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 Saturday November 19th, Omaha Bikes hosted a gathering of people from bike shops throughout the bicycling community to deliver an estimated 1000 lbs of supplies to the Siena/Francis House and its mission of hospitality for the homeless.
Cranksgiving began in NYC and has expanded to cities across the country. It’s basically a food drive/scavenger hunt race on two wheels. Traditionally, riders are given a list of items, and each rider must by each item at a different store and return to finish location. Prizes for winners, different divisions, a party after, and all the usual bike race things you’d expect.
Ready to roll! – Photo: Scott R.
Omaha has had many Cranksgiving races as well as social rides over the years, often hosted by Bike Masters as well as other local bike shops. This year Omaha Bikes wanted to do something different. We wanted to bring members of the bicycling community together in the spirit of giving. At the fantastic suggestion of Dale Rabideaux, a mechanic at Bike Masters Cycling, we selected the Siena/Francis House as the charity to benefit from goods collected, and we are happy to support the Siena/Francis House’s atmosphere of hospitality for the homeless. After a few email exchanges with SFH staff, they were very excited to have us pedal the goods over at the end of a Saturday.
Rather than have one big race event, each shop was encouraged to participate in the way that worked for them, and Omaha Bikes would host a gathering and opportunity to deliver all the collected goods by bike!
Bike Masters had a ride earlier this month with about 15 folks picking up food, supplies, and clothing. Also, the shop accepted donations throughout November. Dale rolled up with his minivan FULL! There were six bike boxes filled with food, hygiene products, clothing, coffee, and more! (We scratched out heads and cast doubt if our Bikes At Work trailer’s 600 lb capacity would be exceeded.) Dale didn’t even have room for his bike…but more on that later. Caps off to these folks!!
The Bike Rack had a ride Saturday morning hitting some hills between the shop and a nearby Hy-Vee. Even with just a handful of riders, Katie and Brittney drove up with boxes and bags of clothes, food, and travel-sized toiletries! (I think they pretty much cleaned out the travel section.) Even after their hilly ride, the gals helped haul all the loot over and stay for a drink.
Last but not least, Omaha Bicycle Company rolls in from Benson, and Sarah leads a crew of 6 or 7 folks bringing all kinds of donations in overloaded panniers, cargo bikes, and backpacks.
Dale and I studied, plotted, and picked our loading plan for the cargo trailer. Everyone started transferring the donations to 5 bike boxes and a few small QBP boxes. With some tape, rope, and straps, the group managed to secure a load very likely near or exceeding it’s weight limit. I was glad to have hydraulic brakes on my Surly Pug Ops!
Uh, I don’t know if it’s all going to fit! Photo: Katie M
There were still several things that wouldn’t fit in panniers or on racks, so Brittney (who just started riding bikes in August) volunteered to pull a B.O.B. trailer, yes! We loaded her up as we saw the OBC folks roll up.
The OBC folks hadn’t seen us inside, so we caught up with them on the street! I rolled slowly and my brakes shimmied as I stopped suddenly before turning onto Cuming Street (or plan to ride Nicholas via the parking lot involved more of climb, so we opted to take a critical mass method).
Rolling off – Photo: Katie M.
Photo: Katie M.
Photo: Scott R.
Much smiling and bell ringing ensued.
Smiles all around – Photo: Scott R.
We were met with the smiling faces of SFH staff and volunteers. Everyone helped bring the ridiculously heavy boxes from the trailer to the loading dock.
Photo: Scott R.
He must have been motivated by Scott Blake’s presence, so Scott Redd opted for the ‘safety second’ ride in the back of the trailer while holding his bike. There was much laughter and selfie taking on the way back.“It looked like it would be fun,” said Scott Redd. “It wasn’t really very comfortable.”
Safety Second! – Photo: Katie M.
If you look closely, you can see this is a ‘double selfie’…. Photo: Pell
OBC crew joins for the ride! - Photo: Katie M.
After coming back to Omaha Bikes’ office in the CO-LAB of Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture, we all enjoyed some beverages, snacks, a tour of the office (including a game of ping pong). It was a great afternoon and evening to spend with friends, new and old, in the spirit of giving.
