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CLOSURES: a necessary evil and indicator SPRING!

March 31st, 2017 | Author: OmahaBikes
Category: Commuting, Trails

There’s going to be a LOT of construction this summer; these very necessary repairs will affect trail, bridge, and other bikeway connections. We’ll continue with updates as we hear them.

We’ve worked hard to foster relationships with parks, planning, and engineering staff throughout the metro area to better understand how and these improvement will affect you on your bike. Here’s what we have so far: (we’ll continue to post updates as this changes)

Veteran’s Memorial Bridge – South Omaha to Council Bluffs (US 275)

Sidpath on the bridge will be closed for phase 1 of this project until this fall (estimated early September). Phase 1 preservation work will close the outside lanes of the US-275 South Omaha Veterans Bridge beginning on Monday, April 3 at 9:00 a.m. These lane closures are necessary to apply a protective coating to the steel truss and apply epoxy polymer overlay to the bridge deck surface. The bridge will be closed to all pedestrian traffic. Phase 2 work will close the inside lanes of the bridge. All work is anticipated to be completed this fall.

Keystone Trail Underpass at Maple (NE-64)

Nebraska Department of Roads release shows work will begin as soon as April 3rd, 2017. The Keystone Trail where it crosses under West Maple Road could see periodic closures starting on Tuesday, April 4th and going through the end of May.  The Nebraska Department of Roads will be undertaking additional work on the bridge.  Trail users can get off at West maple Road and cross the street at Keystone Drive at the traffic signal.

West Papio Trail at West Center Road (US 275/NE 92)

West Papio Trail at West Center Road will be closed starting on Monday, April 4th through the end of June.  The Omaha Public Works Department will be replacing a large storm drainage pipe that passes under the trail just north of West Center Road.  Trail will be closed at S. 156th Street on the south side of West Center Road and at Gold Circle on the north side of West Center Road.  A possible detour when heading north is to get off the trail at S. 156th Street, turn west onto  West Center Road, turn north onto S. 160th Street, turn east onto Dorcas Circle and take the 5 foot wide walk to the trail.  When heading south just reverse everything.


South Omaha Trail, Our Place in the Streets, and How to Get There

April 7th, 2016 | Author: Dale Rabideau
Category: Commuting | Tags: , ,

If you haven’t seen it already, KETV talked with Dennis Bryers, Omaha trail planner, about the status and use of the South Omaha Trail phase 2, and Turner Blvd Trail addition. Turner will hopefully be completed by May, and South Omaha by June with a grand opening in Autumn. These are two of the six trail projects the City of Omaha has planned for 2016.

Filling in the gaps on the Metro Trail System (MTS) is the biggest bang for the buck in moving people via bicycles around the area. Yet just like the large trunk fiber optic lines, the final mile can be the most difficult and costly for connecting the MTS to destinations.

Many would like to see segregated bicycle lanes on busy streets like Leavenworth St and W. Center St. Others suggest bicycle routes that parallel busy streets. And yet others prefer the counter intuitive safety of taking the lane and being a part of the motor traffic. It is with the bicycle street routes where we need education, discussion, and a coordinated message to engage the City with best practices. Parts of this is going forward with fleshing out Omaha’s Complete Streets Policy, Bellevue Complete Streets, and Council Bluffs transportation plan suggesting adopting complete streets (3/12) and bicycle and pedestrian mobility (8/12). These policies and plans are being coordinated with the MAPA Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan (187 page pdf).

mapa bicycle pedestrian plan

Though infrastructure planning and construction take years, we need to engage the public input process, periodically request status updates outside the process, and generally making sure city, county, NRD, and state commitments don’t fall between the cracks.

Most people riding bikes recreationally will prefer the MTS. We (bicycle advocates) need to point these people to the

Omaha Bicycle Topo Map,

Omaha Bicycle Topo Map

and Omaha Bicycle Map 2015,


for figuring out routes to ride to the MTS instead of loading the bicycle on the car.

Besides wayfind, people who ride would benefit from education on best practices for interacting with motor vehicles so they can ride from their residence to the MTS. After time with those street riding experiences, it is an easy step for people to bike to destinations for non recreational reasons like commuting to work, eating and drinking, shopping, events, etc.

This March, I took the Cycling Savvy (CS) training courses in St Louis, MO. I had heard great things about these courses, and they did not disappoint. They are about giving us best practices (traffic dynamics, bike handling skills, analyzing street environments and practicing solutions in traffic) so we experience better interaction with motor vehicles. Though people who ride don’t want to admit it, or don’t know, our behavior and lane position can alleviate many of the negative interactions with autos. We can have an immediate, positive, affect on our cycling behavior and experience; and we can make it happen through taking the CS courses.

I received approval from my instructors to apply to become a CS Instructor. CS requires two instructors to present the courses so I am asking for others who may be interested in teaching the CS curriculum to attend the three courses so you can be evaluated for becoming an instructor. Minneapolis and St. Louis are the closest locations, but there may be other locations near family, friends, or vacation areas where one could take the courses while in the area. To become an instructor will require 40 hours or more of pre-training study, passing an exam, and then three days of instructor training in Orlando, FL.

