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Omaha cyclists concerned, urging for safer streets

Posted at 6:41 PM, Jun 11, 2024

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — In the Omaha metro, there are miles of trail systems for people to enjoy. But when it comes to the roads, cyclists don't feel safe. We spoke with Bike Walk Nebraska about advocacy for cyclists.

  • Since 2012, it's been a Nebraska law that drivers must give cyclist at least three feet of space when passing.
  • Cait Dumas-Hein with Bike Walk Nebraska shares the steps the organization wants the city to take to make Omaha more bike friendly.
  • "When we put cycling infrastructure in place and we put pedestrian infrastructure into place it is actually safer for drivers as well because there's an allocated space for these other road users to use."

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

In the Omaha metro there are miles of trail systems for walkers, runners, and cyclist to enjoy but when it comes to the roads, cyclist has concerns.

Since 2012, it's been state law that drivers must give cyclist at least three feet of space when passing.

It's a buffer that can be the difference between life and death.

“You know, nine times out of ten people do so, but you know we do to get those scary drivers every now and then.”

Cait Dumas-Hein is the associate director of Bike Walk Nebraska, the state's active transportation alliance that advocates for cyclists.

"Bikes are used for recreation, but they're also used pretty heavily for transportation so being able to get safely from point A to point B is a huge need in Omaha,” she said.

This voice, one of many, now asking local engineers to think of them as they design the miles and miles of new roads coming to this fast-growing part of Omaha.

"When we put cycling infrastructure in place, and we put pedestrian infrastructure into place it is actually safer for drivers as well because there's an allocated space for these other road users to use," said Dumas-Hein.

If it sounds like you've heard this story before you have.

We've reported on a fatal or serious injury crash involving a cyclist in the area several times.

We reached out to the city and county to see if there's a way to design roads to be safer.

The county says they're updating the Western Douglas County trails plan with the potential to extend roads by adding a shoulder or bike lane in the future.

Omaha is developing the active mobility plan which is an effort to expand people-powered forms of transportation, including bike lanes and boulevards.

"So really what we’re asking of the city right now is that they start allocating funds to be able to address those needs."

Bike Walk Nebraska is looking at other cities to see what Omaha can create better infrastructure to support cyclist safety.