As we all begin to get our bikes tuned up for spring, we want to set our intention for bicycling and bike advocacy in Omaha for 2017: positivity.
To0 often, we are caught up in the negative headlines of the world, the stories we hear from people getting harassed on their bicycles, or just that colleague who can’t seem to find a reason to enjoy the day. At Omaha Bikes, we seek to be the positive voice to make Omaha safer for people on bikes and make Omaha a premier metropolitan area for the bicycling public. This blog series is dedicated to celebrating the amazing accomplishments that bring us to those goals. To kick of the series we’re going to look at one of the most unexpectedly positive pieces of bicycle infrastructure to affect our city since 2009: bus mounted bike racks.
Every Metro Transit bus has a 2-bike rack that can be used for FREE with your paid fare on any route in the metro area. The use of these racks has skyrocketed since they were installed in late 2008 continues to grow each year! Usage increased by over 570% from 2009 to 2016. (No that’s not a typo)
Some of the most amazing things begin with happenstance; here’s a little history about how it happened. Seed money for the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge was total around $19 million congressional earmark former Senator Kerrey. The total included a little more than $3 million in Federal Transit Administration funds.
The award of federal funds and spending them is often a complicated task. And, it was that way, at least, with the FTA funds. City officials had to develop a travel model defining a transit link to the bridge for transit funds to be part of the budget, and it occurred to them that being able to put bike racks on buses would be a way to spend those FTA funds.
Every day, many people work hard to make our city better, and this is one example of ingenuity and a positive outcome. Stay tuned for more positivity!