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:
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.
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!
Thanks to a Transportation Enhancement grant from the Nebraska Department of Roads, Activate Omaha will be providing free bicycle safety classes for adults and kids in 2013 and 2014. The grant was awarded to the Metro Area Planning Agency, with Activate Omaha partnering to put it into action.
Local League Cycling Instructors (LCI’s) will be teaching these classes, which will utilize the League of American Bicyclists’ Smart Cycling curriculum. There will be several 2-hour “Confident Commuter” classes available that will focus on skills needed to ride in traffic, and there will be one more full Traffic Skills 101 class that is available for people who would like to be on the tract to becoming a trained LCI.
The kids classes for 2013 will be offered at the Omaha Open Streets events and select elementary schools.
Jay Leighter, Creighton professor, is still blogging about riding his bike to work. He recently added a post called “Impact in the Aggregate.” In it, he discusses how his view of cars has changed. On the one hand, he’s noticed that he feels confined in cars, limited. But on the other, he has come to appreciate the comforts of owning and using a car. For most trips, we don’t really need a car (depending, probably, on where you live). Taking a utilitarian approach to driving frees up the options for other forms of transportation.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to a Creighton basketball game with a friend. When she turned to go into a parking lot charging $8, I yelled, “No! Stop!” I assured her we could find street parking for free. A few blocks a way, she parked her car, and we walked over to the game without paying anything. In Omaha, I’ve heard a lot of people complain about paying for parking. Many people will patiently explain that if the Old Market had more (free!) parking, more people would go there. As a person who rarely pays for parking, I can’t say if this is accurate or not. What I do know is that these perceived problems with parking challenge our shared concept of automobility .
If you are unfamiliar with the concept of automobility, have a look at a post from last year. There I defined automobility as, “the expectation that personal transportation, especially a car, is normal.” Olle Hagman addresses some of these issues in his article in Mobilities, titled, “Morning Queues and Parking Problems. On the Broken Promises of the Automobile.” He focuses on waiting in lines (e.g., in traffic) and parking problems to ground his claim that “we have never been auto-mobile.” I think his ideas about congestion are informative, given our interest in conceptualizing different modes of transportation in Omaha:
“Both queues and parking problems are consequences of the success of the car. They are the results of congestion, which in its turn is an unintended side effect of a car-based transport system. The private car is one of the most significant objects of wealth in modern societies. As a commodity, a convenience, and the base for the modern transportation system, it epitomizes both the ‘goods’ and the ‘bads’ of modernity (Hagman, 2000). It is a sign of wealth, on a personal as well as on a national level. It signifies the modern human ability to turn natural resources into wealth and conveniences. But, it also signifies some typically modern risks (Beck, 1992; Giddens, 1991). Most debated, perhaps, are the risks of environmental degradation or health problems caused by (air) pollution and the (almost ‘industrial production’ of) deaths and injuries in road accidents, but there are other consequences too, such as congestion. Congestion, then, is just as much an inevitable ‘modernity risk’ as air pollution is. It is an unintended side effect, an inescapable consequence of car use, which is reflected in society through the ‘boomerang effect’ of modernity. Congestion does not share all of the fundamental characteristics of the most typical modernity risks, which are invisible to the senses and dependent on scientific knowledge and definition (Beck, 1992). Congestion is visible. To understand the effect of congestion one does not need scientific interpretation.” (64)
Hagman’s argument hinges on the production of congestion that accompanies increased car use. Using a sociological approach, Hagman reports that people like having cars because they experience freedom of movement (reminds me of another post relating to the idea that transportation is freedom). The freedom to go where they want when they want. However, as the number of people who use personal vehicles increases, so does congestion. Hagman states, “In some senses parking problems and morning queues are the equivalents of each other. They both indicate imperfections within the system of automobility. Both of them are consequences of congestion, which, in turn, is a consequence of the desirability of fast and free movement” (69). These modern technologies make moving great distances (and even moderate distances quickly) attainable and expected, adding to the perception that we are auto-mobile. However, Hagman’s conclusion explains why an intermodal approach to transportation is appropriate.
“The promise of the automobile was to give its user both autonomy and mobility, that is, to be both ‘auto’ and ‘mobile’. One of the fundamental differences between the queue and the parking problem is that the queue only restricts the freedom to be ‘mobile’. It still allows drivers to be autonomous subjects within their cars, or ‘auto’. In contrast, parking problems restrict the ‘auto’ function of the drivers while forcing them to be ‘mobile’ when they really want to stop and get out of their cars. This, perhaps, may help us understand why queues are more tolerable than parking problems.” (70)
He suggests that the personal vehicle does not allow us both autonomy and mobility. To have both would mean that we would need a car that disappears after we are where we want to go so that we didn’t have to find a place to park. This is an excellent point! It also highlights the role that public transportation can play in helping people be mobile. After one disembarks the bus, it goes away. We don’t have to worry where it goes, but think only about if/when it will return. Similarly, a bike helps us be auto-mobile. As a bike rider, I love not having to pay for parking, going where I want to go, and leaving when I want to leave.
