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Thread: Omaha is pain!

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    Senior Member one_beatnik's Avatar
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    Omaha is pain!

    That should have read IS a pain.

    I rode from SW Iowa to Omaha yesterday. My ultimate destination was 120th and Maple to watch my son play soccer. Great ride for the most part, but Omaha is definitely NOT a bike friendly town. I wanted to cross the new Kerry bridge from Council Bluffs. That thing is gorgeous and very easy to get to from the Iowa side. The O side is another story. After you get off, there is no way to even get to a street with a bicycle. It's crazy. I expected it to not be easy to get out of the downtown area so that didn't surprise me, but even the trails in Omaha are not bike friendly. The one that goes south near the UNO campus is just awful. I was better off in the street as far as pavement and access to anything. Then the other trail have limited access to even get onto them. Why oh why would they put access on only one side of busy roads!?! I ended up just riding with an asserting attitude right on the busy roads (like 120th, Blondo, Maple) and that ended up being fine.
    Dan in SW Iowa...
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    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Hey Dan...you are a very brave man. Getting to 120th and Maple from downtown is about the hardest thing you can try to do around here. The trail system mostly goes north/south, but not east/west. We are working on improving the east/west bike system by adding bike lanes, but it takes time. There are some fine road rides out one the western and northern fringes of town.

    You definitely can get to a street from the Kerrey Bridge if you know the way. (You must have been tired).

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    Senior Member one_beatnik's Avatar
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    Thanks, Billydon for the info. I don't know whether I was brave or just stupid and/or naive. I think it helped that I was going on these streets at the right time of day. I got to the park at about 2:30 so I wasn't dealing with a lot of traffic. Both in Omaha and Ames there are these sidewalks (like on part of Blondo near 110th on to 120th) that are double used as bike paths. Then I have no idea how to handle intersections and neither do the car drivers in relation to me. At least on the street, we all have the same rules.

    I want to go back over that bridge and do some looking around when I don't feel pressed for time. (I wasn't sure how long it would take me from there to my destination)
    Dan in SW Iowa...
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    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    FWIW... I sent your post along the grapevine locally to several folks involved in improving bike travel around town. We do have a big amt. of money (I forget how much) to create a big bike lane loop around the City, but engineering drawings have not been completed and construction will be delayed until next year.

    Here's a link to some research I did on our trail system in 2007:
    http://www.unomaha.edu/recadmin/trails/2007TrailReport.pdf
    Last edited by billydonn; 10-30-09 at 09:06 PM.

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    Senior Member one_beatnik's Avatar
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    billy,

    I would also pass on to them that there needs to be some kind of signage for the trails. The Omaha trails map let me know where they were supposed to be, but even with that it was searching them out after I was near the area. They need signs telling where they are and on the trails, signs that say what street one is going under. And please, please, please tell them to have access on both sides of the street!
    Dan in SW Iowa...
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    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Dan,
    Due to the expense of trail entrances from two sides of a street, I would not hold my breath on that....we do already have it in several places. Me, I wouldn't consider it a big priority. There are so many things that would improve the system, including widening, better rest areas, restrooms, improved signage etc.. But a lot of people really like what we have and are grateful for it. It really is pretty good once you know your way around though, as I said, it is far from the last word in transportation efficiency. We are going to need bike lanes for that. It would be interesting to know the route you actually rode in going from downtown to Tranquility. I assume you hooked up with the Keystone south at some point and changed over to the Big Papio to get out near Tranquility.

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    Senior Member one_beatnik's Avatar
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    I essentially used Burt street over to Happy Hollow. I got on the trail there and headed south toward Dodge and then Pacific. That section south of Dodge was so rough that I finally just got on the street and kept going. Somewhere in there I lost the trail going through a golf course. I found Pacific and knew that's where I needed to be according to the Omaha Trails Map. The map indicated that that trail joined the Big Papio, but I couldn't find the connector I saw the creek ahead of me (I was headed west on Pacific then getting close to 72nd) and figured that had to be where the trail was. I followed that north to Blondo. Then I took Blondo west to about 113th where there is another trail that heads north. Took that north as far as it went and then took residential streets that I got lost on and ended up back at Blondo and 113th! I just stayed on Blondo then to 120th and took that north.

    Yes, I'm not being really fair on the trails. (sound like I'm b***ing.) Those trail north were really nice and pretty too. I've used the trail down around Offut and like that real well too.
    Dan in SW Iowa...
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    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Ah ha! Interesting! You may have turned the wrong way (north) when you hit the Keystone at 72nd and Pacific. A short 3-mile jaunt south from there and you can cross the creek to the Big Papio Trail at Q Street (not a well marked intersection but is on the map if you look closely). Then it's a straight shot to get near Tranquility Park. I have a friend who commutes that route pretty regularly and he has some sort of trick in getting from north end of the Big Papio to his bike shop just west of Tranquility. Not sure how he does it.

