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Call for Volunteers – 2016 Bike/Ped Counts

August 24th, 2016 | Author: Pell Duvall
Category: Advocacy, Community, Volunteer Opportunities, You name it

Volunteers Needed for the 2016 Omaha Bicycle & Pedestrian Count

The City of Omaha is conducting its third bicycle/pedestrian count to gauge the level of bicycle and pedestrian traffic

in the city, and we need your help. This type of information is critical in directing future investments in bicycle and

pedestrian infrastructure. We need volunteers to stand or sit at selected locations for 2-hour shifts and count

people on bikes and pedestrians. The study area will include a wide swath of land between 72nd Street and the

Missouri River. The counts will occur at the following times:

Weekday Count Times

• 4-6pm, Tuesday, September 13

• 4-6pm, Thursday, September 15

• 4-6pm, Tuesday, September 20

• 4-6pm, Thursday, September 22

Weekend Count Times

• 12-2pm, Saturday, September 17

• 12-2pm, Saturday, September 24

Volunteers can work just one or all six shifts depending on availability.

We hope to count at approximately 25 locations (each on both a weekend and a weekday), so we will need a large

number of volunteers.

To volunteer, visit the following website: https://goo.gl/forms/vjToyJSrRHJAO2pk1

Contact Stephen Osberg, City Planner, with any questions at 402.444.5150 x2069 or

stephen.osberg@cityofomaha.org

More closures and the same responses

August 23rd, 2016 | Author: Pell Duvall
Category: Advocacy, Trails

Howdy, folks! Well, we have two more closures to report (one belated again, sorry!) as well as an advocacy update about the detours and reroute options! (Spoiler alert: it didn’t get far.)

First, the South Omaha Trail closure from City of Omaha Parks:

A section of the South Omaha Trail from S. 50th Street to S. 45th & Dayton Streets will be closed starting Monday, August 22nd through Friday, September 2nd so the Parks & Recreation Department can address drainage issues along this section of the trail. There is a suggested detour using existing sidewalks along city streets. Refer to the attached map below for additional information.”

City of Omaha’s suggested detour via existing sidewalks

Keystone Trail Closure (also from City of Omaha Parks):

“A section of the Keystone Trail at the “L” Street Underpass will be closed starting Wednesday, August 24th through Wednesday, September 14th so that the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District can address drainage and erosion issues at this section of the trail. There is no suggested detour for this closing. Refer to the attached map below for additional information.”

Trail Closure Notices-South Omaha Trail-Keystone Trail-August-2016

Trail Closure Detour Advocacy Update #2:

Upon receiving this notification, I was on the phone with Dennis Bryers with city parks within hours. We had a very promising and engaging conversation about the complications of temporary detours (or lack thereof being an unacceptable long-term solution) as well as all the entities involved. I briefly mentioned the lowering speed limits on the South O Trail detour as well as using a temporary signal for Keystone Trail closure at L Street. As L Street is a state hwy, Dennis informed me that Nebraska Deparment of Roads (NDOR) would need to be involved. Having just learned from a fellow colleague that NDOR has a Bicycle & Pedestrian Coordinator, I decided to give him a call.

David is a fantastic person who listened intently to my concerns. He offered to connect with Dennis and discuss the options and explained that a traffic engineer would need to be consulted. I was excited! Did I just get a win with NDOR?

I proposed the following solutions:

South O: Knowing that many riders would review the proposed sidewalk detour, I was afraid they would choose to ride 50th and F Streets with drivers passing exceeding the 35mph speed limit on roads with no shoulder or safety measures for bicycle traffic. With a two-way protected bike line not a valid option of F Street, simply suggested that the speed limit be lowered to 25mph during the closure to increase rider safety and comfort on the roadway. (Not to mention that pedestrians and cyclists have a 90 percent survival rate if hit at 20 mph or below, but that rate drops to 50 percent at 30 mph or above.)

Late Friday, I received a reply in response to my suggestions. Disheartened, I read the response that lowering the speed limit is usually not effective. Regarding the Keystone Trail, that the types of temporary changes I am suggesting would require an unjustified expense of a traffic study as well as not supporting all user groups.

I spent the weekend contemplating action and response while riding 145 miles at Gravel Worlds this weekend. I apologize for the delay in getting this out, but I hadn’t fully thought through this.

Although new solutions are in the works as the City Planning Department develops guidelines for closures on bike routes, this should not be the answer now.

Ultimately, the detours (or lack thereof) are the best solutions given the current surrounding bike/ped infrastructure. These roads were designed for motor vehicles and are not the complete streets we want for our city. Changes are coming.

