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Choosing a Bicycle Route

September 18th, 2014 | Author: OmahaBikes
Category: Bike Route

What goes into making a useable bicycle map? Connecting destinations is fundamental for any map but with the bicycle’s human powered engine, efficiency in energy output must be part of the calculus for laying out routes.

Throughout pre automobile history, travel routes were governed by geography, water/food sources, and topography. Most non-sports oriented riders prefer traveling longer distances over smaller grade hills than shorter, steeper routes to get to their destination.

For a flatter topography, a grid system of routes is most efficient time and energy wise. But for a lumpy topography like much of Omaha, the grid system is very inefficient energy wise, sometimes not even being viable.

Thus, a bike route map that provides viable routes for a wide cross section of riders will give precedence to the third dimension of height rather than direction (length and width).

Another important consideration for bike routes is their Level Of Service or LOS. This refers to the infrastructure and density of automobile traffic. Separated, non motorized, limited access routes like the Keystone Trail have the highest LOS of “A.” A high car traffic route like Saddle Creek Rd during many hours of the day would have an LOS of “D.” But ride Saddle Creek late at night or early in the morning with little car traffic and the LOS becomes an “A” for bicycles.

Thus, for proposing a comprehensive bike network, the LOS is irrelevant because the infrastructure can be repurposed to provide LOS A/B all day in the future. The only thing that cannot realistically be changed is the topography. Thus, like direction, topography again is given precedence over a poor LOS score.

With topography as the key determiner of bike routing between destinations, a map was produced on, with grade (rise over distance) calculated by hand from – the Douglas Counting Geographical Information System. All layers were unchecked except for two foot topographical lines. For historical perspective, choose the 1941 basemap. Outside Douglas County, the USGS topo map was used. In general, a 5% maximum grade was sought. Sections over 5% for 200’ of distance are noted in the route comments. Infrastructure/LOS are indicated by colors:

  • Gold are limited access, with or without grade level street crossing, e.g. West Papio Trail.
  • Green are sidepaths (wide sidewalks) adjacent to or paralleling a street, e.g. Blondo St from 102nd St to 144th St. Trails through parks are also Green.
  • Black are streets with no separate bicycle infrastructure but with a higher non rush hour LOS.
  • Red are streets with no separate bicycle infrastructure and low LOS for a longer duration than normal rush hour.
  • Blue are proposed routes not existent at this time. These usually parallel the gradual grades along drainages and creeks.
  • Salmon are abandoned or active railroad right of ways proposed for routes.

This inspiration for this project developed out of a July 22, 2014 steering committee I was privileged to attend on the Heartland Connections Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. I saw quickly that the proposed routes, and the current Omaha Commuter Map were based more on two dimensional access and LOS while the topography was given subservient decision making in route selection.

As the map developed, the 5% maximum grade was decided on for a goal. There are mistakes and omissions in routes and route comments. Having consumed 200-300 hours on this project as of this writing, it was more important to get the reasoning and product out before perfecting it.

Because the routes take jogs here and there to find the path of least elevation change, they need to be memorized or a cue sheet developed. Ideally, in the future many of these routes will have way-finding signs at each turn.

Given the above as a primer or appetizer, please enjoy the main course (or routes) at Bon appetit!

–Dale Rabideau

P.S. Here are the key East-West routes generated topographically: Military Ave/Sorensen Pkwy – Military Ave is the oldest road and predates automobiles. Sorensen Pkwy is an abandoned RR line.

Fort St/Boyd St/Keystone Dr/Ames Ave – this is more hilly than Military/Sorensen but provides access to Ames Ave business district/North Omaha, and Benson to downtown Omaha.

Maple St is shouldered from 196th to 108th. East of 680 is four lane curb to 72nd. A great route to/from Benson when traffic is low.

Blondo sidepath to Westroads/Crossroads business districts past UNO to Leavenworth and downtown Omaha.

Dodge St parallels west of 680: north side from 180th to Big Papio Trail, south side from 144th to Big Papio Trail. Decision at Big Papio Trail: go north to Blondo or south to cross 680?

Surprise finding: From Field Club Trail/Leavenworth to downtown, there are two routes with the same elevation change: St Mary Ave/Leavenworth and Farnam/38th Ave/Leavenworth. Harney St has 70′ more elevation change than Farnam.

Pacific St east to 132nd has sidepath and is viable. East of 132nd it gets lumpy, especially between Big Papio Trail and Keystone Trail. Because of traffic, right-of-way limitations, and elevation change, this section of Pacific St does not meet requirements for an east-west corridor.

