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Protected bike lane will stay put until construction on streetcar begins, thanks to Sherwood donation

Mayor Stothert says she wants to work with the bike community, not fight
Posted at 10:00 AM, Oct 01, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The protected bike lane on Harney was set to be removed Friday, leaving cyclists quite frustrated with the city Thursday night, but Mayor Stothert announced the bike lane would live on through a donation from Sherwood.

"We felt like if there's no cost to the city we’ll be able to re-stripe, well be able to put new bollards up and make them more sturdy. So they’re not knocked down and we’d be able to leave it up for the commuters or the recreation until the construction on the streetcar started and then it’d have been moved," said Mayor Sothert on Friday.

Sherwood will cover the entire cost which Stothert says is upwards of $600,000, including $110,000 to do the conceptual design study, not $40,000 as she says many believe.

She says part of that cost includes snow and ice removal.

The announcement came after a protest Thursday by cyclists, but Stothert says the protest didn't spark the announcement.

"These conversations had been going on for some time, I do want to stress this announcement yesterday was not in result of a protest yesterday afternoon. This was something obviously because we found that much money from a donor that we had been working on for some time," she said.

Stothert pointed to a number of reasons the pilot program wasn't extended.

"I didn’t want to extend the pilot. I feel like we had all the information we needed on the Southside of Harney where it won’t go on the southside of Harney because of the street car being there now. So we needed to know how much it was actually going to cost us and who would be willing to pay for it."

She says another reason is that Bike Walk Nebraska was supposed to inform her at least 90 days in advance if they wanted to extend it, but she says the organization informed City Council just a few weeks ago.

After three years the protected bike lane will be removed because of the construction of the streetcar, but she wants to find ways for the city to have a lane still.

"We’re not trying to delay we’re trying to do it right," she says. "It’s not going to look like what it looks like on the Southside of Harney right now. It’s not going to have bollards, they’re really confusing I think they are to me and it’s going to be something much more attractive. It will be designed, public works will be able to plow it and remove ice from it and maintain it. It could be for example concrete curbs, it could be concrete planters, it could be something very very attractive that's what we need to look like now."

The city will use the next three years to design what a permanent protected bike lane will look like and find funding, which Stothert says will be taken over by the city once it moves from Harney.