Top 10 Reasons to Preorder a Nebraska Bike The Good Life License Plate

nebraska license plate

In January, the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance launched a campaign to get a bicycle-themed “organizational” license plate design accepted by the State of Nebraska. The state approved the application and proposed design, so all that’s required now is 250 pre-registrations collected by the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance. SEE HERE FOR APPLICATION INFORMATION and FAQs.

This license plate is an “organizational” plate* (like the plates for Union Pacific, Beef State, Corn, Duck Unlimited, Henry Doorly Zoo, Creighton, UNO, Omaha Chamber of Commerce, and Fire/Rescue). These plates cost an additional $70 per year, and the fees are divided between the DMV cash fund (15%) and the Highway Trust Fund (85%).

I want to encourage more Nebraska bicycling enthusiasts to pre-order their plates so we can hit the minimum and I can get my NEBIKE plates ASAP! So, I give you:

TOP TEN REASONS TO PRE-ORDER A NEBRASKA BIKE THE GOOD LIFE LICENSE PLATE

10. It makes a great gift for a bicycling enthusiast who “has it all.” You could make the payment ($75 via PayPal to Nebraska Bicycling Alliance), and your intended gift recipient could complete the paperwork to submit. (This would make a great gift-giving tradition to start on Bike to Work Day. *wink, wink*)

bike gift

9. You are a Nebraskan. Pioneers are in your cultural DNA. If you pre-order a plate, you will be one of the pioneers – the first to have Nebraska bike plates.

nebraska pioneer

8. You can help Nebraska establish a new license plate type. Even if you don’t renew the bike plate in future years, if the magic 250 minimum is reached, the option will remain available for others.

~*250*~

7. The new plates have a “Nebraska red” theme, unlike the standard plates that have a blue field and yellow lettering, which I keep thinking are from Michigan.

nebraska font compare

6. No Sower!!!! Uhhh . . . about that Sower . . . in person on the plates, he looks kind of like a smudge of dirt.

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5. Be that reminder to other drivers that people who ride bikes also drive cars.

MY OTHER CAR IS A BICYCLE

4. Promote a cool slogan: “Bike the Good Life.” We Nebraskans know all about the Good Life, and Nebraskans who bike know how biking contributes.

584354 KS-I680

3. Help promote the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance. The organization’s website is listed on the plate: www.nebike.org.

NeBA logo

2. Pay an extra $70 bucks a year to the DMV, to gain more ammo to blow up the canard about road user fees. (You know the one.)

*BOOM*

1. Get Nebraska into the majority of states that now offer bicycle-themed license plates. Nebraska needs to be on this list!

state bike license plates A thru L

state bike license plates M thru S

state bike license plates T thru W

What are you waiting for? Your current plate to expire?

Don’t wait! You need to get your application in now, or the new bike plates won’t be available when your renewal is up.

If you wind up getting the new bike plates midstream in your registration, you can turn in your old plates to get a refund on the remaining registration fee.

Don’t delay – complete your Bike The Good Life license plate application today!

*Nebraska also has “specialty” plates, some of which cost the same as regular plates, some more, some that contribute a small amount of money to special causes. These plates require an act of the legislature to establish (e.g., mountain lion / conservation, Huskers, Nebraska Sesquicentennial, breast cancer, and, soon, “choose life”.)

Copyright 2017 by Katie Bradshaw, except images

Yo, Nebraska cyclists: LB 716!

Look up your state senator here, and contact them. Do it today! Your state leaders need to hear your specific, local story about why the traffic law amendments in LB 716 are important for bicyclist safety in our state.

For up-to-date information, check in with the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance. (Better yet, become a member!)

LB716 does two main things:

1. LB716 clarifies that where a bike/multiuse path crosses a road at a traffic light, cars must yield to bicyclists who lawfully enter the crossing.

Currently, the law is mute on bicyclists vs. cars and only provides protection to pedestrians in these cases, so if the light turns green for the cyclist, they proceed, and are hit by a car, there is no clear rule for who should have yielded.