As my friend and I drove around that night of the basketball game, looking for a parking spot, I grumbled a little to myself, thinking that if we had just ridden our bikes, we wouldn’t be having this problem.
Source: Olle Hagman, “Morning Queues and Parking Problems. On the Broken Promises of the Automobile,” Mobilities 1, no. 1 (2006): 63-74.
If you are commuting in this cold weather, know that you are not alone! Read a recent post on The Crux for inspiration, commiseration, and preparation (snow and cold are coming again this week)! Have fun and be safe!
The Omaha trail network is slowly but steadily growing and promises someday to result in a comprehensive cycling network covering the entire city in such a way as to make bike travel in this city safe and easy.
However, trail construction, while a laudable goal that should definitely remain a priority, is a slow and expensive process. The vast resources needed to support such construction requires political commitment that cannot always be counted on. In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, many citizens and legislators are hesitant to commit the resources necessary to create something as ambitious as a comprehensive cycling network, especially when most non-cyclists do not consider it a priority when the economy is slumping and unemployment is high.
Therefore it is my opinion that Omaha Bikes and the entire biking community should also consider other options that might achieve many of the same goals in a less expensive or politically dependent way. One intriguing possibility is the Bicycle Boulevard. Here is a video presentation of a very sophisticated Bicycle Boulevard system in Berkeley, CA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX8wkI7CwpU.
The Berkley system is very nice but also very fancy (and probably very expensive)– it includes roundabouts, chicanes, speed bumps, signals, traffic blocking staples, etc. But is it possible to achieve the same effectiveness without all the bells and whistles? How about using simple barricades such as plastic, sand-filled barriers often used in construction? These could be used at the ends of blocks in order to block through traffic along a street as shown in this schematic.
Bikes and pedestrians could get through the barriers (and emergency vehicles could push them out of the way if necessary), and bicycles would be allowed to ride the full width of the street. The only cars that would be on these streets would be local to that block and be able to enter only on one end (and thus move slowly over short distances with little potential for conflict with cyclists). Unlike bicycle lanes and Berkley-style BB’s, this type of system is very low cost, very reversible, and easily changed. I think they would require about as close to zero money as one could get, yet it would be very effective at creating safe routes immediately for cyclists in any direction.
And the immediate part is what I most like about it. To do something bigger takes so much time and effort and always risks alienating the majority of the public that won’t use this type of facility. I’m not getting any younger and I want to be able to travel this city safely by bike before I’m too old to do it!
Another advantage is for us year-round cyclists; since a residential street Bicycle Boulevard will still just be a regular street, the snow will be cleared just like any other street. I can tell you that there is no way I’d use a one of the bicycle lanes created as part of the 20-mile loop after a snow– the plows will likely put the snow in the bike lane, it will always be icier near the curb than at the crown due to runoff, and all that with cars whizzing by a few feet from your elbow! In a residential street Bicycle Boulevard one could ride at the crown of the road or dodge icy spots by riding wherever necessary in the road to avoid hazards. Add to this the elimination of the “door zone” problem year round and we’re talking about a much safer system for cyclists year-round.
What about the impact on residents of a Bicycle Boulevard? I have heard (but don’t know for a fact) that people living along these types of routes like them because it effectively turns their street into a cul de sac, a feature that is usually associated with high home values and greater safety for children to play in the street. Again, this is just hearsay (and possibly untrue), but I’ve read that once these systems get going, many neighbors are enamored of them enough that they actually compete to have a Bicycle Boulevard on their street. Even if that’s not true, it seems hard to imagine that people would be too upset about them, and if they were it’s easy enough to simply pick up the barrier and move it elsewhere.
So how would it be decided which streets/routes would become a Bicycle Boulevard? My idea for the development of these types of route would be crowd-sourcing. Much like the Omaha Bike/Pedestrian Map, I think the bicycling community should contribute information they have as to good routes and then build the system according to that. Again, if any problem comes up with a route or a better one is found, it’s simple a matter of moving the barriers. I think it would be a fun way to engage the entire community and give them a sense of ownership of the system.
Personally, I don’t see any real downside to this type of system, but then I’m not a transportation expert. So what do you all think? Good idea worthy of trying? Or is there a fatal flaw that I’m missing?
I walked outside yesterday and thought What a nice day! Nothing like a couple weeks of high temperatures in the teens to make the 30s feel good! All in all, this week seems like it’s going to be pretty nice, and I’m ready to ride my bike! I know there are many of you who have been riding through every kind of weather. And when I have to, I do too. But what I mean is that I’m ready for a ride for fun! So, nice weather is my reason for wanting to ride right now. And I know others have their reasons. I found some on Bike Winter:
“Why are people raving about winter cycling?
