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Seeing the Signs – Positivity Blog Series 3 of 5

April 25th, 2017 | Author: OmahaBikes
Category: Advocacy, Positivity | Tags: , ,

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!

Tempest in a Teapot – Learning Together in Advocacy – Positivity Blog Series 2 of 5

March 28th, 2017 | Author: Pell Duvall
Category: Advocacy, Mission, Positivity, Urban Design, You name it | Tags: , , , , ,

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.

Tweet1

 

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):

20-MPH-increase-chance-of-survival

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.

Bike Racks on Buses – Positivity Blog Series 1 of 5

February 28th, 2017 | Author: OmahaBikes
Category: Positivity

As we all begin to get our bikes tuned up for spring, we want to set our intention for bicycling and bike advocacy in Omaha for 2017: positivity.

To0 often, we are caught up in the negative headlines of the world, the stories we hear from people getting harassed on their bicycles, or just that colleague who can’t seem to find a reason to enjoy the day. At Omaha Bikes, we seek to be the positive voice to make Omaha safer for people on bikes and make Omaha a premier metropolitan area for the bicycling public. This blog series is dedicated to celebrating the amazing accomplishments that bring us to those goals. To kick of the series we’re going to look at one of the most unexpectedly positive pieces of bicycle infrastructure to affect our city since 2009: bus mounted bike racks.

 

Every Metro Transit bus has a  2-bike rack that can be used for FREE with your paid fare on any route in the metro area. The use of these racks has skyrocketed since they were installed in late 2008 continues to grow each year! Usage increased by over 570% from 2009 to 2016. (No that’s not a typo)

Metro Transit Bike Rack Usage

Some of the most amazing things begin with happenstance; here’s a little history about how it happened. Seed money for the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge was total around  $19 million congressional earmark former Senator Kerrey.  The total included a little more than $3 million in Federal Transit Administration funds.

The award of federal funds and spending them is often a complicated task.  And, it was that way, at least, with the FTA funds.  City officials had to develop a travel model defining a transit link to the bridge for transit funds to be part of the budget, and it occurred to them that being able to put bike racks on buses would be a way to spend those FTA funds.

Every day, many people work hard to make our city better, and this is one example of ingenuity and a positive outcome. Stay tuned for more positivity!

 

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