Western Nebraska is not the most bicycle-friendly place I’ve lived, but the times, they are a-changin’.
(In case you don’t want to read to the end, I’ll put the appeal up front, too: donate to the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance bike month campaign.)
The Western Nebraska Bicycling Club came together.
The City of Scottsbluff is installing artistic bike racks downtown and planning to install 5 miles of new pathway (see black lines on image below) that would include a much-needed bridge over Highway 26.
The City of Gering has already installed several miles of bike routes, as illustrated with brown lines in this excerpt from the Nebraska Department of Roads’ Nebraska Bicycle Map (I didn’t know this map existed!):
Scottsbluff and Gering planning staffers have been reaching out to the cycling community to work on community bike route mapping. (Insider info: I’m one of the folks involved in this project. Hat tip to the folks at Champaign County Bikes for helping to get us started on the right . . . ahem . . . path.)
Scotts Bluff County, the City of Gering and Legacy of the Plains Museum cooperated with Scotts Bluff National Monument to get Federal Land Access Program grant funding for additional bike pathways connecting the city and Monument.
And the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance has recently taken a step forward in its organizational capacity and hired its first executive director, Julie Tuttle Harris (who happens to hail from Scottsbluff).
As Julie pointed out in this interview with the Alliance for Biking and Walking, Nebraska ranks 45th on The League of American Bicyclists’ ranking of state friendliness towards bicycles.
I wondered what the ranking was based upon, so I looked it up. It’s a survey of State Bike Coordinators (the Nebraska Department of Roads has an email address for a Bike Coordinator, but I can’t find an actual person’s name to go along with the title) that measures five topics:
- Education and Encouragement
- Infrastructure and Funding
- Legislation and Enforcement
- Programs and Policies
- Evaluation and Planning
Here’s a detailed description of what each of those topics includes. And here’s Nebraska’s report card. There are some great suggestions for improvement on that report card. In order to get them implemented, it’s going to take a concerted effort and support from cyclists across the state.
That’s where the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance comes in. This 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization has the capacity to help improve the cycling climate in Nebraska.
But it’s going to require some of your capacity, too.
One of the ways you can help is by donating to the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance’s “A Dollar A Day During May” fundraising campaign during National Bike Month. Here’s the link to the fundraising campaign. You can donate at two perk levels: $30 for a “Robust Woo Hoo” and $60 for “Robust Woo Hoo + Vigorous Cowbell”.
Wyobraska Tandem recommends going for more cowbell.
I’ll end with an appropriate quote from Julie, from the aforementioned interview:
In Nebraska, we pick ourselves up by our bootstraps, we work really hard and we pride ourselves on that. Being able to get around by bicycle is a very self-reliant value, so to use that concept and tie it back to common themes like health and safety, we know those messages resonate across our whole state, both urban and rural.
Bust out those bootstraps and wallets, folks! Let’s work to boost Nebraska’s standing in the national cycling community!
Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw