April 25th, 2017 |
| Tags: bikes
, city of Omaha trail projects
, Keystone Trail
Here at Omaha Bikes, we strive to focus on positivity. May is Bike Month, and we want to hear stories from you about how biking is a positive experience. Look for future posts on how you can share the fun and maybe with a prize for your positivity!
Even with our positivity focus, we sometimes must approach difficult advocacy issues to keep people on bikes safe! Here’s a summary and update on our efforts to improve safety at a blind turn on the Keystone Trail
Several local bicyclists contacted Omaha Bikes this March about the blind turn on the Keystone Trail as it travels under 72nd St in between Dodge St and Pacific St. They identified several crashes where people were seriously injured and/or hospitalized. This section of the trail is maintained by Omaha Parks & Recreation Department, so we made contact with them in late March. We hadn’t received an official reply before a reporter from KETV emailed to ask about an in early April.
Omaha Bikes spoke with Parks Director Brook Bench and mutually agreed that installing signage improvements would be part of a solution to slow down bicycle traffic at this dangerous turn. With your response to this KETV article, we have since heard from the parks planning division that sign improvements are in process! We will be working to make sure these signs offer messaging to trail users to achieve the goal of slowing bicycle traffic down and remaining in the rightmost portion of the trail. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions and ride safely!
March 28th, 2017 |
Author: Pell Duvall
, Urban Design
, You name it
| Tags: advocacy
, omaha bikes
This is blog 2 of 5 in our 2017 focus on positivity. This series is designed to offer perspective of how our approach to be a trusted resource to make the Omaha Metro Area safer for people on bikes.
With news and social media feeds bombarding us with information daily, it is often difficult to determine if or how to respond to statements we see. The goal of this summary is to illustrate how a few truthful statements combined with limited substantive data led to a perceived bicycle advocacy crisis.
As I was socializing with friends after a day full of meetings and catching up after the National Bike Summit (more on this in our next blog post), a Twitter mention notification appeared the evening of March 16th on @omahabikes from an individual prompted my response.
I excused myself from the group to investigate. From the scope of what I could recall and/or find on my phone, I quickly determined that I had not been briefed on any pending project with possible negative impact on bicycle infrastructure in that area (nor in any part of the metro area). I promptly responded that we would investigate. Several responses from other individuals and organizations, including @ModeShiftOmaha and @AEPNAtweets, offered a few snippets of information for follow up. I added this to my trusty task list to follow up.
The following morning, I dug in a little to find out more about what was happening. I could find no evidence on cityofomaha.org and was then unable to view the AEPNA update on Facebook as I was not yet approved by the group admin. I was then quickly distracted by the daily flurry of emails, social media, and general Friday catch up work. Later that day, I spoke with Stephen Osberg, the City of Omaha’s designated contact for bicycle and active living, and he was unaware of existing plans to remove bike lanes on 63rd St and recommended I contact Omaha Public Works for more information.
KETV later published a story about safety concerns after several serious crashes and a fatality at this intersection. With a several important meetings at the start of the week and focused on several key events and some internal organizational necessities, I was delayed in reaching out to Omaha Public Works for more information about how Omaha Bikes could help. After a bit of phone tag, we coordinated a time to chat by phone the following afternoon. And this is where positivity becomes a key value to this exchange.
At 3pm on a Friday after a very long week, the city engineer took time to discuss the situation with no goal other than to understand how to make our city safer and help each other do just that. He verified that there were several proposed plans and confirmed that there several plans proposed to calm traffic at this dangerous intersection in various methods. These plans will be presented to the Active Living Advisory Committee later this month and none involve removing current bike lanes. (Some proposed plans even extend existing lanes to the south!)
He also explained some details about what their traffic studies have revealed about this street with a 30 mph speed limit:
- Vehicles traveling on S 63rd St to the north of Shirley St (where the bike lanes are) averaged over 8 mph over the posted speed limit
- Vehicles traveling on S 63rd St to the south of Shirley St (with no bike lanes) averaged only 3 mph over the posted speed limit
Traffic calming methods vary by situation but generally use several principles: vertical deflections (speed bumps), horizontal deflections (traffic circles or chicanes), and/or lane narrowing slow the traffic. Parking lanes, striped bike lanes, and curb bump-outs are a few examples of how to narrow the actual or perspective of a lane to slow traffic.
