Mode Shift Omaha threw a party on May 1 this year, and everyone was invited.

The grassroots group, which supports choice in transportation for everyone, hosted an event at 25th and Harney that also doubled as the final open house for the City of Omaha’s Transportation Master Plan. The goal – to solicit feedback on the plan prior to its consideration by the Omaha Planning Board and Omaha City Council, and to get attendees to begin to imagine what that area could be like.

Omaha by Design signed on to help with the latter. We conducted a mini Place Game exercise and asked those in attendance to do two things:

  • Evaluate Harney Street between 24th and 26th according to four criteria, which rank responses on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being “strongly disagree” and 5 being “strongly agree”);
  • Suggest potential improvements that could be made in both the short- and long-term.

Seventy-one attendees completed the exercise, and here’s what they thought:

  • They ranked the area’s access and linkage (identifiable from a distance, walkable, bikeable, accessible by mass transit, clean information/signage) as its highest asset with an average score of 2.9.
  • They ranked the area’s comfort and image (attractive, feels safe, clean/well maintained, comfortable places to sit) and sociability (people in groups, evidence of volunteerism, sense of pride and ownership, children and seniors present) in the middle with average scores of 2.2.
  • They ranked the area’s uses and activities (good mix of activities, frequent community events, area is busy, encourages physical activity, area is vital economically) in last place with an average score of 2.1.

Suggestions for improvements ranged from adding trash and recycle bins to turning empty lots into pocket parks to creating walking and biking paths that connect Midtown Crossing with the Old Market. Many of the ideas focused on transportation choice.

Transportation choices give people the freedom to walk and take a bus, trail or bicycle for all or part of their daily travel. Density helps create choice by providing the ridership needed to make bus and rail transit a viable and competitive transportation option.

Thoughts? Post ’em here.