Cyclists Protest The Loss of A City of Omaha Position

OMAHA (KPTM)- It has caused quite a stir- The elimination of one city job. It's called the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator. Cyclists say it is a step in the wrong direction. They braved the rain to protest on Sunday at Stinson Park in Omaha. Three issues resonated. One, they worried awareness for cycling would decrease. Two, they thought safety issues would rise. Three they fear Omaha would fall behind other cities who have cycling issues squared away.More than 300 cyclists rolled up to voice an opinion. Ryan Tantillo bikes to work. He rode in 13 miles from lake Cunningham to be heard."There are not many bike lanes or bike paths through Omaha. But just being able to access different parts of the city would be nice and getting the respect from drivers and awareness when we are on the road. And for our safety," said Tantillo. "We need it. The best way to grow is to support the parks and the natural resources of the city. And this city is just beautiful," said Karen Jarecki.It's the future of the beautiful city that concerns 70 year old Mariana Phipps."One reason I'm as healthy as I am is I bike a lot," said Phipps who wants to stay healthy without getting hurt. "I've almost been hit by people in cars who were texting that tried to run me off the road because they think I should be on the sidewalks."She added bringing the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator back would help people become more aware of cyclists on the road, making dangerous situations safer. She said it would also put Omaha in line with other big biking cities."If you go to other big cities, Denver, for instance, the roads are full of bikers. Improved trails and made bike lanes and we need more of that," said Phipps.Mayor Jean Stothert, in a written statement said the position was funded primarily with private money that is no longer available. She added she has created a committee to take care of some of the concerns and said the Metro Area Planning Agency agreed to take a bigger role if filling the gaps as well. In the same statement Mayor Stothert said the city's commitment to safe transportation has never been limited to just one staff position. She said she welcomes public input.
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