Thursday, July 16, 2009

Downtown Omaha to Welcome Iowa Cyclists - RAGBRI

Downtown Improvement District to Establish Free & Secure Parking Lot for Bikes

July 15, 2009 (Omaha, NE) – With an estimated 15,000 cyclists and countless supporters converging on Council Bluffs, Iowa for the start of the annual bike ride across Iowa, the Omaha Downtown Improvement District Association (DID) wants riders to feel welcome on the west side of the Missouri River. To accommodate those riders who want to experience Omaha’s downtown before their trip across Iowa, the DID is establishing a free and secure bike parking lot complete with valet service and portable toilets, on Saturday, July 18th from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The lot will be located at 11th and Farnam Streets, across from the Gene Leahy Mall and just a half block from the Old Market.

“The Downtown Improvement District wants to be as accommodating as possible to those riders who want to experience what Downtown Omaha has to offer,” said Joe Gudenrath, DID Executive Director. “By providing a free, safe and secure location to leave your bike, we are hoping to give visitors the opportunity to leisurely explore downtown’s restaurants, shops and attractions.”

A series of directional signs will direct cyclists from the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, along the riverfront trail to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Pedestrian Bridge, to the Qwest Center Omaha, then along 10th Street to Farnam Street and west to 11th Street.

Additional partners include Downtown Omaha Inc. and the Old Market Business Association.


erik said...

everyone will be able to marvel at how a city of this size has not a single bike lane in their downtown district, nor even a nominal degree of permanent bicycle racks.

the solution?

valet parking and telling folks to walk instead.

GetActive said...

We aren't too far off from having either! Activate Omaha has secured funding and has been working with the City and the Mayor's Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee to change the physical landscape of Omaha.

By the end of the year, we will have our first on street facilities in place. This first segment will be a combination of on street facilities (bike lanes, sharrows, signage) that will make up a 20 mile loop connecting major destinations in east Omaha.

Andy Clarke, E.D. of the League of American Bicyclists said that it takes some communities 10-15 years to get 20 miles of onstreet facilities. Thanks to generosity of local foundations, the vision of many community leaders, and the leadership at the city level, we will have our first 20 miles by the end of 2010!

Keep pedaling!

Biker Bob said...

I think everyone (cyclists anyways) aggrees that Omaha is lacking in downtown bike facilities, but we have to start somewhere.

The 20 mile loop will be a great step in the right direction.

erik said...

yes new developments are definitely wonderful, but still definitely 20-30 years behind the curve.

it should be a priority, and I think it's time people demand it and stop hiding behind one-step-at-a-time rhetoric (even if it necessarily must be one step at a time).

the truth is that steps are being taken, but at this rate omaha will not catch up to the reality of what most metropolitan areas are doing.

AOJules said...

Thank goodness for private funding! I'm sure on street bike facilities are not holding up well in city budgets around the country (like Omaha) that are facing serious revenue shortfalls.

erik said...

city funding for bicycle infrastructure "doesn't hold up" because it isn't considered an important means of transit by our city. even in the worst economic times, cities maintain transit infrastructure--even grow it. i sincerely doubt much funding is being cut from bicycle lane development in most places.

point in case, san francisco just pushed through another extensive SET of lanes and boulevards in their city -- california is facing far more severe budget issues than omaha.

omaha considers bicycling (along with mass transit and foot traffic) as external to it's auto-centric city plans, not as integral -- if it did things would be done quickly and efficiently.

we don't need private funding, we need responsible public officials.

erik said...

i probably should've written "network" instead of "set" -- the mileage is over 30 if i remember correctly (that 30, in addition to hundreds of miles elsewhere).

my point being not a comparison, but simply to deflate the excuse provided that there simply aren't funds available -- bicycling networks are about as cheap a transit development as it comes.

Scott Redd said...

Roxanne and I used the valet bike parking tonight. Even though it was monitored, we locked our rides up. "Trust in Allah, but tie your camel," as they say.

I posted some photos of the bike corral here.

The improvised bike parking was good for showing that the city (more precisely, the business operators in the city) can quickly respond to a need for this unique event. Despise the lack of use of the parking service, the fact that it was provided, made for a visible reminder of how things can be done by bicycle.

Ironically, while we were using the valet service and parking in a lot that normally demands a $5 to $10 fee, a line of cars stacked up down the entire block while a driver waited for a family to load their strollers and buckle kids into their car seats before vacating a precious parking spot. I think I even heard some impatient horn tooting.

Scott Redd said...

Despise = Despite. Interesting mix up of words. :)

GetActive said...

It's easy to get discouraged by what we don't have...but I like to stay positive that we are on the right path to making Omaha more bicycle friendly. Let's make sure our voices are being heard on more than just this blog...write your representatives and city officials!

I think they are giving the City what they think the city wants: a faster commute from east to west. They may not be hearing from cyclists!!

We may be behind the times, but city officials are receptive and listening. Private dollars are a good start to what could be a wonderful network of on-street facilities in Omaha. I say "kudos" to those that have worked to make this happen behind the scenes.

dale said...

What planet are you from Erik? Government does not belong in the same sentence as "quick and efficient". 8-)

I can relate to your angst over the bike transit situation, but I had to change my attitude because it was turning me into a cranky old guy, and I was only drawing other cranky old guys - sort of like Fox News, but I digress. ;-)

I needed to assume people in government as wanting to do good or what is best for the "whole" community. We will have different perspectives but hopefully they can be persuaded in a positive fashion towards our perspectives. They are car-centric because most in the community are car-centric. Change is coming and we need to encourage (not belittle shortcommings) and promote safe bike riding and transit.

I like the 20 mile plan - it is connecting destinations via good route selections.

Yes we should have bike racks at every business, public building, etc., to take advantage of the bikes smaller footprint to park close to the door. But at least someone pulled something together for the possibly of 1000's of bikes decending on the downtown area. That is taking a situation and doing the best they could with the time allotted. Kudos to the DID!

RD said...

i would love bike lanes everywhere as well but it seems that we spend more money on our awesome police and fire pension fund and now we have no money :D