The Green Column #34

Lincoln’s Transportation future

September 21, 2010—The following ideas about Lincoln’s transportation future have been solicited from age group members of the Lincoln Green by Design volunteer organization and the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee.

When we ask the public for ideas and opinions about the future characteristics of Lincoln, 30 years from now, we should keep in mind that there likely will be different opinions about our future environments and our roles within a future time, according to the generational perspective of those responding. So, the next few articles in this Green Column Series will seek opinions from different age groups among the members of Lincoln Green by Design, guided, in general by the LPlan2040 on-line survey: Virtual Town Hall: Bright Ideas. While the specific expressions may not exactly fit the heading category, they nevertheless will be useful in the City’s quest for new visions of our place, our children’s place and our grandchildren’s place.

14—18 years
Relieve Congestion on Single Lane Roads
Lincoln is a relatively small town in regards to other state capitals and major cities which I believe is a benefit. The distances around town are short and congestion tends to be low. However, roads such as 40th, 48th, and 56th become extremely congested when they shrink down to single lane roads. As a result, it is harder to get around and people may be more prone to drive recklessly with the added time on their commutes.

Rentable Bike Stands
In certain areas like downtown and malls, the city should set up rentable bike stands at heavily trafficked areas. These could benefit older citizens and those who are not yet able to drive. Even European countries, like Spain, do this to promote both health and the economy. These automated stands could be very beneficial if implemented.

26—36 years
Mini Communities
As Lincoln develops existing and new neighborhoods, they should be designed for walking or biking to within 1 mile of primary community functions. For example, a neighborhood should have a grocery store, hardware store, etc. within 1 mile.

Promote Biking to Shopping Destinations
It would be nice to be able to equip the main shopping area on O Street between 48th and 70th with more biking options. It would also be nice if midtown, 48th Street, had a north/south bike path similar to what is provided along 70th Street or the north/south Rock Island Trail.

Improved Bike Safety
For improved bike safety along on-street bike paths, crossing lights would be very helpful at the Normal Boulevard and Sumner Street and 40th Street and Sumner Street intersections.

Improve Bus System
Overall, it would be nice to improve the bus system. I have checked into taking the bus to work during the winter, but it would take me almost an hour to travel downtown and then switch buses to my workplace.

37—50 years
Bike Path Distance Markers
As a runner, I would like the bike paths to be more clearly marked with distances.

Bus Partnership
The University and StarTran should team up to improve bus service in Lincoln’s core area. Currently, the University Shuttle stops a block from my house, making my neighborhood an extended parking area for UNL. The University Shuttle is handy for students but it is harming the neighborhood!

Improve North/South Infrastructure
I would like more bypasses, ring roads and thoroughfares to move traffic from one side of Lincoln to the other. Lincoln looks too much like a lower-class city when it takes so long to go north-to-south (other than hwy 77 on far west side) or east-to-west (other than I-80 way north, or possibly hwy 2 on the south).

Planning Efficient Infrastructure
Specific improvements will be needed around the Haymarket and arena, and the new Innovations Campus area to ensure that people can get to and from these areas efficiently, and attractively, by auto AND by walking AND by bicycle AND by public transportation.

More But Shorter Buses
Lincoln should have more-but-shorter buses—IF studies show that they would be more cost-effective and still serve the ridership needs.

Transportation Education
There should be more public campaign announcements (various media, including signage) to let people know how to share the road with bicycles, motorcycles and pedestrians. People using alternate transport should feel safe doing so. Even something as simple as reminding drivers to stop behind crosswalks—not in the middle or beyond them—can make a difference for pedestrians.

50+ years
Light Rail Transit System
We should plan now for two mid-town light rail transit systems: One loop running East to West along Q Street from 27th Street to the Haymarket Arena site, and a West to East leg running along P Street from the Haymarket to 27th Street. The second loop should run from North to South along 16th Street from the Innovations Campus to South Street, with a return South to North leg along 14th Street from South Street to R Street, then East to 19th Street and then North to the Innovations Campus. This would put 60–70% of the working destinations in central Lincoln within three blocks walking distance of public transit to outlying park-and-ride facilities, augmented by bus routes.

Our next article will feature ideas for “Where We Live.”

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