Thursday, July 30, 2009

Omaha Urban Cycling, and Early Look at 16th Street Bike Lanes

Tuesday over lunch I ran some errands by bike, and also rode up and down the new 16th Street bike lanes with the camera recording video from the handlebars.

Presented below are two videos with my comments added in.

The first video is me simply riding South 16th Street from Leavenworth Street to Douglas Street. This section is along a sort of "greenway". In the 80s, Omaha revitalized this area to make it attractive to shoppers, but it never really caught on. Most of the storefronts are empty, and the only real foot traffic there are people waiting to transfer buses. Almost all MAT routes transfer along this stretch of 16th Street. Here's a link to an interesting news story about future plans to turn 16th Street into a home for artists and galleries, with an eventual return of shops.

The second video is of me riding from 13th and Jackson Street to Capitol Avenue, then down the new bike lanes on North 16th Street to Cuming Street and then back to work. This one shows some typical stop and go traffic, and then a disturbing incursion into the new bike lanes. To the motorists' credit, the lanes are new, there are no signs up about them, and the traffic and parking lane work isn't done yet. The city took the pre-existing four lane road and converted it to two lanes, with a center turn lane, and a lane of parking on the outside. I'm sure motorists are used to driving in what is now a parking lane, so they are confused.

In closing, I'd like to say that the bike lanes are a small part of a much larger plan. They should not be regarded as an end product of the cycling transportation plan of Omaha. People will get used to them, cyclists will start using them, and the city will gradually come into its own at a truly bikeable community.

Also, please note that the videos are not created to serve some sort of vanity purpose for me. I want to show others what it's like to ride in Omaha on the streets, in hopes that others might take it up. Please let me know what you'd like to see in a bike video and perhaps I can get some interesting on-street footage.

1 comment:

Colin said...

This post got me thinking about routes and maps. In San Diego, our regional city and county governments collaborate on many large projects, largely transportation. I did a web search to see if Omaha had similar bike maps, and they do. If you haven't already seen them...
I rarely encounter one way streets, I don't ride downtown much. But it did remind me about a Flickr photoset I found a few years ago. Cyclists in Belgium can ride contra-flow on one way streets. There are some great photos and comments.