Center Rd – east of Keystone Trail to Hanscom Park and downtown is even better than Leavenworth corridor. A protected bike lane on this section may be as busy as Farnam St protected bike lane. Extend the protected bike lane west to Big Papio Trail for even more traffic.

I St/F St from 132nd St to Keystone Trail/South Omaha Trail nexus. This provides the least elevation change from West Papio Trail to downtown Omaha without going to Bellevue. Though this is 4 miles south of Dodge, estimate a ride from West Papio Trail/Dodge would be about same time wise with less effort via I/F Sts because 680/Dodge requires detour one mile to Blondo or Pacific and more elevation change. From 120th East, there is heavy truck traffic and the need for separated bike infrastructure.

If I St/F St infrastructure brings LOS to A/B between the West Papio and Big Papio Trails, then South Omaha Trail/Field Club Trail may be one of the busiest east-west corridors. Especially if proposed RR ROW trail to Gretna is built.

Q St is 5% grade or less except for Ralston. A lower grade option is available.

Three things Mayor Stothert can do to support the Active Living Advisory Committee

July 31st, 2014 | Author: admin
Category: Advocacy

While Omaha Bikes strongly disagrees with Mayor Stothert’s belief that the “goals have been reached” for our Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator position and therefore the position is no longer needed within the City Government, we are encouraged by news that she signed an Executive Order creating an Active Living Advisory Committee. Nothing can truly replace a dedicated staff member working within the City Government to plan and implement bicycle and pedestrian facilities and we hope a last minute solution to this problem can be found.

However, the Mayor’s creation of a committee to advise her on biking, walking, and other active living principles is a modest step toward balancing the scales. Naming Julie Harris chairwomen of this committee is a very promising start; there are few, if any, better qualified individuals to lead such a group of advisors. Omaha Bikes believes there are three immediate steps Mayor Stothert can take to help ensure the success of the Active Living Advisory Committee. Omaha Bikes would like to ask the Mayor to (1) take the additional step of pledging to frequently listen to, communicate with, and act on the advice of the Committee.

Additionally, we would like the Mayor to (2) pledge to sign a Council-approved Complete Streets Policy when it comes to her desk. If existing City staff currently has the ability to implement safe places for biking and walking in every project, a Complete Streets policy will ensure that every project in our city will take these concerns into account.

Finally, when talking about the future of bicycle and pedestrian projects in Omaha, Mayor Stothert referred to “a dedicated person in our planning department that will continue to oversee this and make sure all those initiatives are being done.”We would like Mayor Stothert to (3) publicly identify this person as soon possible to help ease the worried minds of those passionate about the future of our City and its biking and walking projects.

While this is a very unfortunate way to begin a dialog on the future of bicycle and pedestrian projects in Omaha, Omaha Bikes is pleased we are having the conversation and hope that Mayor Stothert is willing to take the additional steps outlined above to ensure all bicyclists have a seat at the table and a safe places to ride.

32nd Ave Photos

November 23rd, 2013 | Author: Jules4110
Category: Uncategorized

Here are some photos taken Saturday, November 23rd along 32nd Ave, just north of Center.  You can see various “modern” improvements along the curb line that don’t necessarily align with historic principles.

Please see the coverage from our friends at Mode Shift Omaha and the Omaha World Herald  that details the story on how funding has been pulled from a project that would bring a protected bike lane to this street.  It was reported at the Hanscom Park Neighborhood Association meeting last week that the funds were being denied because the street is part of a “historic corridor.”

Note that 32nd Ave is a critical connector in the 20 mile bike loop .

People involved with historic preservation and restoration in Omaha have raised questions about the information that the City reported at the meeting, specifically, that any historic designations in this area would NOT apply to the street itself.  We will continue to work with others in the community to track down additional inforomation.

Updates and Opportunties!

November 4th, 2013 | Author: Jules4110
Category: Uncategorized

Although Omaha Bikes has been a bit quiet for a while, there are still many things going on in our community that need your support. We need as many voices as we can get to support active transportation in our community, especially in public meetings where the naysayers can sometimes be vocal. Remember that your support of these issues is also important around the proverbial water cooler as well! Here are some ways to get involved:

Respond to today’s Op/Ed piece!
Check out Monday’s Omaha World Herald to find the op/ed piece titled “Multiple Transportation Options Make Fiscal Sense for City” written by Angie Eikenberry and Julie Harris. Please share via social media and please consider writing a letter to the Public Pulse in support. Remember to frame your message to highlight to benefits of multi-modal transportation to everyone, not just people who bicycle or walk.

The article is great timing to keep the conversation going at the Mayor’s town hall meeting TONIGHT in Benson. Benson has greatly benefited from recent updates to become more bicycle and pedestrian friendly; be sure to say THANK YOU!

