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: ##http://www.utilitycycling.org/2010/07/pedicabs-hop-on-in/## 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?

Second, the ordinance discourages the entrepreneurs who create jobs and meet a demand created by thousands of visitors moving around the city during the CWS. They provide fun, efficient transportation options for CWS attendees. Why, in these tough economic times, would the city want to quash an emerging market? These non-motorized forms of transportation add jobs and contribute to festive atmosphere surrounding the CWS.

Omaha, we are reserving judgement about you. We have faith that you are going to reject this silly ordinance January 10, when it is back before City Council.

After all, what makes a city look more vibrant to the out-of-town visitor than pedicabs?

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