In the meantime, let’s keep doing what we do best; keep riding and be safe!

Please feel free to comment if you find a good detour route!

Keystone Trail Closure & Lessons Learned

August 18th, 2016 | Author: Pell Duvall
Category: Advocacy, Trails

When I saw a Live Well Nebraska link that the Keystone had a closure pop up in my Facebook news feed last Friday, I thought to myself, “I need to get on that.”

I read about the 5 day closure from Harrison Street to Cornhusker Road from Monday August 15th through August 19th. In my only mildly caffeinated morning daze, I just read ‘bridge deck and replacement’ and assumed it meant the bridge over Copper Creek (a City of Omaha project not started yet) even though it is clearly stated that this is the road bridge west of 48th St.

I created a reroute to the nearby Bellevue neighborhood, asked a colleague at NRD to verify the route would be open at the access points in the route, then contacted Bellevue Public Works to set up temporary protected bike lane on a section of 48th Street. Boom!

Copper Creek Detour

Copper Creek Detour

After a conversation with a colleague, it turns out I was totally wrong about where this project was. It’s a Sarpy County project to resurface the road bridge on Cornhusker, and Papio NRD opted to close this section of the trail due to possible falling debris during construction. Whoops, swing and a miss!

In all of the craziness of life (in and out of work), I totally forgot to post about it. After a brief Facebook interaction on Mode Shift Omaha‘s Facebook page on Monday, I realized this.  Completely distracted by a grant proposal that was due that day, I attempted to email Sarpy to engage them on the best way to detour around this.  The response I received was positive, both of us acknowledging it was  a little late in the game to do much.

All of this got me thinking that there has to be a better way. While we don’t need to have a dedicated bike lane for every closed road on popular bike routes, our local municipalities do need to consider the socio-economic impact of closing access for bicycles.  What someone lost his/her job for being late due to no legitimate detour? There’s zero bus service from Metro Transit there.

A bit of a grey area...

A bit of a grey area…

Sure, a flat tire can delay you by 10-15 minutes, but finding a new route can be stressful and/or put you on dangerous roads like nearby Cornhusker. The reroutes for this would delay riders by 10-20 minutes or more, and that’s assuming they have access to a smart phone.

Just for fun, let’s say you’re a teacher at G Stanley Hall Elementary School, and you live near Twin Creek. You’d likely catch the West Papio at Raynor Parkway, head north to Harrison, use sidepath and school route to get to work, avoiding most busy streets.

With this closure, you would find the trail closed at Cornhusker. You’d have to back track or brave 45mph on a poor shoulder. Even if you took the came back south and West Papio combined with neighborhood streets, you’d have 72nd to deal with, likely having to take to the sidewalk for safety.

Mind the Gap!

Mind the Gap!

All joking aside, I learned all the people I spoke with were kind and helpful, and they all plan to keep in communication with Omaha Bikes as future projects affect bike routes! Advocacy in action!

If you know of any closures that affect your route and and to share you planned detour, let us know, and we’ll post your suggested route.

Be safe out there!

Wet/Slippery Area on South O Trail

August 10th, 2016 | Author: OmahaBikes
Category: Trails

Please be careful out there! There is a section to the east of 50th Street that is wet and slippery. Please slow down and use caution.

City of Omaha Parks and Recreation will be placing temporary signage soon until the long-term fix can be addressed later this year. Please see map below for approximate location.

South Omaha Trail - Wet Slippery Section-2016-08-10

Field Club Trail Closure – Monday, August 8th through Friday, August 12th

August 3rd, 2016 | Author: Pell Duvall
Category: Bike Commuting, News, Trails | Tags: ,

Omaha Parks & Recreation Department announced today, August 2, 2016 that a section of the Field Club Trail from Pacific Street to Martha Street will be closed starting on Monday, August 8th through Friday, August 12th so that the Parks & Recreation Department can address drainage issues along this section of the trail. The trail will be closed each day from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and will be open in the evenings. There is a suggested detour using sidewalks along city streets.

One option is to detour east on Martha, turn on 35th Ave, dismount at Center St and use south sidewalk to get to crosswalk/stoplight at 36th St, cross Center St and follow sharrows north on 36th St, turn west on Pacific St to reconnect with Field Club Trail. Use extreme caution crossing Center Street! Map as follows:

20160802 Field Club detour alternate

The following route detour is the suggested detour per City of Omaha Parks & Recreation, however riding 42nd St. sidewalk is not a recommended option for bicycles, and 42nd St is a very busy street not on any bicycle routes.

