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Advocates bringing attention to inaccessible sidewalks in Omaha

Posted at 9:48 AM, Apr 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-11 11:01:07-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Advocates for equitable mobility in Omaha cleaned up a portion of Dodge Street on Saturday to bring attention to the work needed on the city’s sidewalks.

Crumbling concrete, fixtures narrowing the sidewalk, and steep curbs are just a few things Melanie Davis says create obstacles as she travels throughout the city with her wheelchair and service dog.

"In a normal, everyday scenario, I really have to decide, 'Is it worth the struggle?'" Davis said.

Mode Shift Omaha says for too long Omaha’s sidewalks have been neglected.

“The property owners don’t feel responsible for that, and neither does the city," said Dr. Crystal Edwards, Walkability Chair for Mode Shift Omaha. "And so the person who pays is the person in a wheelchair, trying desperately just to get to a job.”

3 News Now reached out to Mayor Jean Stothert to ask what the city is doing about sidewalk conditions. We were referred to the "Roadmaps for Better Streets" plan on the city's website. We could not find sidewalks in that plan.

With brooms and signs in hand, the advocates partnered with Creighton University students to host their Clean Sweep event, with hopes of bringing attention to the often-overlooked infrastructure.

“The city thus far runs on a what seems to be a complaint-based system, where only when people complain does the action take place," said Dr. Ryan Wishart who is currently teaching an Environment and Society course at Creighton.

Davis says she wants to see better sidewalks not just for herself, but for students, tourists, and other residents who need them.

“We need to worry about the sidewalks for everybody, not just because I’m in a chair, but because they’re part of the city and they should represent what our city is," Davis said.

Mode Shift Omaha's next clean-up event is scheduled for April 19th and will focus on bike lanes and bus stops.

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