Who would benefit from local CS course offerings? People who want to ride from their residence to the MTS. Already active commuters. I learned multiple points about traffic dynamics and choosing lane position that I wasn’t practicing. Others do not have access to an auto, so they ride a bicycle. As these three groups of people are trained and practice proper traffic interaction, our experience in traffic will improve, our stories about riding as traffic will change, and our ridership will increase.

To improve the experience of people riding bicycles, we have a three legged stool: infrastructure, wayfinding (maps and signs), and education. Please be a bicycle advocate by directing people to local and state advocacy organizations:
Omaha Bikes, Mode Shift Omaha, Nebraska Bicycling Alliance, Iowa Bicycle Coalition, etc.

Omaha Bicycle Topo Map, Omaha Bicycle Map 2015, Google map choosing the bicycle tab, and strava heat maps to shows heaviest street useage of strava users.

Cycling Savvy, i am traffic, League of American Bicyclists.

How to position your bike to change the light

May 4th, 2015 | Author: Dale Rabideau
Category: Commuting | Tags:

I found some slides for different types of stop light detectors and those that are paved over. In general, one needs to have their wheel and/or bottom bracket over the cut in the pavement for best detection.

If the stop light doesn’t change within 90 seconds, the detector is deficient and a person biking may go through the intersection when they will not interfere with a person driving a vehicle on the cross street. In other words, treat the stop light as a two-way stop sign with the cross street having the right-of-way.

Note: A police officer seeing you ‘run’ the red light may still issue a ticket. You would need to contact the county clerk to dismiss the ticket, or go before a judge to dismiss the ticket.

California Association of BicycleOrganizations

California Association of BicycleOrganizations

LB 39 – How To Make It Great.

January 23rd, 2015 | Author: Dale Rabideau
Category: Advocacy, Commuting | Tags:

Which position in the lane do you prefer to drive from?

20150123_094422_resized 20150123_094436_resized 20150123_094500_resized

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 (

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 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.

Dale Rabideau

* - 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 –

Transportation & Telecommunications Committee
Sen. Jim Smith – Chairman – Omaha
Sen. Lydia Brasch – Vice Chair – West Point
Sen. Al Davis – Hyannis
Sen. Tommy Garrett – Bellevue
Sen. Beau McCoy – Omaha
Sen. John Murante – Gretna
Sen. Les Seiler – Hastings


Tourist Mentality

September 7th, 2012 | Author: Jules4110
Category: Activate Omaha, Commuting, Transit

One of the (many) things I love about my job at Activate Omaha is giving presentations.  I don’t know how many I’ve done over the years, but it’s been a fair amount, and the audiences have run the gamut from kindergarteners to senior citizens.  It’s always fascinating to see what part of the presentation resonates with the group and sparks discussion.

Today I presented my usual “What’s Going on With Activate Omaha” to a lunch time service club.  These types of audiences are usually on the older side, and usually more male than female, which was the case today.  The resonating points with this group really struck me, though, leaving me with a “Huh.  Maybe I should blog about this?” feeling.   This post might be better suited over on the ModeShift Omaha site, but I’m going to throw it out here for the sake of conversation:

Why are people so willing to use and embrace alternative transportation as a tourist, but not in their home town?

The information I gleaned from my retroactive focus group today included some of the following quotes:

“We visited my son in Chicago, and used public transit there.  It works really well.”

We hopped on one of those pedi-cabs down in San Antonio.  We got back to our car so much faster and it was fun!”

We took the light rail from the airport and got to our hotel in no time.  It was great.”

This got me to thinking about how many people that have told me about their mostly positive experiences with public transit and bicycles in OTHER cities.   I know, I know…our bus system doesn’t go here and there.   Our streets aren’t this or that.  We don’t have a cool light rail system.  I understand that tourist areas are likely to be spiffed up with visitor’s needs in mind.  I get it.  But are the buses that much sexier in other cities?  Are the streets really that much more bike friendly?

As a tourist, you may not be very familiar with the area, the amount of time it will take to get from point A to point B, or what will happen if you misjudge any number of variables, including your ability to read a transit or bike route map.  You may not  know someone local you can call to pick you up if you misjudge.  Doesn’t that seem inherently “riskier” than jumping on the #2 bus on Dodge and taking a route where you can recite every single landmark between point A and point B with your eyes closed and one hand tied behind your back?  Or riskier than riding your bike to the grocery store a mile away?

Why don’t these vacation experiences of ease and convenience translate back to similar behavior when people get home?    Do we need to rethink and market alternative transportation with a “tourist” (rather than citizen/resident) mentality, or would it matter?

Lots of questions for this weary Friday brain.  Any answers?


Winter Cycling Clinic

October 18th, 2011 | Author: OmahaBikes
Category: Commuting, Winter Riding

We promised you some additional information on the upcoming Winter Cycling Clinic and here it is.  The Clinic is coming up quick (this Sunday) so make sure you chisel out a block of time to join us.

Omaha Bikes
1516 Cuming Street | Omaha, NE 68102

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