    If you went north on the Keystone to Blondo and then west, you probably had to find your way through the neighborhoods and over the Sprague Street Bridge (aka "Alp de Sprague"). Several of us ride up there regularly to cross over from Keystone to Big Papio, but you must know the route or you can get lost forever. If you rode on Maple for any distance, or used it to cross I-680, you are lucky to be alive IMO.

    I agree that the Happy Hollow Trail near UNO is pretty woeful. Interesting that you like the Bellevue Loop down by Offutt. I like it down there for low trafic but it is the narrowest part of the trail system and bumpy in places. (Guess I don't consider Happy Hollow "real" trail.)
    Last edited by billydonn; 10-25-09 at 09:06 AM.

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    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    The trails work as a location to exercise but are not functional as transportation. As you stated that the trails predominately traverse north and south or essentially have a hub in the south end of Omaha. In order to go east to west you have to do a lot of north or south riding. And I don't think that any trail connects downtown area with the major trails. It would be nice if the Field Club Trail connected to the Keystone trail as shown as a future continuation of the trail system. This has been planned for years but not yet scheduled.

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    Quote Originally Posted by billydonn View Post
    If you rode on Maple for any distance, or used it to cross I-680, you are lucky to be alive IMO.
    That really depends on the time of the day and how alert you pay attention - I've rode across that around 4pm or so, busy, yes, but not horrible either. I've seen other riders heading east bound too around that time.

    As for Maple, there is a nice shoulder to ride on and works pretty well - bumpy at the cracks, but works as long as you keep your eyes open for debris and cars.

    As for the OP getting from the bridge to his destination - quite a distance and I'd say the best thing would be to post about streets to use and to avoid in the future. Also you can get more of a better idea of a route using Google maps to map routes through neighborhoods.

    Michael

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    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by schu777 View Post
    That really depends on the time of the day and how alert you pay attention - I've rode across that around 4pm or so, busy, yes, but not horrible either. I've seen other riders heading east bound too around that time.

    As for Maple, there is a nice shoulder to ride on and works pretty well - bumpy at the cracks, but works as long as you keep your eyes open for debris and cars.
    As for the OP getting from the bridge to his destination - quite a distance and I'd say the best thing would be to post about streets to use and to avoid in the future. Also you can get more of a better idea of a route using Google maps to map routes through neighborhoods.

    Michael
    I am admittedly a wuss, er "conservative", about street riding in this town. Debris and big intersections on Maple are not my cup of tea. Some of my urban guerilla friends could probably navigate from downtown to Tranquility pretty well... but even they would have to plan it out. Very hard ride for out-of-towner, IMO. (As to maps... they can be helpful, but there is no substitute for experience riding in a given area.)

    If it was me and I had to do that ride, I THINK I would probably get out of downtown on Farnam, navigate north into Dundee somewhere past Happy Hollow Blvd., turn west on Underwood to Cass, hop on the Keystone North up to Boyd, turning west through the neighborhoods onto Ames, crossing I-680 on the Sprague St. bridge. Sprague then becomes N 105th for a few blocks. Then right on Old Maple Rd. (which I haven't ridden on and cannot vouch for safety) to Tranquility.
    Last edited by billydonn; 10-30-09 at 09:43 PM.

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    I was thinking about this the other day - possible to ride the bus now days with the bike carriers they have on front from Downtown to somewhere west...

    Really was wondering about moving to a different house if I moved to Iowa side and had to commute to I-680 and Blondo area...

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    Senior Member one_beatnik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by schu777 View Post
    I was thinking about this the other day - possible to ride the bus now days with the bike carriers they have on front from Downtown to somewhere west...

    Really was wondering about moving to a different house if I moved to Iowa side and had to commute to I-680 and Blondo area...
    With the route I took, it was 20 miles from "the bridge" to Tranquility! If I had it do over, I would probably ignore some of the trails and just get on residential streets and head west. Again, I DIDN'T take Maple across I680; I used Blondo. It wasn't that bad at the hour I was there. If it was 4:30 to 6, I would have hidden my bike and hired a taxi!
    Dan in SW Iowa...
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    You don't need to cross I-680 at Maple there is a small residential street Sprague (between Maple and Fort). This road crosses I-680 has little traffic.
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