April 13th, 2015 |
Author: Dale Rabideau
Saturday, April 25 in Elmwood Park
Bike Corral pre-build
2014 bike corral
Omaha Bikes is providing free parking for bikes and a mechanic station for those who want a bike safety check over. We can make minor adjustments to brakes and shifting, and will have some tubes to fix flat tires.
Please use the corral to park your bike and walk around the different tents and enjoy the stage speakers and performers. Car parking will be very difficult, rather drive to a parking area along the Keystone Trail and ride your bike to Pacific St and then east to Elmwood Park entrance. Bicycle path is available the entire way.
We need volunteers to help: There are two hour slots for valet parking – we tie ticket to bike and give ticket to person; and two hour slots for bike check overs.
Please click here to register to help.
For more info on Earth Day Omaha – click here.
March 17th, 2015 |
Author: Dale Rabideau
| Tags: South Omaha Trail
Here is an overview of the South Omaha Trail construction zone. The pictures start in the upper right corner and focus on the 90+ degree turn just south of I-80, with the last handful being just west of 42nd St.
Current end of the Field Club Trail at Vinton St. Looking South along the West side of the elevator.
The original elevator building for loading and unloading grain. If you look closely, the white painted silos are a slightly smaller diameter than the additions to the North and South.
The I-80 bridge.
Parked car on top of I-80 bridge to get this SouthWest shot from above.
Contrasted above pic with this one to get a good idea how big an area this turn will encompass.
This is the blueprints for this turn. Notice how the trail winds around in order to check/slow one’s speed and provide a longer climb.
Looking towards South and culvert under RR tracks.
1906 – this culvert has almost silted shut from I-80 construction and expansion over the years.
Looking North – a 108′ long, 30″ culvert will a path under the trail for water from along I-80 to the RR culvert. The trail will be about 18′ above the culvert. The bank drop off will be 1′ down for every 3′ away from the trail.
From the top looking East.
Putting up black construction barriers to catch dirt, etc. Trail will be along right barrier.
36th and D Sts looking West. All trees and stumps are removed.
D St looking East to 36th St.
Looking West at 42nd St bridge. Standing approximately where trail will come off side of bank.
Trail will be 18′ above RR track under the bridge, which is approximately 6′ above the side support between the pillars.
Just West of 42nd St bridge.
Clearing trees and stumps before filling in trail corridor with dirt.
Notice the old telephone pole at an angle.
Another pole. I like pieces that provide historical note.
February 25th, 2015 |
Author: Dale Rabideau
| Tags: South Omaha Trail
The final 1.5 miles connecting the South Omaha Trail to the Field Club Trail is scheduled to be completed by February 2016, though with good weather, December 2015 is a likely opening date. The initial phase from Karen Park and the Keystone Trail to 45th St and G St was completed a couple years ago. Unfortunately, the City of Omaha never budgeted for completing this crucial link between the Keystone Trail and Midtown/Downtown Omaha. Fortunately, we can thank the Papio-Missouri NRD and District 6 Jim Thompson for stepping up to the plate and providing $5M of the people’s money to complete this multi-user infrastructure for human powered movement.
A snip from the Omaha Bikes Bike Route Map reveals the extent of the trail under construction in orange.
Omaha Bikes Bike Route Map
The blue prints have broken the construction into 10 zones labeled A-J.
blue print overview
Current East terminus at 45th and G St.
Current East terminus
The trail up to the F St bridge is approximately Zone A. Though little grade work needs to be done, ‘A’ will be the last zone to be completed before opening the trail. The zones will be worked on independent from one another. In other words, the trail will not be constructed from zone A-J in a linear fashion.
Zone B has a steep embankment on the South-East side of the trail.
The previous picture is looking down about a 30′ drop to the bottom. The dashed line in the blue print below is current grade, the solid black line is final trail grade. Approximately 15′ of dirt from where I was standing in the previous picture will be pushed into the low area to bring that up to final grade, in addition to many cubic yards of dirt. The final grade up and down this zone is about 5%.
Now we are in Zone C and near the 42nd St overpass. There will be a retaining wall and fence on both sides of the trail where it parallels the railroad track.
This is where the trail will come on the former storage area. A parking lot trailhead will have room for 6-7 cars.