At first, I thought there were no such intersections here in S-G, but then I realized there were currently two along the Monument Valley Pathway:

IMG_8248

There may be more, depending on how pathway development proceeds in Scottsbluff.

Here’s a more formal-looking link to the S-G sites, as well as one for Sidney. PLEASE COMMENT if you know of additional intersections in other communities.

Scottsbluff/Gering

Sidney

Here’s a NeBA map of all the currently known affected intersections in the state.

2. LB716 eliminates the requirement that a cyclist use a sidepath when present.

This law creates a number of unintended consequences when it mandates that a cyclist use a particular right of way without consideration for safety. To give just one example: what if you’re cycling in the winter, and the street is clear but the cycle path is not. The law says “Too bad, so sad: you have to use that icy, dangerous, rutted path, not the safer, cleared street.”

Case in point, here’s what the Broadway/10th Street bridge (the ONLY non-road bridge crossing between Scottsbluff and Terrytown/Gering over the North Platte River, which, incidentally, is so unsuitable for biking on the west side that signage directs cyclists to dismount even in good weather) looked like during Bike Work Work Week in 2015:

IMG_5799

Note that the street is clear and almost completely dry.

Write your state senator today!

To have the biggest impact, your letter to your senator should reference specific instances in their district and describe experiences you have had. Here is the letter I am sending to my senator:

Dear Senator Stinner,

As your constituent, I ask that you support LB716 to amend traffic rules relating to bicyclists. The law as currently written creates uncertainty and danger for bicyclists like myself. LB716 will improve conditions for bicyclists in District 48.

Regarding the provision clarifying right of way at a device-controlled crossing:

When I’m riding my commuter bike, I often use the Monument Valley Pathway. There are two places where this pathway crosses a road at a traffic light: at 10th Street and Mobile Avenue/Twin City Drive in Terrytown and at Five Rocks Road and Country Club Road in Gering.

I always enter these intersections with extreme caution, as, in my experience, drivers are not generally very cyclist-aware in this area. Despite my caution, I have had some close calls. I would like to know that, if the unthinkable happens and I am struck by a car in one of these intersections, the driver will be held as accountable as if they had struck a pedestrian, another type of vulnerable road user that already has protection under the law.

Regarding the provision eliminating the mandatory sidepath rule:

While I prefer to use the pathway when I’m riding my commuter bike, I’ve found several instances in which it was safer for me to be in the street rather than on the pathway. In the snowy season, the streets are often clear of snow long before the pathway is. I would much rather ride on a cleared street than on an icy and rutted pathway. At times when riding near Terry’s Lake, there has been a family of geese with hissing, overprotective parents occupying the pathway. Rather than risking injury by waterfowl attack, I have detoured into the street. Depending on the time of day, the pathway is sometimes occupied by people with dogs and small children who have a tendency to make unpredictable movements. When the pathway is crowded like this, and I’m moving 8-10 miles per hour on my commuter bike, I deem it safer for all involved if I move out into the street to get where I’m going without risking a collision with a dog or child.

Similarly, when I ride my road bike, on which I can travel at speeds approaching 15-20 miles per hour, it’s much safer for all involved if I’m on the road rather than the pathway. The pathway was not designed to safely handle traffic of that speed.

Yet, in the eyes of the law, whenever I detour into the street on my bike for safety reasons, I am courting a citation. This makes no sense and limits the utility of a bicycle as transportation.

Since my husband and I rely on our bicycles to get around because we share one car between us and there is no practical public transportation in Scottsbluff-Gering, the bicycle-friendliness of this community is important to our ability to do business and live happily here. I know there are other families in this area that rely on bicycle transportation to get around as well. Passage of LB716 will help to make life a little better for all of us bicyclists. Please support it.

Thank you for your time.

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw

Top 12 reasons to support the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance

How could I have been a nonprofit museum director and not known #givingtuesday was a thing??

Alirighty, then. Given that I’m now on the board of a nonprofit, the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance, I will use my bloggy powers for good today and encourage you, my readers, to help support Nebraska bicyclists by purchasing a membership with (or making a donation to) the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance on #givingtuesday.

