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Omaha residents seek more support from local leaders in improving bike and pedestrian safety in Omaha


OMAHA, Nebraska — According to data from the Nebraska Department of Transportation, pedestrian fatalities are on the rise. Since 2016, 20 deaths and 400 injuries have occurred annually.

3 News Now spoke with individuals in downtown Omaha to discover more about the issue’s origins and the driving safety issues that people face the most.

Whether they are bicycles, pedestrians, or automobiles, people of the Omaha metropolitan region share a common complaint about the city’s layout.

“Recently, I was riding my bicycle at Old Mill. I was circling trying to access Dodge Street with a large truck following me. There was no place for me to exit and escape his path “resident Robert Glaser stated.

Guy Robarge stated, “You will encounter Interstate 480; I exited at the Harney Street exit, and there is no real indication that there is a bike route.”

In addition, they lament the absence of bicycle lanes and pedestrian-friendly solutions.

“I used to ride my bike a lot before I had kids and whatnot, and this was a major issue,” said Ryan Kronschnabel.

Changes have been made by the Blackstone Business Improvement District and the City of Omaha to improve pedestrian safety and slow traffic in Blackstone, but one supporter believes that the rest of the city should follow suit.

“Here, the bollards have reduced the number of lanes to a single lane in each direction. We’re noticing that motorists are slowing down, and our signage makes it easier to spot pedestrians and be aware that there are people walking here “Liz Veazey, chair of Mode Shift Omaha, remarked as she strolled through the Blackstone District.

Mode Shift Omaha advocates for alternative modes of transportation. Veazy advises painting crosswalks and stop lines at traffic lights to make it obvious that pedestrians have room. She also asserts that there are easy measures that leaders may do to make walking safer.

“A leading light for pedestrians to cross the street; if you give them a signal before allowing them to cross, then the motorists are more likely to observe the pedestrians. They are in the road and hence less likely to be struck “Veazey stated.

Three years ago, the City of Omaha adopted its Vision Zero program, which aims to eliminate all traffic fatalities. A consultant hired last month should have a completed report by the following year.

The Vision Zero study would be used to determine any improvements, and riders like Glaser cannot wait.

“We’re approximately twenty years behind,” Glaser stated.

The city is now working on the bicycle and pedestrian master plan, and the first meeting with stakeholders is set for next week. Pete Festersen, the president of the Council, states that their strategy for Vision Zero is just getting started and that he would have preferred a faster pace.

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