Omaha’s first 38-mile Bike Omaha Network is now a reality with new connections and clear, consistent bike route signage for the Benson, Happy Hollow, Aksarben, Downtown, Doorly, and Connector routes.
This connected “wayfinding” network is primarily made up of trails, bike lanes and lower-traffic streets that parallel main streets as identified in Bike and Pedestrian Plan – Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA). The Bike Omaha Network wayfinding project was made possible by the generous investments of local philanthropists and the public-private partnership between Live Well Omaha and the City of Omaha Planning and Public Works Departments as well as partners including RDG, MAPA, Papio Missouri River Natural Resources District, Metro Transit, Heartland BCycle and many others.
The signs are part of a vision for a bike friendly city, which was cast by the partners in 2008 and conclude this first round of work that connects trails, bike lanes and parallel routes that make up the network. The signs were made possible by generous local philanthropists including Peter Kiewit Foundation and Sherwood Foundation, and after many years of collaboration and work, we can celebrate the achievement of round one of the vision.
“The signs are a great enhancement for people biking in the City’s urban core. They aid in navigation between major destinations using mostly lower traffic streets, while also providing a visual cue for motorists that they should expect to see people biking on streets, increasing driver awareness of bicyclists. It’s an exciting early step toward creating a more connected bike network, but much work remains to build out a broader and more robust bike network that is comfortable for people of all ages and abilities,” said Kevin Carder, City Planner, City of Omaha.
The City of Omaha provided in-kind staff time and labor from both their Public Works department to install the signs and Planning Department to provide technical assistance for the project. In addition, the signs have been built into the maintenance budget for future repairs and replacements. Finally, the Bike Omaha Network partners and the City worked with experts at Toole Design Group to create a Bike Wayfinding Manual, which will be referenced in the City’s forthcoming Complete Streets Design Guide. This ensures that a process and protocol is set for the future expansions.
This May, a promotional campaign will launch and include special activities during Bike to Work Week to get more people out on the routes. “We hope that people get out, have fun, and realize that we are a lot closer than we may think to the neighborhood next door. There’s a lot of great places out there and a majority of the routes are on lower-traffic streets, which are safer for families and those new to the Network,” said Sarah Sjolie, CEO at Live Well Omaha.
Further Bike Omaha Network funding is being held by Live Well Omaha to provide signs for the planned bike lanes on North 30th Street and South 24th Street.