At this point, the trail crosses to the South side of D St. This is the entrance to a concrete recycling plant. Large trucks on to and off of D St. There are good sight lines. The trucks slow down to turn in and stop before pulling out. The trail will have a stop sign and trail traffic will yield to D St traffic.
D St’s south curb will be move north 5′. The trail will narrow from 10′ to 8′ along D St so property owner’s will loose no property. A wooden fence will separate the trail from property owners to the south.
At this point, we enter zone F where the trail returns to 10′ wide, a retaining wall with fence will be constructed on the south side at the beginning and end, while dirt will be brought in for a 1 to 3 shoulder grade to the north.
This is the middle section at the end of 36th Ave where there will be no retaining wall.
The next two pictures show the general area for the 90 degree turn along side 36th St.
Going north along 36th St.
At this point, the trail will narrow to 4′ and use the sidewalk on the bridge. The rules will state that people must dismount and walk bike by one another. Very precise driving between two people biking could pass. The choice I will consider is to check traffic on 36th St prior to the parking sign and then jump into the northbound lane before the water basin and view of south bound traffic is restricted.
Concrete recycle plant to the west. At this point, one will really notice the noise from the plant and I-80 from here to the grain elevator.
The trail will have stop signs for trail users before crossing 36th St. One must check traffic carefully. I believe the speed limit is 35 mph but cars going north down the hill onto the bridge and over tend to be going faster and are slightly hidden because the bridge bows up in the middle and hides cars farther south. This is another reason to have jumped onto the north going lane before the bridge. You have possession of the lane and can signal slowing and right turn at the trail crossing.
Zone H has the steepest grade of any zone – 9% down to the flat. The trail will have fence on both sides through this zone, probably something like the section at the west end of the South Omaha Trail going around the Kiewit construction lot.
The construction right of way is between the tires of the trailer left to the end of the fence. I took a poor picture of the blue prints above so I am guessing the the trail will be along the I-80 side.
I did not study the blue prints before shooting the pictures. As you notice, zone I has the trail going south before heading north under the bridge. All my pictures going down to the tracks will be left of the trail.
Notice on the grade lines, about 18 feet of dirt is being brought in so a continual 5% grade will take one down to the underpass.
Zone J goes from the underpass, along the grain elevators to Vinton St and the current south terminus of the Field Club Trail. I would guess that the underpass will be where the trail changes names.
And a final look south through the underpass. Maybe you can make out the work of aspiring artists in the area.
It is difficult to overstate the importance of the South Omaha Trail connection from the Keystone Trial to the Field Club Trail. There are only three at-grade street crossings – 60th St with the Hawk light, D St, and 36th St. For those who want to get downtown with the least interaction with motor vehicles and the least hill climbing, the South Omaha Trail will be our best option!
February 11th, 2015 |
Author: Dale Rabideau
| Tags: bicycle driving laws
Though traffic laws may be instituted to guide safe practices, often times they have to balance safer driving practices with maximizing throughput. The following two examples of a police officer and construction worker match closely with the vulnerability of people biking.
When police officers are standing at drivers’ windows on the side of the road, is it acceptable to pass only three feet away from them at 20, 30, 40 mph?
When passing a temporary road construction zone with no cement barricade, is it acceptable to pass only three feet away from the person working at 20, 30, 40 mph?
When a person is hit at 40 mph, the likelihood of death is over 80%. When the person is driving 20 mph, the death rate of the person standing, walking, or biking, drops under 5%.
Both the police officer and construction worker outside their vehicle require people driving to slow down resulting in possible congestion. Are the lives of these people on the street considered worthy of causing congestion whereas a person biking is not?
The current law requiring people driving to create at least three feet between their vehicle and the person biking is not about safety, because as we understand with the police officer and construction worker, three feet isn’t considered safe at a 20+mph speed differential.
The three foot law is unenforceable because, unlike having to move across a stripe marking the next lane which LB 39 would require, the police officer has to estimate three feet, often from hundreds of feet away. The practical result: the three foot law is only enforced after the fact by writing a ticket or upgrading the charge to involuntary vehicular manslaughter when a person biking has been hit or killed.