Omaha Bikes is committed to making our city safer for people on bikes and is a non-profit community organization that promotes and advocates for bicycling infrastructure, opportunities, and experiences for the people of Omaha, Nebraska and the surrounding area. Your donations help us with program development and general operating expenses!
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.
EVENT DETAILS 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
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!
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.
Matt pedaled home to get us an extra paperweight to hold down our cards: an Egyptian brick from Murphysboro, IL!
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!
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.
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!
Dale ‘The Bike Whisperer’ made impressions on social media.
Bikes continued to flow in until the racks were full and only a few cards remained.
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.
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!
In my opinion, Omaha Bikes needs to follow Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition‘s approach to inspire everyone to ride. This requires me to read and listen to others’ experience that is different from mine. I need to put myself in their shoes if I want to better understand their view and their ideas. Their view and ideas may be disconcerting to me but necessary to feel some of their emotion and rationale for their response to life and death events. If Omaha Bikes wants to put into action for all our mission to “promotes and advocates for bicycling infrastructure, opportunities, and experiences for the people of Omaha, Nebraska and the surrounding area”, empathy is a first step. Dale
I quote in its entirety the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition’s November 20, 2015 facebook post:
“Last night we thanked our amazing volunteers and members and looked toward the future. We also recognized the enormity of the moment our city is in after the tragic shooting of Jamar Clark. This is a moment fundamentally to advance justice and make a stronger and more meaningful commitment to addressing racial disparities. Local organizers of color are giving us actions and ideas for addressing these real challenges facing too many in our community. We hope that everyone will take this moment to truly listen to those ideas.
We work to inspire people to bike and for a Minneapolis where EVERYONE feels comfortable riding. We do that because we know that the bicycle can be a powerful tool to improve individual’s lives and our community. And we do that while understanding that bicycling intersects with many other issues, including those at the fore of protests along Plymouth Avenue at the 4th Precinct.
Work to advance bicycling in Minneapolis simply cannot be successful if we do not serve the needs of all our diverse communities. We cannot be successful if we leave behind, ignore, or do not serve communities of color. We cannot be successful if we ignore concerns that both fear of crime and fears of police racial profiling and brutality are barriers to more biking.
We are not shy in saying that the status quo can and needs to be improved for many things that impact biking. There can be no doubt that police conduct and community relations can and must be improved and that will require change. There can be no doubt that the disparities between black community members (and other communities of color) and white community members in our city are unacceptable and addressing them will require change.
We are committed to proactively doing what we can within our work around biking to address racial disparities, institutional racism, and injustices. We know that biking is only a small part of a much larger body of work that touches all parts of government and society, but we know that biking can play a role. At this challenging time, we hope that our community will come together like never before to advance justice and opportunity for all.
For more on the intersection of these complex issues, we recommend this piece from last year from Adonia Lugo, a national leader on the bicycling and equity issues.”
We had a great day to ride and buy food to donate to the Food Bank of the Heartland. About 40 people took part in the rides, while several others dropped food off at the participating bike shops. We ended up with 13 boxes and 498 lbs of food!
Thank you to the people who rode and bought food, or just dropped food off at the shops. The people who find themselves in need of the Food Bank of the Heartland services thank you.
People who participated really enjoyed the rides. 4 of 5 shops specifically mentioned wanting to be involved in the multi bike shop event next year. The casual group ride style appealed to riders and shop organizers. Several people mentioned not hearing about the ride. Between moving Cranksgiving from November to October, and Omaha Bikes and the bike shops not pushing out the event info earlier or through multiple media channels, not all who would have participated did. We will do a better job of getting the word out next year.
This year, Omaha Bikes (http://OmahaBikes.org) proposed centering cranksgiving through the metro area’s local bike shops. Seven shops committed to host a ride.
What is the shop’s role? Organize a casual or competitive event that starts and ends at the bike shop on Saturday, Oct 17.
Last year, the Bike Masters event was a casual fun ride with a handful of people. We rode together on trails and neighborhood streets to several stores for items and returned.