“MOMENTUM: When you stay in the saddle year-round, you never have to experience a sore butt again. Instead of wasting time every spring relearning the rhythms of traffic or the best way to load up all the groceries, you just keep getting more nimble, strong, fast and confident. Best of all, you get to spend more time with your beloved steeds.
“HEALTH: Biking is just what the doctor ordered to keep you sane and spry, especially when the lack of sunshine sends your spirits plummeting and your main physical activity is walking to and from the omnipresent platter of holiday cookies.
“COMFORT: Assuming you are dressed correctly, you’ll be as cozy as drivers stuck in traffic, and more comfortable than people shivering at the bus stop. Many cyclists now prefer winter cycling to sweating buckets in July.
“ADVENTURE: By battling headwinds, blizzards or just a habit of running late, you get the same endorphin rush as winter skiers. However, whereas most skiers only suit up a few times a season, you can bicycle every day.
“CONVENIENCE: For many trips, cycling is faster door to door than driving or taking transit. After a snowstorm, it’s easier to dig out a bike than a car, and often easier to ride than walk. Streets also tend to get cleared of snow faster than sidewalks. (Though we think sidewalks should be cleared too!)
“BUDGET: Use the money you save on car insurance, transit passes and gym memberships for a down payment on a house, a sabbatical, charity or really nice bottles of wine.
“CAR(E)FREE LIVING: Thinking about kicking the car habit? Once you discover that your bicycle is a reliable, all weather, all occasion form of transportation, you will wonder why you ever poured so much money and time into a car.
“What are your reasons for staying in the saddle year-round?”
Those are some good reasons for cycling year round. Maybe another reason is that we love to tinker with our bikes, making our own improvements and changes. And bad weather gives us the inspiration we need to think up that next good (or new, at least) idea. Check out this modification: We know that studded tires are a bonus when there’s ice and snow. But I saw this great D.I.Y. version that I thought you’d like to see (picture at the right). Yep, those are zip ties on that bike’s wheels. Check out the Tree Hugger website for detailed instructions. I hope I’m not being too cynical, but after getting over the novelty of this idea, I immediately though that it would be the devil to change a flat. But maybe some people aren’t worried about that. Any other winter biking suggestions or bike modifications?
In the latest edition of the podcast on The Crux, Jay Leighter chats with Mick Milson and Sarah McKinstry-Brown. Mick has a one-man show coming up, see the poster on the left, on November 9 at 7 p.m. in the Lied Center for the Arts on Creighton’s campus. It’s free.
Jay has posted two conversations with these two folks: the first is about Mick’s poetry and how he used art, in part, to recover from addiction; in the second conversation, these three talk more broadly about goals, processes of achieving them, and sometimes romanticizing those processes. Jay connects these ideas to his project, to bike to work for a year and blog about it. The second one is more relevant to this blog on Omaha Bikes, but the first one will help you stay in touch with your community. So, check them both out if you have time.
The Crux, by Jay Leighter, has some recent and interesting new posts/podcasts up. If you scroll way down, you can here a podcast of Jay, Chad McBride, and me, conversing about some of the practical aspects of biking. Jay titled this “The Sam & Chad Show” because we were “on the pod” (a new phrase I learned) to ask Jay questions about what he’s doing. This is Jay’s summary of the show: “I mispronounce my friend’s name in the first 10 seconds (how did that happen?). We also talk about workplace culture, Chad’s abandoned bike, “bus holes” and what not to do on a morning commute.”
The most recent podcast is with Richard Miller, who discusses climate change. He’s a theologian who is an advocate for understanding the science behind global climate change. He’s got some good framing metaphors and perspectives about the subject.
The most recent blog post that Jay has written is about beginning to commute by bicycle and a list of rules that The Washington Post published to guide people. Jay’s point, and I think it’s a good one, is that rules help and a top ten list of what to do or not to do helps, but they won’t move you from novice to virtuoso rider (or even from novice to competent rider). What will help you ensure that you are safe and comfortable riding is practicing. This paragraph is especially clear:
“my advice is to ride a lot but when you start, try to minimize unpredictable situations. Taking the insights from the model I discussed, while you are still learning the rules of the road, how your bike works and how your body works, try to limit situational factors that could be dangerous. When you first start, ride where there isn’t traffic and at times of day other than M-F during rush hours. Ride in weather that you and your bike can handle. As your fitness and comfort levels increase, you can make choices about adding complexity to the rides. Finally, if you come across lists of rules for commuting by bike, understand the value of such lists. But, more importantly, understand the ways in which such lists are limited for gaining competence as you start commuting by bike…which I hope you do.”
The rest of the post is, of course, insightful. So, read the complete meditation, if you have time and want some strong advice about becoming a better cyclist.