Similar in size and exposure to people biking, people driving motorcycles are taught to ride near the center of the lane in order to be seen by on-coming traffic and people driving across or turning onto the street. The current ‘far to the right’ law requiring people biking to ride near the gutter, white line, or within the door zone of parked cars puts us in the worst location for safety and taking evasive action in the traffic lane.
People driving cars are required to pull completely into the next lane when passing a person driving a motorcycle; and that is with a speed differential of only 5-10 mph. Why should it be any less for passing people biking, especially when the speed differential is 20-40+ mph?
LB 39 would standardize passing protocol regardless of the type of vehicle by requiring people driving to move into the next lane of a striped road when passing. LB 39 would also standardize the safety margin for vulnerable people on the road and provide an enforceable law before the fact of injury or death.
Please write or call your Senator and the Senators on the Transportation & Telecommunications Committee and implore them to reconsider LB 39 and bring it to the full senate:
Senator Jim Smith – Chairman – Omaha email@example.com
Senator Lydia Brasch -Vice Chair – West Point firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Al Davis – Hyannis email@example.com
Senator Tommy Garrett – Bellevue firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Beau McCoy – Omaha email@example.com
Senator John Murante – Gretna firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Les Seiler – Hastings email@example.com
January 26th, 2015 |
Author: Dale Rabideau
| Tags: bicycle driving laws
Ghost bike for Jim Johnston – 260th and West Center Road
The hearing date for LB 38 is: Wedensday, January 28 at 1:30 in Room 1113 in the Judiciary Committee.
Write to the Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Les Seiler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tell the senator why you support the legislation and that you want your email to be part of the record. You need to give your name and address or it will likely get tossed.
Looking at LB 38, besides defining a vulnerable road user, the increase in penality when caused by careless driving is a Class IV felony, instead of a Class I misdemeanor, and up to 200 hours community service.
While an improvement over the current law, driver education and more enhanced penalties should to be addressed in LB 38:
- There should be a requirement for remedial driving instruction on the rights and space of vulnerable road users, and testing in a vehicle driving around vulnerable road users.
- The current 6 month minimum license supension for causing the death of a pedestrian is a slap in the face to the family of the victim, and says that the privelidge of driving a motor vehicle is held almost as high as life itself. The minimum license suspension should be increased to three years. The maximum should be changed from 15 years to life without driving.
- The suspended license period should not start until the perpetrator is out of jail if they served jail time. The perpetrator needs to experience the entire suspended license period outside of jail without the priveledge of driving a car.
Here is an article on Florida’s proposed vulnerable road users’ law and additional issues they addressed:
January 23rd, 2015 |
Author: Dale Rabideau
| Tags: bicycle driving laws
Which position in the lane do you prefer to drive from?
Only the first picture is currently legal under Nebraska law.
Senator Rick Kolowski introduced Nebraska LB 39 which is a great improvement over the current law. The main aspect of LB 39 is to require motor vehicles to pull completely into the next lane when passing a bike rider on a multi lane road. For any one who drives a bicycle on a divided road knows, it is always a pleasure and sign of respect when a motor vehicle pulls completely into another lane to pass.
While I highly encourage the passing of LB 39, there are two other subsections that need to be amended in order to provide cyclist with more visibility and a better position in the lane.
First, 60-6,317 (1)* requires bicyclists to drive as near the right hand curb or edge of the roadway as practicable (brought to fruition with any unreasonable demands (thelawdictionar.org)).
This ‘far to the right’ (FTR) requirement creates several safety issues.
- Riding to the right keeps a bicyclist hidden longer from those looking to cross or turn onto the lane from the rider’s right.
- When cars are parked along the right, FTR requires cyclists to ride in the door zone.
- Many vehicle designs and window tinting don’t allow one to see the driver’s position from behind so one can not anticipate moving out of the door’s reach when the driver is exiting the vehicle.
- Motorcycles are taught to ride in the middle to left side of the lane in order to be better noticed by other motorists and alleviate dooring. That best practice applies to bicycles also.
- The right or left tire track are usually the cleanest part of the lane and give more maneuverability for surface irregularities, and more options to respond to traffic situations than FTR.
