The University of Nebraska at Omaha—a commuter campus; A school where students can live at home or otherwise off campus and comfortably travel to campus for classes.
Given the absolutely inexemplary parking infrastructure here at UNO there is no doubt the campus is motorist friendly. Students can pay a moderate price for guaranteed parking on campus. Never at UNO would you hear one of those horror stories from other universities where students spend upwards of a half an hour waiting for a parking space they should’ve been guaranteed given that they purchased a parking pass for more than $120.
The parking at UNO is nothing short of an unreliable mess and a financial shakedown for students.
Many are seeking to avoid this problem by seeking non-motorized transportation. UNO is seeing an influx of bike usage on campus. Bike racks are full and sidewalks are jam-packed. It’s becoming clear however that biking to campus can be just as treacherous as biting the parking bullet.
Foot traffic on north campus flows well between buildings. There are a couple places that see a lot more
traffic than others but as a whole the flow is nice. But when you throw cycling, skateboarding and other forms of personal transportation in there the plot thickens.
The problem is clear. UNO is not a friendly campus for people looking to get around on bikes or skateboards
given the sidewalk congestion. UNO needs bike paths. A handful of times already this year there have been instances where skateboarders and cyclists have run people over as they attempted to navigate the melee. Cyclists are not to blame and neither are the pedestrians. To blame is the lack of infrastructure regarding the sidewalks on campus.If UNO had separate bike paths that had routes going around campus the university would see a massive cut in sidewalk congestion and an increase in efficiency for anyone traveling on the sidewalks. This is important as the congestion is a safety concern, and it causes people to be late when they would otherwise have made it to class on time.
Another way UNO is not biker friendly is the lack of bike tire pumps on campus. There are only a couple tire pumps and the one located in the HPER parking area is currently broken. This is obviously a big issue as when student’s can’t count on being able to air up their tires they will be less likely to ride their bikes to campus. No student would willingly put them selves through having to carry their bike home if they were to get a flat on campus.
The university really can’t afford to have less students commuting to campus via bike. We need as
much students leaving their cars at home as possible. It’s an extremely unfortunate conundrum. UNO
needs more people to bike to campus because the parking is poor, but yet the campus isn’t especially bike friendly. It is important we recognize change when it needs to occur.
This issue could even go as far as recruitment for UNO. A beautiful and user-friendly campus is important for potential students to see. It’s part of selling the UNO brand. If students come to UNO and they see that sidewalks are congested and parking is impossible, it could push them away.
On the UNO website there is a page dedicated to how the university won honorable mention in 2012 for cyclist friendly universities. The page also mentions that UNO is supposedly now a bicycle friendly city. This is simply not the case. Cyclist from outside of the Omaha area would quickly find that unless you know the city like the back of your hand it is very difficult to travel via bike paths. There are simply not enough of them. There are several main bike paths that take a cyclist east and west and north and south, but what is lost is everything in the middle.
In addition, cyclists are still plagued with bad attitudes from inconsiderate motorists. Often cyclists are honked at, yelled at, and are bombarded with other rude gestures. This comes from a lack of awareness about the benefits of cycling and shows that Omaha has so far not done enough to foster an eco-friendly, carbon footprint reducing community.
What the city has done for cyclists has been a good start, but we need a much stronger bike path infrastructure and to change a lot of attitudes before Omaha or UNO can proudly brandish any kind of award for being cyclist friendly.