To offer some perspective about why this is 100% relevant to the safety of all road users in that area, I offer the following graphic representation around pedestrian deaths from a Vision Zero collaborative presentation I gave at the Nebraska Bike/Walk Summit just last week (bicycling statistics are also very comparable):
We discussed our mutual concerns at length about availability of information as well as what is most important to address here: safety. With the current design, we would essentially double the chance that a person riding a bike or walking would be killed in the event of a crash with a motor vehicle. We agreed this was an opportunity better understand our mutual goals with future projects, so Omaha Bikes can be a source of information and reassurance when questions are raised.
In the end, we learned that this tempest in a teapot is not a wrongful response of any one person or organization. It was a series of public statements about proposed bike infrastructure changes with limited access to planning resources. We see this as an opportunity to continue to strengthen and build relationships between public agencies and advocacy organizations be a trusted resource to make the Omaha Metro Area safer for people on bikes.
January 23rd, 2017 |
, Bike Congress
, Bike Lanes
Last fall Omaha Bikes began hosting the Omaha Bike Congress, a round table gathering of metro area representatives from bicycle organizations, municipalities, bike clubs, and organizations that wish to participate. We will be hosting sessions quarterly for 2017 and beyond.
The goal of the session is to share knowledge and updates among active organizations, so we can share this with you! This is a casual, round-table format where each organization (when possible) provides a 2-3 minute update on their current bicycle-related projects with a group and/or small group discussion after. Please contact us if your organization would like to be included in future! Please note that space is limited, and we may limit attendance to one representative per organization.
Here is the recap of updates provided by organization:
Pell Duvall – Omaha Bikes
- Event Bike Parking continues for 2017 – Earth Day and Dust Off Your Bike Apr 22nd
- Fundraising for comprehensive bike education
- partnership with Metro Transit to present bike safety at Metro driver training
- League Certified Instructor Training March 31 to April 2 – looking for 8-12 candidates (funded by LWO)
Ben Turner – Heartland Bike Share
- macro -Expansion to double bike share capacity in process, pending decisions on key intersections. City & NDOR agreement in place.
- micro – battery management, software updates, bike overhauls
- 11 months continuous ridership! Only 19 days not ridden in 2016. 18.5% increase in ridership and 10% increase in revenue, 5-6% increase in trips per rider.
Jason Rose – Metro Transit
- BRT design & branding firms in early February
- onboard bike racks – public input
- Goal is 6 bikes on bus – now 60’ bus instead of 40’
- Boarding much easier with platform
- B-cycle east of 72nd
- Discussion on bike lockers
Eric Williams – Papio NRD
- West Papio extension 30% design - construction in 2018
- RFP for design work on stormwater facilities that will come with recreation areas and trail connectivity
- 114th from Giles to Cornhusker update
- Possible B-cycle station at Chalco to start long-term West O connections
- Trees on Aksarben Drive – Ash trees – City will treat some to delay – plant intermediate trees $1 million per year for 5-8 years. Only one location (Polasky Park) where was found but history shows cities can’t keep up once started. – If maintenance issues with Army Corps of Engineers to not replace. NRD plans to pay for replacement trees.
- Aksarben bridges – Official trail bridge is southernmost by softball field owned by city. Aksarben Trust owns others. – Looking for input on which bridges are most used.
Mark Stursma – City of Papillion Planning
- ALAC – Mark is new chair. Congrats! Continuing to define role as a committee. Also, a lot of work with Pwks on projects.
- Lincoln Road – portions complete – bike lanes would go from 96th to 132 – narrow bridge at 96th so trail. Ultimately connect Downton Papillion to 132nd
- Building new ped bridge downtown by middle school. Will be ADA compliant. Construction possible summer 2017.
- Community center 2018-2020 – opportunities for B-cycle and shower facilities near trail system
- Papillion Twilight Crit August 19 – Opportunity weekend of June 10, needs TT road, and Bellevue needs to move their crit.
Dennis Bryers – City of Omaha Parks
- South O Trail Done!
- 30th St Trail nearly done
- Bid to go out soon for Turner Blvd trail at Pacific connection
- Erosion near standing bear
- Riverfront Trail Phase Four – held on environmental with wetland mitigation
- Some burglaries along South Omaha Trail 50th to Kiewit – truck painted black with no lights – city adding bollards
- Standing bear lake – issues with cars damaging grounds at RC plane area
Adam Blowers – Community Bike Project Omaha
- CBPO’s 2017 goal is to get increase number of bikes ready and to people in community! Goal to get 600 bikes out this year.
