Just in time for National Bike Month in May, a celebratory ribbon cutting was held on Friday, April 26 in honor of the completion of the 38-mile Bike Omaha Network. The celebration included remarks by Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, Live Well Omaha CEO Sarah Sjolie, Douglas County Health Department Director Adi Pour and Omaha Bikes Board Chair Ben Turner.
The Bike Omaha Network features more than 600 wayfinding signs at over 400 locations throughout the city. The robust network enhances navigation and safety while promoting traveling by bicycle throughout Omaha. Bike Omaha Network partners at Toole Design Group explain wayfinding signs:
· Reduce confusion for people bicycling, giving them the confidence to navigate to destinations in areas they are not familiar with;
· Encourage people to bicycle for transportation by highlighting how easy it is to get to destinations;
· Alert motorists to watch for people bicycling on the street;
· Guide trail users to key destinations that may be slightly off the trail; and,
· Help trail users report their location in emergencies and direct first responders arriving at the scene.
A map highlighting the Bike Omaha Network route can be found onBikeOmahaNetwork.org.
This plan is in alignment with Metropolitan Area Planning Agency’s (MAPA) regional Bike and Pedestrian Plan, improving safety and connectivity of Omaha’s core neighborhoods, and has been a project a long time in the making. Since 2007, Live Well Omaha and the City of Omaha have worked as public/private partners along with RDG Planning & Design, MAPA, Omaha Bikes, and many others partners, to create the city’s first bike network. Many philanthropic donors helped make this a reality, including the Peter Kiewit Foundation and the Sherwood Foundation.
Not only does the Bike Omaha Network create safer neighborhoods, attract talent to our city and build the local economy, it also helps more residents build physical activity into their day. In Douglas County, 70.7% of adults are overweight and 33.5% of adults are obese according to the 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment. Actively walking or biking to work, school or local errands as part of a typical day reduces risk of obesity.
The City of Omaha provided in-kind staff time and labor from both its Public Works and Planning Departments to install the signs and to provide technical assistance for the project. In addition, the signs have been built into the maintenance budget for future repairs and replacements. The Bike Omaha Network partners and the City also 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 will ensure a process and protocol is set for the future expansions.
The 38-mile bike network is just the beginning. The Bike Omaha Network will grow in 2020 and 2021 as bike route wayfinding signs will be added along South 24thStreet and North 30th Street.
The Bike Omaha Network will be celebrated the entire month of May, with special attention to Bike to Work Week (May 13-19) and Bike to Work Day (Friday, May 17). More information will be available on BikeOmahaNetwork.org and on Live Well Omaha’s social media channels.
Video of the ribbon cutting can be found here.
View event photos by Cristian Mendo from Apricity Photography here.