Greetings from Bike Walk Nebraska. Like many of you, we are working from home and dealing with all of the changes that COVID-19 has thrown our way. These are not easy times; but rather than listing the various things we are dealing with, we think it is more important to highlight the work that our health department partners are doing right now. All of the training and technical assistance we provide to communities on Complete Streets is done in conjunction with these folks, and we’ve been working with them a long time. Here are a few of professionals we are blessed to know and work with:
- Jen Hansen with Public Health Solutions (Beatrice, Geneva, Hebron) is a brilliant bundle of energy. This woman is a GSD machine; do NOT stand in her way.
- Jessica Davies and Janelle Visser with the Panhadle Public Health District (Scottsbluff, Gering, Kimball, Alliance, Sidney) are the pied pipers of Complete Streets and Safe Routes to School in the panhandle. They cover a huge area and continue to bring more communities to the table to work on these issues.
- Gina Uhing and Heather Drahota with Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health (Norfolk, West Point) seemingly have the ability to anticipate our guidance and get it done without us even having to discuss it. They are crushing it in Norfolk.
- Brooke Wolfe with South Heartland District Public Health (Hastings, Superior) has been keeping things moving forward with a solid coalition of community partners in her camp.
- On the local front, Mike Heyl at the Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department has been preaching Safe Routes to School and safe cycling for years. If there has been a health fair in Lincoln during your lifetime, Mike has likely been there at a table.
- On the state front, Brian Coyle with the State of Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has been there from the beginning with all of this work. He’s the hub, the finder of grant opportunities, the bureaucracy navigator. Most of this is not possible with him.
- A special note about the Douglas County Health Department: although we haven’t worked with them directly lately, I have a long standing working relationship with some of those folks, some going back a dozen years. They are always at the table for active transportation projects, policies and programs in the Omaha area. We live in Douglas County and have been extremely comforted knowing that Dr. Adi Pour is the leader during these times. She is a brilliant woman and a steady, calming presence.
We know that these folks would rather be working on ways to improve biking and walking in their communities, but for now it is “all hands on deck” and they have been pressed into service on the front lines. We are GRATEFUL for all that they are doing - knowing they are putting in long and stressful hours while trying to balance family at the same time, just like the rest of us.
To close, let’s think about what our Health Department partners would say: take care of yourselves and PLEASE STAY HOME if at all possible. WASH. YOUR. HANDS. Take care of the elderly folks around you.
We’ll add to this: remember that outside is not closed - get some fresh air and natural Vitamin D by taking a walk or a bike ride each day if you can. And please send prayers or good vibes to those on the front line working to keep us all safe.
Yours in curve flattening,