Though some may argue that FTR allows exceptions to consider for safety issues, I see many riders hugging the white line through thick or thin. It seems they don’t know about the exceptions to FTR, or they believe FTR is the safest place to be regardless because that is the primary lawful lane position. Bicycle drivers need to continually examine their complete lane environment and traffic situation in order to choose the best location in the lane. Give bicycles drivers the whole lane, just like any two or four wheel motor vehicle driver. This equality will make us more thoughtful, and responsible, drivers of bicycles.
For the safest operation of one’s bicycle on the street, bicyclists should control their place in the lane as taught by the American Bicycling Education Association, Inc. Please see http://cyclingsavvy.org/2010/06/you-lead-the-dance/ for a short explanation and five minute video demonstrating the practice.
Thus, to improve the visibility, safety, and operation of the bicycle, I request the removal of the 60-6,317 (1) requirement to ride as near the right hand curb or edge of the roadway as practicable in LB 39.
Second, 60-6,317 (2)** requires multiple bicyclists to follow in single file.
Since LB 39 requires vehicles move fully into the next lane to pass, coupled with the proposed removal of FTR, bicycle drivers should have the option of riding double file (one row of bikes in each tire track).
- This would increase our visibility to both overtaking and oncoming traffic, and thereby increase our safety since visibility is the primary excuse used by motorists when they hit a cyclist.
- The second row of bicyclists would not be taking any more lane space than a single row would be entitled to with no FTR.
- Riding double file will halve the length of a larger group so that vehicles wanting to pass would be able to do so more quickly.
- Finally, riding side by side allows bicyclists to talk with one another more easily, increasing the enjoyment of the ride.
Thus, I ask that 60-6,317 (2) be written to allow double file riding in the drive lane, not just on the shoulder of the road.
Removing the FTR and single file requirements will greatly improve the visibility, safety, and operation of the bicycle. These amendments follow naturally and logically from requiring passing vehicles to move completely into the next lane. Taken as a whole, they would produce the best driving options and expectations for bicyclists and motor vehicles by treating both by the same rules. Drivers of bicycles must comply with all the same rules as motor vehicles. Thus we should be treated as a slow moving motor vehicle owning, and being allowed anywhere in, the whole lane.
* http://nebraskalegislature.gov/FloorDocs/104/PDF/Intro/LB39.pdf - page 4, line 8
** page 5, line 1
If you agree, please write in your own words/experience the following Senators and urge them to amend the two sections and pass LB 39 to the full senate:
Sen. Rick Kolowski –introduced LB 39 – email@example.com
Transportation & Telecommunications Committee
Sen. Jim Smith – Chairman – Omaha firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Lydia Brasch – Vice Chair – West Point email@example.com
Sen. Al Davis – Hyannis firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Tommy Garrett – Bellevue email@example.com
Sen. Beau McCoy – Omaha firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. John Murante – Gretna email@example.com
Sen. Les Seiler – Hastings firstname.lastname@example.org
December 14th, 2014 |
What a great turnout on a beautiful night! We estimate that over 75 riders came to see the holiday lights in Midtown Omaha.
Please take a moment to complete our survey about the event!
December 5th, 2014 |
We at Omaha Bikes want to thank Mayor Jean Stothert for her selections of a qualified, talented, and well-rounded group of volunteer members to ALAC. We look forward to seeing the results that this group is able to achieve when working together.
We encourage all friends of Omaha Bikes to reach out and thank the Mayor and her staff for this critical step in the process of making Omaha a better and safer place to live, work, and ride bikes.
You can thank the Mayor in any of the following ways:
(see below for suggested Thank You notes!)
Suggested Email: Dear Mayor Stothert:
Thank you for selecting a qualified, talented, and well-rounded group of volunteer members to serve the ALAC. I look forward to what you will acheive together.
[YOUR PLACE OF RESIDENCE]
Suggested Facebook Post: Thank you @Jean.Stothert for selecting a qualified, talented, and well-rounded group of volunteer members to serve the ALAC. I look forward to what you will acheive together.
Suggested Tweet: Thank you @Jean_Stothert for selecting a qualified, talented, and well-rounded group of volunteer members to serve the ALAC.
September 18th, 2014 |
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 maps.google.com, with grade (rise over distance) calculated by hand from dogis.org – 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 https://mapsengine.google.com/map/viewer?mid=zLNc_1RBa9kM.k4S_Tr6wB2tk
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.
July 31st, 2014 |
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.