Upcoming town hall meetings with Mayor Stothert & City Department Heads

•TONIGHT! Monday, Nov. 4 – Benson Library (District 1) 6:30-7:30 p.m.
•Tuesday, Nov. 5 – Millard North Middle School (District 5) 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Heartland 2050 Visioning Meetings
Since our population is expected to nearly double – by 2050 – Heartland 2050 provides residents with the opportunity to share their opinions about where people will live, work and play; along with issues such as sustainability, air quality, affordable housing, transportation and more.

Public workshops will focus on what kind of tomorrow you want for our metro region.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with programming from 6:00–8:30 p.m. Free food and drinks will be provided. Open to the public and no reservations are needed.

Nov. 4 City of Bellevue & Offutt Airforce Base
Bellevue University, Muller Administrative Services Building,
1000 Galvin Road
Nov. 5 Downtown Omaha*
KANEKO, 1111 Jones Street
Nov. 5 Douglas County – Regional Visioning Workshop
Burke High School, 12200 Burke Street
Nov. 6 South Omaha*
Kroc Center, 2825 Y Street
Nov. 7 North Omaha*
Lake Point Community Center, 2401 Lake Street
Nov. 7 Midtown Omaha
Lewis & Clark Middle School, 6901 Burt Street
*These workshops will have free childcare services available

Live Well Omaha Winter Bicycle Challenge
The Winter Bicycle Challenge starts tomorrow! Sign up today and invite your friends, family, and coworkers! Let’s see how many miles we can bike this winter!
Just like last year, this is a free and informal way to track your miles between November 1 and March 31. Sign up here:

Handlebar Happy Hour: bike map update feedback session
Tuesday, November 12, 4:30 – 6:30, Jimi D’s (just east of the Keystone Trail, 6303 Center St)
A draft of an updated version of the bicycle commuter map has been created. Live Well Omaha will post up at Jimi D’s with a draft copy of the map; please stop by if you want to take a look and give your opinions about the updates and how we can make it better!

Head over to UNO for the next ModeShift Omaha meeting right after!  Details here.

Winter Cycling Clinic

Sponsored by Live Well Omaha and UNOBikes
Sunday, November 17, 4:00pm, UNO’s CPACS building (center of campus, just southeast of belltower)
Free! Come and learn great advice on how to keep cycling all winter long from a great panel of local experts who have learned lessons the hard way!
Sign up here:

32nd Avenue Update
The 20 mile bike loop piece involving 32nd Avenue between Woolworth and Vinton (in the Hanscom Park area) has the potential to include the first of its kind infrastructure in Omaha: a buffered, 2-way cycletrack! Public meetings will be crucial for bicycle AND pedestrian advocates to highlight the safety benefits that would result from this type of treatment. Meeting dates and times are TBA, but will likely be in mid-late November. Please watch the Omaha Bikes, Live Well Omaha or Mode Shift Omaha Facebook pages for more information.

Bike De’Lights!
Information coming soon on this awesome annual tradition!

Join us for an Advocacy Campaign Workshop & State Bicycle Coalition Gathering!

September 18th, 2013 | Author: Jules4110
Category: Uncategorized

Advocacy Campaign Workshop

DATE:  Saturday, October 19
TIME:  9:00 am to 12:00 pm
PLACE:  University of Nebraska at Omaha
CPACS Building Collaborating Commons, Room 132D (Located in the center of the Dodge Street campus; directions below)

With support and guidance from the Advocacy Advance team, advocates will build upon past work and begin to develop an action plan to support bicycling and walking.

The agenda will include an overview of local priorities identified for bicycling and walking. Walking priorities were identified through last April’s Walking Action Workshop. We need your help to prioritize previously identified strategies for bicycling.

Register here:

Directions to UNO CPACS:

  • The map of the UNO campus is here: The CPACS building is in the middle of theDodge street location marked CPC.
  • Metro bus #2 makes frequent stops on Dodge Streetor #11 passes close by on Leavenworth streetwith a short walk through Elmwood parkto campus:
  • Bike racks are on the west side of the CPACS building or bring your bike inside with you through the doors on the North side of the building.
  • If you are driving, you can park in any lot on the weekend without a permit.

Stick around after the workshop if you want to be part of the conversation with a group that is working to establish the Nebraska Bicycle Alliance. Cyclists from the Lincoln area who have been working behind the scenes will be coming up to talk about next steps. Full agenda coming soon!

Valet Bicycle Parking Catching on in Nebraska

August 25th, 2013 | Author: Jules4110
Category: Uncategorized

Labor Day weekend is shaping up to be bicycle friendly in a big way.  Whether you’ll be attending the first Husker football game in Lincoln, or the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island, you’ll find volunteers ready to park and watch over your bike while you are enjoying the event.