Field Club Trail-Closure-2016-08-02

 

Any questions about the closure can be directed to Dennis E. Bryers, FASLA, PLA at 402-444-3798 or dennis.bryers@cityofomaha.org.

The Field Club Connection – an update and recap

June 13th, 2016 | Author: Pell Duvall
Category: Advocacy, Events, News, Trails

More than 30 riders participated in a ride to see the most awesome South Omaha Trail connection on Sunday, and we had a great time! This connecting segment is a huge step for trail connectivity in Omaha with the full connection scheduled to be completed this fall!

With the sun blazing and 95 degree temperatures, we are were all grateful for the shade. (even if it means our picture was a little dark)

It was hot enough that we opted for this shady spot for the picture.

It was hot enough that we opted for this shady spot for the picture.

After a conversational pace ride south on the Field Club, we continued on the new South Omaha Trail connection by the silos. We reached the end of the new construction, and everyone hiked to see the work underway near 40th &D. It’s amazing to see how much prep work goes into constructing the trail, and the planning process for this has happened over years!

Looking west where trail will go under 42nd St

Looking west where trail will go under 42nd St

Looking northeast from the  end of the South O where it will cross under F St.

Looking northeast from the end of the South O where it will cross under F St.

After heading back north on the Trail, we climbed up Marcy Street to find our way to The Down Under Lounge.  With great drink specials, free hot dogs, and bingo, they were a most excellent host!

Our pre-warmed racks were nearly full!

Our pre-warmed racks were nearly full!

 

After some cold beverages and conversations about the awesomeness of bikes, we we played some bingo and laughed together for a great social hangout.

Reasons to Give – So, you ask, what is it ‘ya do here’?

May 24th, 2016 | Author: Pell Duvall
Category: Advocacy

As we wind down from all the excitement of Bike to Work Week, Mayor’s ride, Handlebar Happy Hour, and riding out the rest of National Bike Month, I want to get some information out to the Omaha bicycling community about what we’ve been doing here at Omaha Bikes and where we plan to go next.

First off, as you may or may not have heard, we have paid staff now! Well, me. Omaha Bikes hired me, Pell Duvall, as its Executive Director in mid-April of this year. I’m incredibly excited to make bicycle advocacy my profession!

If you haven’t yet, take some time to read up on the history of Omaha Bikes on our about us page. The board of directors meets monthly to discuss administrative issues, provide updates on current projects, and present new ideas about initiatives. If you have an issue that you think needs action, email us, and we’ll do what we can and/or get you connected to the person who can take action.

Our 2016 goal are as follows:

  1. Augment our Bicycle Friendly Destination program. By partnering with local business, employers, and other destinations around the city, we not only encourage people to ride their bikes there, but we increase bicycle traffic on the surrounding connecting streets around that destination. As bicycle traffic increases, surrounding businesses’ revenue tends to increase as does the demand for better bicycle infrastructure such as buffered bike lanes, protected bike lanes, and better trail connectivity. When local businesses and destinations have rapport with people on bikes, they want that infrastructure as well.  Everyone is positively engaged with the municipal planning process, and everyone gets well designed, complete streets.
  2. Bicycle Valet Service - Omaha Bikes is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is committed to making Omaha a premier metropolitan area for the bicycling public.  For many years, our bike valet was limited to our Dust Off Your Bike tune-up and bike Parking at Earth Day Omaha and Bike to the Ballpark Bike Valet at College World series. With funding generously provided by the Nebraska Environmental Trust, Omaha Bikes is expanding its bike valet services and we hope to offer bicycle valet parking for more than 30 events in 2016!
  3. Signature Events – Omaha Bikes is proud to continue our signature events: Dust Off Your Bike, Bike to the Ballpark, Handlebar Happy Hour, and Bike De’Lights.

As much as I don’t like to talk about money, it’s a necessary thing to continue and help make Omaha a premier metropolitan area for the bicycling public!

  1. Omaha Gives! We are one of many organizations participating in Omaha Gives this year on May 25th, and we can use your donations to help with general operating funds. Even $10 helps! And join us for our celebration with other bicycle nonprofits that day.
  2. You can check out ongoing programs here, and many are free to participate; a portion of your purchase goes directly to us!
  3. Become a member! We are working with several local organizations to provide incentives/discounts for or members, but more on that soon.

In summary, we are dedicated to our mission, and I truly believe in this city and its future. With positively engaged members, we can be proactive with municipalities, and we can make Omaha safer and better for people on bikes.

Thank you!

