Changes on way to ease Omaha's bike traffic
Published Sunday, October 19, 2008
Omaha turns crabby when it comes to its treatment of bicyclists, the chairman of the city's bicycle advisory committee said Saturday.
Marty Shukert told the 2008 Omaha Bike Summit that this should begin to change with the addition of bicycle lanes and signs on certain streets next year.
The Omaha Bike Summit, organized by Bikeable Communities and Activate Omaha, was held at the National Park Service headquarters on the riverfront. About 40 people attended the morning sessions.
Shukert, chairman of the bicycle advisory committee created this year by Mayor Mike Fahey, said in an interview that Omaha currently rates poorly in its treatment of bicyclists.
Although the city has a good trail system, it has no lanes or designated bike routes, has poor bike racks and minimal bike parking.
Many motorists exhibit bad etiquette toward bicyclists, and some bicyclists have bad etiquette toward motorists, he said.
Shukert told the group that his consulting firm, along with Activate Omaha, has established a 20-mile bicycle system for east-west travel through the city. The map of the system is available in limited numbers at bicycle shops, Shukert said.
The advisory committee will recommend bicycle lanes and stripes, street signs, bicycle symbols painted on streets and other strategies to improve conditions for bicyclists. Shukert said two foundations have contributed a total of $600,000 for those items.
One is the Peter Kiewit Foundation, and the other asked to go unnamed, Shukert said.
Joe Gudenrath, a spokesman for the mayor, said several City of Omaha representatives are on the advisory committee.
The mayor wants the city to be more bicycle-friendly, so the proposals will receive serious consideration, Gudenrath said. Further, the $600,000 in private money will make it easier to implement those recommendations, he said.
"This is something that the mayor has taken an interest in for a number of years," Gudenrath said.
Shukert said he hopes to see paint on streets next spring.
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