Bicycling is expanding in Omaha while bike lanes are making slow progress
OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) – Cycling in Omaha is growing rapidly. Dozens of new rental stations are appearing on the subway this year. But proponents say while bicycles are available there is still a need for safe spaces to ride them.
After many years of mainly seeing cycling as a form of exercise, cycling has returned to its origins and is once again viewed as a means of transport.
Benny Foltz, executive director of Heartland B-Cycle, said the nonprofit is working to make this mode of transport more available to the Omaha subway.
“Now the sharing of bicycles is viewed as public transport,” said Foltz. “It’s not about doing sports.” It’s about getting someone from point A to point B because they have to get there. “
The nonprofit believes in this idea so much that they offer an equity program of free and discounted rides to those who need it. There are four options: the Community Partner Pass, the Pedal to Health, the Low Income Reduced Rate Pass, and the Library Pass program.
“If you can’t afford membership, we’d like to get you one,” said Foltz.
The nonprofit currently has 75 stations and is installing its 76th station this week on the 13th and Nicholas.
They also have plans to install a dozen stations along the ORBT route and some spending on the Market to Midtown Bikeway, North Omaha Trail, and First Ave. Build trail in Council Bluffs.
One of their latest editions is in front of Culxr House on 24th St, where the desire for bike options has not been granted. Marcey Yaters, General Manager of Culxr House, says the location is perfect with her arts and community center, Heartland Ministry Center and a school nearby.
“People loved it,” said Yates. “A lot of people signed up recently. I only see traffic with my own eyes from people who use the bikes. So I think it’s a good thing It’s never bad to have a bike to get to A and B. “
While there are plenty of bikes out there, there is still a need for safe places to ride them.
Sarah Johnson of Mode Shift Omaha is delighted that plans for a protected bike path along Harney Street are being tested this year, but it seems progress has been slow.
“It’s only a pilot after talking about it for 10 years,” said Johnson. “And it’s only a trace.”
Like the bike rental program, the Market to Midtown Bikeway is funded by a nonprofit organization. Johnson says she’d love to see the city itself lead the way in improving bicycle transportation.
“It really should be something that the city leaves behind and stands up for it, rather than just waiting for a nonprofit to pick it up and get the bill.”
Mode Shift Omaha plans to hold some demonstrations later in the year to show city guides the value and impact of bike lanes on traffic routes.
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