NOTE: if you read this post after Tuesday, it’s certainly not too late to join or donate! All of the wonderful reasons to support NeBA will still apply!

ALSO NOTE: Because NeBA is a new organization just getting off the ground, you have the rare chance through the end of 2016 to get in as a “Founding Member.” See the “become a member” link for details.

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Here are my Top Twelve Reasons to Support the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance. (NOTE: These are not necessarily in actual order of priority. This started as a list of seven and kept on growing. I would rearrange them, but in WordPress that’s difficult with captioned photos.)

12. Your Nebraska pride is hurt by the fact that your state clocks in at #47 in bicycle friendliness.

Ouch. We only beat Kansas, Kentucky and Alabama in the 2015 rankings. NeBA, just by its very existence, helped Nebraska to avoid the bottom slots. But we can do better! #huskerpride

Ouch. We only beat Kansas, Kentucky and Alabama in the 2015 rankings. NeBA, just by its very existence, helped Nebraska to avoid the bottom slots. But we can do better! #huskerpride

11. You think encouraging bicycling makes sense from a public health perspective.

I stopped this couple - Nico and Jean - on our way out of Nye. I *had* to get a picture of Jean's arm and leg warmers, to "prove that stokers are the muscle on a tandem." (The stoker rides the back seat of the tandem; the front seat is occupied by the captain.) Stoker Jean flexed and Captain Nico played along, miming weakness. (No worries, Nico and Bugman - the captains are the brains of the operation, right?)

The U.S. Surgeon General recently released a call to action for communities to become friendlier to walking and biking, to encourage more Americans to use physically active forms of transportation to help address the obesity-related health crisis facing our nation. NeBA can serve as a resource for best practices to help Nebraska communities become friendlier for people who walk and roll. (Thanks to fellow Cycle Greater Yellowstone tandem stoker Jeanne for her demonstration of a strong, healthy cyclist.)

10. You think bicycling is awesome!

Jubilant at Dead Indian Pass (geez, I hate that name) on Chief Joseph Scenic Highway.

OK – that is clearly not a picture of bicycling in Nebraska. But if you are a Nebraska cyclist who rides in the mountains further west, you’re probably training on Nebraska roads a lot. NeBA is working to make that a safer ride for you.

9. You think bicycling in Nebraska is awesome!

Here is a portion of the mini tandem rally in the parking lot of Scotts Bluff National Monument. The bike at right is a tandem - it's just turned at the wrong angle to see it.

There is some really great scenery to be seen from the saddle of a bike – particularly out here in western Nebraska. Joining NeBA is a way to connect with like-minded cyclists throughout the state.

8. You need a gift for a hard-to buy-for Nebraska cyclist.

Giving a cyclist a connection to a statewide cycling community and an opportunity to help improve the climate for cycling in the state? A NeBA membership is a no-brainer! (Thanks to the Western Nebraska Bicycling Club for this picture from the Gering Christmas parade.)

Giving a cyclist a connection to a statewide cycling community and an opportunity to help improve the climate for cycling in the state? A NeBA membership is a no-brainer! (Thanks to the Western Nebraska Bicycling Club for this picture from the Gering Christmas parade.)

7. You would like to see scenes like this in Nebraska:

This was a scene from a mild spring day in Malmö, Sweden. Bicycles are a well-accepted form of transport there.

This was in front of a restaurant on a mild spring day in Malmö, Sweden. Bicycles are a well-accepted form of transport there. NeBA’s goal is to make conditions safer and more pleasant for cyclists to encourage more Nebraskans to bike.

6. Bicyclists get your goat.

I will acknowledge here

OK, I will acknowledge that not everyone is thrilled with the idea of more bikes on the road. I believe that part of this reluctance has to do with the fact that Nebraskans who drive cars are not well-trained on how to move around bikes, and Nebraskans who ride bikes are not well-trained in best riding practices, either. Uncertainty about traffic laws and expectations create conflict. NeBA is working to make bicycling safer for everyone, which can include training for both drivers and cyclists on how to get around safely while sharing the road.

