Key Point

Only 3% of people in our community walk or ride a bike or motorcycle to work, which is lower than the national average.

Let's Break It Down

We have few paths that travel east to west, so pathways are primarily used for recreation rather than transit.

In our community, 2% of individuals report walking to work and 1% report using a bike, motorcycle, or other means. This is lower than the national average of 3% who walk to work and 2% who report using a bike, motorcycle, or other means.

According to the Heartland Connections Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, the region’s current trail system has largely been focused along the creeks, which run in a northwest-southeast direction. The paths are well designed to ensure both safety and connection to streets, but are frequently treated as recreational paths rather than a path for transit. Options for traveling east or west (the most common commute in our community) via bicycle path are quite limited. Beyond the trails that exist, there are few opportunities for people to easily and safely travel by foot or by bike.

Why Does It Matter?

Walking and bike paths create better connections to work, are cost effective, improve health, and are fun.

Walking and bike paths not only provide gateways to recreational opportunities, they offer critical access points to other modes of transit like bus routes. This increases the overall activity level of residents, provides health benefits, and diversifies methods of transportation to work, school, and other locations. Walking and biking is also more cost effective than alternative forms of transportation such as owning a car or even taking public transit on a regular basis. Owning or driving a car is not an option for many in our community; owning a vehicle can be a financial burden for low-income households; many individuals with disabilities lack the mobility to independently drive a car; and many other populations like the elderly are unable to safely operate a vehicle. Almost 10,000 people who are working do not own their own car. Both walking and biking are also environmentally friendly transit options because they emit no pollution. Communities often use walk or bike scores for their city or neighborhood to understand how easily they can get around without a car. You can learn more about your city's or zipcode's walk score here

According to Heartland 2050, when people can safely walk to a movie, restaurant, business, and back home, they are also more likely to use buses and bicycles, too. Walking and bike routes create more welcoming neighborhoods, and have the potential to attract not only economic development, but new residents. Along these same lines, communities that offer a diverse number of transit options also have an advantage in attracting and retaining talent—especially younger generations who are driving less, and who often place more value on a wide range of transportation options. Heartland 2050 has recently launched the "Closing the Gap" initiative, to promote a more walkable, livable region. This plans include ideas on infill development that closes the gaps between neighborhoods and public transit to connect neighborhoods for a more vibrant community.

How Do We Compare?

Nationally, Omaha is ranked 27th for biking and walking to work.

Looking at the nation’s 50 largest cities, Omaha ranked 27th for biking or walking to work. In contrast, Minneapolis ranked 8th, and Kansas City was 34th. Omaha also ranked in the middle, at 24th, when looking at the per square mileage of biking infrastructure. In this same ranking, Minneapolis held the top spot and Oklahoma City was 50th. Omaha ranked 22nd in the number of bikes per 100,0000 people out of the top 25 largest cities who had a bike share program.

From a statewide perspective, Nebraska and Iowa rank near the middle of states for the percentage of commuters who bike or walk to work (25th and 17th, respectively) according to the 2016 Alliance for Biking and Walking Benchmark Report.

Our community has an estimated 1.1 miles of bike infrastructure (protected bike lanes and paved public paths) per square mile. Cities such as Kansas City (0.3 per square mile) and Indianapolis (0.4 per square mile), had lower averages, while cities such as Denver (2.6 per square mile) and Minneapolis (5.8 per square mile) had more bike infrastructure per square mile.

Data Source: Heartland Connections: Regional Bike and Pedestrian Plan, Bluffs Tomorrow 2030, Alliance for Biking and Walking Benchmark Report and the American Community Survey 2014 5-year Estimates Table B08101.

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