As always seems to happen, life starts moving at warp speed after Thanksgiving. The Bike Walk Nebraska staff have been busy preparing goals, budgets and work plans for 2024, but we don’t want to overlook what’s happening right now at the state level that will help us make biking and walking safer in Nebraska for years to come.
As a mom of one current and one recent college student, I’m known for sending kids back to campus after Thanksgiving with a pep talk about Finals Week including the mantra, “finish strong!” I feel like we are “finishing strong!” for biking and walking in Nebraska right now!
Improvements on the policy level bring the most impactful, sustainable change. This is a big deal.
Here’s an update on some of recent “relentless incrementalism” happening:
- October of 2022: The Nebraska Department of Transportation announces the new 5-year State Highway Safety Plan document will include goals for reducing crashes of non-motorized road users (i.e.: people walking and biking) for the first time.
- November of 2023: NDOT releases new 5-YearState Highway Safety Plan. You can read the full Vulnerable Road Users assessment here, beginning on page 59. Here are the bike and pedestrian related highlights:
- In support of the longer term outlook of the annual non-motorist safety performance targets, the Nebraska Interagency Safety Committee adopted a new goal to reduce non-motorist fatalities and serious injuries… These two new goals will provide a longer term planning vision for supporting all the annual safety performance measures.
- Non-motorist fatalities and serious injuries have been increasing nationally recently. Though Nebraska has not experienced this same trend, the IASC proactively identified the need to directly support improving safety for the non-motorists. The creation of a new non-motorist Critical Emphasis Area allows for a more direct impact on the annual non-motorist safety performance measure. The Vulnerable Road User Assessment in Appendix A aligns with and expands upon the non-motorist CEA.
- July 2023: NDOT launches its Complete Streets Implementation Research Project. Bike Walk Nebraska is invited to participate on the Stakeholders Committee along with the full leadership of NDOT and many regional partners invested in transportation. The consultants recently completed the milestones of reviewing internal processes and policy options and shared their progress with the Committee last week. The policy proposal should be complete in the spring of 2024.
All of this information may sound boring and bureaucratic to the average person, but this incremental progress on the policy level represents big changes to how biking and walking is handled by the Nebraska Department of Transportation. Improvements on the policy level bring the most impactful, sustainable change. This is a big deal.
We have exciting things on the horizon for 2024, including expansion of our Learn to Ride classes, the launch of an innovative fundraising campaign benefiting bike/ped/trail groups around the state, and the return of our webinar series.
Of course, we’ll also be monitoring the Nebraska Unicameral and making sure your voice is heard on any issue related to active transportation. Stay tuned in the weeks to come for more details on everything we have coming up.
On behalf of the rockstars I am so grateful to have on our team, Cait and Taylor, I want to thank you for all of your support of Bike Walk Nebraska this year. We hope you have a safe and relaxing holiday season.