5. You think bicycling infrastructure in Nebraska doesn’t always get full consideration as a legitimate transportation mode.

we dont need no stinkin bike path

An image from a couple of years ago. Street clear. Sidewalk mostly clear. Bike lane? Snow-covered. By joining together as a united voice, NeBA members can help remind officials and workers with our state, city and county governments that bicyclists need room to move, too.

4. You think bicycling has huge potential to bring tourism dollars to Nebraska.

It's a bit hard to see, but those people out the riddgetop in the Wildcat Hills are cyclists. NeBA aims to be supportive of all types of cyclists, whether that the the long-distance road tour-er or the mountain biker, many of whom contribute significantly to local economies with their spending.

It’s a bit hard to see, but those people out the ridgetop in the Wildcat Hills are cyclists. NeBA aims to be supportive of all types of cyclists, from the long-distance road tour-er or the mountain biker, many of whom contribute significantly to local economies with their spending. (Here’s a blurb about the economic benefits of bicycle touring in rural areas.)

3. You’ve seen the data on the positive impact bicycling can have on the economy.

More and more downtown districts are adding bicycling infrastructure, as in downtown Scottsbluff in this image, because study upon study shows the positive economic impact that can be had by shifting the focus of transportation down to a more human scale. Further reading here.

More and more downtown districts are adding bicycling infrastructure, as in downtown Scottsbluff in this image, because study upon study shows the positive economic impact that can be had by shifting the focus of transportation down to a more human scale. A NeBA goal is to help share best practices for good bicycle infrastructure development and data on the economic impact of bicycling in Nebraska. (Further reading here, on peopleforbikes.org).

2. You need a tax deduction.

NeBA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and your membership dollars and contributions are tax-deductible. (To the fullest extent allowed by law. I put that in there because everybody's tax situation is different.) Source of the sweet image of the Jackson-in-a-helmet: thebicyclestory.com.

NeBA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and your membership dollars and contributions are tax-deductible. (To the fullest extent allowed by law. I put that in there because everybody’s tax situation is different.) Source of the sweet image of the Jackson-in-a-helmet: thebicyclestory.com.

1. You think bicycle transportation is a social justice issue.

#quaxing

This is one of the biggest reasons why I personally want to improve bicycling in Nebraska. I got kind of angry when a Facebook friend recently shared a tongue-in-cheek job ad that listed all the reasons why people should not apply for that particular job, which included something like “if you have no car, or your car breaks down a lot.” OK, so if you are unemployed and can’t afford a reliable car, you can’t get a job to buy the car to get the job because you can’t get to the job? It’s a real problem for a lot of people in this state. In many of our communities, particularly rural ones with no public transportation options, if you don’t have a car (because you are young, poor, medically unable to drive, legally unable to drive), you will have a really hard time getting to work, getting to school, getting to the grocery store, etc. This makes me think of the hashtag #quaxing, created in a Twitter kerfuffle with an Australian politician who didn’t think anyone relied on public transportation or bicycles for everyday shopping trips. These are the “invisible cyclists” – not the ones wearing stretchy pants and neon colors bombing down the road, but perhaps like the man I saw leaving the Scottsbluff Home Deport with construction supplies balanced across the handlebars of his bike, or like the entrepreneur I saw biking through Terrytown, pulling a trailer filled with rakes and a lawn mower. NeBA seeks to be a voice for these “utility cyclists”, too – for people who rely on bicycles as a form of transportation.

So go on – support the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance and help achieve the vision:

A Nebraska where bicycling is a safe and enjoyable part of the Good Life.

Join here.

Donate here.

Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw, with exception a couple of images

In support of the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance

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.

WNBC logoThe Scottbluff YMCA now hosts an annual spring community bike ride and a fall challenge ride.

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.

proposed scottsbluff bike path

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 Gering Terrytown bike mapAlso, one of the decorative recycled-bike-frame bike racks in front of the Gering Public Library is featured on the front cover of the map:

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 9.22.07 AMScottsbluff 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.

One a statewide level, Nebraska legislators have introduced (so far unsuccessful) bicycle-related bills on vulnerable road users and passing/sidepaths/crosswalks.

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).

NBA logoAs 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