 

South Omaha Trail – May 2016 update

May 23rd, 2016 | Author: Dale Rabideau
Category: Trails | Tags:

To get to the Mayors’ Bike Ride, I rode the South Omaha Trail and took some pictures along the way. The next day, I attended the Mode Shift Omaha’s Coffee Chat with Dennis Bryers, from Omaha’s Park and Recreation, where he mentioned that the South Omaha Trail, from the Field Club Trail to D St and 40th Ave, is scheduled to be open June 1! 40th Ave to 45th St is scheduled to be completed September 30th.

Here is a snip from the Omaha Area Bike Routes map detailing the suggested routes to bridge the gap between 40th and 45th. Note: there is an eastbound route and a westbound route.

Detours between 45th and 40th Sts.

Detours between 45th and 40th Sts.

Westbound detour is 39th Ave to F St to 44th Ave to G St to 45th St entrance to trail.
Eastbound detour is 45th St to G St to F St to 42nd St to D St (There is always gravel at D St corner so slow down greatly to make right turn.)

The reason for a different westbound route is that 42nd St is often too busy with motor vehicle traffic to cross northbound lanes into southbound lanes. Though some may be tempted to ride the sidewalk along 42nd St, there are several busy fast food entrances crossed, along with the gas station at 42nd and F. In addition, the westbound traffic on F St doesn’t always get through on each light so there is no place to merge from the sidewalk onto the westbound F St.

Here are pictures from May 19th.

View west from 42nd St viaduct.

View west from 42nd St viaduct.

West of 42nd St viaduct.

West of 42nd St viaduct.

East of 42nd St viaduct.

East of 42nd St viaduct.

The trail still has dirt and metal sod clips from grass nets being installed. The trail will be swept prior opening.

D St looking west towards 39th Ave.

D St looking west towards 39th Ave.

D St looking east towards 38 St. Though the trail has the right of way and the cross streets have stop signs, don't assume cars will stop prior to the trail.

D St looking east towards 38 St. Though the trail has the right of way and the cross streets have stop signs, don’t assume cars will stop prior to the trail.

Looking west towards 38th St beyond the truck on the trail.

Looking west towards 38th St beyond the truck on the trail.

Looking east towards  36th Ave trail entrance.

Looking east towards 36th Ave trail entrance.

Looking west from 36th St.

Looking west from 36th St.

Looking north on 36th St.

Looking north on 36th St.

Looking east from 36th St.

Looking east from 36th St.

Looking east along I-80. Notice the 8% grade down eastbound. One will need to brake for the right bend at the bottom of this picture or they will drift into the westbound lane which is blocked from view by the fence.

Looking east along I-80. Notice the 8% grade down eastbound. One will need to brake for the right bend at the bottom of this picture or they will drift into the westbound lane which is blocked from view by the fence.

Looking west along I-80. Looking back at the bend, one can see the westbound lane is blocked from seeing the downhill eastbound lane. Also need to be careful about too much speed east bound on this section because of right bend shown in next picture.

Looking west along I-80. Looking back at the bend, one can see the westbound lane is blocked from seeing the downhill eastbound lane. Also need to be careful about too much speed east bound on this section because of right bend shown in next picture.

Looking east into 90 degree left down to I-80 viaduct. Note: the guide wires and commercial sign post await those who go to fast and miss the right bend.

Looking east into 90 degree left down to I-80 viaduct. Note: the guide wires and commercial sign post await those who go to fast and miss the right bend.

Looking south up the 90 degree bend from I-80.

Looking south up the 90 degree bend from I-80.

Looking north under I-80 viaduct. This should be the new south terminus of the Field Club Trail and east terminus of the South Omaha Trail.

Looking north under I-80 viaduct. This should be the new south terminus of the Field Club Trail and east terminus of the South Omaha Trail.

The gap for an east/west trail from the Keystone to downtown is down to five blocks. These five blocks require traffic skills to interact with motor vehicles on F and 42nd Sts. 42nd St sidewalk has several busy crossings with cars exiting/entering 42nd St and not watching for pedestrian or bike traffic on the sidewalks. Whichever way you bridge the gap, ride with awareness. If you are not confident with your traffic skills, visit Cycling Savvy for informational articles and videos.

Previous posts on South Omaha Trail:
October Update
September Update
August Update
July Update
June Update
March Update
Initial Post with Overview

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!

File_003

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.

File_002

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

File_007

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!

File_006

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.

File_005

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!

File_000        File_004

 

 

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

Whisperer2

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

File_003

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.

File_001

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,

omahabicyclemap2015

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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