others came over to pedal home. Many teased of’upgrading their ride’ as they ogled others’ bikes while waiting patiently for volunteers to retrieve theirs; all the while stuffing our tip jar full of cash.

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We broke down and loaded the racks as the last few folks picked up their bikes. Sunburned and exhausted, I bummed a ride home in Dale’s trusty Chrysler mini van. We chatted about the day and Dale’s new car, a Chevrolet Volt, that he’s picking up next week. We unloaded the racks and ended out day the same way it started: with a handshake and a smile. Another great Earth Day Omaha is ‘in the books’ or in this case, in the blog!

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Omaha Trail, Our Place in the Streets, and How to Get There

April 7th, 2016 | Author: Dale Rabideau
Category: Commuting | Tags: , ,

If you haven’t seen it already, KETV talked with Dennis Bryers, Omaha trail planner, about the status and use of the South Omaha Trail phase 2, and Turner Blvd Trail addition. Turner will hopefully be completed by May, and South Omaha by June with a grand opening in Autumn. These are two of the six trail projects the City of Omaha has planned for 2016.

Filling in the gaps on the Metro Trail System (MTS) is the biggest bang for the buck in moving people via bicycles around the area. Yet just like the large trunk fiber optic lines, the final mile can be the most difficult and costly for connecting the MTS to destinations.

Many would like to see segregated bicycle lanes on busy streets like Leavenworth St and W. Center St. Others suggest bicycle routes that parallel busy streets. And yet others prefer the counter intuitive safety of taking the lane and being a part of the motor traffic. It is with the bicycle street routes where we need education, discussion, and a coordinated message to engage the City with best practices. Parts of this is going forward with fleshing out Omaha’s Complete Streets Policy, Bellevue Complete Streets, and Council Bluffs transportation plan suggesting adopting complete streets (3/12) and bicycle and pedestrian mobility (8/12). These policies and plans are being coordinated with the MAPA Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan (187 page pdf).

mapa bicycle pedestrian plan

Though infrastructure planning and construction take years, we need to engage the public input process, periodically request status updates outside the process, and generally making sure city, county, NRD, and state commitments don’t fall between the cracks.

Most people riding bikes recreationally will prefer the MTS. We (bicycle advocates) need to point these people to the

Omaha Bicycle Topo Map,

Omaha Bicycle Topo Map

and Omaha Bicycle Map 2015,

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for figuring out routes to ride to the MTS instead of loading the bicycle on the car.

Besides wayfind, people who ride would benefit from education on best practices for interacting with motor vehicles so they can ride from their residence to the MTS. After time with those street riding experiences, it is an easy step for people to bike to destinations for non recreational reasons like commuting to work, eating and drinking, shopping, events, etc.

This March, I took the Cycling Savvy (CS) training courses in St Louis, MO. I had heard great things about these courses, and they did not disappoint. They are about giving us best practices (traffic dynamics, bike handling skills, analyzing street environments and practicing solutions in traffic) so we experience better interaction with motor vehicles. Though people who ride don’t want to admit it, or don’t know, our behavior and lane position can alleviate many of the negative interactions with autos. We can have an immediate, positive, affect on our cycling behavior and experience; and we can make it happen through taking the CS courses.

I received approval from my instructors to apply to become a CS Instructor. CS requires two instructors to present the courses so I am asking for others who may be interested in teaching the CS curriculum to attend the three courses so you can be evaluated for becoming an instructor. Minneapolis and St. Louis are the closest locations, but there may be other locations near family, friends, or vacation areas where one could take the courses while in the area. To become an instructor will require 40 hours or more of pre-training study, passing an exam, and then three days of instructor training in Orlando, FL.

Who would benefit from local CS course offerings? People who want to ride from their residence to the MTS. Already active commuters. I learned multiple points about traffic dynamics and choosing lane position that I wasn’t practicing. Others do not have access to an auto, so they ride a bicycle. As these three groups of people are trained and practice proper traffic interaction, our experience in traffic will improve, our stories about riding as traffic will change, and our ridership will increase.

To improve the experience of people riding bicycles, we have a three legged stool: infrastructure, wayfinding (maps and signs), and education. Please be a bicycle advocate by directing people to local and state advocacy organizations:
Omaha Bikes, Mode Shift Omaha, Nebraska Bicycling Alliance, Iowa Bicycle Coalition, etc.

wayfinding:
Omaha Bicycle Topo Map, Omaha Bicycle Map 2015, Google map choosing the bicycle tab, and strava heat maps to shows heaviest street useage of strava users.

education:
Cycling Savvy, i am traffic, League of American Bicyclists.

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