Riding A Bike To Work In Omaha

Posted on July 25, 2006 at 03:49 AM

Well hellooooo there. It's been a while since we've last spoken it seems. Two months and counting. While I won't get into what I've been up to for the past two months in this post, I will talk about my experience riding my bike to work. Not a very exciting topic you say? Tough. It's all I got, for now....

So how did this all come about?

Activate Omaha put together the Bicycle Commuter Challenge which is a friendly competition for the bike riding employees of local companies against one another in a friendly competition. The company I work for can be very competitive when it comes to things like this so immediately I began to see people answering the call and begin to ride their bikes to work. Some live within what would be thought of as a normal biking to work range of 3 - 8 miles while a few other die hards live farther out, more like the 12 -16 mile range.

So how far do I live from work?

As the crow flies, 19 miles. But as I laid out my path on Gmaps pedometer I saw that 19 miles grow to around 21 miles. While biking to work from this range would probably only be a once a week type of thing, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to see how bikeable a town Omaha is. The results my dear blog reading friends were not pretty. I give you a travel log of my experiences that day.

Here is the map of my route (route generated by Gmap Pedometer

ed. note: click on image to enlarge.

5:59 am 177th and Olive Streets

I look at this picture, and it's as if the stop sign is saying,"Dude, are you sure you want to do this?"

6:05 am 168th and Monroe Streets - 1.3 miles

"Hey, stupid. It's me Stop Sign, again. Are you REALLY sure you want to do this? It's not too late to turn around."

6:17am 156th and Q Streets - 3.3 miles

Shot over looking one of the many strip malls that adorn West Omaha.

6:28am 156th and Center Streets - 5.4 miles

Just got on the only "bike trail" of my 21 mile journey. Very nice trail that winds along a small creek.

6:35am 156th and Pacific Streets - 6.9 miles

Off the trail now and heading east. This UP coal train just passed underneath the bridge as I was riding by.

6:42am 148th and Pacific Streets - 8.1 miles

Farm and the City.

6:54am 120th and Pacific Streets - 10.6 miles

It's decision time. Sidewalk ends at 114th street. Do I risk riding on the street with rush hour traffic and no shoulder or do I puss out and find a way around crossing the interstate 680? Stay tuned...

7:03am 103rd and Pacific Streets - 11.9 miles.

A little tired at this point. I jumped the red light at 114th street to get a head start on the traffic behind me and put the hammer down to get across the interstate and back on the friendly confines of the sidewalk. I hit 35mph (down hill aided) but am easing up a bit as I am only about half way to work.

7:23am 70th and Pacific Streets - 15.1 miles

Note to self: Do not take Pacific street ever again. Narrow lanes, heavy traffic, monster hills make riding on the street almost impossible. Plus, I was faced with riding on sidewalks where curbs at intersections were not cut which greatly slowed the pace.

7:30am 60th and Leavenworth Streets - 16.1 miles

Having just experienced the hell that was Pacific street I welcomed the ride through Elmwood park and meeting up with my friend Leavenworth street. Wider traffic lanes, less traffic, easy to ride on the street.

7:37am Saddle Creek and Leaven worth streets - 17.2 miles

17 miles down and feeling good.

7:42am 46th and Leavenworth Streets

No drunks sleeping outside Pauli's after a night of College World Series Partying? Oh wait, I guess it makes sense. LSU didn't make it to the CWS.

7:51am 22nd and Leavenworth Streets - 19.4 miles

Herbie Husker n' tha hood.

7:55 am 19th and Jones Streets - 19.8 miles

Closing in on Downtown Omaha. Smooth Sailing from here.

8:02 am 9th and Farnam Streets - 20.9 miles

Fin. I have arrived.

The morning trek took about 2 hours, though I stopped to snap about 12 pictures so I probably wasted around 20 minutes fiddling with the camera and writing down mileage, etc... Not at all impressed with the route I took, but is was the most direct. I will have to experiment with a new route in the future.

The Ride Home

You will notice that I did not take as many pictures on the ride home. I left work later than I wanted (around 4:45) it was hot (approx. 93 degrees) and there was a NOTICEABLE wind from the south, southwest which was sure to kick my ass as I made the turn southward for home.

Time unknown. Around 49th and Leavenworth

It's hot. I wonder if this Cemetery's sales office is open? As this point I would take a nice plot under a shade tree.

Time unknown. Approx. 113th and Dodge

Still hot. Shot is looking up and the monstrously ugly dodge street overpass that will allow fat, lazy, West Omaha SUV drivers (an unfortunate stereotype to make on my part, I'm sure there is at least one or two physically fit people who drive on this overpass) to skip past the stop light at 114th and dodge, thus saving about 7 minutes on their morning commute. Not bad for 80+ million dollars. I wonder how many new bike lanes and trails that money would buy?

Return Ride Home Stats

Time: 2 hours and 20 minutes.
Distance: 23 miles
Mood: Too tired to care.
Top speed reached: 41 mph (going downhill on Pacific by Millard North High School)

Final Thoughts

This blog is less than pleased with the current state of bicycle commuting in the City of Omaha. While Omaha does have a few well maintained north/south trails, there is nothing that adequately links west Omaha with anything east of I-680. Furthermore, any city of Omaha official who publicly states that Omaha is a "bike friendly" community (A.K.A. a bikeable community) either:

A. Doesn't own a bike. Or

B. The aforementioned bike is still sitting in the box from the Super Walmart where it was purchased, still waiting to be assembled.

Memo to City Planner Guy/Gal, Mayor of Omaha, or anyone else that is involved with the planning of building or remodeling Omaha streets. There are these futuristic things called "bike lanes" that more modern cities like Portland or Minneapolis have in place where bikes can safely ride in traffic without getting a side view mirror in the back of the head. Or if these bike lanes I speak of are too complicated for you, please have the foresight to at least include an 8 foot wide sidewalk when remodeling major arterial streets.

In closing, I will throw out a challenge to City Planner Guy/Gal, Mayor of Omaha, or anyone else who thinks I'm off my rocker to come to the JoeSchmidt.com world head quarters some morning and ride to work with me. If you accept this challenge, I promise to be cordial, polite, and won't throw out too many expletives when we get ran of the road by some jackass driving an H2, or when we encounter some less than adequate biking trails on our journey. Just be sure to show up with a positive attitude, fresh legs, and an up to date life insurance policy. Because as you will see, you take your own life into your hands when riding a bike along the streets of Omaha. Send me an email and we'll get started.

If you've made it this far dear reader, I thank you for reading this rant. This blog will not be deterred by crappy roads and poorly planned trails and is actively plotting out a new route to take.

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