StickersThe State Fair’s “Bike Barn” was the first to jump on board.  The State Fair moved from Lincoln to Grand Island a few years back, and the event began offering bike valet services in its second year.  The Bike Barn is open from 9am -8pm daily during the fair.  Grand Island is actually very bicycle friendly as a whole, with flat as a pancake terrain and dedicated bike routes that have been in place and signed for years.  The city also has a nice trail that, conveniently, will lead you right to the fair grounds.  You can learn more about the Bike Barn HERE.

Headed to the first Husker game next weekend?  Take your bikes!  UNL’s Bike Shop will be offering free bicycle valet as well, opening 2Bike Valet logo hours before kickoff and closing up 1 hour after the game ends.   Lincoln’s trail system lends itself to a park & ride:  take advantage of free parking elsewhere in the city and then ride into the stadium from there.  Anyone who has been stuck in traffic gridlock after a Husker game has certainly daydreamed about effortlessly cruising past the cars on a bicycle!  You can find suggested routes and info about the valet services HERE.

Of course, offering bicycle valet at events makes life much easier for cyclists; however, perhaps the bigger win is for active transportation in general.  As we have experienced with Bike to the  Ballpark at the College World Series, these services raise the awareness about bicycling for transportation among citizens that may not have thought about it before.  The idea of avoiding gridlock or parking fees will surely spur people to dig out and dust off their bikes for the first time in years, and hopefully the experience will then lead to thinking about other trips that could be taken via bicycle rather than car.   It also serves as a powerful visual for decision makers: these seemingly small efforts will give decision makers a good opportunity to see bikes in action on their local streets and hopefully understand why encouraging more people to utilize active transportation will benefit their city.  Lincoln’s N Street cycletrack proponents surely will benefit from the outcomes of the bike valet services at home games.

Please support these efforts if you can.  It won’t be long before we can begin stitching all of these little efforts into a bigger, statewide network!



Fort Crook Bike Lane Ribbon Cutting!

June 26th, 2013 | Author: Jules4110
Category: Uncategorized

City of Bellevue to host Kickoff Ride for the New Fort Crook Road Bike Lanes

The City of Bellevue and the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce will host a Kick-off Bike Ride on the new bike lanes which have recently been added on Ft. Crook Road. This ride will be held on Monday, July 1st with a brief presentation and ribbon cutting at 6:30pm followed by a bike ride at 7:00pm. Riders will meet in the parking lot of Marathon Ventures which is located at 901 Ft Crook Road North which is adjacent to the bike lane. This event is open to everybody and will include a 10 mile bike ride led by Bellevue Mayor Rita Sanders. This will be a great opportunity for the public to try out the new bike lanes for the first time and learn a little bit about the project.

Fort Crook Road was formerly known as Highway 75 and it held the distinction as the first divided highway in the State of Nebraska. It was originally built to connect the South Omaha city limits to Offutt AFB and it was finished December 8, 1941, the day after the attacks at Pearl Harbor.
The Fort Crook Road striping project is a road conversion which is the first road diet on a former State Highway in Nebraska. This project will convert the existing six lane roadway and reconfigure the lanes to 4 vehicle travel lanes and two bicycle lanes. As part of the Fort Crook Road Redevelopment Plan, Fort Crook Road was identified as having excess right-of-way in terms of vehicle capacity along Fort Crook Road, which is due largely to the decreased traffic counts on this road after the JFK Freeway was constructed.


This is very exciting news, and we hope you’ll join us for this ride to celebrate!  We appreciate the leadership of Bellevue’s Mayor Rita Sanders as she continues to advocate for cyclists in the metro area.


May 10th, 2013 | Author: Jules4110
Category: Uncategorized


May 8th, 2013 | Author: Jules4110
Category: Uncategorized

ModeShift OmahaElection Day is coming up on Tuesday, May 14. Our friends over at Mode Shift Omaha have summarized the positions of the mayoral and city council candidates with regards to their stands on active transportation. You can find all of the info on their website.

This is an important election for the future of our city, so please get out and vote.  Even better – ride your bike to your polling place!

Roll Together

May 1st, 2013 | Author: OmahaBikes
Category: Bike Commuting, Bike Philosophy, Community, humor

May 1 marks the start of Bike to Work Month, the local and national bicycle commuting challenges, and is a great day to remind everyone to travel with compassion. People for Bikes and Volkswagen have teamed up to create this humorous PSA video to remind everyone that we all roll together. Bike safe, drive safe, and travel with compassion!

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