A more traditional cranksgiving involves a mass start competition in which the riders get one item per store and return the as quickly as possible.
I have scheduled Saturday, October 17 with the Food Bank for the Heartland (http://foodbankheartland.org/). I will get the food drive boxes (18”x15”x12”) holding 30-40 pounds of food and drop them off at your shop by Friday, Oct 16. I will pick up the boxes Saturday afternoon or early next week.
The food drive boxes of food will be given to FBH as a gift from people who ride bicycles. This is not a competition between shops. Cranksgiving is an opportunity for many people to have fun riding and giving to those in need.
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!
Just when you thought the campaigning was over and we had elected the POTUS and a new Congress, Omaha’s election season ramped up! This year Omaha will be holding elections for mayor as well as for the seven seats on City Council. The primary election is April 2 and the general election is May 14.
Omaha Bikes teamed up with ModeShiftOmaha to pose some transportation and bicycling questions to our candidates. Volunteers from ModeShift compiled the responses. Click the links below to see what the candidates said (or if they even responded!). The questions are posted below for reference as well.
Lastly, if you want to hear from the mayoral candidates first-hand, there will be a candidate forum tonight focusing on land use and development issues in the Omaha Metro (which includes bicycling and transportation). The forum will be at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass Street. Doors open at 6:00 and the forum is from 6:30–8:00pm. It is a free event. If you can’t make it, look for a summary of bicycle-specific candidate comments on our blog later this week.
Here are the questions we asked the candidates:
What do you see as Omaha’s most pressing transportation needs? If elected, how would you address these needs?
During the past two years, the City Council approved the Transportation and Environmental Elements of the City’s Master Plan. Both include a commitment to shift modes and accommodate all users of streets, including: pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users of all ages and abilities. What would you do to ensure this policy is advanced?
Various laws and procedures require the city to solicit public comments for projects related to transportation planning and project design. What will you do to ensure that citizens representing all areas of the community have opportunities to authentically engage in these processes?
Expanding suburbs requires expanding expensive public services such as sewers, police and fire protection, schools, and building and widening streets; these costs get higher the farther out you build. Researchers at UNL project a 60% or greater increase in population, employment, and housing in the Omaha area by 2050. What will you do to ensure fiscally sustainable growth for Omaha?
Given the increasing congestion and travel times in the Omaha Metro area, as well as decreasing financial resources for transportation from federal and state government sources, what should the city do to address congestion?
The number of traffic deaths in Nebraska, most of them in Omaha, reached its highest level in the past decade last year. Of the 207 traffic-related deaths, about 20 percent were pedestrians or motorcyclists. What would you do to help improve safety? In particular, what role do you think the OPD should play as the primary agency charged with keeping Omaha safe?
A frequent constraint the city faces around improving transportation choices are state standards that pre-empt local needs. What will you do to work with the State of Nebraska to enable Omaha to build infrastructure that is more context-specific for our urban environment?
The transportation needs of our community are diverse and changing, what would you do to make sure that Omaha accommodates the transportation needs of all citizens now and in the future?
A growing number of studies find that biking and walking, for transportation or recreation, are associated with significant health benefits. Currently, 64% of adults and 28% of youth in Douglas County are obese or overweight. What would you do to promote increased biking and walking as a public health priority?
Do you support retaining the Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator position with the City? Why or why not?
Would you support high speed intercity passenger rail that is now being considered in Iowa? If so, what will you do to encourage the implementation of a useable passenger rail option between Omaha and Chicago? If not, why not?
The City of Omaha recently completed a study of parking and determined that “Downtown Omaha has enough public parking to meet today’s needs, and the needs for the next 20 years.” Research shows that plentiful parking leads to higher emissions, greater congestion, and depreciated land use. Now that the City of Omaha has a Parking Manager, what role do you see her/him play in reducing the demand for parking and better utilizing currently available parking in the city
How often do you use a Metro bus, bicycling, or walking for transportation? If you have school aged children, how often do they take the bus, bike, or walk to school?
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.