- 200 bikes to be given out during Omaha Spring Cleanup – details TBD
Madison Haugland – Live Well Omaha
- Transportation Enhancement grant continues – 2017 is last year
- Updating commuter bike map for this year. (Will print 30K)
- 11th year of Commuter Challenge – RFP pending to build website for Bike Safety as well as new commuter challenge tracking tool.
- Bike Omaha Network – continuing final connections, way-finding in process for Aksarben Route
Angie Eikenberry* – Mode Shift Omaha
- Commuter Tutor – MSO is looking for people to serve as mentors for people that want to try active transportation for commuting.
Stephen Osberg* – City of Omaha Planning
- Work continues on the Complete Streets Design Manual. We are currently focusing on how context plays a role in shaping street design. As you know, the Stakeholders Committee meets tomorrow.
- We’re continuing to wade through the paperwork in support of our expansion of the bike share system. We’re using federal CMAQ funds to roughly double the size of the current system.
- With Live Well Omaha, we are finalizing our new wayfinding manual for the Bike Omaha network. Hopefully we’ll see the first route signed in the coming year. We are planning to shift away from using the labor-intensive sharrows to a significantly more visible presence of bike route signs.
- The 24th Street Safety project is moving forward, and we’ll begin the next phase of public outreach before too long. The project will reconfigure the current four lanes of 24th St to three lanes (one lane in each direction with a shared turning lane) and add bike lanes from Leavenworth to just north of L Street
- City will continue to install permanent bike racks on Dodge St
Peter Pellerito* – OwL Ride
- The OwL Ride has simplified the way it chooses the date for the event. It is now going to be the second Saturday in July. In 2017, that is July 8th.
Bob Mancuso* – Omaha Pedalers Bicycle Club/Corporate Cycling Challenge/Mid-America Expositions
- Omaha Health Expo — April 8-9, 2017 at Baxter Arena — Bike Expo area ——– get exposure for your group, join Omaha Pedalers Bicycle Club, Bellevue Bicycle Club, Eastern Nebraska Trails Network, and others at the event.
- Omaha Bike to the Taste of Omaha —- and other events —- Select your event – Sunday June 4, 2017
- Omaha Biathlon
- Midwest Gran Fondo
- 5K Run
- Omaha Bike events – recreational bike rides — 3 routes 9 mile, 15 mile and 43 mile….
- All events include tickets for food and drink at the Taste of Omaha.
- Corporate Cycling Challenge - Sunday August 20, 2017
- and includes the CCC Gran Fondo – Timed bike ride
- From the Omaha Pedalers Bicycle Club
- We are still checking into Movie night.
- Swap Meet is scheduled for Sunday March 12, 2017 at College of St Mary
*updates provided by email
November 29th, 2016 |
Author: Pell Duvall
, Bicycle Friendly Destination
, Bike Shop
, Get Involved
, How to Help
| Tags: bicycles
, giving tuesday
, omaha bikes
Today is Giving Tuesday, and Omaha Bikes can use your support today, tomorrow, and in the future. As we approach our ‘off season’ for events, we focus on community impact, planning for 2017, and our favorite signature event: Bike De’Lights! Make sure an join us for an evening enjoying of holiday decorated bicycles and enjoying our festive city by bike!
2016 is a landmark year for Omaha Bikes. This year we accomplished the following:
- Secured funding to expand event bike parking
- Hired first employee since 2014 reorganization
- Increased bicycle event parking equipment to over 200 bike capacity
- Increased bicycle valet parking from 2 to 10 events
- Saved over 700,000 kg of emissions with event parking
- Advocated for improved bike trail closure process
- Hosted the first Omaha Bike Congress
- Guaranteed maintenance agreements for 20 new Bike Fixit stations in 2017
- Cranksgiving – Coordinated with local bike shops to deliver 1000 lbs of supplies to the Siena/Francis House by bike!
