The Omaha Metro Mayors’ Ride

Yesterday, the combined cities of Omaha & Bellevue, NE and Council Bluff IA held their annual Mayors’ Ride. From all accounts, the event was small in size, but not without controversy. While the mayors of Bellevue and Council Bluffs were in attendance, Omaha’s Mayor Jean Stothert was not, and this seems to have raised the ire of some of my cycling community co-citizens.

While I do agree that it would be great if Her Honor had been able to attend, she was unfortunately out of town at a mayors’ conference. In her position, she tries to choose what she feels is best for the city and its people.

Now, do I think that the mayor is completely on board with multi-modal transportation? At this point, it seems that she could be doing better. After choosing not to keep the Bike/Ped Coordinator position in the city’s administration, she promised three things that she felt would assure that we weren’t swept under the rug:

  1. A person whose position was to continue to advocate for bike/ped inclusion in city projects. She named Derek Miller to fill that role. (Good choice, by the way; hope his opinions are considered.)
  2. A Complete Streets policy. The committee assigned this task recently released a draft of its proposal asking for public comment. In my opinion, it is overall a good document that has a few holes needing to be filled. Also, it is a policy, not an ordinance. This makes it easier to make exceptions. Again, we’ll wait to see how it plays out in the long-term.
  3. An Active Living Advisor Committee made up of stakeholder citizens and members of the city administration to advise the mayor on pedestrian and bicycling issues. I know it’s met at least twice thus far, but I haven’t seen any action items or recommendations so far. Also of note, the chair of the committee recently took a position as Executive Director of the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance (congrats, Julie!) so I’m not sure what impact that will have on the committee.

Technically, the mayor has lived up to her promises. However, as a person who rides a bike, I haven’t seen significant substance yet.

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