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Posts from the "Nebraska" Category

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Hundreds Protest After Omaha Mayor Scraps City’s Only Bike/Ped Planner

About 300 people braved rainy conditions to demand better bike and pedestrian accommodations this weekend in Omaha. Photo: Mode Shift Omaha

About 300 people braved rainy conditions this weekend to demand better bike and pedestrian accommodations in Omaha. Photo: Mode Shift Omaha

Despite rainy weather, about 300 people gathered this Saturday in Omaha to protest the city’s plans to eliminate its “bike czar” position.

Carlos Morales, the city’s bike/ped planner, had been recruited from Los Angeles for the job, which paid $80,000 per year. But the new budget proposed by Mayor Jean Stothert eliminates the position, which had been funded for four years primarily through grants.

Protesters demanded three things, said Stephen Osberg, vice chair of the advocacy group Mode Shift Omaha: 1) They want the position maintained; 2) they want a complete streets policy; and 3) they want a citizen’s advisory board for bike and pedestrian projects.

“There’s been a lot of progress made in bicycle and pedestrian planning in the last few years,” said Osberg, including the addition of bike lanes and work on a major trail project. “But we don’t see the sort of systemic change that would indicate the city has fully integrated multi-modal planning into its agenda.”

Stothert responded to the protest by issuing a statement saying the city would establishing an “Active Living Advisory Committee” run by volunteers. But she maintained that the “bike czar” would be eliminated.

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Omaha Developer Sells “Walkable Main Street” of Parking Lots

This development in Omaha is being as a "walkable" "Main Street." Image: Lockwood Development via Strong Towns

This development in Omaha is being billed as a “Main Street.” The white space is parking. Image: Lockwood Development via Strong Towns

As the downside of sprawling development becomes better understood, some developers are getting better at greenwashing sprawl.

Here’s a pretty great example from Omaha, Nebraska. Charles Marohn at Strong Towns came across a story about Lockwood Development’s new office park in the Omaha World-Herald. And he was so taken aback by the disparity between the rhetoric and the actual design, he had to write about it:

It uses all the current buzz words….

Mixed use. Redevelopment. Independent living. Walkable. Main Street.

Do those words mean anything? Sadly, Omaha’s Sterling Ridge Development – a so-called “Main Street” concept — is not even a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is a wolf in wolves’ clothing.

My favorite quote from the article, where words are simply objects with no real meaning, is this one: “The architects said the idea is for the multipurpose campus to be a walkable community where people work, live, play and worship.”

How quaint.

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The Votes Are In: Omaha Abomination Voted Worst Intersection in the U.S.

Well, it was a tough competition for America’s Worst Intersection, with a lot of worthy contenders — the kind of intersections that would make an Olympic sprinter nervous. But the people have spoken — 468 of them — and in the end it wasn’t even close. Our winner is Omaha, Nebraska’s intersection of 132nd Street, Industrial Road, Millard Avenue, and L Street.

#1. Omaha, Nebraska: 132nd Street, Industrial Road, Millard Avenue, and L Street

Take one final look at this sad excuse for a public space, featuring no crosswalks and only the faintest traces of a sidewalk. Special thanks again to John Amdor for the submission. Fully 29 percent of voters, or 136 people, voted for this intersection.

In Transportation for America’s 2011 “Dangerous by Design” report on pedestrian fatalities, Nebraska actually ranked 48th, making it one of the “safest.” But we suspect that’s mostly because walking is unusual in this state. Looking at this picture you can understand why.

#2. St. Louis, Missouri: 141 and Gravois Road

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Omaha Considering Pedicab Ban During College World Series

We were feeling all warm and fuzzy inside about Omaha this morning when we saw this nice video about the community’s attempts to reduce obesity, including providing transportation alternatives.

Omaha is considering a ban on pedicabs during the College World Series so cars can move faster. Photo: Utility Cycling

And then we heard Omaha is considering banning pedicabs during the College World Series this summer. Now we’re confused: Is Omaha trying to encourage active forms of transportation or outlaw them?

Due to concerns about traffic and “safety,” the Omaha City Council is reviewing legislation that would forbid any “carriages” drawn “by horses, foot or humans” during the College World Series, an event that draws some 30,000 to the city every summer.

Chief of Police Todd Schmaderer told a local television station: “It’s estimated that [pedicabs] can carry up to 400 passengers in a day; we need our traffic lanes to accommodate tens of thousands.”

Meanwhile, one of the city’s new pedicab companies says losing the business from the big 10-day event will really hurt.

Local blog Mode Shift Omaha says the city’s proposed ban doesn’t make a lot of sense from a safety perspective or a financial perspective:

First, the OPD has not produced any evidence to show that these non-gas powered vehicles have caused any safety issues as is claimed in the ordinance (how many accidents took place or tickets given?). Given the amount of pedestrian traffic in and around the stadium, if they do serve to slow down automobile traffic as the ordinance claims, might this actually be safer for pedestrians and bicyclists in the area? Is it fair to ban one form of transportation but not others? Don’t motorized vehicles also present a safety concern? If congestion is the problem, perhaps all vehicles should be prohibited from operating near the stadium?

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NRDC Names 15 Smarter Cities

How long do you have to wait for a bus in your city? How much does it cost? Does every family on your block have two cars? And tell us about your bikeshare program…

Mayor Thomas Menino: “The car is no longer the king in Boston.” Photo courtesy of the City of Boston

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has been asking questions like these to determine their list of 15 Smarter Cities – places with shorter, cheaper, and more efficient commutes.

They split the list into big, medium and small cities. Have a look:

Eight percent of Chicago is green space and they're planning 500 miles of bike paths. Photo: Chicago Tourism Bureau

2011 Smarter Cities for Transportation

Large (population > 1 million)

Boston, MA/NH
Chicago, IL
New York, NY
Portland, OR
Philadelphia, PA/NJ
San Francisco, CA
Washington, DC/MD/VA/WV

Medium (pop. between 250,000 – 1 million)

Boulder-Longmont, CO
Honolulu, HI
Jersey City, NJ
New Haven, CT

Small (pop. < 250,000)

Bremerton, WA
Champaign-Urbana, IL
Lincoln, NE
Yolo, CA

Philly got bonus points for its transit initiative to connect people to fresh food. Boulder scored high for its brand-new Transportation Master Plan, which incorporated the public in the planning process and indicates “a serious commitment to responsible travel within the county.” And Yolo, California boasts a higher degree of transit access – 91 percent of households – than any other similarly sized metro region.

It’s innovations like these that are going to light the way to a future of cleaner air, financially stable households, and healthier cities.