- Secured bike safety education in Metro Transit bus driver training curriculum
As we look to 2017, our goals are set even higher:
- Continue current programs
- Expand bike event parking to 15 events
- Expand event parking equipment by 50%
- Expand permanent bike parking rack program to entire metropolitan area
- Represent Omaha at the National Bike Summit
- Guarantee bicycle event parking requirements for events
- Update website with bike valet integration
- Create and implement comprehensive bicycle education to all road users
- Provide funding for children’s bike safety education
- Expand Bicycle-Friendly Destination program
- Secure maintenance agreements for and repair existing Bike Fixit stations
To accomplish our 2017 plan, we have applied for over $60,000 in grants from area foundations. Many of these would be awarded shortly after the first of the year, but there’s no guarantee. Even with full grant funding, we will still be short on general operating expenses. With our current funds near depletion, we need your help to continue our mission.
If you can’t give today, please consider Omaha Bikes and many of your favorite charities this season.
You can support us in many ways, and your donations are tax-deductible!
On a personal note:
To Omaha Bikes’ Board of Directors, thank you for making this year possible. I don’t know where I’d be without your leadership, confidence, and guidance.
To the amazing group of volunteers, your passion for bicycling is incredible. Thank you enduring the hot sun, pouring rain, and all the other battles of the elements!
Many thanks to partnering organizations for your support and encouragement.
Thank you to all of you for making this year the most amazing year yet!
October 5th, 2016 |
, Bike Route
, Keystone Connector
South Omaha Trail:
Final stages of work continue to complete the South Omaha Trail. While the pavement is completed, the signage and erosion control is still in progress. Due to the construction equipment and debris hazards, the newest section trail remains closed for the time being. Please respect the work being done for your own safety! All work is planned to be completed by October 31st, 2016, and the grand opening/ribbon-cutting will be in mid-November! Stay tuned!
Omaha Riverfront Trail:
A section of the Riverfront Trail from Ida Street and Crown Point Avenue to John J. Pershing Drive will be closed to all trail users starting on Monday, October 10, 2016. The closure will remain closed throughMonday, October 31, 2016. Trail shall be closed for work occurring on the levee. There is no suggested detour for this trail closure.
Drainage work at L Street underpass nearing complete and is expected to be completed next week. Please use caution!
Big Papio Trail:
Drainage work will begin at L Street in early November and will last several weeks. Please be prepared to detour as needed and use caution!
If you have any questions or concerns about trail closures, contact information is as follows:
City of Omaha:
City of Bellevue, report here
Sarpy County, report here
City of Council Bluffs report here.
The above update is accurate to the best of our ability, but please see contact local officials for most current information.
September 7th, 2016 |
Author: Paige Reitz
, Bike Performance Art
, Urban Design
| Tags: Benson
The New Philharmonic, an Omaha-based ensemble of contemporary classical performers, is looking for bicyclists to participate in ‘B is for BIKES!’ the midwest premiere of the iconic work Eine Brise (A Breeze): A fleeting action for 111 bicyclists by renowned composer Mauricio Kagel.
This project serves to highlight cyclist and pedestrian awareness in the urban landscape of Omaha through aesthetic means. Performing entails riding around a few blocks in Benson at a slow pace with all the other performers – in sort of a critical mass formation – and participating in the creation of a unique soundscape using both a bicycle bell (will be provided) and your mouth in the form of whistles and whooshes. It is a very small time commitment – the actual performance is expected to take less than 4 minutes. All participants will receive a bell, t-shirt, and dinner + drinks post performance. No previous performing experience necessary.
Sign-up to participate: https://goo.gl/forms/MfKKZncmPtYDLSTS2
B is for BIKES! is generously sponsored through the Omaha Gives! Back Grant through the Omaha Creative Institute with organizational assistance from our partners at ModeShift Omaha, Benson First Friday, Omaha Bikes, and LiveWell Omaha.
Program: B is for BIKES!
Organizer: The New Philharmonic
Location: Benson First Friday | Maple Street between N 58th and N 63rd Streets
Date and time: Friday October 7th, 6PM
Admission: free on the street performance
Questions: contact Paige Reitz at firstname.lastname@example.org
August 24th, 2016 |
Author: Pell Duvall
, 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
August 23rd, 2016 |
Author: Pell Duvall
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!
August 18th, 2016 |
Author: Pell Duvall
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
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…
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!
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!
June 13th, 2016 |
Author: Pell Duvall
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.
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 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!
After some cold beverages and conversations about the awesomeness of bikes, we we played some bingo and laughed together for a great social hangout.